New years are always a great time for fresh starts, renewed energy and new directions, so January is the month to prepare yourself and put your plans into action for the next eleven months.
Ideally this shouldn’t just be a promise you make with yourself to improve your design skills and advance your professional career. In a perfect world, this would be something that benefits your community too.
So, here are my six resolutions for the New Year.
I hope some of these resolutions will boost both your personal and professional growth as a web designer/developer.
1. Collaborate with new faces
“Two heads are better than one”.
Collaboration can be a great way to expand your horizons and shake yourself out of a rut.
It encourages you to divvy up responsibilities and focus on your strengths. Even the most multi-talented individuals can benefit from the narrower focus dictated from having other specialists around them. Time intensive design and development can be divided into groups and produce the best results in the minimum time.
It’s true, finding the right collaborators can take some time if they aren’t in your immediate circles.
Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks are often the first place to start looking for working partners, but you may find local meetups, conferences and shared workspaces are the richest environments to find people with shared interests and overlapping skillsets.
- Learn new skills from others
- Gain fresh perspectives, ideas and insights.
- Allow team members to focus on their specialty skill
Taste new technologies
“The Web is unpredictable; if you don’t evolve you will expire”.
As web developers, this almost needs be our standing resolution each year.
The fact is, the web evolves quickly and we work on shifting sands. There’s every reason to believe that as much as 10% of your working web knowledge becomes out-moded and essentially useless each year.
Think about it: Five years ago you’d never heard of ‘responsive design’ or ‘UX’ or ‘web fonts’, but you probably dreamed in 960 grids, used Adobe Creative Suite 2 and knew a dozen different IE6 hacks by heart.
Pushing yourself into new territory will test your limits and expand your possibilities. For instance, if you’re a strong illustrator, this year try adding motion graphics to your repertoire. This will add two or more technologies/skills in your résumé.
- Keeps your brain active and adaptive
- Makes for a more attractive and valuable résumé.
- Demonstrates variety and depth in your portfolio.
Refresh your website
If it’s been a while since your personal/folio site had a spruce up, then the new year is the perfect time to update and relaunch it. While all sorts of businesses need websites, your portfolio website IS your business card, so take the time to show-off your skills and demonstrate your design philosophy.
This is also a great place to try new techniques and tricks you’ve yet to use in client work. Maybe you’re interested in working with SVG? Perhaps you’ve been looking for a place to showcase that killer font? Your portfolio site is the ideal place to refine and experiment without always being ‘on the clock’.
- Create a lasting first impression on potential clients
- Educate potential clients on your standards and philosophies
- Test-drive new techniques you haven’t used in client work
Join an Agency
I know. This sounds a little counter-intuitive — every second blog post tells you it’s time to go it alone — but if you’ve been freelancing till now, maybe it’s time to spend a year or two with a big creative agency.
There are many reasons for having an agency job, and it doesn’t all revolve about getting regular paychecks or health cover.
Firstly you’ll get to work on a much larger range of projects with a wider selection of clients. You’ll also most likely work with a larger team of specialists, all of whom you can learn from.
More importantly, you’ll be able to learn about the systems that big, successful agencies use — from web applications to accounting systems and project management tools, and cherry-pick the best parts for your own workflow.
Lastly, you’ll have the chance to make lasting friends and connections that will serve you for many years to come.
- Say goodbye to the potential isolation of the home/small office
- Regular paychecks aren’t to be underestimated
- Learn successful working practices
- Make valuable connections
Kick off your own blog and share more
“Put your blog out into the world and hope that your talent will speak for itself”. – Diablo Cody
You know interesting stuff, right? You can write, right? Why aren’t you blogging? Or at least developing your social networking chops.
Make no mistake: A quality blog takes work, but it will give you an opportunity to interact with contemporaries, to guide conversations, to share war stories, to compare experiences and swap knowledge and techniques. You’ll have a built-in sounding board to question about your next project.
It’s also a chance to expand your network, to demonstrate your knowledge and turn visitors into potential customers.
Although blogging probably won’t directly improve your design skills, it will help to separate you from the crowd, while giving you a chance to blow off a little steam sometimes.
- Provides low cost promotion of your creative work.
- Boost your industry profile.
- Provides another potential entry point for clients.
Take an initiative to teach or donate
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank
There are lots of ways you can ‘step outside your bubble’ and make a difference in the world.
You have valuable skills and internet knowledge. Teaching your design philosophy and techniques will not only help perfect your speaking skills, but will make you feel good about yourself. Local traders groups, secondary schools, and senior citizens clubs are just some of the groups often interested in hearing from ‘someone who really knows the web‘.
What about using your web skills to help out a local sports club or community center? These organisations are nearly always run by overworked volunteers and usually sorely in need of good technical help. You may even make valuable connections that serve you well later.
Of course, if volunteering your time isn’t an option, there’s always donation. Do your research, pick a charity you believe in, and then set aside a small weekly deduction. Helping a worthy cause gives you a wonderful feeling as you are contributing towards the growth of society. If you can financially help one child, then you will surely end 2014 with great feelings.
So, what can you do in 2014? Teach or donate or both?
- A sense of self-satisfaction.
- A richer, happier community
- Natural networking opportunities
- Eligibility for tax deductions (in many cases).
Would you like to add more on the list? Use the comment box below. I am curious to hear your New Year’s resolutions.
I hope this delightful New Year will bring new aspirations, good health, surprises, peace, and success in your life. Whether, you have completed your previous year goal or not; it’s time to sit and think for this year’s goal.
Happy new year to all SitePoint readers and staff!