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Working as web designer and/or developer can be very rewarding for those with a technological and/or creative inclination. But it can also be a very challenging line of work, because it’s important to stay in touch with current trends in the field, and know when something new has been released that can benefit you in your daily tasks. It’s also crucial to stay on top of issues like security and compliance, because a lot is happening on those fronts in recent years, and these are problems that can make or break the business of many companies.

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Photo by Tranmautritam from Pexels

Learn UI/UX in Depth

One of the best ways to improve yourself as a professional in this field is to deepen your knowledge on UI and UX concepts. This is the sort of thing that many web designers believe that they have a good enough understanding of, but the reality is often quite far from that. Proper UI design involves many aspects that are not immediately obvious. And when you want to make sure that the whole website flows smoothly from start to finish too, this adds another layer of complexity that many beginners tend to underestimate.

A good understanding of UX concepts will not only allow you to create sites that feel nicer; it will also improve your own ability to design sensible structures and layouts, and you’ll start to open your eyes to some important points with regards to prioritising the right kind of information for the viewer.

Stay in Touch with New Frameworks

This is a rapidly evolving field, especially if you work with JavaScript on a regular basis. It’s important to stay in touch with any new major developments in this regard. New frameworks come and go all the time, and while it’s true that not many of them end up sticking around, it’s still important to pay attention to how the market is shifting. You should at least know the most popular names in this area, even if you’re not directly using them in your work.

And it can’t hurt to set aside some time on a regular basis for learning something new. Even an hour a week can go a long way in this regard. Some people make it a point to learn something new every day, but a person’s schedule is not always very conductive to this approach.

Improve Your Backend Programming

Backend programming is another point that many web designers can benefit from addressing on a more fundamental level. Even if you never have to work on any of that code yourself, it can still pay to be able to look under the hood and understand what’s going on. In many cases, you’ll find that the underlying code is not too different in style and structure from what you’re already used to on the front end, at least if you work with JavaScript for your dynamic sites.

Going into a bit more detail here can’t hurt either. Learning how databases work can be invaluable if you want to make yourself a more attractive worker in this industry, and it’s not even as complicated as the name might imply. In fact, something like MySQL can be surprisingly straightforward to get the hang of, at least on a basic level. And it will expand your horizons significantly, even beyond your main work itself.

Strengthen Your Security Knowledge

Security is something else that you must always pay close attention to. You can’t afford to have poor security practices if you’re working with clients. There are many common mistakes in the design of a typical website that can be avoided rather easily by just having the right kind of knowledge. Preventing the most common types of attacks is something that you can easily do, and you can even go beyond that if you have the curiosity for it.

IT security is a pretty broad field right now, and there are various sub-fields that you’ll need to explore. For now though, you should focus on security protocols, safe programming practices, and encryption. Those are the topics that will be most relevant to someone operating in your field, and while you can expand your knowledge even more by exploring some additional areas of cyber security, those should still be a good start.

It would be worth looking into cyber security training to expand your knowledge as well. This is a subject that you really have to keep on top of – it’s not the kind of field that you can just study for a couple of days and consider it done. New developments keep coming out on a regular basis, and staying in touch with them will be crucial.

Don’t Underestimate the Benefits of Hiring Help

The web field tends to predispose people to working alone to a great extent. After all, if you’re competent enough, you can do pretty much every aspect of the job yourself. From coding the sites, to designing and creating the graphics in Photoshop or a similar tool, to programming the backend – realistically, this can all be handled by the same person in most small and medium scale projects. But the more you progress in this line of work, the more you’ll start to think about hiring help.

And that’s fine – it’s an inevitable part of working in the field, and it’s something you should not underestimate in terms of the benefits it can bring to the table. Just make sure that you do it in a controlled manner, because there is a lot of potential for messing things up here. Even hiring one new worker can undermine the work of your organisation significantly if you’re not careful.

This is especially true in the earlier stages of your company, where the workload is distributed among a smaller number of people. Do proper screening, be picky, and make absolutely sure that it’s worth hiring this person in the first place.

Investigate Opportunities for Automation

Automation is a big trend in many industries right now. And for a good reason – it can significantly reduce the workload of a company’s workforce, and free up time for more important tasks. This is especially true when automation is applied to menial, repetitive tasks that nobody likes doing in the first place.

There is a lot that can be automated in web design and development. Basic content creation, navigation and layout, and especially testing – many of these tasks can be reduced to a few clicks of the mouse if you have the right technology and feed it enough data. But it will take some time to integrate these solutions into your work, so make sure that you start doing this early enough.

If you’re attentive enough, you’ll always see opportunities for development when working as a web designer and/or developer. And it’s important to reach out for those opportunities and utilise them to their full potential. Because if you don’t, you can be sure that your competitors will. And even if it’s not apparent now, a few years down the road you will definitely regret not catching up to the current trends earlier.

And when it comes to technology like machine learning that takes some time to get used to, you might find yourself stuck with no option to progress at all. It’s already happening to people in plenty of other industries.