Web Design is Hard
A week ago I spoke about why I felt web design was easy. As most of you can probably imagine there are two sides to this coin. There is no shortage of aspects that make this job a hard one. Some of them, like consistently emerging technologies, new techniques and a rapid development pace might seem like aspects that make this job undesirable for those looking from the outside in. On the contrary, I find that a lot of these things make what I do exciting and serve as a method for keeping my interest peaked.
Some of the things that make web design hard happen to not be things at all. Much like the people I work with and for make my job easy, they also have a knack for making it hard.
The Social Designer
Is it safe to say that we have shed the image of the lonely programmer toiling away in the darkness of a poorly decorated basement yet? While I don’t suspect a whole lot of digital pioneers really fell into this stereotype, it is conceivable to believe that the early web was comprised of massive efforts from individuals who forged the way for the rest of us. Today, the developers and designers of the internet prescribe to a very different way of life.
In order to be a really good designer it is important to understand people, communicate with users and be able to relate not only to the audience that will ultimately use a site but the stakeholders in its creation. For a designer, human interaction comes into play at every stage of the web design process. We work with project managers, clients and our bosses to initiate projects and steer planning stages in the right direction. As a project gets off the ground we work with our colleagues to craft genius solutions that couldn’t be delivered by an individual. Throughout the project we work with the user in mind and with the user in practice to ensure what we deliver is considerate to a wide range of needs and preferences.
I must say that at least with people I have a balance of difficulty and rewards. The same people that make my job hard to do, make it fun and rewarding. While clients can range from too needy to impossible to get ahold of, it is also a very rewarding experience to be able to help someone’s business grow or to be told that I have allowed a company to approach the internet with confidence. There are however, other variables at play that provide many fewer warm fuzzy feelings.
An Expanding Web
Some like to say the internet is always evolving. I find this statement to be a little bit misleading. If the internet was always evolving we wouldn’t be dealing with Internet Explorer 6 and 7 everyday still. Have a casual conversation with any web designer about the things they like and dislike about what they do and you are bound to hear Internet Explorer come up within the first 13 to 15 seconds. Because of this I would rather say that the internet is always expanding. Handling legacy browsers that we have yet to expand away from is no doubt a pain to deal with but one that can be controlled with experience and practice.
Old technology isn’t the only concern of today’s web designer. Today, not only do we need to take into consideration every web browser that our design might be rendered in but now every iPhone, iPad, iPod, Galaxy, Droid, Nexus, Playstation, Xbox, laptop, Macbook, desktop, and projector our users might have, not to mention all of the devices that have yet to be conceived. There are some pretty smart solutions to all of this out there but overall the process of thinking ahead in a world that is changing is an undeniable difficulty.
A web designer who wants to set themselves apart from the rest has a lot to do these days. There is a huge demand for a diverse range of skill sets when it comes to producing the best the web has to offer, as a result designers must demand more of themselves. Fortunately, as I described in my previous article, we have a fantastic network of support to help us out.
Overall the project, skill and people management that goes into being a good web designer today certainly makes my job hard but then again I wouldn’t want it to be easy. I have no concern that I may one day become bored with the places that technology and communication can take me in my life. I may not always be a web designer; heck there may not always be a “web” to design. But this industry will never leave me short of a supply of challenges to overcome and reasons to be happy that I have a hard job.