Should Software Developer Learn UX?

August 23, 2021

Athar Majeed

While software developers are really good with rational and logical thinking, UX designers have more empathy as a key skill. This means that UX designers have to understand the emotional side, not technical, to offer them a better experience.

Software designers handle technical work, but they can even learn UX to step into the users’ shoes to develop a program that they can relate to. If you look at software developers, the most important aspect for them is technicality. On the other hand, to develop a mindset of a UX designer, they need to understand the ultimate needs of their end-users.

Here’s what you, a software developer needs to work on when learning UX:

Visual Communication

One of the most crucial skills that a software developer needs to learn is to visualize concepts and transform them into visuals or drawings. If they can visualize their concepts, they can easily transform them into great solutions. The UX designer also needs to communicate effectively along with great visualization. Visual communication needs to excel in concepts such as colour, typography, layout, design theory, images, etc.

Read also: 17 Tips to Improve Design Thinking.

User Research

Another important skill that software developers have to learn is to research down all potential users of their solution or product. This also includes researching and understanding user goals, motivations, and user behaviour.

Proficient in Design Tools

Another great learning to adapt to being a good UX designer is to be proficient in design tools. It would be best to learn about certain design tools, like HTML/CSS, Flash, Visual basic, Director, Photoshop, Indesign, Invision Studio, Illustrator, XD, and more. Once you’re proficient in design tools, you’ll start understanding which specific tools are needed for creating quick prototypes.

Another good way to grow as a UX designer while a software engineer is to keep reading relevant content on UX designing to learn about different design elements and popular applications.

Having a good knowledge of UX tools and understanding what the user wants will make you create ideal solutions for customers. After all, everyone’s final goal is just the same, i.e. to put out a successful product that users will appreciate and use. With UX skills, you can certainly achieve that in a more technical yet congenial way.

Refine your Skills

Lastly, to be a good UX designer, you need to indulge in regular practice to refine your skills. Practising is great for brushing up your knowledge and skills and helps you create a strong portfolio that’s essential for getting your initial break as a UX professional.

Many best programming practices are derived from Krug’s three laws of usability but with some tweaks:

  • Don’t make me think
  • Finding a way around code must be unambiguous and trivial
  • Often look for ways to reduce complexity from the codebase

Don't make me think

Software developers often have to modify codes without even understanding the program itself. The given codebases change quickly, especially when multiple engineers are working actively on developing them. So, handling all changes as they happen while being productive is usually impossible.

Keeping reality in mind, the codebase must be created only after understanding its intent and usage. In short, a software developer, even without any experience with a mobile application, can also skim through a document and get an idea of exactly what it does. But for better product solutions, they need to understand its purpose and requirement by the end-users.

Every question they have in mind reading code will further add to their cognitive workload, disturbing their attention from the current task. So, for the easy development of a software or app, it’s best to figure out the rationale behind its design patterns, practices, and coding conventions. Additional practices, such as SOLID principles and picking meaningful names for classes, namespaces, methods, or variables, also go a long way in making a code expressive and genuine for the users.

This approach is intended to align classes and methods while improving readability. Suppose reading an article that includes a single huge paragraph. Without proper separation of sentences, it will become difficult to read them. It’s just the same with codes as well. Complex codes require double or maybe triple reading for better understanding.

In-code documentation is a useful tool for consistently providing adequate guidance to an individual while reading a code. Advanced IDEs display header comments of methods and classes as we use them at varied software parts. If these are written well, the comments can help avoid the need to navigate different parts of an app to figure out what’s happening.

Finding a way around code

Ne should carefully choose the naming conversations and in-code comments so that developers can understand the purpose of the code. They’re analogous for choosing meaningful chapter names or headers in books. Skimming a particular book’s content table is enough to pinpoint a topic if it's well organised. This is what is expected of the developers to do with classes, method names, and namespaces.

Eliminating repetitions in a codebase is also a good technique to make code more navigable. The developers and designers must particularly aim to implement the SPOT rule for having a single, trivial, unambiguous, and authoritative representation of varied parts of an application. This approach will further remove the questions regarding where and where different representations are to be used. Meanwhile, it will reduce the chances of bugs being introduced into the software because you have forgotten to sync all representations.

Combining SOLID principles and SPOT rules, developers can eliminate side-effects in-between distinct system components. They also make the code more predictable and isolate all logic between the tasks. There must be a good separation of concerns to prevent the need for making changes in the entire system while making some changes in a module.

Reducing complexity

The software complexity can increase with every line of code that’s added to it. Furthermore, the complexity will add more to our cognitive workload. So, it’s best to reduce software complexity.

The functionality must not be implemented too early in software or system. It may be tempting to do so. However, it only adds complexity to the system. The complexity must be avoided unless the feature is completely developed and released. With the ever-changing needs of software, it’s highly probable to abandon future features or change the scope so that what’s initially applied will need only substantial modifications.

Putting It All Together

Suppose that a relative effort for understanding and using a disorganized code is similar to writing a code that is easy to understand. So, the latter is more rewarding as the time spent writing a well-organized code is very less. On the other hand, the time needed for understanding a complex code is more. That’s a more frustrating and expensive way of developing software that’s complicated. Therefore, one must work on the quality code to put it all together in a professional and well-organized way.

Read also: 6 Useful Tips to Start Your Career in UX Design.


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