Because I came to design through a circuitous route, I don’t tend to think like most designers. And for that, I remain very thankful.

One thing that I worry about with many designers is their constant stultifying specialisation. Once they begin to get good at one area of design, there’s a tendency to stay in that area of comfort. I see it a great deal with designers in their 30’s who still steadfastly refuse to consider doing any web design.

It’s not only a career dead-end, it’s an intellectual one too.

Design shouldn’t be about becoming good at solving one kind of problem over and over. The challenge is to turn your skills and intellect to solving all kinds of problems. If you don’t, you risk being left behind when the culture no longer needs your narrow skillset to solve a small range of problems.

The obvious example now is that of print designers who are unwilling to move toward solving problems in an on-screen context. But think also of the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from people who currently design using Flash. They aren’t up in arms because they think Flash is the best solution for developing content for mobile devices. They’re scared that they’re going to have to learn new tools, and that they won’t be as comfortable as they are within the cognitive framework they’ve built around the skills they have.

That’s sad. A designer should look at new mediums and new technologies as an opportunity and a creative challenge. I know I do.

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