If you want to learn it right, try doing it
Is it hard? Yes. Do I hate it sometimes? Yes. Does it make me feel stupid? Yes. Does it make me feel old? Yes. Does it mean I shouldn’t do it? Not really sure about that yet.
Exactly 4 weeks ago I began work with a team here at Jigsaw as a Senior Art Director (correction, Junior Interactive Designer) to design a new information website for one of our clients (STOP!)
I’m already in over my head. Ok, wireframe. The room is spinning. Page 1, yes, got it. Page 2, uh huh. Page 3, wait, where does that connect to? Page 4, tracking again. Page 5, 6, 7-34… Page 35, air, I can’t breathe. I am going to suck at this. Um-mm-mm, a site map? How do I use this document with the wireframe? (GULP).
Back to my desk. You can do this. How hard can it be? Think, think… when’s the last time you did something for the first time? (PAUSE).
Photoshop, check. Canvas size 1024×768, check. Safe zone, check. Umm-mm-mm. Now what I do? Wireframes, yes. Homepage. Alright, lets begin designing, that’s something I know how to do-oo-oo-oo (HOLD).
Dip, content area, right rail, main nav, side nav, rollover state, on state, off state, drop down. Oh my God, I need a glossary (I haven’t felt this way since I learned to do TV: FPD, lock down, heads, tails, dolly grip, key grip). You want me to do what? Make that more “buttony.” Is that a word? I can’t find it in my interactive manual (oh wait I don’t have one because they don’t exist). Um-mm-mm, pixels. Zoom in, zoom out. Zoom in, zoom out. Is this seriously how interactive designers measure things? And why on earth does Photoshop think it would be a good idea when you duplicate things to keep adding the word “copy” after the layer name. Ok, back to what I know. Type, color, images. Design. Brand. Hierarchy. This is just like a 100 page annual report. Right? Wrong! Because page 4 doesn’t link to page 8 and when you are on page 8, it doesn’t link to page 24, 25 and 26 and page 26 doesn’t link back to page 4 (BREATHE)!
I’m aggravating my team. Creating later nights on top of late nights. Costing my company money. Everyone hates me. I am a failure. Useless. Maybe I should just go back to print land where I am safe and secure and I know my #@$! (HALT).
But that. That would be giving up. No one ever learned from giving up. What kind of pride can be gained from quitting. Trying something new means you have to do it. And do it again. And when you are done doing it, do it once more for good measure and think about the next time you will do it. Because the best way to learn is by doing and application. Not reading theory. You can’t break rules until you’ve applied them. You can’t ask questions you don’t know to ask without experiencing something first.
Doing something for the first time may be painful and frustrating, but at the same time it is so damn rewarding. It challenges you, makes you humble and reminds you how much you don’t know, how you aren’t always right. How doing it again would be better than quitting. Sure, only time will tell if interactive design and I get along or not. But one thing I know, heh, at least I did it.
Please note my 1 month interactive experience could not have been possible without the help of our wonderful interactive team. Who took a leap of faith. Who thought my level of knowledge with web design was not as important as my talents, smarts and intuition. Who, although wanted to kill me (daily) believed that teaching me would be better then getting rid of me.