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You are probably one of those who chose web design because you are passionate about it; or not. You may have chosen it because your father owned a design company and he wanted to integrate you into it. Or because you started off as a content writer and after writing on design topics for two years you decided to give it a try. Regardless of where you come from, pretty much all of us head the same way: either work for a company or freelance – there is not that much else out there.
However, there are endless possibilities for us in the web design world – it is quite easy to grow both in skills and personal experience. Each one of us has a life planned and a path he wants to follow, even if there are many overwhelming challenges to get through.
But sometimes you just have to ask yourself, what is it you want to achieve during your career?
Image by DoBeRaGi.
Answering this question is not easy to do and to get the best answer you need to look back at how you started. What feelings did your first job give you? Did you become a designer by accident, or was it something you always planned? Do you want to work as a designer for your whole life, or is it just something you want to use to get a bigger role in the future? It is important to answer these questions because each aspect brings about different outcomes. Some future outcomes bring much more than the others and if you always wanted to become a web designer, then it is highly likely you will always be happy with your career choice. Designing only for the money might not make you so proud of yourself – Steve jobs once declared he would rather go to bed every night knowing he did something great the previous day than being the richest person in the cemetery.
There are lots of reasons why an individual wants to be a designer. You might be a creative person, like the fact that you have the opportunity to work freelance, enjoy mixing both left and right brain work by coding and designing at the same time or enjoy working in a sector that is growing. Of course there are many other reasons, but these seem to be the most popular.
If you still need to plan your career path, then there are two things you should do. First, make a list of things that make you get up all excited in the morning when you go to work. Then, make a list of things you think should be improved. Afterwards, make a short narrative about how your career has been to this point. Clarify your roles and what you like and don’t like about your career. Lots of new job descriptions are written every year, so you might as well be the creator of your new job if you feel like it, but you first need to know where you want to head to in order to reach that point.
Image by Mr. T in DC.
If you are in the field because you are a creative individual, then design is definitely for you. You can be the creative director of a company because creative people tend to do really well when being in charge of a focused area of work. They might not be the best managers or business people, but they are definitely great at managing teams in their field.
If your main skill is flexibility, you are most likely what every company owner looks for. You can be everything, from outsourcing partner to company partner. You probably have the highest chance of living the dream and creating your own business. You probably like managing people, being in charge and taking care of every small detail – then this is for you. You can step by step decrease the number of hours worked for others and increase the hours spent on building your own company. In a few years this company might bring you money without you having to lift a finger.
If coding and designing are what you’re in for, you are great for working in a company or even freelance. You can develop interfaces, applications and even advise people in regards to what might be best for them when they decide to create a website. If you want to aim as high as possible, right now that would probably be Apple. I doubt there is better design out there, both for their web identity and for their products. I am sure there is a reason behind many Product and Industrial Design programs using Apple’s products as case studies.
If you’re in it for the money, you can pretty much accomplish this everywhere. However, I advise you that being in something for the money only brings short term enjoyment and you might have to change careers several times throughout your working life. In the design field you would be suitable for an executive staff job more than a regular day to day coding job. You can also start your own business and if you are flexible and good enough, this will make good money for you.
Image by Doug88888.
What you want to achieve depends also on what you want to focus on. Do you want to provide for your family and make sure they have everything they need? Do you want to offer services for the small companies who need start-up help? Do you want to provide services for specific communities only? I have a friend who owns a company that focuses on churches. They only design for churches and they have quite the portfolio. It is totally up to you what you focus on, but remember every decision you make will reflect upon you later in your career.
To give you a more specific answer, Mark Zuckerberg makes donations. Google’s co-founders have become philanthropists. Adriana Huffington wrote about how to maintain your health if you live and work in a fast-paced digital environment. Every one of those is a legacy they left behind. What is it you want to leave behind?
Some other questions you might ask yourself are: do you want to design for you or for others? Do you want to take direct responsibility for your actions? What kinds of websites do you like to design? Are you more excited about coding or actually building interfaces? Do you want to write about design or actually do it – or both?
Image by espy786.
Working as a web designer is hard work, and many times you will have to spend more than 60 hours per week forcing ideas out. Challenges are out there at every step and it is purely impossible not to run into them now and then. If you know what you want from life and mostly from your web design career, and you are ready to work hard for it, it is difficult not to enjoy great times. Before making a decision, think about what you want to achieve – then work for it, and sooner than you think you will find yourself on the right path.
Until next time, let’s hear your opinions on this topic. Do you think you made the right choice? Is there something you would like to change in your approach?
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Christian Vasile is an enthuziastic Romanian web designer currently living in Denmark. He is passionate for the industry and writes about design, usability, coding and freelancing and is a regular publisher here at 1WD. You can follow him on Twitter at @christianvasile or visit his web portfolio by clicking on the link above.