Should Designers Do More Than Design?

I see a lot of posts online with headlines like “should designers animate?” or “should designers code?” or “should designers raise cattle?"

So… should you?


"Should” implies some sort of moral obligation, or that you’re not a “real” designer if you don’t.

Fuck “should”.

This is a classic case of the No True Scotsman Fallacy

In other words, there is no such thing as a “real” designer. All you have to do to be a designer is… wait for it… design.

Crazy, right?


I know a little bit of code. Just a bit. And enough CSS and HTML to get myself into trouble. I even coded some of my old Flash interfaces. But I also work with some of the best coders in the world, so I am happier (and so are they) when I don’t get too far into it.

But that’s just my choice. And I never introduce myself as a designer that codes. That’s disrespectful to people who are good at coding, in my opinion.

On the other hand, I go deeper into the psychological aspects of UX than a typical designer might.

And that’s fine. For me. 

You might prefer a different combination of design skills.

You “should” do the parts of design that interest you, or that you can get paid for.


In the beginning of your career, be as broad as you can. Once you can do a little of everything, focus your time on the parts that fit you best.

It’s always a good thing to learn to code, whether you’re a designer or not.

It’s always great to pick up new skills like animation or video, whether you’re a designer or not.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t.

If you want a job at a place that requires those skills, then maybe you should, but it is usually half-baked when people say “you have to code if you want a job as a designer”.

You’re more valuable if you can code. But you don’t have to learn to code any more than a coder “should” learn to design.


The irony here — or perhaps hypocrisy — is that you probably will learn some code. And some animation. And some of many other skills, as long as you are open to them.


I have met some designers with 2 or 3 years of experience who say “oh I don’t do icons” as if they have grown past it or it is some sort of speciality they aren’t part of. That’s ridiculous.

Try coding. Even if it’s just HTML and CSS. 

Try animating. Even if it’s just in a Keynote presentation.

Not because you should. Because it’s fun.

You should also try raising cattle. Good times!


This blog contains many lessons about UX.

If you want to be a UX designer, you should spend your time in those areas, because that’s what a UX designer does all day.

That’s what UX is.

Without those skills, you are less of a UX designer than you could be. But not less of a UI designer. Not less of a graphic designer. Or a fashion designer. Or an interior designer. Or a packaging designer. Or an industrial designer.

Be a good designer first. Then keep going.