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Bolster your design skills by trying something new.

Specialization is good for your career, but variety unlocks your best work and makes you a stronger designer.

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov via Unsplash.

Hello again, designers. 2017 is quickly coming to a close… another year of hard work, another year of reading about the value of specialization in design. As the weather starts to turn, the time feels right for a friendly reminder that skill diversification is a good thing, too.

I am a proud user experience and visual designer—and they said it couldn’t be done! Although I love crafting experiences, I’m also in love with the process of creating beautiful aesthetics. The challenges of designing function and beauty each involve skills that can inform the other. Our users experience both of them simultaneously, so it’s crucial to know both.

Most modern designers understand these things—there’s no grand reveal here. Instead, my hope here is to provide a friendly reminder for those of you out there who may be feeling a little entrenched in one type of design.

If lately you’re feeling ready to push your design skills further, but aren’t entirely sure where to start—start with something new. Not a new project in your current field of expertise, but rather something you’re genuinely unfamiliar with — even if it’s a bit intimidating. If you spend most of your time designing print materials, jump into motion graphics! If you specialize in UI design, start learning illustration!

Heck, visit the local art store and pick up some charcoal and newsprint. Start drawing—what’s stopping you? Design is about balancing business and art, so do something for your inner artist. At worst, you’ll spend some time trying something new. At best, you’ll find that your exploration has triggered a renewed sense of inspiration—one that can inform your current skills, help you develop new ones, and make you a more well-rounded creative professional.

Let’s be clear — specialization is a good thing. It’s a great thing! But regularly experimenting with different types of art and design can be priceless exercise. It’s an investment in your future! I believe this so strongly that I identify as a product and visual designer, despite the common misconception that designers should be one or the other.

Knowledge compounds. Every new skill learned unlocks the door to even more skills and to new ways of approaching your work. Exploring different areas within design is good for your brain and your heart, and it’s a solid investment in your career. The next time you feel bogged down in one type of design, try something new.

Happy exploring!

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