Is 50 too old to be a web designer

I was told by someone not in the business that 50 is too old to be in the web design business. It’s been a year since I had full time work. Be brutally honest, is this person right? I’m not getting any better or learning anything new… Is 50 too old? Is it a young man’s industry?

Nobody’s too old for this field or to learn new things. I started learning web design when I was 52, and now 5 years later, after getting tired of learning everything on my own, I am back at college full-time in an Internet Applications and Web Development Program learning everything from Interface Design to Javascript and mySQL to configuring Linux. Age has nothing to do with how successful you are or will be … but you still need to believe in yourself. (And no, it is not a ‘young man’s industry’ … I am a woman and after over 30 years in the high school math teaching profession, have embarked on a new and exciting career).

You’re not too old. 50 isn’t old by any means, except for teenagers and those who dread age and the process of aging.

At university, I had someone in my courses who was 76. He started from scratch and was, perhaps, some odd 10% less fast than the rest of us.

If your skill or expertise stands out in some shape or form, you should not have problems competing. If you’re average at what you do, then you’ll have to face a much larger competition, obviously, and age might become a factor in the decision process, to your advantage or disadvantage.

Go for it - I am sure that specific “someone” was a lot younger than yourself.

Times do change and I am sure that you have a vast amount of experience and not easily influenced by current hype. No doubt you have developed integrity and if you are unsure of your final creation then SitePoint Website Reviews are there to help.

“Illegitimis nil carborundum” springs to mind :slight_smile:


As long as you’re fairly current and deliver what clients want, I don’t see why not.

I don’t think age makes any difference in webdesign as long as you know your job. Since you’ll spend most of your time at a desk, it might even be more suited to you than many other more physical jobs.

It’s also one of the easier professions to start working in since there aren’t really any certified bodies or professional requirements to practice it and anyone can call themselves a webdesigner It’s one of the banes of my life because I’m not just competing with other professionals but with the ‘neighbours son’ or similar who can undercut me my 80%. The client doesn’t know that the complete amateur has no idea what he’s doing usually until they get their god awful site and then have to hire a professional to redo it.

Are you planning to work for someone or go self employed?

Also, there is so much to know I think it really helps to decide which bits you’re going to become knowledgeable in and they’ll be your core skills. You simply can’t be expert in everything there is to know about webdesign IMO.

Dayum, I know how that feels… sometimes I feel like I never stop learning which can get tiring on it’s own and I also just wish sometimes that someone would just teach me everything I need to know, or even tell me what the things I need to know are so I’m not continually having to work it out for myself. I don’t know if I ever imagined that I’d learn a set of skills and then just be able to use them but it sure didn’t work out like that. I constantly feel like I don’t anything or that I’m at the beginning of some new set of skills. It can be hard to sustain.

I mostly use forums and news feeds to try and stay current but sometimes I really miss having people in an office to talk to. That’s the only thing I miss though. :stuck_out_tongue:

Tell them that as their not in the business, they have no legitimate reason to make those kind of claims. Ageism might be an issue in plenty of fields, but it’s not in the web industry. You could be 8 years old or 80, what matters is that you have the skills to do your job. Our industry is based purely on experience and knowledge, age is not a factor. Just because it’s a popular career choice for the young does not mean that all the old people need to disappear. Just look at Jakob Nielsen I doubt he would mind anyone pointing out he’s 52 and it feels like he’s been around since the dinosaurs but he’s one of the worlds foremost leading experts on web usability. :slight_smile:

I don’t agree it’s an easy profession to start working in. While there’s not any requirements to practice or certifications taken seriously, we do have a professional body of sorts any coder worth their salt adheres to (the W3C). Yes there’s a lot of wannabe’s and a lot of misconceptions, but I would argue that there’s no industry or career in existence which has such a fast turnaround for knowledge and such a competitive edge to follow suit. More and more people recognise good and bad design and are becoming more web aware, and if you don’t know your stuff or think you’ve learnt everything, your going to find yourself out of job opportunities soon. :slight_smile:

Are you kidding? It’s one of the easiest, anyone can get a copy of dreamweaver and call themselves a web designer, I’ve seen it time and time and time again. It’s practically a cliche in the industry. The number of times I’ve had to rebuild a crap site done by someone who had no idea what they were doing, or been asked by a potential client why my prices are so much higher than their neighbours son/some student they know/themselves, who can build it for £50?

