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I was wondering if it's good to be a UX enthusiast and also do other things such as development as noted in this article or is it best to work only on UX design?

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I have been wondering about that too. I guess depends on the project. But what about a UX designer and UI? –  Stevy Jun 17 at 10:59
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It's right-brain vs. left-brain...but you should still have competence in everything that falls in the realm of the "front-end" in my opinion. Basically, a developer should be able to fill all the designers weakness's and vice versa, but neither should be completely isolated from the world of the other. –  Chris W. Jun 17 at 21:07
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@ChrisW. The fact you are right/left brained affects the way you think but not what you are capable of doing. You are not condemned by the nature's law. For the rest I agree with you. –  Zhouzi Jun 18 at 4:58
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The left-brain vs right-brain "theory" has been debunked healthcare.utah.edu/publicaffairs/news/current/… –  Toni Toni Chopper Jun 18 at 6:36

5 Answers 5

I used to do both, because I got sick of developers screwing up my creations—control issues. Over the years, when I evolved into Product Management or "Product Design", I started to realise that I need to scale. To put it another way, its really about scale. If you're preoccupied writing the lines of code, then you're probably not solving the current UX issue of the day which means either someone else is doing that for you or you're a really good communicator and have things described/written down very detailed—heheh.

I've watched the industry go from "bottom-up" design methodologies to now and recently "top-down" as we swapped and changed between "prescriptive" and "descriptive" design technologies. Today I'd say UX has finally started to cross the "job" chasm, and is now ever more becoming a first-class citizen.

Having someone who can articulate design to code is invaluable. In fact, at Microsoft my team spent $500k USD to figure out how to create "devigners" and the answer came back basically "next to impossible", "freaks of digital nature", etc., as the beloved dream was to have people who can design & code at the same time. This is the industry's constant wish but it's not that easy and there's still a long way to go.

If you can code and design, you're actually a rare breed still. If you understand cognitive science, then you're even more rare... essentially the UX scene needs more generals not foot soldiers. :)

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Interesting answer. What was the gender balance of your team at Microsoft? –  Franchesca Jun 17 at 12:45
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@Franchesca out of curiosity, what value would the metric of gender balance offer in this particular scenario unless it's a passive poke of one being better than the other at this skillset? –  Chris W. Jun 17 at 21:14
    
@Franchesca the money spent was on research firms to go out and explore the design agencies / enterprise etc and interview people on the "how" they got to where they are and so on. Gender didn't really factor into the data as its really a moot point. Sizing the design market on gender would offer little value to be honest (ie a weapon or tool depending on who's bias reallY) –  Scott Barnes Jun 17 at 23:09
    
Really interesting! I guess it's a matter of experience finally. Lots of us probably start by doing several things to then be more specialized with time going on. However there is lots of great "devigners" (I like this term) on the web. People that are creative, innovative, good at design and code. –  Zhouzi Jun 18 at 5:02
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@Franchesca its complicated to fix the gender imbalance. It's probably going to take a few generational cycles to reshape the population to a "normalized" view. I don't think companies today actively suppress women in their roles its probably actual the macro environment around them (mums pressured to raise children, re-entering workforce from baby timeouts, putting attractive female amongst lonely geeks regresses back to primal cavemen stupidity etc). I will say in Microsoft when I was there, girls held their own and then some. I was surrounded by girls in my area anyway :) –  Scott Barnes Jun 18 at 12:33

Be T shaped.

Take on a broad range of skills and specialise in one - the one you do best.

It's definitely good to do other things - and being a UX Designer inherently involves a breadth of skills that come with the job and that lateral knowledge and experience is one of the things that makes you good at it.

The skills you excel at are going to depend on your core interest - UX researcher, Visual designer, or Information Architect, for example.

I suggest you browse Red Gate's Skills Maps

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It all depends on what you want to do and what are the project's needs. Sometimes you'll have to fill the gaps and do information architecture, visual design, code or whatever you are capable of (you should take a look at "A Project Guide To UX Design" - a must read).

UX Design is a large field and you'd be better at it if you can focus on it but once again, I truely think it's a matter of what you want. Nowadays it's not surprising to find UX Developers, UX Visual Designers, and so on. For that reason I think UX is more an approach than a job in itself. So I think it's impossible to answer your question without more details on you and what you want to do.

Oh and I'm tired to hear that you can't be good at several things. Of course you can be a great developer and designer and there lots of people on the web that can prove this point. I think as human beings we are all defined by a minimum of two skillsets. You could be a banker and illustrator, a photographer and developer, etc. What differs from someone to another is the way we think. This is (partly) why some things are simpler to some people. More on that in the "Creativity, Innovation and Change" course on coursera.

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UX takes all types. Often having a good mix of specialties and generalists works well.

So...I don't think one can say there is a 'best' way to go about this.

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While in a perfect world it would be nice to just worry about UX. Most companies will turn over what developers have done and expect you to take over and work with their code in order to improve UX or at least understand enough to communicate what they need to change and what they are missing.

I consider myself a front-end developer with a design specialty in UI/UX. I currently know about 13 different languages. Im not that great at any of them and couldnt replace any of our developers but I dont need to. All I have to do is be able to go over to their desk and show them in their code what I need changed in order to do my job. I basically can read their code and tell what they are doing. However, if you where to ask me to do the same thing from scratch it would take me quite a bit longer.

Now I may get flack from some people for saying UI/UX but what a lot of companies want now days is a "Poduct Designer" meaning you know how to manage both.

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Agreed. I work for a fortune 500 company at the moment and we have 1000's of Product Managers on more products I can count - all to often I ask these roles "What features do you have, what's working vs not and what do you want to do tomorrow" to get a sense of the challenge. I rarely get answers on the first two but always the third. What this tells me is that its not UX its more about Feature growth, specifically UX becomes this forcing function on maturity - as when you do UX you can't hide immaturity any more. –  Scott Barnes Jun 18 at 12:28

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