19 comments

  • Rick KhannaRick Khanna, 3 months ago

    Generalists (I hate that term) are more employable and will move up the ranks faster. I look to specialists for freelance; generalists for full-time.

    Source: am employer

    16 points
    • Ale UrrutiaAle Urrutia, 3 months ago

      Generalists (I also hate the term) are usually more suitable for teams.

      Being a generalist helps work better as a team player as they can have better understanding and be empathetic to other pieces of the puzzle and do not tend to fall into their own specialization loop. By this I don't mean specialists have no empathy or understanding of other's expertise.

      0 points
  • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, 3 months ago

    Yes

    10 points
    • Darian Rosebrook, 3 months ago

      I appreciate your input on this. Thank you (:

      2 points
    • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, 3 months ago

      I agree with “yes”. :D

      You really need to aspire to be both. It seems like a good goal to try to have enough generalised skills to be able to attempt anything in a related domain, but I’d also hope people care enough about the finer details to hone their skills in very specific tasks.

      1 point
  • David Ghent, 3 months ago

    I think you should only concern yourself with being a specialist if a specialization emerges that you're passionate about.

    7 points
  • Tristam GochTristam Goch, 3 months ago

    Is it better for designers to do whatever makes them happy or to obsess over following the "right" path?

    5 points
  • Anton B.Anton B., 3 months ago

    "Specialist on the outside, generalist on the inside"

    3 points
    • Darian Rosebrook, 3 months ago

      I actually think you're onto something here. In my article I talked a bit of experimenting and then choosing something to narrow down in. All it was written with the intent for freelancing. Those other skills you learn don't go away, but you selectively project what you are on the outside.

      0 points
  • Andrew C, 3 months ago

    Both are useful. Early-stage companies favor generalists because they need someone who can fill multiple roles as needed. Larger companies with mature functions and established processes tend to benefit a mix, with an emphasis on really valuable specialist roles.

    2 points
  • James FutheyJames Futhey, 3 months ago

    It takes both. Nothing great gets built without a mix of the two.

    Specialists produce better work, but rarely have the vision or cross-disciplinary skills to lead a project, or produce the core experience.

    1 point
  • Jon MyersJon Myers, 3 months ago

    Sorry, but the article has some incoherencies and may send junior designers into a tailspin.

    There’s another layer to this.

    It’s unclear to me if the article is talking about practicing a variety of design disciplines versus design specialization, say user interface design.

    Or - is it advocating - vertical industry specialization as a designer versus generalist as a designer in a wide range of industries.

    I suspect the answer is - both - but, these are important distinctions.

    A designer (across a range of disciplines) with experience in say fin-tech or biotech, may command larger fees than say a designer who has been focused on doing restaurant websites.

    Of course, everyone has to start somewhere.

    But, industry vertical experience can also be one of the more important factors that determine “how people think of you” as a designer.

    1 point
    • Darian Rosebrook, 3 months ago

      This is actually some pretty good insight. I was intending to talk about both in the manner of if you have no idea what to do, experiment, if you have a field chosen, you can further specialize with the crossroad.

      I'll review the article and make necessary changes if I find them.

      I spent a lot of time talking to Justin about that industry vertical experience and we decided it was better to design outside of that.

      Thanks for your input, I appreciate it.

      0 points
  • Clark WimberlyClark Wimberly, 3 months ago

    Why not both?

    1 point
  • Balazs SzaboBalazs Szabo, 3 months ago

    When you are junior designer is it recommended to "try and taste" everything. So that you will have a general image of everything and than, later you can understand the backside of the projects. Also some coding knowledge, some basic color theories in print and on web, some typography skills make you better designer even if you choose to be an illustrator, a web designer, product designer or let's say ... editorial designer at a publishing agency.

    0 points
  • Aaron Wears Many HatsAaron Wears Many Hats, 3 months ago

    Specialisation is for insects.

    0 points
    • Fran RosaFran Rosa, 3 months ago

      All generalisations are wrong — even this one.

      1 point
      • Aaron Wears Many HatsAaron Wears Many Hats, 3 months ago

        Let me expand the quote ;)

        A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialisation is for insects.

        -Robert A. Heinlein

        0 points