Web design and development are incredibly vast fields. There are so many potential skills to learn and areas in which to specialize. That means even the top people in the industry will have holes in their knowledge.
There is also a fine line between what can be considered a knowledge gap and a true weakness. For example, just because you don’t know React or create layouts in Figma – is that a detriment? The answer may vary, depending on your niche.
Today, we’re going to focus on identifying your weaknesses as a designer. The goal is to help you figure out real areas of concern, as well as those that you might want to ignore. From there, we’ll also provide some tips for improving those weak spots. Let’s get started!
A Weakness Is Something That Holds You Back
As a web designer, it’s easy to feel left out. We see so many mentions of different languages, technologies and tools. If you’re not actively involved a particular hot topic, you might think that you’ve fallen behind.
But many of us tend to specialize. We may choose to work with a certain content management system (CMS), shopping cart or even a framework such as Bootstrap. Or perhaps you focus only on front-end development and pass the back-end tasks onto colleagues. On the business end of things, this could also mean only dealing with clients in specific industries or price ranges.
Therefore, the challenge is picking up skills that:
- Help you do more within your specialty;
- Empower you to pursue a different specialty that interests you;
If a missing skill doesn’t facilitate either of the above, is it really a weakness in your repertoire? Likely not.
On the other hand, lacking a skill that could benefit you either now or in the long-term might be considered a real weakness.
For instance, a front-end developer who isn’t well-versed in modern CSS layout techniques could be missing out on something important. Without the knowledge of Flexbox or CSS Grid, creating layouts may be less efficient. And slower development time might ultimately mean taking on fewer projects.
So, before you lament not knowing x, y or z, ask yourself if it could be of productive use within your specialty. If so, put it on your list of areas to strengthen. Otherwise, it’s probably safe to toss it into the recycling bin for the time being.
Building up Your Design and Development Skills
Have you defined a thing or two that could improve your design and development game? Great! Now it’s time to take some action.
The natural response here would be to dive headfirst into some courses or tutorials. And that’s fine if it fits your personality.
However, leveling up can be stressful for many of us. Forcing yourself to learn something new or expand your current knowledge can be counterproductive. And it’s especially tough when your daily schedule is packed. It may lead to frustration and, ultimately, giving up.
The answer is in developing a strategy for exactly how you want to learn and grow. Here are a few tips for doing just that.
Set Realistic Goals
Everyone wants to feel a sense of accomplishment. But there are instances when we aim for too much too soon. Setting realistic goals for progress is the better way to go.
So, instead of vowing to master WordPress theme development over a weekend, start slowly. Break it down into bite-sized pieces.
Following the WordPress example, start with a basic understanding of the template structure and how it affects a site’s content. From there, move on to the header, footer and other key components. Make small changes and work your way up to larger tasks. Each benchmark you reach will help you stay motivated.
Make Some Time
Free time can be hard to find. What with taking care of clients, family and the other items on your to-do list. Thus, it’s unlikely that a large chunk of hours will just fall into your lap.
Learning something new requires that you make time. Whether it’s an hour in the evening after the kids are asleep or a quiet Sunday morning – write it on your calendar. Doing so will add some accountability for keeping up with your studies.
You may not make every learning appointment – and that’s OK. Sometimes life gets in the way. But the act of developing a schedule will keep you honest and engaged.
Improve and Evolve as a Web Designer
The hardest part of identifying your weaknesses is in filtering through all of the hype. If we only measured ourselves against the headlines, every one of us would come up woefully short.
Thankfully, web designers don’t need to know it all. We just need an understanding of the skills that will keep us on our chosen path (or help us pave a new one). Everything else is just background noise.
And that’s the beauty of web design. Each of us has a choice in specialty. That allows us to focus on the tools and technologies that benefit us most.