I work as a self employed industrial graphic designer. Meaning I am the one who has to figure out what skills I have to keep up-to-date and what new stuff I have to learn.
The world changes. All the time. New technologies arrive, other disappear or become redundant.
When you are the only one to pay for your education, you learn to prioritize. I have found that it is worth it every two years to take a step backward and try to see the need for skills in a broader perspective. Doing that helps you focus on what skills are more important than others.
A couple of years ago I did the "look at things in a broader perspective exercise" again and found that most of my hard skills were heading into "the great convergence".
- Webdesign had evolved from being design-intensive html to cms-based data-oriented design with very much focus on SEO and and conversion
- Page layout and design had evolved into interactive documents with a lot of demands for tracking interaction when hosted as pdf's.
- Copywriting had evolved into content marketing and again with a big focus on SEO, conversion and modularity.
- Technical documentation was increasingly being dragged into the same matrix of demands for different delivery formats, searchability, faster updates and more languages.
This was a scenario which was impossible to bridge with a course on Lynda.com. Specializing in one area, would mean a big risk of landing myself in a dead end with skills in a single piece of software, which eventually suddenly might become redundant.
My solution was to figure out what the common denominator in the "The Great Convergence" was.
Whas binds all these skills together is about "content". Content having become a sort of fluent ever flowing raw material which can be shaped, bent, designed and delivered in all sorts of shapes and media. And in order to work with content, you have to understand how content works on the most basic level and what route it takes before it is delivered. Being a graphic designer, my area of interest is in the design process and in the actual layout and presentation.
Which is why I am now working designing Adobe FrameMaker templates which will work with DITA publishing.
DITA output needs to be be customized and designed in order to match design policies of the companies adopting DITA.