How Three Designers Are Upskilling in 2018

It’s a new year and a great time to think about building new habits and how you might improve upon yourself in some positive ways.

As designers and developers, the rapid pace at which technology, tools, and approaches to building software changes — can be a blessing and curse. Although I think it’s mostly a blessing because as an industry we are continually improving — it means that we must always be evolving and trying new things to stay on the cutting edge. With constant change comes constant adaptation.

After reading this article about how Todd Reynolds is using Framer to get better at Framer as well as animating and putting together my own goals for the year, I was curious to hear what other people are doing.

I talked to three designers to see how they were evolving and upskilling to be better in their personal or professional work.

Raul Perțe Product Designer

Berlin, Germany

Raul works as a freelance designer and runs an independent design and development studio, @wrksHQ, where they prioritize side-projects over client projects, like @WeatherKit. Raul describes the flexibility this affords:

“I can work from home, studio or whilst traveling with zero negative effects over the results. I start my workday in the morning, working in 3-hour shifts and I take a 3-hour break at lunch and spend most of my time in Sketch and Slack.”

This year, Raul is learning Swift and Vapor to improve the design and development process. Raul described a time on a client project when design and development were misaligned, and it caused some tension with the client; learning Swift and Vapor will allow him to mitigate that issue in the future.

“If I know the possibilities, I could get my hands dirty and try to make sure that the design stays aligned and the same when it gets developed.”

Also, Raul just enjoys learning and the satisfaction that comes from feeling like he’s working towards something.

“The process of learning will make me a better designer and allow me to reach the best solution faster.”

Rolando Mathias — Product Designer

Stockholm, Sweden

Rolando is a product designer who freelances mainly for local startups. He transitioned into User Experience from an unlikely place (as many of us do), modeling. He describes the rather literal calling he experienced when realizing the desire to be a designer:

“I read a detailed UX designer job description for a remote agency based in Washington DC, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I knew right away that I was meant to be a designer. I loved how designers were at the center of product creation and that the design process tapped into both creative and analytical abilities.”

After having this realization, he signed up for and eventually graduated from General Assembly’s ten-week Immersive User Experience program. While still able to support himself through modeling, he slowly worked on building his product design skills, eventually making his way to where he currently resides and work, Stockholm.

He’s also the co-founder and designer of Prima Block, blockchain product for Ethereum crowdfunding. This year, Rolando is learning CSS so he can become more familiar with front-end development and do a better job of implementing his designs; which is currently a pain point. His team comprises of two backend developers, and the UI is usually a result of the three of them hacking the front-end together. He considers learning CSS a necessity to produce better work.

“I have been working hard on my design craft, mainly the ability to create accessible and elegant static interfaces. This year I am very motivated to add coding to my arsenal. Interactions engage users on a deeper level, and they add hierarchy and meaning to design elements, so I would like to know how to create them, both for my product and for client work.”

Rolando is looking at learning CSS through Free Code Camp or Scrimba.

Issara Willenskomer — Motion & Usability

Santa Cruz, California

Issara writes and leads workshops on the topic of motion and usability. This year, Issara is practicing talking directly to a camera with no script and get into the flow, all in one take. He says “it’s tough to be good at this.” Issara is working on a content platform that encourages youth to boycott school and demand an educational framework that teaches them how to build and lead teams and solve complex, global problems by the time they turn 18 years old. He describes a source of motivation derived from the direction our society is heading in at the moment.

“Mainly so I can look at myself in the mirror as our civilization heads towards a brick wall at an ever accelerating rate.”

Issara plans to use his iPhone as the engine of the business. Being able to shoot 4k video and using tools like a Gimbal allows him to produce quality content without a lot of overhead. His goal is to build a content platform using his phone and a team of people to live stream across multiple platforms simultaneously.

Issara carves out periods of free time where he can talk stream of consciousness, for example when driving or walking. He says he’s practicing different speaking modalities and focusing on clarifying his thoughts and being concise. His goal is to use his iPhone to power and build this content business.

Good luck to Raul, Rolando and Issara! Are you learning something new this year? If so, please share in a comment. If you liked this article you can tell me out on Twitter.