the IdeasBlog

The UX Code


Are you a Coder or a Programmer?

It’s always a head-scratcher to me when I hear observations about whether a UX-er should “code”.  Shouldn’t we clearly differentiate between “programming” and “coding”?  This is one of those topics that just keep coming up – especially in the UX arena. The question often arises…

Are you a Programmer? … Not really, but I am an excellent Coder.

What’s the difference?


… produce the application layer code that drives the logic of the system using development platforms like ASP, JSP,DotNet, JSF, PHP, C+Plus.


… produce the underlying structure and presentation layer design that displays the system through User Interface and Information Architecture using HTML,CSS, and Javascript.


UX Coding

I have technical knowledge that is appropriate to my role. UX Coding helps make the 50,000 lines of program code usable.

Note & Context:   When someone says, “Gee, that looks like it was designed by a programmer” … It’s usually not a compliment.

I’ve worked successfully with many excellent programmers who should not be allowed anywhere near HTML or CSS code.

The Meaning of Coding: It’s Semantic

I Code

… in the sense that I am proficient in the identification, definition and organization of content.

As an information architect I organize and express the architecture of information. This is delivered in the form of taxonomy, content strategy, tagging, semantics and keywords. The focal technologies that I work with in the design of this semantic structure are HTML and CSS.

As an interaction designer I choreograph the content in terms of presentation, behaviors & workflow – and have the “dirt under the fingernails” skills to deliver a highly polished experience through usage of Javascript, jQuery and DHTML.  I call this “going native“.


It’s Intelligent Design


You can view CSS as merely a way of applying a “coat of paint” to the UI, but that misses the point, because…


Architecture and Styling are linked


So our understanding and description of information are often based on…

Architectural Metaphors

Content Integration

CSS is the “semantic tagging” tool by which we identify Information Architecture.

IA gives weight and credibility to Cascading Stylesheets.

Context Management

CSS is the “presentational styling” tool by which we engineer a CSS StyleGuide.

CSS gives expression and traction to Information Architecture.

This is the infrastructure of information at the point of presentation.

I consider “information architecture” to be the infrastructure of interactive informational design. The tags of UX coding allow us to create self-aware environments that allow for self-service, collaboration, and cross-pollination.

Here’s an Interesting insight. Accessibly-written.

“We make kids learn about biology, literature, history, and geometry with the promise that navigating the wider world will be easier for their efforts. It’ll be harder and harder not to include computing on that list. “

Is Coding the New Literacy?


LinkedIn (February 5, 2015 – February 29, 2016) 199 views, 8 Likes



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