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Future is closer than you think. And, there is no way you can escape it. Yet, you can prepare for it. Your web design skills will either help you survive and thrive or die trying. In this article, we will discuss last three key skills every web designer needs to have. These skills will help you adapt to anything the future may bring. I have to warn you. We will not discuss any specific technologies. They are in a constant flux. Instead, we will focus on more meta skills. I hope you will enjoy it.
Previous web design skills are in part 1.
One of the web design skills you will definitely need to survive in the future is the ability to think creatively. It is true that you can get far just with copying other web designers. However, I can’t recommend this approach for anyone who wants to build either successful business or career. Does it mean that you should pursue creative thinking right from the beginning? Meaning, should you always strive for coming up with something that is different and unique?
The answer will depend on your current situation. If you are a beginner who just started to work on his web design skills, then no. When you are learning about the craft, it is usually better to follow the steps of masters. At this phase, it is more important to learn and master the fundamentals. Creative and innovative ideas can wait. The same is true about breaking the rules. You need to learn the rules very well before you can think about breaking them.
This doesn’t mean that you should neglect creative thinking. Even if you are a beginner, you should work on this skill. You will need it in the future. However, you don’t have to push it too hard. When you master the fundamentals of web design, then you can dedicate more of your time and energy to training your ability to think creatively. Even masters like Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Picasso were apprentices. Even these greats started by following the footsteps of others.
How to develop creative thinking
What if you know the fundamental well? The easiest thing is becoming observant of your environment. Explore the place where you are. And, don’t rely just on your sight. Use all your senses. Another way to train your ability to think creatively is by being curious and inquisitive. Ask a lot of “why?”, “why not?” and “what if?” questions. When someone says something, ask “why”, at least five times. Question and challenge the dogmas and assumptions other people believe.
Next, be open-minded to new and even radical possibilities. Just because someone never tried that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. To do this properly, suspend your judgment. You have to stay unbiased. This can be hard. Another tip is to make unlikely connections. Study things that are not related to web design. Steve Jobs studied calligraphy, among other things, even it was not directly related to computers. So, don’t neglect something just because it doesn’t make sense right now.
Developing the beginner’s mind is also great way to improve your ability to think creatively. It doesn’t matter how much experience and expertise you have in the subject. Try to look at it as complete beginner who knows nothing about it. Then, question everything. Why is something done this way? Is this really necessary? What if there is some better way to do this? Remember, act like you know nothing about the subject. You may even act like a child.
Learn to see things from different angles and perspectives. See it backwards, inside out or upside down. Think inside the box as well as outside the box. Then, question the box itself. And, finally, forget that there is any box. Also, work on your empathy and get really good at seeing things through the eyes of other people.
Another often mentioned tip for thinking more creatively is about breaking your routines. If you are used to doing something in a certain way, try to sometimes deviate from it. For example, you can take a different road to your office. Or, you can try different brand of coffee or tea. You can also change the time you drink your favorite beverage. If you usually read non-fiction books, read some good fiction. Talk with other people. Share your ideas and listen to theirs. Combine these ideas.
You can do something similar at work. Take pieces of work of other people and mix them together to create something completely new. A lot of great ideas we think are original are just a mixture of two or more different ideas. You don’t have to create something completely new in order to be original and creative. You can also combine ideas in original and creative way.
Finally, travel and exercise. Exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas that are hidden in the subconscious part of your mind. Traveling shows you the world from different perspectives. When you visit foreign country, its culture can fill you with inspiration. This works even if you visit just a different city, or places in the same city you’ve never been before. The key is to expose yourself to novel environment. So, are there any parts of your city you’ve never visited?
Grit & perseverance
It doesn’t matter whether you work in design agency, as a freelancer or have your own business. Grit and perseverance are among the most valuable skills or traits you can develop. You will have to go through a lot of situation where things will go wrong. Your client could decide to change some “small” detail after you agreed on the design. Another client could decide to terminate his project after weeks of work. Or, your client could reject the thirtieth version of the design.
Situations such as these can happen every day. And, when they happen, you have to grit your teeth and keep going. Because the true test of a person’s character is how they stand during the test of adversity. So, when something goes wrong, take it is an opportunity to train your grit muscle. This is all it is, just a muscle. And the more you train grit and perseverance, the stronger they will get. So, instead of being afraid of adversity, you should welcome it.
Make adversity your teacher
I believe that adversity is one of the best teachers one can have in life. Think back about all the times when you had your back to the wall. It is very likely that you learned something about you. Maybe it was something you had no idea that it was inside you. Moments of discomfort are usually those moments when we learn the most and the fastest. So, should you look for adversity? I think so. You should be proactive in pursuing new ventures and leaving your comfort zone.