A friend of mine recently was made redundant and after building himself a terrible website using some free website builder 3rd party service told me that he’d decided to be a webdesigner. After I explained what was involved he changed his mind but he’s typical of many many people who think it’s easy.

Maybe you’re confusing a complete lack of barriers to entry to the profession with actually being good at it.

While that may be accurate, I don’t tend to compare the professional and hobbyist (paid or unpaid) sections of the industry. Sure there’s people who are willing to pay $50 for a website from some kid in their parents basement or some eastern outsource supplier who floats around the bottom dweller sites, but no professional here would want the clients who are going to spend so little on quality work. Yes the industry has a seedy underbelly but there’s plenty of decent quality work out there with people who aren’t going to push up their expectations for below-minimum wage rates. It’s two totally different niches and granted they both call themselves professionals, but lets be realistic, if you charge bottom dollar rates, no-one expects quality, but when you start charging enough to live on (higher end rates) the vast majority of people practising within that pay bracket will find that if they can’t match the price with quality, they won’t be able to continue making a living. There are some who manage to scam high prices for low quality, but I’ve seen a shift in design in general as more people become aware of the web and are much less likely to be taken for a ride. Essentially, increasing public awareness and skilled competition is driving down the bottom feeders. :slight_smile:

All true, doesn’t change the fact that it’s very easy to say that you’re a webdesigner. How many ‘webmasters’ are actually masters of anything?

I’ve also seen plenty of crap sites that were built by ‘proper’ companies who charged the unfortunate client a fortune for the priviledge so price isn’t always an indicator of quality in our industry either.

No web designer is a master of everything, the industry moves to quickly to become anything more than a regular enforcer of anything (beyond something so niche it’s too limited to make a career of). Anyone who says their a “master” probably needs a reality check. I would say there’s a handful of guru’s / exports (refined limited niche people), plenty of professionals (usual spread-thinly individuals) and tonnes of crazies, apart from that were left with nothing worth mentioning. :slight_smile:

Very true and I reckon that good sites have a graphic artist, programmer and the good old project manager to negotiate with the client :slight_smile:


I didn’t say ‘everything’, I said ‘anything’…

Plenty of good webdesigners are masters of or experts at something e.g. CSS or customising Joomla or writing PHP. But… there are people who call themselves webmasters and who couldn’t master a game of snap.

I think what makes you too old is the statement “I’m not getting any better or learning anything new”. Whether you’re 12 or 90, web design is a constantly changing field that REQUIRES you to learn new things and get better. If you are willing to do that, you are not too old and if you are not willing, well then, you are.

I’ve been building websites since 1995. I can remember going to a client’s business and being shown image maps for the first time, around 1996. “Can you do that?” I was asked. “Of course, I can.” I responded. I then drove back to my office and proceeded to teach myself how to do image maps. That’s how this business works. PERL, php, mySQL, CSS - these are all things that have come into this industry and you either have to keep up or get left behind.

If you currently don’t have full-time work, then you have extra time to teach yourself all the skills necessary to blow those younger guys out of the water. You might even have time to build your own sites so you don’t have to rely on somebody else giving you a job.

I’ll be 50 this year. And I am just getting started.

No such thing as ‘too old’ to do anything you really want to do. Heck I’m 52 and it works for me.

Have an old saying I like to use: Age is just mind over matter, if you don’t mind it don’t matter :smiley:

I believe that age has nothing to do with it provided you strive to keep current. I am going to stick my neck out a little and say (with some included here) that the older generation are a little slower to change and adapt to new technologies and trends, especially with design. In fact I struggle to find aesthetically well-designed websites built by older designers (the inverse is normally true). I hate to say it, but it’s mostly true.

That’s not to say that those in the 50+ bracket who really apply themselves don’t do the same or better than the ‘young-ins’, but they tend to be the minority.

So a qualified opinion then?

That’s down to mindset baby, not age :smiley:

There are some things that age will affect, but ability to be a web designer shouldn’t be one of them. There might be people who will discriminate against you based on your age, but you don’t need to help them :slight_smile:

Agree - purely a non-scientific observation…

Hmmm, 50 years is about 650 moons… it’s just a number and makes no difference at all. That person is spouting they no nothing about.

Do you want to do web work? If you do, and your heart and mind is in the right place, then just go for it.

Well, I don’t think age matter. As long as you’re very eager to learn and that will motivate you to be a good designer. good luck. :slight_smile: