The web has been around for 30+ years. And we’ve reached a point where “old timers” exist within the industry. In this case, let’s define it as anyone with more than 15 years of experience.
My web design career began in 1996. That was right about the time when the web was becoming mainstream. More people were coming online. Organizations began to see the value in having a website.
So much has changed. We’ve gone from static HTML to content management systems (CMS). The industry has adopted many standards and best practices. Most impressive is that we can take the web with us. Mobile devices have been a game changer.
Truthfully, I couldn’t foresee any of this when I started. Nor did I know that I’d still be working on the web. Things just turned out that way.
Or did they? There must be some secret formula for sticking around this long.
I’ve thought about what it takes to achieve longevity in web design. Here’s what I found.
You Need Enthusiasm for Your Work
Enthusiasm is a key to longevity. And it applies to every career path. Staying on course is difficult when you’re not having fun.
But sometimes we get the wrong impression. Enthusiasm isn’t a 24/7 feeling. It can leave us for days, weeks, or more.
And there are numerous causes. A particularly stressful project can sap your energy. A difficult client can make you dread going to work. Plus, this work is just plain hard. Things don’t always go according to plan.
So, where does enthusiasm come from? Some find it in the creative process. Others may find it in solving complex problems. Helping a client achieve their goals is also a goldmine of good vibes.
Being filled with endless joy isn’t the point. That’s not a realistic expectation for any of us. It’s about finding bits and pieces that excite and motivate you. And you can adjust your workflow to experience more of these moments.
These are the things you can hold onto during tough times. And they’ll give you the energy to take on the next challenge.
Be Willing to Adapt to New Tech
Very little stays the same in this industry. Fundamental technologies like HTML and CSS remain. But even they have evolved. As they say, change is the only constant.
Adapting to change is difficult. As is understanding when to make a change. There are no easy or universal answers.
New technologies arrive daily. But not all of them will be worth your time. How will you know when it’s time to adapt?
So much depends on your niche. Look for tools that will add value to your skill set. Find technologies that will help you better serve client needs. These are areas where change makes sense.
The benefits of something new aren’t always apparent. You may need to experiment to find them. Finding the right one can provide a boost for your career.
You don’t have to jump on every new thing that comes along. But a willingness to try can make a difference. You’re investing in yourself and your future.
Work for Something Bigger Than Yourself
Web design is just another job at the end of the day. There are positives and negatives. And not everyone has the desire to stay in the industry.
Those of us who stay seem to have a common thread. We want to become involved in the web design community.
This involvement takes many forms. It could be contributing to an open-source project like WordPress. Or you might advocate for important causes like security or accessibility.
But you don’t have to focus on making change at the highest level. It’s also possible to impact others on a one-to-one basis. Activities like mentorship help bring others into the industry. It may make someone else’s journey that much more rewarding.
Paying it forward gives you a reason to stay in web design. It doesn’t have to be anything time-consuming or difficult. Even small contributions provide a sense of purpose.
Stay around as Long as You Like
Being a web designer for 25+ years is hard to fathom. The job description has changed dramatically. And yet here I am.
I’m far from the only “old timer” out there. Other talented and dedicated folks have made it this long. Some have even come full circle and retired.
If you’re hoping for similar longevity, think about the items above. Find a niche that you’re enthusiastic about. Don’t be afraid to try new things. And give back in a way that suits you.
Each of these items will help you establish roots in web design. They’ll open you up to a world of opportunity and support. You’ll need them to survive the challenges and changes.
You may make it longer than me! And who knows what the web will look like then?