Millions of words have been written about whether designers should program or if programmers should design. In the same way, we could talk about full-stack designers, full-stack developers, generalists and specialists, ending up to the eternal debate about what is the ideal.
It is totally understandable to want a single person to be able to carry out all the tasks, both yourself for yourself and a company for its employees. However, it is physically impossible to have all the time to learn everything. And even if that were possible, it would be much more efficient to divide that work into other professionals who take care of the different parts.
Biting off more than I can chew
I am going to tell you the story of how I wanted to learn everything from everything, and failed miserably in the attempt. I consider myself a curious person, who enjoys all the disciplines that design encompasses. Not only that, but I also like to learn from everything that is coming to me. Illustration, photography, 3D modeling, economics, marketing, web development, business … And this can get very chaotic.
I’m going to get a bit technical to better illustrate my story. TL;DR in the one last line.
A few years ago, when I started in web design, I learned HTML, CSS and JS. I dug quite deep into HTML and CSS3 with precompilers like LESS or SASS, and later with frameworks like Bootstrap. But the worst started when I started delving into JS. A sector in full migration from the interactive jQuery web to a whole explosion of frameworks such as AngularJS, ReactJS, VueJS, mixed with the same server language, NodeJS, with more and more dependencies for a project that did not need them. In the end, I ended up with a tangle of a bunch of concepts that I didn’t know how to link together.
In conclusion: I started to dig a little deeper into everything and did not see an end.
I lost focus
Looking back, I feel like the biggest problems I had were with focus. Not knowing how to focus my efforts on a single task, and disperse easily and fall into multitasking. You could divide the focus problem into two main points:
Not focusing when learning
The first teaching was to learn the basics first. If we stop to delve every time we see something new, we will be immersed in a sea of possibilities, which we really do not know. And it really can be all straw.
We have to search for the knowledge base soon. The sooner the better.
To avoid this, one of the possible solutions would be to learn with a project in mind. Find the information necessary to make it work, without thinking about whether it is the most polished and ideal for that problem. Sticking with real cases helps us find the usefulness of the concepts and practicing with examples will make it easier for us to stay with what we have learned.
Not focusing when working
When we are in charge of managing all parts of a project, we tend to think about all parts of the process at once. In my case, I design with development in mind, and in the meantime, test development to see if it is possible. This has always limited me when designing, especially when I had to develop it myself.
Working in a multidisciplinary way, it is easy to fall into doing everything at once, thinking from one side to the other.
The well-known T-shaped person
As much as one wants, one cannot learn everything from everything. Between the concepts of generalist and specialist, a new term called “T-shaped person” has been coined. A person who knows his field in depth, but has a general knowledge of other disciplines, to develop his lateral thinking and collaborate more effectively with other members.
After taking many turns in the world of web development, in the end I made the decision to stay with what I learned (which is not little), and apply the 80/20 rule, also known as Pareto’s law. In the end, it is very useful to have a base knowledge (which we could consider that 20%) that is useful in 80% of the projects we undertake.
Applying this will help us not to lose focus on what we learn, and at the same time continue to update knowledge in our field and go deeper into it.
Let’s keep learning
This is applicable in multiple cases, whatever your profession. And at Kypseli we are convinced that constant training is key to improving a team’s performance. Having a general knowledge of other areas (especially the ones we collaborate with) makes it easier for us to find new ways to help each other and be more productive in our day-to-day lives. Applying this will help us not lose focus on what we learn, and at the same time continue updating knowledge in our field and going deeper into it.