Why you should learn more outside your field

I recently saw a great video on user experience designers. It went on to describe how UX designers are people of many hats. They need to have skills in a wide variety of areas: information architecture, user research, interaction design, information design, visual design, and the ability to convey a thoughtful story. This list got me thinking about the field of design.

A good designer doesn’t make something look beautiful, they solve problems. That is why a lot of designers want to be know it all’s. They need the ability to connect the dots when needed, taking information seen in one place and use it in another. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the computer mouse, he repurposed it for a new need. He connected the dots that other people were failing to see.

This is why I think it is important to step outside your direct field of expertise. Step away from your field’s online communities. Follow people on Twitter who you wouldn’t normally follow. Read books that question your train of thought. Find anything that will help you learn something new and push you out of your comfort zone.

It doesn’t have to be passive. Whenever I meet someone new who works in a field that I have little knowledge about I try to learn as much as possible. Ask thought provoking questions and you’ll find people are passionate about what they do.

These steps will open the door to information you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Information that may help you one day spot that missing dot.

The main point is to learn more. Open up your field of knowledge. If you can see more dots you can draw a more detailed picture. Worst comes to worst, you just furthered your education.