If you want to improve your web design skills, or just any skill, don’t wait for someone to show you the path. Strike your own path. And, when you hit some obstacle, don’t give up so fast. Think about perseverance and grit as a habit. You give up once, you give up twice and it becomes a habit. So, had better not even think about giving up. Otherwise, it will become a habit as well. Instead, make it a habit to push yourself.
Client rejected your design? Great! You can create a better one. Another client decided to give the project to other designer? No problem! Now you can find client who will want to work with you and maybe also pay more. Do you struggle with some project? Take it as an opportunity to train your grit muscle. You can also see it as a challenge and see what can you achieve. The goal is not to give up at the first moment when you hit some obstacle. If one way didn’t work, find another.
The good news about adversity and stress
Good new is that if you face adversity often you will get used to it. With time, you will learn how to cope with it. You will be able to manage the stress coming with it. I will not lie to you. It will be hard in the beginning. It can be very hard, depending on the adversity and obstacle you have to cope with. However, nothing lasts forever. Everything is only temporary. So, regardless of the stress you are experiencing right now, remember that this too shall pass.
As you expose yourself to adversity, stress and obstacles it will have smaller and smaller impact on you. You will become more resilient. Also, you will be able to think more clearly under the pressure. So, if you are going through some tough times right now, you should be optimistic. Even if the situation will not get better, you will get used to it. And, if you are thinking about working in design agency, include grit and perseverance among your web design skills.
The same for entrepreneurs or wannapreneurs. In a fact, I think that everyone should develop grit and perseverance. Without these two, succeeding in anything is like tossing a coin. Finally, you will have a hard time developing any web design skills without grit and perseverance. Whether you want to learn how to code, the theory of design or communication, you need grit and perseverance to learn these any of these web design skills.
This is the last of the web design skills you need to succeed in the future. If you would have to choose just one skill from all we discussed, this should be your choice. Grit is important, but without growth mindset it is like a car without engine. So, how developing a growth mindset relates to web design skills? It does. In a fact, developing growth mindset is key to success in any and every area of your life. So, what is growth mindset about. Is there any way we can define it?
The simplest definition of growth mindset is believing that you can develop your talents through hard work, good strategies and feedback from people around you. In a short, Anyone can be good at anything. Skill comes only from practice. Figuring out if someone has growth is relatively easy if you know what to look for. People with growth mindset are not afraid to seek help from others. They are constantly trying new ways to do things. And, they are not afraid of failures and setbacks.
They know that failures and setbacks are part of the process. For them, failures and setbacks are only signs that they are moving forward, that they are trying something new. As a result, there is no such a thing as loss. This should be clear. However, it is worth saying it. People with growth mindset are proactive. They don’t wait until someone tells them to learn or do X. These people look for opportunities to learn and improve their skills on their own.
I guess that now you have a solid idea about how person with growth mindset looks like. My hope is that you can less or more see some of these traits in yourself. If not, you have some idea about where to start. Also, we will discuss how to develop growth mindset later. For now, let’s quickly talk about the other opposite side.
The opposite of growth mindset is called fixed mindset. People with this mindset believe that all their talents are innate gifts. These people also believe that they can’t improve these talents or develop new ones. One of the consequences of having a fixed mindset is that they are afraid of situations that can test their skills or knowledge. This is partially caused by their fear of showing people their flaws because they think that they can’t improve.
One sign that some person is more inclined toward fixed mindset is avoidance of feedback. People with fixed mindset don’t believe their intelligence or skills can improve. If they don’t have certain “talent” for something, they don’t think that any effort will change it. For them, without talent there is no chance of success. And, talent is something you are born with. It is basically the old question of nature vs nurture. Another way to spot person with fixed mindset is by listening to her.
When someone talks about successful people, what words does she use? For example, is it something like “He’s a natural born athlete”, “He was born with talent for doing business” or “He was born with talent for design”? Similar thing is true when that person talks about herself. For example, “I am not good at doing X or Y”. Or, “I was born with talent for math”.
You can also use the opposite-hand version to find people with growth mindset. For example, “She is so good at dancing because she trained it a lot”, “He has great web design skills because he practice a lot” or “I am not good at drawing, but I can get better with practice”.
There is no pure growth or fixed mindset
One thing I should mention is that everyone has a combination of fixed and growth mindset. And, that this combination fluid. It evolves with every experience you have. This also means that there is no such a thing as pure growth mindset. And, the same is true about fixed mindset. This is something you need to keep in mind to get the benefits of growth mindset. Remember, growth mindset is about believing that you can always improve. Therefore, there is no ceiling or plateau.
