There are a ton of resources out there to help us learn web design. Whether you want to code like a master or create stunning graphics, the opportunity to sharpen your skills is just a few clicks away.
But being a web designer is so much more than just the technical side of things. Depending on your particular situation, it also requires business sense and the ability to work with others.
A career in web design can also be a serious challenge emotionally as well. It’s something we don’t really talk about, but maybe it’s time to start.
There Is No Shield
For many web designers (myself included), their interest in the field starts as a hobby. It’s about learning something new, experimenting and having fun. Maybe a few people see what you’ve created, or perhaps it’s strictly a personal project.
Making it a career out of it, however, takes things to a different level. Once you start putting your design and development work out into the world, any barriers to criticism suddenly go away.
Why? Because it’s no longer a hobby. You’re now being paid for your talents and are working with real-world clients (not to mention bosses). They’re apt to share constructive criticism and request changes – sometimes major ones. And, due to human nature, some people are much more skilled in this area than others.
This can act as a very rude wakeup call for a new designer. You’ve gone from creating something for the joy of it to now having your every choice closely scrutinized.
The result can be a feeling of frustration and a sinking confidence. It’s something that can take a toll on both your enjoyment and belief in what you’re doing.
too few projects in your queue can be scary in its own right. You may start to wonder if your business will survive.
Then there are the projects themselves. A highly-complex gig, or one that turns out to be completely different than you expected, brings its own rollercoaster of feelings.
In my experience, it only takes one of these to completely disrupt your carefully thought out plans. It can feel like you have a total lack of control. Then, there’s a mad rush to just get things done in order to move on to the next thing.
There’s a hard lesson to be learned. It turns out that, despite a lot of due diligence, projects often have a mind of their own. They aren’t nearly as predictable as we’d like and that can be difficult to deal with. That goes for procurement, scheduling and doing the actual work.
responsibility. Keeping things running smoothly, ensuring accessibility, staying compatible with new technologies, training clients and managing content are just a few of the things we’re tasked with.
This can be a lot to put on a solo freelancer or even a small agency. Much like a doctor, it requires being on call at all odd hours. And not every client will be satisfied with waiting until the next day to fix a broken website.
Beyond that, great care has to be taken every step of the way. It feels bad enough when something beyond our control happens, but even worse when we’re the cause.
This is a burden that we don’t often think about when going into this business. But it is a challenge we’ll have to face at some point.
So, if you’re new to the industry, it’s worth taking a little time to consider the types of situations you might face and how they’ll make you feel. If you’ve been around for a while, think back to the emotional ups and downs and how they affected you.
Most importantly, realize that these emotions are all part of the experience. Learning to deal with them is just as vital as writing great code or crafting beautiful designs. They can all help to put you on the path to success.