Recently I had a chance to watch the video of a talk given by Jonathan Berger, given at the recently concluded Agile UX NYC 2012 Conference. In his talk, Jonathan made reference to a designer who boldly claimed: “We don’t hire designers who can’t code.” This statement got me thinking about my own personal experience as a designer within the Jamaican market who’s been forced to learn to code because no one would hire me as a web designer if I couldn’t also develop the user interfaces of these websites using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

I always thought that being forced to learn to code was a bad thing within our local web design industry, because I quite frequently prefered the thrill of design rather than spending all day looking at a screen filled with boring text. This coupled with the fact that many of my fellow web designers in other regions of the world were not forced to code - they’d constantly speak of designing comps and handing them over to developers who would handle the coding aspect of things. I’d constantly be perturbed at the fact that I had to be wearing so many hats in order to produce a digital product, while others overseas had fun all day doing what they loved - making things useful, usable and delightful through the process of design. I thought forcing a designer to learn to code was actually a weakness of Jamaica’s web design industry, because I thought it would take away from the time, energy and love that we could put into creating wonderful UI’s, but boy was I wrong!

It turns out that Jamaica’s web design industry may have had it right for all these years, because in recent times there have been articles popping up all over the web with persons advocating the benefits of designers who can also code as well as the need for designers to learn to code. Some even go as far as calling them ‘super designers.’ Interestingly enough, I also read an article that suggested that companies like Quora and Facebook follow a policy where their designers are also coders, and we’ve all seen the great user experience results yielded from the products produced by such companies.

After all these years of being forced to develop my coding abilities along with my talent for design, I’ve grown to appreciate being able to code, in fact sometimes I actually prefer coding than designing! However, design is my first love so please don’t tell anyone I said that! ;)

Among the many benefits of being able to code is the fact that it enables me to bring my design vision to life in the exact way that I envisioned it; It allows me to work more closely with teams of developers and to understand their language when communicating throughout the product development cycle, and best of all, it enables me to have a better understanding of the medium in which I’m designing - how it works, and what’s possible, so that I won’t end up wasting valuable time designing ideas that cannot be implemented.

In his talk on Code Literacy at Agile UX NYC 2012, Jonathan Berger gives several benefits of a designer being able to code, and he also shares some bits about his personal journey of being a designer who has learnt to embrace coding. Please watch it and see if you can identify with any of his experiences:

Click here to watch video.

What are your views? Do you think designers should learn to code? Is it reasonable for employers to demand that their designers know how to code?

(Originally written by Roger Davis for Follow The UX Leader)

"1. Design makes all the difference
2. Design the organization
3. The product is the marketing
4. Design is systems thinking
5. Design out loud
6. Design is for the people
7. Design with conviction"

The seven principles of designing insanely great products, from John Edson’s forthcoming book, Design Like Apple: The Seven Principles of Designing Insanely Great Products, Services, and Experiences.

( Thought You Should See This)

Earlier this year, I was invited to speak on User Experience Design as a competitive advantage in influencing user adoption, at the Caribbean Open Data Conference (Developing Caribbean) which was hosted in Jamaica by the folks at SlashRoots. These are my slides from that presentation.

I’m an Interaction Designer, and this is some of the shit we say.

"If it falls to our luck to be street-sweepers, sweep the streets, like Raphael painted pictures, like Michaelangelo carved marble, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, and like Beethoven composed music. Sweep the streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth would have to pause and say …Here lived a great street sweeper." 

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., June 20, 1965, Kingston, Jamaica

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning — creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.

Why don’t we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. It’s a message with deep resonance. Robinson’s TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? “Everyone should watch this.” 

A visionary cultural leader, Sir Ken led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a deep look at human creativity and education, was published in January 2009.

"Ken’s vision and expertise is sought by public and commercial organizations throughout the world."

— BBC Radio 4


Artist and TED Fellow Aparna Rao re-imagines the familiar in surprising, often humorous ways. With her collaborator Soren Pors, Rao creates high-tech art installations — a typewriter that sends emails, a camera that tracks you through the room only to make you invisible on screen — that put a playful spin on ordinary objects and interactions.


Anthea McGibbon of OAaSIS International shares her passion for creation. (by OAaSISintTV)

Inspired by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), NaNoDrawMo is a personal challenge to push would-be artists beyond the bounds of comfortable “when I have time” practice for one month and see what happens.

Loosely defined goals are for each participant to produce 50 individual works/drawings between Nov 1 and Nov 30. You can always do more than 50 if you’ve got it in you! That’s just the minimum everyone should be shooting for.

You do not have to be good. There is no quality requirement. The idea is to force yourself to practice by setting a high quantity goal. Also, it’s not a competition (except with yourself). Any medium is OK…

For more info, check out (Redirects to the NaNoDrawMo group on Flickr).

Richard Buchanan: Keynote from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo.

Interaction design does not stop at the flatland of the computer screen but extends into the personal and social life of human beings.