I recently came across this excellent video called “Full Stack Anxiety” by Joel Califa with this related article by @FirstMark and it got me thinking about my current situation as this hybrid UI/UX designer and front-web developer.
First, a little background on my web career for context
I have been building digital deliverables for the web since 2005, and in the beginning, I struggled with HTML and CSS and was more of the Adobe Creative Suite guy using Photoshop and InDesign to design print materials. Later on, continued to traverse the Adobe Creative Suite with Flash and Dreamweaver (actually when I started using Flash and Dreamweaver they were still own by Macromedia). Built a few great portfolios in Flash and some okay websites in Dreamweaver utilizing templates.
Hit a few bumps in the road at the beginning of my career working for some not so great freelance gigs and contract jobs, but all of them a learning experience making me a better at what I choose to focus on and find my niche in the web world.
Sorry had to vent there, let’s get back on track.
What to focus on next for my web career?
I have held a multitude of positions everything from graphic designer to web developer to the more recently UX designer and UI engineer. To me, they are just titles. Why? Fundamentally I approach all my jobs with a similar mindset, get presented with a problem/task and do everything in your power and knowledge to solve that problem even if not knowing the proper syntax or methodology to explain it. How to explain it? Utilizing your past experiences, online resources, and communities.
Over the years you gather the necessary and experience and knowledge to take with you for your next adventure (job/gig). But sometimes that only gets you so far. Questions I ask myself today
- Should I niche down? – For example be purely a WordPress Developer.
- Should I focus more on product design and management? – Maybe one day I could be a product manager and not worry about coding every again.
- Should I focus on project management? – Maybe one day I could be a project manager and never worry about coding again.
- Do I continue to be a jack of all trades and master none? – Not likely a good idea.
Hence, you can see where the anxiety comes in to be being a web-dev hybrid purple squirrel thingy.
But thanks to the excellent video and article by Joel he does give us some impressive outlooks on what to focus on (note this our my takeaways):
Be happy with your career and what you decide to do
Currently, I am satisfied working as front-end web developer/graphic designer typically in marketing departments utilizing tools like WordPress, Photoshop, Moz, Hubspot, Google Analytics and Hootsuite to deliver compelling digital solutions and custom WordPress sites that drive leads to convert.
Where do I want to be eventually, maybe? I may see myself as a creative director, product manager or even a director of development/IT. But who knows where the road will take me. For now, I keep gathering experience and knowledge with me with each job and moving forward.
*Of course, this is based on industry, company, location and whole other bunch of factors. But currently I see developers getting paid more in my region and more opportunities for developers then I do designers.
Stop being a jack of all trades and master none
So thanks Joel for putting things in perspective it helps. Until next time, Godspeed.