Learn By Looking Outside Your Walls

Like most people in the user experience field I’m always looking for new ways to improve my craft. There are, of course, books, blogs, and conferences. But one of the best ways to learn about solving design problems is talking to the professionals you know at other companies to see how they are addressing the same problems you are in different settings.

This week I got to learn from a great group of UX designers and developers at the Chicago Tribune how they approached a responsive web design project targeting tablets and handheld devices. For an investment of a few hours of time (and lunch for six) a large group at my company, Cars.com, got to learn from the real-world experiences of people who had to execute a large project that would serve content and advertising to many devices, operating systems, and screen sizes. And all under tight deadlines and challenging management expectations. That “in-the-wild” point of view is often missing from more tactically oriented blog posts and “how-to” articles.

So the next time you are curious about a design topic look around your professional circles to see if you can arrange a little ad hoc knowledge sharing. You’ll probably make some new contacts and gain a different and unique perspective on the problem space.