You know that feeling: you open your favorite code editor, put your headphones on, and the code starts flowing under your hands. Great, isn’t it? You feel powerful because you can create (almost) anything you want in coding, and it will work, like black (or white) magic, for those who don’t know your witchcraft.
You also probably enjoy solving hard problems and making your code beautiful, efficient, and concise. That is perfectly understandable: it gives you the joy of mastery and achieving something great. However, there is a catch: creating great code is not synonymous with helping your users or growing your company. It is just a beautiful code and skillful problem-solving. However, if you want to have an impact on your product, there is something you can do.
Learn UX. Why? Here are some of the things that UX-savvy developers find beneficial.
Become a More Valuable Part of the Team
The better you understand the specific roles of other members of your team, the better you are at communicating with them and producing a higher collective output. Whether you are building an app or a website, it is essential to be able to speak the “language” of your teammates at least at a beginner’s level. The better you understand each other, the faster will the work be done.
Write a More Concise and Readable Code
Many developers overly focus on functionality rather than accessibility. Learning UX principles helps not only to focus on user-friendliness in creating features but also to write more understandable and reusable code for your teammates. It saves time, money, and peace of mind both for you and your company. Win-win.
Have a Better Understanding of the Design Process
UX is not a trivial subject. It looks like just pretty menus, buttons, and letters to an outside observer, but there is a lot of theory and thought process behind every design decision. Typography, color theory, usability, and much more influence the final design that your UX coworkers insist on sticking to. With a basic understanding of these principles, you will be able to anticipate the design options for your feature and once again reduce the time spent on communication and increase your efficiency.
Deepen Your Perspective on Human Behaviour
Human psychology is tricky. There are lots of cognitive biases, visual illusions, unconscious stimulus, and many other factors that influence the behavior of digital product users. Learning these aspects will help you create (hopefully useful) habit-forming products that solve user’s problems as efficiently and effortlessly as possible by focusing on features stimulating the desirable behavior.
Increase Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
There is a half-true stereotype that developers have less empathy because they are overly logical and problem-solving focused, and as a consequence, often disregard the feelings and emotions of others. Although this is true only on average, it never hurts to learn to understand others better, and it is vitally essential in design.
Form a More Elaborate Visual Taste
With the advent of consumerist society and the world becoming more wealthy, more and more attention is paid to design, especially by the millennial generation in the West. Today you will have a hard time competing with a good-looking product even if you have better-developed features. It is essential to understand the dominant aesthetics, and your core audience tastes to cater to them. It will also bring more style in your daily life too.
Improve Relationships with Designer Colleagues
It is not uncommon for different professionals to have some hate for each other. It is understandable: developers focus on features, UX designers on visuals and usability, product managers on metrics, and so on. Communication helps to bring all of us back to reality and remember that all aspects of a product are essential and need to coexist in balance, the same way a team does. By understanding and empathizing with other perspectives on the product, you will earn trust and respect from your colleagues, UX being no exception.
Get Paid More (If Your Team Doesn’t Have a Designer)
Often in the early stages of the startup, teams don’t have a dedicated person to each area of the product, and everyone does everything. In such a situation, it is beneficial if a developer is also proficient enough in UX design to create an MVP single-handedly. This way, you could have much more impact on your product and get paid more.
Make It Easier to Communicate with All Other Non-Developers
Stepping outside of your expert area just for UX will be helpful for communication with all of your team. You can transfer your new skill of multiple perspectives on the product to any other area of work and daily life.
These ideas reflect my experience of discussing the problem of misunderstanding and frustrating communication between designers and developers and vice versa with people from both fields. It has become almost an industry standard for UX designers to be able to understand the language of developers, while very few developers care to understand UX. It creates an asymmetry that has a bad influence on the tech industry in general. UX designers already have to spend a lot of time and energy advocating for the user instead of, you know, design, and spending some more only to accommodate engineers is not a good idea if you want the product to succeed.