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How To Expand Your Web Developer Career by Learning Design

The explosion of content in the last few years has fueled the demand for developers. Companies need creatively skilled individuals who can help craft and develop their brand online to appeal to consumers. Developers are highly sought after, but those who can do their own designing and understand the creative principles of the business are especially hot when they hit the market.

Great designers know to consider their company’s core principles and aesthetic and mold it into a tangible, actionable brand. In addition, they know the basics and concept of UX, a principle which guides the decisions and considerations of many professionals. Here’s a guide to learn how you can develop your design skills and be a developer/designer in one whole package.

  • Developers can learn to think on the user end by learning UX principles
  • There are many universities and independent courses which teach design
  • Practice makes perfect, and the skills are applicable everywhere even if not applied in the workplace

Why Is Design Necessary?

Many developers are great at delivering great products for their clients, but an understanding of UX and HCI principles will further your knowledge of the whys and hows associated with the users of your websites, as well what companies are looking for when you deliver your final product.

As a developer, you know how to execute a well-designed website that’s fast, intuitive, and user friendly, and you can put this knowledge to use by learning how to design a great website.

There are tens of thousands of jobs for developers currently, and nearly all developer jobs require the ability to think in terms of UX and human-centered designs. Companies are looking for developers who understand their client base and the way the general public think when it comes to using and navigating websites.

How Does A Coder Learn To Design?

Many think of “design” in simplistic terms; choosing the correct colors and coming up with a logo then stopping and handing it off to the developers. “Design” encompasses far more than these principles, however.

Many developers who want to design don’t think of the process in the correct way when first starting the process. They tend to overlook or entirely disregard their users’ needs to suit their own needs of technical simplicity.

This is a mistake, as designers are typically less mindful of development teams than they are of the users themselves. In design, the user is always right, not the developer. This can make many developers feel at odds with themselves, but it’s important to understand that these are simply two different roles.

It’s best to be conscious of what users will want when developing and designing the website if you truly want to do both tasks and be responsible for more than development of sites.

Where Can Developers Learn To Design?

The good news is, there are a multitude of options for those who want to learn design. Many universities have bachelor’s programs, and some even have master’s programs for those who are really serious about wanting to learn design.

These courses are great for learning both the basics and more advanced elements of both UX and HCI principles. However, there are also more affordable options for those who don’t have the money or time to attend full-time universities.

If you’re looking for something more flexible or affordable, you can try UC Irvine’s human-computer interaction and design course which lasts only a year. Glasgow Caledonian University also offers a diploma in UX design in only six months, and it only costs about $2,300.

Perhaps you don’t want a full degree though; this is fine. You can always take courses with sites designed to train individuals in a specific area, like those at Coursera or Udemy.

What Does It Take To Become A Great Designer?

Practice. After you’ve completed your training, in whatever manner you choose, you’ll need to practice and put your skills to the test in a real-world setting. You can always start by practicing at your current company; many companies wouldn’t mind having an extra designer around, and it works out nicely if your company is small with a flat structure. You can always assess your company’s website design and app configurations to determine if they can be improved upon and to what degree.

Even if you don’t personally improve them, developing a critical eye is a great way to start on your design career path. You can make a list of improvements you would make and talk with those in charge about making them yourself. The worst thing your company can say is no, right? If you don’t get to make the improvements, that’s okay. There will always be other opportunities.

Make Your New Skills A Hobby

Many times, the pressure of doing what you enjoy in a business environment can kill the enjoyment. Set aside time during the weekend or after work to practice your design skills in a way which doesn’t add extra pressure, and which feels relaxed and fun.

There are other sites which offer a plethora of design inspiration for you, such as Product Hunt. Even if you can’t use your skills the moment you finish your courses, don’t be discouraged. You can always redesign existing apps and pay attention to the trends and patterns in the field. Your knowledge in the area will be just vital as your skills.

Final Thoughts

Everybody today seems to need a developer. To stand out from the crowd and show your potential employers your tenacity and skill set, you should consider learning design. Though the principles of the field are deceptively complex and may even run counter to what your usual thought process, design is a great skill to have and will boost and expand your career in ways you never thought possible.

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