I’m rounding off this little series on learning with a chat to my business partner Joe. Who, for the past five years has been on steep learning curve.
What started as a quick fix for a client has evolved into a grand plan to take his design off page and screen, out into the physical world.
Originally focussing on digital design and UX, Joe has created a set of strategic design skills that can be applied to almost any problem.
I spoke to Joe about why he’s devoted so much of his spare time to learning.
It started with us promising to deliver something we had no experience of.
I had to teach myself Information Architecture in a relatively short space of time which meant booking onto an expensive week long bootcamp.
Once I had that under my belt, it was just a case of adding to my UX skills whenever I had the time. I picked up a lot of information from books and online articles but I also completed a Coursera Human Computer Interaction course with Stanford University. Sometimes I need the structure you get with a course like that.”
You’ve given over much of your spare time over the past 5 years to learning one thing or another. How do you stay motivated?
I don’t. Not always. I need variety and sometimes I worry that I flit from one thing to another. I’ve learned UX design, front end development and service design. Surprisingly, they all bleed into each other. The problem has been how much there is to learn. I get a grasp of one thing and then the goalposts shift and what I know is outdated and I need to learn something new.
Do you ever worry you’re chasing the wrong set of skills?
No, not at all. I’ve been able to design and build our new website from scratch and take other smaller development jobs in-house. That’s a few thousand pounds we’ve not had to spend on developers this year alone.
The best bit is being able to add Service Design to the studio’s set of skills. I’ll always love graphic design but helping people change negative behaviours and improve their health is incredibly rewarding.
So what’s next on your to-learn list?
I think front end development and service design have the capacity to be infinite projects. I don’t think anyone can ever call themselves an expert in that field if they have an end point for their training.
I’ve also gone back to illustration, which is where I started after university. I’ve been learning hand lettering. I love my new skills but I’ll never get tired of playing with nice pens and paper.