|Because everyone’s situation is different, I thought I’d start with a pep talk on some broad ideas. Keep in mind these are things I’m still trying to master myself. And while they’ve helped me, they mightn’t necessarily work for you.
Now, assuming you’ve made some inroads into learning the craft, here are 5 things to consider when getting yourself to that next level.
Learn to learn
Let me say this upfront: in the field of web design, qualifications don’t actually mean as much as you’d think. Really, it’s about what you’ve done, and what you can do. How you get to this point isn’t really an issue. Some people need the structure and regularity of university study to learn anything. Other people can simply pick up a book and go for it. My advice here is do what works for you.
Some people complaining that ‘my degree taught me nothing…’. If we’re talking about timeless design principles or whatever, that’s one thing. But when you’re talking about the nuts and bolts of how to build a website, it’s worth keeping in mind that with a field that progresses as fast as web design, and because the people writing/teaching the material are usually out of the field a little while themselves, it can be harder than you’d think to find a college course that’s going to give you everything you need.
A lot of articles about how to ‘make it on the web’ talk about being able to sell yourself and your abilities. I agree with this, but I’d say that before this comes something much more important — having something good to sell.
Like the quote to the top, same thing applies here. When you’re starting out, worry about getting better first and selling these skills once you’ve got them. I believe, that if you produce great work, great things will come back to you without you needing to say or sell anything.
But chances are, if you’re just starting out and looking for work, you’ve got more time than money. Chances are, you may not be relying on web design to put food on the table. If this is the case, you’re in a great place to be. It’s the place every hack designer wishes they could get back to. Understand that once you make that leap into paid work, you’re set on a trajectory. The more groundwork you put in early on, the higher angle the path you’re traveling on. What I’m trying to say is, building your skills has a snowball effect. There always comes a point when the designer decides “right…I’m heading out into the wide world…”. The longer you can hold out doing this, the better.
Of course, there are jobs where you may not get any flexibility at all. And it’s these situations where I’d also recommend not settling. If you’re a creative person, this sort of situation can be all the more soul destroying. Don’t let it kill your right hemisphere! There are always better opportunities out there, so if you’re unhappy in your current work — don’t settle.
Now this doesn’t mean you should dislike everything you produce. But growing as a designer is about finding a balance between being too self-congratulatory and being overly self-critical. This sort of mindset can be applied broadly to a whole design, or just to one small section of it that maybe could be improved upon. It’s the asking of the question ‘how can I make this better?’ that counts, whether you are actually capable of making something better isn’t as important. Be hungry for improvement.
When you apply this attitude towards your work, you’ll see two wonderful things happen: firstly, you’ll learn detachment from your designs which is very healthy; and secondly, and most importantly, you’ll get better.
|Free Roman Polanski poster
Stepping into web design
Ferrari Hamptons Rally (web link)
Ferrari Owners Club
Northeast region (web link)
Loveliers (web link)
|Magdalena Kolodziej (web link)
Designing for the web:
5 things I love and hate
A few extra pounds
Save Demoscene in North America poster
|Mulholland Drive poster
Design by numbers
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