In the past couple weeks I’ve received two emails asking just about the same question. As a graphic designer how much web design and development is necessary to know? Insert the eyeballs looking around the room for an applicable advice-giver, here. I write this as the girl who’s learned to touch coding as little as possible and is currently making a living as a stationery designer. Paper-lovers unite! I have some serious issues with technology. All this aside, I do have something so say about the subject.
What I’ve learned through seven years of schooling, a couple years of freelancing on the side, and a few more part-time design jobs, is to try it all. What these beginning years as a creative professional are there for is to learn what makes you tick and see where that takes you. I’m totally still on my own journey to find what makes me tick, and that’s what this blog is for. I’m thankful that I dove head-first into coding with this blog, and that it even brought a couple clients my way that wanted me to try my luck at web design and development for their sites. Then came the tears. Big fat terrible tears all over my keyboard and time spent on family vacations tweaking in courier looking for a slash and dash that may or may not be misplaced and causing that web font to display on some pages and not the others. Taking that breath in now. I quickly learned that coding was not for me — but through these projects I learned that I loved to work with creative individuals who needed help building their brands visually. I also learned that I loved to design for the web, but that I needed a little help on the development side. And this is OK. Actually, it’s more than OK, it’s great! Always look for that silver lining.
The important thing to know about any aspect of design is that you don’t have to do it all. You can certainly be well-rounded, and it helps the budget to be able to do a few things on your own, but we were never meant to do it all. What throwing yourself into these new experiences does is that it helps you learn the language of the subject matter. In the worst-case-scenario, even if you learn that you hate whatever you threw yourself into, you’ll still be the better for it. It’s kind of like that one time when you took French in high school and we able to buy a croissant using the mother tongue while in Lyon. Anyone? :) Think of your skill-sets in terms of being conversationally adept in the subject matter. If you find that you were crying over your keyboard like me when it came to the coding, you’ll have learned enough about web design and development to hand your developer files and notations that make sense. The first time I handed files over to a developer, she commented that they were a breath of fresh air. I knew what kinds of files she would need, and I knew what information to give her because I’d kind of been there. Learn how to communicate and how to collaborate with those who’s true passions lie in web development (or lettering, or stationery, or social media…). That’s where the beauty in collaboration lies.
When the blog world started throwing around the word collaboration on a regular basis I thought everyone was talking about how wonderful it was to write for other blogs, to collaborate on posts, and generally collaborate on blog-specific material. What I found out was that it was less of that and more of the above. The blog world opens you up to making connections with others who can help you out. Those that have rocking skills in things that you know you would rather not deal with. This frees you up to take on the matters you’re truly passionate about, and gives those that are truly passionate about what you’re not an amazing project. Win-win.
I’ve recently put my money where my mouth is and am hiring out for a personal web project — this experience is definitely helping to put me in the client’s shoes and it’s scary! You’re giving a little part of yourself away when you’re a creative who’s relying on someone else to help your visions come to life. That or I have serious control issues, hah. But through my client’s experiences, I know it’s for the best. Once you take that leap, it feels so great to have the weight off your shoulders and to know you’re going to get a better outcome than you could ever have had on your own. Great is the product of collaboration.
Whew! Excited to get that off my chest. Do you feel a little bit better? I know I do. As you might have been able to tell by the title of this post, a reoccurring advice column has been made. Email me if you have any questions about anything you might think I’d be uniquely situated to answer, and I’ll work on getting back to you here.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the subject at hand in the comments. Do you find it helpful to know a little about a lot of things and focus on one main thing? Or do you try and make it all happen yourself? Do you have a story to share? We can all learn from successes and failures, and it’s usually in those failures that I find I learn the most, hah.
Hope you’re all having a lovely week.