Those Things That Can Come Back to Haunt Web Designers


Making mistakes is part of the human experience. They go together like pizza and breadsticks. But the beauty of a mistake is that you have an opportunity to learn from it.

Still, the reality is that we usually don’t learn until that mistake properly blows up in our faces. Even then, that one false move can come back to haunt us time and again. Once that happens, it can seem impossible to shake yourself from the clutches of such horror.

Perhaps the best (and only) defense is to avoid making that mistake in the first place. So, before you go about your daily business, read our list of business and design-related actions that can come back to bite you. It may just save you from some future headaches!

Accepting Projects That Don’t Feel Right

Not every project or client is going to be the right one for you. And it seems like, quite often, you can spot a bad one right from the beginning.

Yet one of the most difficult things to learn in business is to trust your instincts. Other factors, such as the need for money and to build out our portfolios, get in the way and cloud our decision-making.

Signing up to work on a project that looks like a disaster-in-waiting is something that can have detrimental effects on your business and health. Whether it’s because of the work itself, an untenable client, or both – it’s a bad situation. And unfortunately, there’s not often a graceful way to get out.

Therefore, it pays to think long and hard before agreeing to something you’re uncomfortable with. If you can’t see yourself cozying up to the project, it’s OK to say “no.”

 Think about whether a project is a good fit for now and the future.

Failing to Comment Code or Document Changes

Have you ever written a piece of code and said to yourself, “I’ll remember it”? Even if you’re blessed with a sharp memory, there is still a good chance that at least something will slip your mind. That makes future maintenance for you (or the next developer) much more difficult.

The same can be said for other changes. For instance, maybe you need to temporarily remove a design element from a template or change some CSS. Not taking the time to document what you’ve done will typically come back to haunt you.

You could waste precious time searching around for a past change or attempting to figure out why you wrote a piece of code years before. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Websites rarely stay the same. When change happens, wouldn’t it be nice to have a detailed explanation of how things work? Do yourself a favor and start documenting items large and small. Your future self with appreciate it!

 Adding comments to code can serve as a future reference.

Relying on the Unreliable

We tend to put our faith in a lot of third-party products – everything from JavaScript libraries to WordPress plugins. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this. Our job often requires us to piece together websites from many disparate parts. This is just how things work…until they stop working.

Truth be told, virtually any third-party item we implement can become a weak link in the chain. However, it’s up to us to try and mitigate that risk as much as possible. How do we do this? By taking the time to research the products we use.

While no one is clairvoyant enough to know what’s going to happen, you can tell the difference between well-maintained products and those that aren’t.

Sometimes, we pick something simply because everyone else is buzzing about it. We might do so without looking at factors like compatibility and release history. The danger is that by the time we find out how poor the product is, something has already gone wrong.

So, before jumping on that bandwagon, do your homework. Look at support forums and changelogs. Test things out for potential weaknesses. A little extra effort upfront can save you from having to remove that previously-hot item from every site you manage.

 Choosing the wrong third-party tools can lead to problems.

Not Standing Up for Yourself

As the old saying goes, give people an inch, and they’ll take a mile (or the metric equivalents). It’s bad enough to let others take advantage of you. But when you give in to a client, well, that’s a punishment you could relive many times over.

Acts such as doing work for them after hours or providing price breaks can boomerang on you. Respond to their message on a Saturday night, and some will take it to mean that it’s OK to reach you at that time. Charge way less than you normally would, and they’ll expect that will always be the case.

It’s not necessarily the client’s fault. People tend to base their behavior on the reaction of others. In other words, if you let them do it – they will probably take advantage and not think twice about it.

Sometimes we must tell ourselves that it’s good to set boundaries. That is unless you want clients to routinely interrupt your dinner or binge-watching sessions.

 Be assertive with clients to prevent being taken advantage of.

The Keys to Fewer Regrets

Much like a game of PAC-MAN, web designers need to find a way to outrun those ghosts looking to haunt us. Strategically, just like in the classic video game, doing this requires making moves with the future in mind.

However, many potential problems can be prevented by avoiding lazy practices. Things like commenting code, researching software, or even weighing the potential consequences of a project could save us from a whole lot of issues.

The good news is that each item mentioned here can be avoided, or at least mitigated to a certain degree. Learning from mistakes is great, but preventing them is even better.

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