It’s a new year so what better time to try and get organised and better ourselves within the web development industry. Here’s my list of 10 things to try and improve at during the new year.
Research and read more
Work often becomes the primary focus because that’s what pays the bills but if we focus too much on the work and don’t keep up with the latest trends then it’s very easy in this industry to fall behind and lose touch with the latest techniques and development.
A great new year resolution is to make an extra effort to spend a little time each week reading blog posts, articles and magazines to keep up to date with the industry.
Learn something new
Start projects the right way
Designers can be guilty of jumping straight into Photoshop or code so one of my resolutions is to take a step back and make sure I’m organised first. This mainly involves making sure that folder structures are in place, a proper project workflow is consistent across projects and source control is in place.
Improve estimating and the quoting process
For large projects it’s very difficult to be accurate with quotes due to the amount of things that can vary as you get deeper into a project especially when design is concerned. Therefore it’s important to have a proper process in place and learn from any mistakes at the end of each project so that your next quote is more accurate.
This leads on from the last point so that you can improve your workflow from every project. A lot of designers provide a fixed quote and then don’t learn whether that quote was accurate or if it needs to be tweaked for future projects. By logging time and making a note of how much time each task took compared to the amount of time estimated, you can get a better understanding of where your time was spent and how your estimates can be improved in the future so you are properly billing for your time.
Start a side project
Project work for clients pays the bills but it’s very rare that we can experiment with new techniques or technologies that aren’t quite ready for the mainstream. This is where side projects can come in so that you can develop your skills and be ahead of the curve.
Alternatively why not build a site of your own that pays the bills where you’re in complete control and only have to answer to yourself rather than a client?
Improve social media presence
Most web designers are on Facebook and Twitter but how much do we interact with other people and really use these social media accounts to their fullest? By engaging with other users on social media we can not only help other people in the industry but also build our own reputation at the same time.
Update your portfolio
If you’re a busy web designer then you’ll have probably neglected your online portfolio a little and it’s more than likely still showing your work from last year like myself. The new year is a great opportunity to dig out all the work from the previous year and update your portfolio. While you’re at it though it’s probably also a good idea to factor this bit of work in at the end of every project so that your portfolio remains up to date all year round.
Write blog posts
Another one that gets neglected when you’re busy will most likely be your blog. Why not set aside 30 minutes or an hour each week to write a blog post so that your site remains fresh and relevant?
It’s very easy with an office job to remain inactive for the majority of the day so maybe a resolution can be to go out for a quick walk at lunch rather than a ready meal at your desk? Join a gym, take up a sport etc. It may also be that you take on board all of the above resolutions and improve your project workflow and time management as a whole so that you have less time to spend at the office which improves your free time.
I appreciate that new year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone and quite often most have been forgotten by mid-January but if we start off the new year with ways to improve ourselves in our working environment then hopefully we’ll all have a successful 2014.
I’m personally taking on all the above advice myself and will expand on some of these points in their own blog post over the coming weeks.
Do you have any new year’s resolutions that aren’t listed here to help you improve over the coming year?