Possibly Useful Skills

I’m responding to a podcast again this week – in their April 4, 2017 show, the What’s Wrong with UX folks touched on “4 Possibly Useful Skills for Designers.” https://www.usersknow.com/podcast/2017/3/19/4-possibly-useful-skills-for-designers

The discussion interests me because, as I’ve said before, I serve kind of a jack-of-all-trades role around here. My primary skill is writing, but I serve more as a project manager and general website administrator. Along the way, I’ve learned to troubleshoot HTML and CSS and just enough JavaScript to be dangerous.

The hosts – Laura Klein and Kate Rutter – seem to come at it from more of a design / product management background. Naturally, the largest part of the conversation is about coding. They agree it’s nice to know code, but generally there’ll be someone who is a better coder.

Klein says the main benefit of coding knowledge is that you know what’s possible. It allows you to keep the engineers honest when they tell you what can or can’t be done. And you can make an intelligent contribution when you’re talking about (in her example) whether you use LinkedIn’s login system or build your own password manager.

“You have to know enough about tech in general to even ask that question,” says Laura.

“I’m not talking that you would to know the specifics of integration, but you learn how to think about it, and what questions to ask, and how to go to the Googles and ask, ‘What the hell is going on here?’” agrees Rutter.

That’s kind of where I’m at with coding. I’m never going to be a coder myself, but I know enough to have an intelligent conversation with one.

And that’s why I’m studying UX – UX is the “possibly useful skill” I’m learning alongside my other skills. After being a generalist for so long, I would like to be genuinely good at something specific.

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