Being a web designer isn’t easy. Depending on your niche, it requires a combination of finely-tuned technical and visual skills. And it takes a major commitment in order to keep those skills relevant in an ever-changing industry.

What’s more, the proverbial rug can be pulled out from under us at any moment. Tried-and-true methods can turn to dust and great tools can disappear without a trace. Even industry-related legislation can throw everything into a tizzy.

Taken together, it can all be very difficult to deal with – let alone thrive in such an environment. But it’s not impossible.

Part of the path to maintaining both success and sanity comes from embracing the things we learn from experience: the inconvenient truths.

Over my 20 years as a designer, I’d like to think that I’ve experienced quite a wild ride. In that spirit, I’ve put together a list of “truths” that, once understood, can help to make for a smoother journey.

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1. A Website Is Forever a Work in Progress

Have you ever been so eager to finish off a project that, once it finally launches, you let out a sigh of relief? If so, how did you react when your client came back a short time later and requested a bunch of changes (or, even worse, reported problems)?

This used to drive me insane. When all you want to do is knock another item off your to-do list, it feels like you’re being dragged right back to where you were. And it gets in the way of that next big thing you want to do.

But it’s exactly the wrong way to look at the situation. I’m starting to believe that there is no such thing as a “completed” website. They aren’t something you can truly finish. Client needs change. Content evolves. Things break.

Once you wrap your head around this fact, it becomes less of a disappointment and more of an expected part of your job.

A construction crane.change over time. For instance, the odds are that you work differently now than you did 5 years ago. And the longer you are a part of this industry, the more of these changes you’ll experience.

This can be very difficult. It requires us to evolve along with the web’s standards and best practices – not to mention trends. The web is always progressing for the better, but it takes effort if you want to stick around for the long haul. Indeed, it often means that a periodic reinvention is in order to avoid falling too far behind.

Man in front of three computer monitors.good enough and don’t deserve success.

But the web is a big place. Another person’s perceived expertise doesn’t disqualify you from anything. You can still be great at what you do, regardless of what anyone else has achieved.

If looking to others inspires anything, it should be to improve your own skills. We are fortunate to work in an industry that offers a ton of educational opportunities. You can learn anytime, anywhere and at your own unique pace.

In the end, it’s about keeping your eyes straight ahead and not worrying so much about what others are doing. While we can take cues from other designers, we shouldn’t be bound by them.

Sign that reads more information than we know what to do with. Sometimes, this can lead to faking it in front of others while silently panicking in private.

One thing I’ve learned is that not everything applies equally. Developments in areas like CSS or WordPress impact my own little niche more than, say, 3D animation or a fancy new mockup tool. And the answer will be different for each of us.

Instead of trying to know “all the things”, focus on the items that have a more direct relationship to your area of expertise.

A woman with the word no clear vision, to tiny budgets, to giving a client what they want – even when it’s not necessarily for the better. In addition, even the best designers can deliver the occasional dud.

Every one of us is going to experience this at one time or another. It’s certainly not fun and there’s always the worry of damaging a hard-earned reputation. But it can also serve as a great learning experience.

Each project, even a failed one, is an opportunity for progress. If things went poorly, figure out why and adjust accordingly.

A sign that reads


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