Web designers are fortunate in that our work can be done from just about anywhere. That said, most of us still tend to gravitate towards either home or commercial office space. Why? Because dealing with coffee shop Wi-Fi just isn’t conducive to getting things done. Plus, the whole pandemic thing made sitting amongst strangers a no-go for most of the world.
But not just any old office setup will do. There are some items that go hand-in-hand with comfort and productivity. Things that web designers either can’t or shouldn’t go without.
As someone who has worked from home for over 20 years, I can attest to the importance of a well-thought-out space. I’ve managed to put together an area that helps me battle stress and lapses in creativity. It’s also a solid spot for doing some actual work when the need arises.
Today, I’m going to recommend some things that every web designer should have in the office. They range from the basics to the frivolous. But, in my experience, they’re all worth the investment. Here we go!
Ergonomic Furniture and Peripherals
If you spend hours a day sitting at your desk, ergonomic furniture and peripherals are essential. Yes, they’re often more expensive than the standard fare. But they’ll save both your health and your wallet in the long run.
For starters, think about your chair and desk setup. If they don’t promote good posture, you’re likely to feel it in your wrists, neck, and back. Let it go for too long, and you run the risk of injury.
In the early years of my business, my posture was less than ideal. I paid for it in the form of carpal tunnel syndrome and some wicked neck pain. That brought along doctor visits and some physical therapy.
It was a hard lesson, but one I took to heart. I invested in an ergonomic chair, keyboard (I still love the old school Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard), mouse, wrist rest, and specialized typing gloves. Perhaps I look like an armored computer geek, but my body feels much better. In my book, that’s a fair trade-off.
That’s not to say you have to go for a fancy stand-up desk or a chair that’s worth more than your home. But shop around and find things that feel right. You spend a lot of time in your office – you may as well be comfortable while you’re there.
A Big Screen
If you’ve worked with computers for a long time, you probably have some memories of what monitors used to be. Small (yet, incredibly bulky) CRT screens with a decided lack of workspace. Tiny, pixelated text that led to eyestrain. It wasn’t a pretty picture.
Thankfully, there have been a lot of advancements in hardware since those days – and monitors are no exception. We now have a massive number of screens to choose from. There are a variety of sizes, resolutions, and features available.
As a web designer, your eyes might be glued to a monitor for 40+ hours a week (and that doesn’t even include your phone). Therefore, it pays to acquire the best one you can afford.
Look for something that offers enough screen real estate to work comfortably with your favorite design and coding apps. In addition, text should be crisp and easy to read.
However, you don’t have to go overboard in spending. I managed to level up from my previous 22-inch screen to a solid 27-incher for a modest sum. The difference was immediately noticeable.
Audiophile Speakers or Headphones
It’s amazing what your favorite music can do. Hearing a great song can lift your spirits, inspire creativity and bring all kinds of positive energy. There aren’t many things in life that have such an immediate impact.
The audio equipment we use plays a huge role in shaping the listening experience. A cheap set of speakers or headphones just won’t cut it these days.
We no longer live in a world where fuzzy, compressed MP3 files are in vogue. The combination of broadband connectivity, lossless codecs, and high-fidelity streaming means that you can hear music as you never have before – all without leaving your desk.
Personally, I’d been utilizing the same low-end set of speakers with my computer’s motherboard sound controller for years. The COVID-19 pandemic got me thinking of going bigger. If I couldn’t leave the house, I at least wanted to try and make the home office more entertaining.
With that, I grabbed a premium set of PC speakers and a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). The results have been stunning. The clarity and precision bring out details in songs I’d never noticed before. Albums I’ve been listening to for years suddenly sound brand new.
Collectibles and Kitsch
An office can be a rather dull place (even with the music at full blast). And it’s not just those sterile commercial spaces that can suffer from a case of the blahs. Home offices, often tucked into a tiny bit of free space, can also weaken the spirits of creative professionals.
Don’t fall victim to a boring office! Just by adding a selection of fun or meaningful objects, you can significantly lighten the mood.
For example, my office includes a small bookshelf. I’ve filled with all sorts of goofy and fun items. Sports memorabilia, CDs signed by favorite musicians and a big helping of other oddities. While it may cause an interior decorator to run out the door screaming, it does give me something to smile about.
Just as importantly, these items are a great way to reflect your personality. They bring comfort and a connection to the outside world. This is something a drab cubicle couldn’t possibly achieve.
A Workspace That Feels Like Home
Don’t settle for being uncomfortable at work. It harms productivity and can make you dread going into the office. This holds true whether your commute is 20 miles or 10 steps. How can you grow as a designer in that type of environment?
Instead, aim to craft a space that brings you comfort and joy. Surround yourself with items of importance. Place your backside in a chair that promotes good posture. And entertain your eyes and ears with high-quality peripherals.
Remember that creating a workspace that feels like home is an ongoing process. You don’t need to splurge on all of these items at once. Rather, you can acquire them over time.
The idea is to put yourself in the best position to be both creative and productive. A great office can go a long way towards helping you fulfill that goal.