Confused about what path to go down, design or dev

I need to make a career change because I am trapped in a dead-end career with no hope or chance for advancement. I’ve been trying to teach myself Ruby on Rails for a year and I still feel that I am stuck at square one. I figure it’s going to take me six to eight more months before I am ready to get a job as an entry level developer. So I was thinking about maybe trying to do design first just to get my foot in the door. Even if I am just making the same amount as I am currently making, at least I’ll be in a new career with better advancement opportunities. Plus the design background will help the development side.

The reason why I want to do design is because I don’t have to actually make anything that’s functional (front-end development). I just have to build a portfolio of sites in Photoshop.

So given my current situation, should I try design just as temporary solution? Or should I continue to push through with Ruby on Rails? Even if I decide to design, once I get a job a designer, I will still continue to learn Ruby on Rails.

Thanks in advance!

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Hi Skylake1151, welcome to the forum

To me, Development and Design are poles apart.

True, it’s great to know as much as possible about both, but it seems most good developers have poor design skills and most good designers have poor development skills.

A common factor is an understanding of HTML and CSS, if you have good footing there you should be able to go either direction.

I not so sure getting your foot in the door as a designer will lead to you getting employed as a developer, but who knows?

And note, there is more to being a designer that only doing Photoshop mock-ups.
Perhaps you mean Graphics designer.

One thing I have learned in my life, personally, is that if I’m only doing something to pay the bills and I’m not happy doing it I’m constantly looking for a way out no matter how much it pays.

You may be different, but I’d say find something you enjoy doing and pursue that.


As previously stated the two are completely different skills. It is extremely unlikely that you will be good at both as they are almost complete opposites in the skills and talent required.

Perhaps the reason you are having trouble learning development is because you are more the type of person who is good at design. If you do try design and find you are good at it then concentrate on learning more design skills and forget development.

I have never come across anyone who can do both at anything beyond beginner level. If you find you can move beyond that in one area then you almost certainly will not have the ability to do the same with the other.

Do you actually enjoy learning Ruby? If not, maybe a switch to design would be more fun for you. If you know HTML/CSS, it won’t be difficult to make simple websites for people in your local community, and it won’t be hard to transition into WordPress, as a lot of small businesses like to use that.

Good luck. :smile:

I’d say learn the language than being proficient with Photoshop. Seeing the real HTML/CSS in your portfolio would speak much louder than Photoshop ever will. I’m not sure what your background is but my guess is that you have very little programming experience. If this is the case then taking couple of face to face programming is the way to go. It’s expected that you’ll get lost and you’ll need someone to guide you.

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