Staying relevant in the 2018 web dev job market

stay relevant in web dev

Web development stays still for no one, anyone in the industry longer than 12 months can tell a newbie this from first-hand experience.

In 2018 it feels like this is the year the industry starts to feel the impact of recent disruptions and many web designers are already beginning to feel the effects of AI tools taking over tasks that were once a staple of their skill set.

How web professionals respond to this change is probably a going to be a good indicator of their survival in this reshaping of the industry.

The most optimistic and opportunistic will be embracing new technologies meanwhile those less willing to adapt will gradually find themselves in working harder but with less demand.

Stay focused on what you do and feel confident where you are heading.

You can fly if you know what you do and why you do it.

It’s very common to see a statement like this and think ‘ I don’t know who I am as a professional and I don’t know how to get past this point’.

I think it helps to have side projects. They can help you have fun exploring the project elements that you are drawn to without the stress of deadlines. Completion is just a bonus.

Don’t compete with technology, embrace it.

Web designers are a lucky set of professionals that tend to love and obsess over their work, because of this there is a risk of falling in love with a skill set. Unfortunately, no skill set is safe from industry disruptions in modern web development. Even core CSS and HTML

There are now site builder tools that make it easier for non-designers and non-technical people to get their message online quickly. This is technology that web design studios are embracing to help them complete their staple tasks. In fairness, there has always been site builder tool, but recently they are actually good.

I think the benefit of this is two-fold, one it saves time and two it empowers the client. It gives them a way to handle their own smaller, and somewhat tedious, tasks so they can get their content live without waiting for someone else schedule.

For the web designer, this leaves more time to innovate, or just get more done for the time and budget. It’s much like starting from a theme but with the bonus that you may even make a mark for yourself by pushing the boundaries of these new tools.

Working with frameworks is similar in this way, there are many exciting and interesting ways to expand frameworks like Laravel and Symphony and Cake PHP, and the Framework itself gives the project a production time boost.

This could be as simple as adding to the documentation or something like documenting a new integration, Stripe payment gateways in Laravel for instance.

Build on top of a theme

Freelance web developers and busy teams have the most to gain here.

There are an enormous amount of high-quality themes on the market that allow a web developer to take the work of others, almost as if it was handed over by another team member and add their unique ideas.

For me, I’m all about functionality, but I don’t enjoy the process of design. When I start with a theme, it is not much different to working with another designer, except I would have to rip out some of the code work they had added when it does not fit my needs. Once I have stripped it all away, I have a blank slate for my own PHP.

I might need to contact the designer to make some adjustments and even if there is a financial cost to the support the adjustments it is usually less than it would cost to struggle through the whole process myself.

Alternatively, a designer that loves working with animation and video might see something in a theme that does not have any of this motion from the start but does have the perfect layout.

Keep your industry knowledge sharp but don’t let it overwhelm you.

Every day in web designer world there seems to be a buzz around a new topic.

You don’t need an in-depth knowledge of all of the developments all of the time, but it feels good to stay in the loop and at least have an idea of what the general shape of what the industry looks like.

I stay up to date on Twitter following the key PHP influencers and many other Web Developers that share exciting insights.

Throughout my working day, I have a feed continuously updating, allowing me to spot trends and absorb an overview of any buzz. From this position, I can assess if it’s worth my time to find out more. This is precisely why knowing your focus is so important as so much cool stuff is going on it becomes very easy to become distracted.

This is just one way, local meetups, conferences and industry publications all add value to this career choice.