Is Frontend Development in the UX Toolkit?


Road to Nowhere

It’s an interesting point is the ability to code in CSS, HTML and JavaScript a skill that is relevant to the User Experience practitioner.  Or should that be left to the developers and designers.

Why ask?  Well I’m at a crossroads.

You see the nature of the local industry here is such that there just isn’t a constant stream of User Experience work at commercially viable rates.  So a I have been supplementing my UX work with a little front end design and development from time to time.

Not a bad thing really I enjoy the work. Especially when I get designed into a corner and have to try and make it all work with css/html, the challenge can be very rewarding.

Times a Changing

However recently I have noticed things are starting to change locally.  I also seem to be making a few changes around here of late, maybe I’ll just getting bored, or it’s a mid life crisis (nah, too old for that beastie).

Maybe it’s time to drop the frontend development work and finally do what I have been trying to do for the last 4-5 years, focus on UX and IA type work and nothing else. Afterall UX isn’t about the implementation, it’s about the planning and initial design only.

Mind you on the other side of the coin.   Frontend development and design skills are very handy with prototyping in html and the like.   It’s just something as you don’t have to sub contract out.   You can just do it yourself.   Even better for doing the odd hack or patch between user testing sessions on a prototype.

Also, I’m told, that people with both UX skills and frontend development are rare these days.  Now I don’t really have any idea on this one. To me they don’t seem to be that rare.   Maybe it’s just different in the US or something.

Would be nice to retain the skills, seeing as I have come so far with them, and invested a lot of time and money developing them.  But again its another skill set to keep upto date, another pile of reading to do.   Hard choice.

Guess I’m being a little conservative here, but when you have a family it’s not just you that is going to suffer if you make the wrong choice.

It’s UX or Nothing

No matter what I decide, I’m no longer taking on any more new clients for  front end development work.  It’s all going to be UX and IA and the like. Lets see how this all goes. Brave move in a way, as I’ll be turning away paying work I can very easily do.

So if you are have work in the User Experience, Information Architecture, Usability or  Accessibility areas, then we need to chat.

Still I ask you, do you think it is time to drop the front end skills and move on, or are they at least a handy prototyping skill?  What do you think?

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