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Keep on Keeping on … Learning

Hello bloggy world, I am back! I took a little hiatus to take care of some personal stuff. I may or may not have just had a baby. Let me tell you, it can be pretty time consuming. Anyway, ’nuff ’bout that.

As a designer or anyone working in the digital world, you have to always be in the mode of a student. I don’t mean in a traditional sense of being in a classroom, although that can be good too. At the very least you should be a sponge and soak up the world around you.

What I mean is that, in our digital world, things are moving fast and you better be on the cusp of it. Not only do you need to be well versed in your specific niche, you also need to be knowledgeable in related topics. This can be hard as a designer or anyone involved in digital product creation of any sort.

There are many layers to the cake, so to speak. One layer is staying up to date on the community. What is the latest news in the start up world? What about big players such as Facebook or Google?

Another layer are things like design trends, UI patterns, and transitions on multiple platforms. We all know that products should be made for users first, the user experience side of things. This includes what process you use to achieve the best user experience and what tools you leverage to implement that process. Don’t even get me started on the process of development. It can all be so overwhelming. I already want to take a nap.

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do? Well it takes some active and passive action.

For community news and goings on, you can follow blogs such as Mashable and The Next Web. Maybe even try to write one yourself! Believe it or not, maintaining this blog and writing about design has helped me stay relevant. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about development and analytics because of this blog. As an added bonus, since I co-author it with a guy that is a fantastic and smart engineer, I get to ask him questions about technology that I wouldn’t normally get to ask in a work environment or otherwise (since I’m not scared to look stupid to Peter). Thanks, Peter!

Design-wise, at the very least, you can read up on Apple’s and Android’s design guidelines. That’s easy enough to do on a break. Take a look around at sites such as Behance or even Pinterest for inspiration and to see what is trendy. Network and learn at conferences and meet ups. If you have the time and money, they are usually worth it. Also, try taking a class online. A couple of my favorite places are Skillshare or lynda.com. This takes time, but with the online classes you can do them at your leisure. So, it’s low pressure with high reward. Some other things you might be able to do is get your hands on every device you can. If you have the money, buy them. Don’t have the money? Maybe try your friend’s, neighbor’s, or relative’s devices. Try using them and take note of each one’s nuances.

So, yes, being in this digital world of ours can be overwhelming, especially as a designer. The rub is that most employers want you to be able to do more than is often fair. However, try to see it as a positive! Learn for yourself, because this is your industry, your passion, and your life. Take every chance you can to absorb and learn something. Be curious, be passionate. Also, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for all the knowledge you already have and just build on that! Little by little, one day you’ll be a design force to be reckoned with.

What are your favorite ways to keep on learning?

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