Midwest UX 2014 Recap: Make. Mentor. Learn

Following in the shadow of Jared Spool is never easy. Todd Zaki Warfel succeeded by picking up where Jared Spool left off. With an emphasis on lifelong learning and mentorship, he details the ways in which we can move from "unconsciously incompetent" to "unconsciously competent". Along the way the audience also got to see examples of his woodworking prowess and demonstrations of prototyping in action. While I probably would not hire him for my next home remodeling job it proves the value in learning to take risks.

Sketchnotes taken during Make. Mentor. Learn

The first step in any design methodology should involve stepping away from the computer. Instead of relying on Photoshop, Axure, or other software grab a pen and your sketch pad. Locate a quiet place then just let the ideas flow without any judgement as to quality. Only once you have prepared mentally should you sit down at the monitor.

Tools are not as important as communicating workflows and ideas. Focus more on demonstrating dynamic interactions and less on making it pixel perfect. The results may surprise you. In fact you may find yourself convincing engineering teams to build in functionality that other applications have been requesting for years.

Pursuing design and growing your skill set might prove difficult at work. Do not be afraid to embrace a side project to give yourself freedom to experiment. Try the things that you think are impossible rather than fearing failure. Learn how to build your own bookshelves even if you do not know the first thing about carpentry.

Anybody who wants to understand how to grow your career should listen. It might just change the way that you approach your professional development. At the very least you will pick up a few carpentry tricks for the next time you need to build a set of bookshelves.