My feeling is that the people who make the truly great digital products—the ones that make our world a better place to live—are the folks who are well-rounded enough to make sense of the entire stack, at least as a high level, and my hope for the new year is that more of the professional development resources our community offers will begin looking at things holistically.
I like this post as it’s the approach that I take. It’s nice to see this especially because I’ve gotten frustrated looking at many job postings and a few interviews in the past few months which seek interest in, reward expertise at, and revolve around performing a narrow set of activities.
Maybe I’m just lazy, but I’ve never been able to dedicating myself to learning a single topic or practicing a single skill long enough to become an expert. I find it much more exciting to learn about all the different parts involved in a system, and at the least I want to reduce the number of subjects I don’t know anything about.
I’ve used these past few months of not working as an opportunity to dive into those subjects I’ve always been aware of, but lacked even basic knowledge about in the hopes of becoming a more well rounded marketer, designer, or product type person. I’ve picked up books on topics covering IA, interaction design, innovation, sketching, lean startups, gamification and psychology.
What I’ve also continued to do once a year is read something to try to improve my writing. Of all the things I try to teach myself, writing has always been the most universally applicable and the one skill with a lot of room for improvement.
Still, user experience, product design and content strategy are three topics at the top of my list of things I wish I knew more about, and the first few books I read in 2012 will definitely cover them.