My first day of official freelancing is going well. I’m 95% complete on one of my ongoing projects; which is good. I’ve also sent out some business development emails to some old colleagues and some new potential clients. I feel beginning freelancing will be like an episode of Kiefer Sutherland’s 24…slow to begin with but all the action happens later on. However, I hope I’m not left with a cliffhanger at the end of every week. That would not be good for business. But I digress.
Today I have been asked a question regarding work, to which the answer was “I know what it is, but I’ve not worked with it before” and I have noticed with regards to web development that I say this a lot. It’s not because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’d like to think I do know what I am doing, and I’d say I’m a bit of a whizz when it come to web design and web development (If I wasn’t, I doubt this website would be working and you wouldn’t be reading this blog post). But it is something I experience on an almost daily basis; a technology or service which I’ve not come across before.
There seems to be an endless number of front-end web development technologies and each time I get asked about a new one I get that ever familiar sense of impending doom and the feeling I know nothing about web design or development. I have to keep reminding myself I do know what I am doing.
It’s not like print design. In this field there is Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign as your standards. Sure there is Quark Express and Fireworks and several other tools you can use, but the print industry has aligned itself to be primarily Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. This makes working in print less complicated, and means everyone is on the same page. But I’m increasingly finding web development more complex and there seems to be no industry standard for anything. Just take a look at any web developer job board and you will see a plethora of acronyms and abbreviations, all specified in different amounts for each role.
As I decided that I am going to pursue all 3 routes (Print Design, Web Design and Web Front-end Development) with my freelance, this is loading up more questions. Which technologies should I learn? Should I concentrate on one type of CMS? Should I try to learn them all?
Now the answer to the last question is clearly ‘No’. There is no way I could learn all of the technologies and frameworks out there. I would need 1000s of hours to do that and my brain can only hold so much. I am 30 years old you know. My brain is less spongy than when I was a young whippersnapper.
The one thing I do know is that in many situations, I will need to learn on my feet. I guess that’s not a bad thing? Like they say “You learn something new every day”, and that seems to ring true even more in the world of web development.
Hi, my name is Glenn Flanagan and I’m a Web & Print Graphic Designer and Front-end Web Developer based in Bristol, UK. If you’d like to take a look ay my full portfolio website, please visit glennflanagan.com