Non-graphic coding

I was going to post this question in the web design section of the forum, but web design is only 1 of hundreds of applications.

Have you ever done coding for anything that wasn’t related to graphics? Do you enjoy it more, or less than graphic design. Tell us your stories.

  • Yes, and I like it more
  • Yes, and I don’t like it as much
  • No

0 voters

I will say that I enjoy certain aspects of coding. I like the problem solving aspect of getting something to work in a clean and efficient and repeatable manner. But I think that most people would agree that coding is more of a “right brained” activity while design for the most part is a “left brained” fluid and creative activity and while some people are comfortable working on both “sides”, I believe that by nature people are generally drawn to one side or the other.

I love coding. I discovered it in college when working with Flash, we had a simple project and I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted it to with the timeline, so I taught myself quite a bit of Action Script to accomplish it. From there I learnt any language I could.

I find it therapeutic and a nice way to escape, but once I start- It’s really hard to snap back into the real world. The non-graphic coding I would do would be more API-based development for web applications.

I would say that I like certain aspects of graphic design better than coding as a whole, but the aspects of the graphic design industry that I can realistically get paid for isn’t as fulfilling as coding is.

1 Like

Writing code is crazy awesome. I’m always amazed when some simple lines of text appear as a visual! Especially using css Grid and how it responds! Sometimes I’ll just do stylin’ or write some JS just to see what it looks like!

BTW, the poll should be modified to offer a 4th option that being simply …


Just to clarify, I assumed that most people on this forum had some experience with graphic related code. “Yes” in the poll means you’ve done some code that only displays text if it displays anything at all.

I don’t even enjoy coding as it relates to web projects. Let alone coding for anything else.

I’m unsure what you mean by graphics-related coding. Are you including or excluding website UI coding?

Anyway, I’ve coded websites for, um, about 25 years now, and do not like doing so. I’ve never liked coding, but for some reason whatever skills I have with it seem to follow me around like a swarm of blood-sucking horse flies.

I’ve also put a significant amount of effort into mastering Regular Expressions and AppleScript to facilitate batch changes to text. I picked up this miserable set of skills when I landed a job to recode and reformat 30,000-plus pages of scrambled HTML back in the early 2000s. Like my equally disliked HTML/CSS skills, this particular bit of brain-numbing tedium has also followed me around since it’s a skill that seems to be in rather short supply.

I took the question to apply to coding other than that which is related directly to visual aesthetic, gui, etc.

I enjoy the challenges presented by coding for web applications. (I am proficient mainly in PHP, Javascript, and HTML, CSS.) I greatly enjoy the raw creative process of graphic design, sketching ideas, and recreating those ideas digitally. I love typography, color theory, etc.

What I don’t enjoy about graphic design, much of the time, is that so many clients are already “experts” in design and from the start won’t listen to your experience or let you do your job. I also don’t “enjoy” how saturated the graphic design industry is with every Tom, Dick, and Harry, that owns some software, and the fact that somehow I should be expected to compete with them.

Though I am working full time in application development, I still pick up a graphic design project from time to time. I usually do an interview (questionnaire), to feel out the client to see if they are looking for quality over quick and cheap, to see if they will give weight to my opinions and rely on my experience, and often quote a little on the high side as kind of a filter for those who are not looking for premium service.

What I like about coding in applications, is that it is somewhat like doing design for a blind man. :slight_smile: The focus is on the end result, not if it only works, but provides a good experience for the target user. When it comes to coding for a visual elements of a website unfortunately much of the time the same problems with clients can creep in so I don’t find it as enjoyable.

So I given the right circumstances, I enjoy graphic design significantly more that code. But the reality is, I experience far less frustration, and make better money programming.

Oh and, the software & services for doing my job is so much cheaper!

At the risk of derailing the thread off into a tangent, I want to respond since so much of what you’ve written resonates with me.

Yes, yes, yes! Those are precisely the things (and really, the only things) I dislike about design. Well, it’s not actually design, it’s the state of profession during the past couple of decades. I go all the way back to the late '70s and early '80s with graphic design, and it did not used to be like this. The whole field was esoteric enough and hidden behind tools and techniques that the average person knew nothing about. Today, anyone with a computer has the mistaken belief that they’re an expert when it’s probably further from the truth than it’s ever been. I’ve stated it before, but the only way to do good work in this profession today is concentrate on the higher end niche markets that actually respect and need good design.

I’m finding the same problems in coding that I find in design — everyone’s a make-believe expert. Not an expert with coding of course, but believing they’re an expert in telling coders exactly what to code. Of course this heads back to design, but to me code is just the medium used to design and create websites.

I have a client right now, for example, whose entire business depends on using their website as a conduit to selling a very specialized, nuts-and-bolts niche product. Several million dollars pass through this web conduit each year, and absolutely none of the buyers of this product are interested in anything other than getting in, finding what they need and making a purchase.

That being the case, I’ve gone to great pains to focus on just that — getting the customers to the shopping cart as quickly as possible with a minimum of hassle and with pages that work equally well at all screen sizes and minimal download times.

But no. Among other things, she wants different, long autoplaying movies running in the backgrounds of a labyrinth of pointless pages because she saw it somewhere and thinks it looks cool on her desktop computer at work and will better engage and entertain her customers. I tell her that will bloat every page to a hundred times larger than they need to be, annoy and confuse customers, and will create download delays and lost sales as a result.

She thinks I’m just being argumentative and defensive when I describe the problems she’ll have with this thing. In the end, it’s her company’s site, though, and she’ll pay the penalty of annoyed customers and several hundred thousand dollars each year in lost sales as a result. Despite my best arguments, I’m finding myself in the position of coding pointless, counterproductive crap into her site because she she’s absolutely certain that she knows more about it than I do.

Some days this whole business is just no fun.

This deskribes exactly what I mean:


I like the points that everyone has brought up. I wish that I could have had more of B’s experience as a graphic designer and more of skribe’s experience as a coder.

My experience as a graphic designer has been learning much of what B learned, but a little too late to apply it as much as B has. My experience as a coder was some of what Obsidian and skribe learned, but without the benefit of clients to pay me for doing it.

My interest in graphics goes back as far as I could hold a pencil. My interest in coding started about half way through my 6.5 year military career when I was able to afford computers as a hobby.

My first plan was to use computers to develop games and programs that automate creativity. But I was programming in BASIC, which was very limiting In hindsight. I made a program that randomized simple melodies. I made a pretty good computer opponent for an existing book-based strategy game called Ace of Aces. I started to program a pretty extensive Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) that would have randomized most of the game content. I didn’t realize how much I was reinventing the wheel on that last one.

I learned databases in the military and was able to save time and money on the job with a program called Nutshell. After the military, I used the same knowledge and program to help civilian companies. Nutshell didn’t have a coding (scripting) function that I knew of. The only non-graphic coding that I’ve done that helped employers was database scripting in FileMaker Pro. I helped my boss at a graphic design firm organize his whole management system while I learned FileMaker scripting. Since then, I’ve used FileMaker scripting to do plenty of personal time management, home logistics, and recreate some of my favorite tabletop games on computer.

In 1999, just before I got to know FileMaker, I had a job where I was using Flash, but not Action Script. My boss suggested I learn it, but I didn’t want to compete with engineers on the job. In hindsight, I should have done what Obsidian did. Action Script was a great intro to Java coding because it’s mostly Java-based. Over the years I dabbled in it for gaming. But I didn’t learn just how similar it was to Java until recent years. About 4 years ago, I developed a more complex Flash game using it. Last year I volunteered to teach kids to code Java and saw all the similarities.

So now I’m on the fence as to whether to drop graphic design and go all in on coding. Graphic design is fun, but isn’t making me much freelance money these days. But at least I can finish a graphic design job in more predictable time than I can finish a coding job. My family would probably like it more if I stuck to graphics. Still, I see more opportunity to get paid for coding than I can get paid for graphics, especially at my age.

One approach I’m considering is to do more graphic-related coding since I’m so invested in my graphic career. From there I could merge more into non-graphic related coding. My only frustration in this area is never knowing what coding languages will be valued long enough to yield good return on my learning investment. I’m considering learning C# in Unity for gaming. I’m also considering more scripting for SEO and text-based web content. It’s difficult to decide.

I’m noticing a whole lot more being done in Python than ever before. It’s also been around for what, 30 years, so it’s unlikely to disappear.

Definitely! It’s also really user friendly and pretty easy to learn.

I will second this. (edit: Ok now I have to “third it” because Obsidian beat me to the punch) :slight_smile: Python is a very good choice for an all-around general purpose language. It is flexible enough to use for a wide range of application types and on just about any OS or platform.

Thanks for the triple advice. I’ll give Python a second look.

When I volunteered to teach kids coding, I got a crash course in Java, JavaScript, Python, C#, and Racket. I found every language to be somewhat annoying. I was least annoyed by Java, probably because my experience with ActionScript. I can’t remember what I didn’t like about Python. It was either a bad experience with the instructor, the language was too foreign, or too cumbersome. I noticed that Python is being used in a lot of schools as an intro to coding.

If a programming language is easy to learn, it’s somewhat scary to me as a means of making money for the same reasons skribe mentioned is problematic for graphic design. The easier it is to learn, the more competition. This is part of the reason I find WordPress more annoying the more I learn about it in the online course I’m taking. Probably the only thing coding has over graphic design when it comes to competition is that even the easy code is more difficult than WYSIWYG GUI.

My worst fear is that by the time I get good at any programing language, computers will be programing themselves and people won’t need to know any language other than plain English. This has made me more interested in semantics and algorithms apart from programming languages. But currently there isn’t much opportunity to develop algorithms without mastering a programming language.

I remember Authorware was promising flowchart-based programming back in the late 1990’s. But like every alternative approach to algorithm design, Authorware was phased out between niche market visual programming and hand-coding fundamentalism. Ultimately, I think there will be a return to flowchart-base programming if the Scratch (puzzle piece) approach doesn’t become a popular synonym for visual programming.

Now I’m trying to find the sweet spot between the 2 approaches, which is why I’ve been interested in Unity. I like the idea of an authoring environment that’s both a visual content management system and a script (code) integrating system. That’s what HTML WYSIWYG editors, FileMaker, and Flash have both been for me in the past. That’s what Unity seems to be the best at now. When I learned Unity, it was with the C# language. If Unity allows for any language interpretation, I might try Unity with Python or Java. I’ll have to research that next.

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