If you do believe that there is some ceiling, it is only a sign that you are at least a little bit more inclined toward a fixed mindset. This is not a bad thing. If this is the truth, you need to acknowledge it. Then, when you do it, you can deflect the scales in direction to growth mindset. And, this is the next step, believing that you have the power manipulate these scales. Who knows? Maybe these steps are exactly what you need in order to start developing growth mindset.
How to develop growth mindset
So, let’s assume that you want to develop growth mindset to improve your web design skills. Where should you begin? First, you need to understand that hard work and effort beats everything. If something doesn’t work the first time, it is not a sign that you are not talented for it. It is only a sign that you should try again and try harder. When you hit the first obstacle or setback, remember that it is hard because you are trying something new. So, don’t give up so easily.
Next, think about your flaws as just things to improve. Just because you are bad at something now doesn’t mean you will suck at it forever. Build your confidence by always pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Seek unfamiliar situations and learn to improvise. Another step is to commit to mastering valuable skills regardless of your mood. Remember that passion and purpose come from doing great work that is result of expertise and experience. Not the other way around.
Remember that it is all about the process, not the outcome. So, commit to learning. It doesn’t matter if you want to improve your current web design skills or acquire some new. Developing and nurturing growth mindset is possible only when you make learning part of your life. This doesn’t mean that you have to watch courses or study a textbook every day. It can be learning about anything, trying something new or trying new way to do what you already know.
Make it your goal to end each day at least a bit better and smarter than you were when you woke up in the morning. For example, read some new book. Just yesterday, I started reading Upstarts by Brad Stone. It doesn’t even have to be a non-fiction. If you prefer fiction (which I don’t), just try different genre. However, give a non-fiction a shot. You can learn a lot by reading about other people stories. As we discussed earlier, failure is overrated.
The truth is that you don’t have to fail in order to learn. Aside from books, try new music or podcast. Watch a movie or read interesting magazine. What I want to say is this. Opportunities to learn are everywhere. However, you can find only if you are looking for them. In other words, you will learn only if you want to. This is also why so many entrepreneurs don’t learn from failures. It is not automatic. You still need your part of the work.
This brings me to my final advice on improving your web design skills and developing growth mindset. Make it part of your daily routine to review your day. Ask yourself couple of questions. What did you learn from today? What steps did you take to improve your web design skills, or any skills? What could you do differently? How did you keep going when things got tough? What could you do better? And … What can you do tomorrow to avoid the mistakes you made today?
Advice for parents
I can’t believe that I am about to give you advise how to should raise your children. I don’t have any kids and I don’t even plan to change this in the next two decades. Anyway, let me give you just one simple advice. And, no. This advice is not about web design skills, but about learning in general. Every time your child does succeed in something, praise her effort. Don’t tell her she has some talent or that she is special. Sure, she is special because she is your child.
However, the problem is that when you praise talent, your child will not see effort as valuable. If she is good at something, it is because of her talent. If she is not good at something, it means she is not talented at it. And, since talent is something you are either born with or not, it is a waste of time trying to develop this talent. As a result, your child will more likely pursue activities that are easier. The rationale is that if it is easier you have talent for it.
Never let your child believe this illusion of some inborn talent. If you have doubts about this, I recommend reading a book Talent is overrated by Geoff Colvin and Peak by Anders Ericsson. These two books blew my mind. And, both are great material if you want to work on your web design skills or just any skills in general. Back to children. Remember, praise effort and hard work. If your child fails at something, it is not because she is not “talented”. She just needs to put in more effort. Encourage her to try again and not give up. It is hard work what creates success, not talent.
Closing thoughts on web design skills
This is all I have for you today. I hope this mini series was not a disappointment for you. Sure, we could discuss more specific web design skills such as what front-end or back-end language or framework should you learn. The problem is that languages and framework are very prone to change. Technology that is hot right now may not exist next year. So, talking about this subject could prepare you for the next couple of months, but not for more distant future.
That’s why I decided to stay away from the ever-changing topics and focus on skills that are useful, regardless of your age, experience or the time. So, even if the skills we discussed are not exactly web design skills, you can still use them to reach your goal. Is your goal to be a web designer working for agency? Or, is it being a freelancer working for clients? Your goal may be building your own company. These skills will help you in all cases. I hope you enjoyed this mini series.
Do you have any questions, recommendations, thoughts, advice or tip you would like to share with other readers of this blog, and me? Great! Please share it in a comment. Or, if you want to keep things more "private", feel free to contact me on twitter or send me a mail. I would love to hear from you.
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