The Bliss of Ignorance
There’s almost a joy in looking at your ignorance and realizing, ‘Wow, we’re going to learn about this and, by the time we’re done, we’re going to really understand and do something great.
JONY IVE, Apple
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when there’s so much you have to learn. I know this all too well because I’m going through it right now.
For the better part of the year, I’ve been studying different design disciplines but I knew something about it bothered me: Why the need for all of these to be separate? How come they’re not just all plumped into one holistic role?
Fortunately, I came across David Cole’s essay “The Rise of Product Design” and Randy J. Hunt’s Product Design For The Web, and both of them make compelling arguments about the future of design. They claim that the fragmentation in building web products, specifically splitting it into User Experience Design, User Interface Design, Interaction Design, Information Architecture, etc. is a thing of the past. Instead, along with product management and some coding knowledge, all these skills are needed in one individual to be a true Product Designer.
It’s less important to master all of them, and more important that one has an adequate grasp of each skill to be able to deliver products from concept to deployment, and not just be one part of the process who hands it off for the next person to build.
This is a daunting process, but one I have decided to commit myself to. But as further I get along in my learning, the wider this gaping void of what I don’t know becomes. It’s easy to get frustrated over how much left there is to know, and as easily confusing to balance and prioritize what to learn. It almost becomes an exercise in noticing just how ignorant I am about so much.
I’m sure this is common to anyone who wants to explore and know more about their respective industries. So what to do about it? One option is to be trapped by that fear and uncertainty—or you can take Jony Ive’s approach: take joy in it.
Because there’s so much to know, there’s opportunity to understand something so well and eventually create something great because of it. So take pride in even having the audacity to start from what seems like a bottomless pit of ignorance. Let it empower you. It has the capacity to lead you to places you can’t even imagine, and give you ideas and insights and breakthroughs that just might lead to something that has a powerful impact on people’s lives.
In short, don’t worry so much about what you don’t know right now, and just keep learning. The decision to attempt to reach greatness is valiant and courageous in itself, but it’s the few people who remain committed to the journey that get to do great things in whatever path they choose.
Photo: Mike Marsland, WireImage