Things They Don’t Teach You About Careers In Design And Development


frustrations of design and development

As a graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta, I can say that my time in design school was awesome. Coming from a very small town and moving to Atlanta afforded me the opportunity to meet amazing people, acquire a great post-secondary education,  and jump start my career in my dream industry. I’ve always loved design and being creative – but school didn’t teach me everything. Learning how to utilize the Adobe Creative Suite and VsCode has been nothing short of extremely beneficial, but I wish I had learned more of the soft skills and habits designers and developers need to avoid burn out. That said, here are 4 tips every designer and developer should know to achieve better productivity and overall satisfaction in their career.

You have to maintain work/life balance.

Herein lies my biggest struggle. However, this applies to any industry, but it’s especially important for creatives. Diving into a new framework or trying out a new design trend is exciting; and while it may be tempting to plant yourself in front of the screen for hours on end, it’s usually not the best decision for your overall well being. It can be so easy to lose track of time, causing other projects or life obligations to suffer. It’s imperative that you make time for other endeavors and most importantly time to relax and rejuvenate. Try taking 2 days a week doing leisurely things that do not involve design or development. Burnout is a real thing and can cause you to lose passion for your career, which in turn will cause your work to suffer – take my word for it.

Effective Communication is Key

This can be harder for some introverts, but effective communication is imperative in maintaining relationships with colleagues and clients. It can mean the difference between a successful project and a complete fail. Communication provides you with an opportunity to identify and mitigate potential pitfalls in your early on in your project. Most of us have been there, where you’re approaching the finish line of a particularly arduous project only to be blindsided in the 11th hour because someone failed to communicate an important change. There are few things in life worse than this. So, challenge yourself to make a phone call to ask that quick question instead of sending an email or a Teams message where applicable. Email is still an excellent communication tool as it memorializes verbal conversations, but it doesn’t always have to be the default behavior.

Learn Project Management

Unless you’re a consultant who has complete control over your workload, you’ll find that design and development projects seldomly run in consecutive cycles. They’re usually concurrent projects in various stages of development – and you’re responsible for the successful completion of them all. This can be overwhelming to someone who struggles with things like timekeeping, records management, and even organization. My advice would be to familiarize yourself with project management courses to aid you developing a management style that will ensure success.

Maintain Good Physical and Mental Health

In my opinion, this is the most important tip I can offer. Studies show that inactivity and sedentary lifestyles are as harmful to your well-being as smoking. The strain on your body caused by extended periods of designing or coding sessions can be detrimental in the long-term. Some people even suffer from mental illnesses such as depression due to the isolation that’s associated with the industry. Your health and well-being should always be a priority. You should also invest in equipment that not only improves your work performance and productivity, but also aids in alleviating the stress on the body from being stationary for extended periods of time. Things like blue light glasses, ergonomic keyboards, and sit/stand desks, and a good chair are a small investment that can go a long way to maintaining good physical health. Also, opt for dark mode in apps whenever possible.

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About E. Wright

I'm a graduate of the Art Instutite of Atlanta and a self taught web developer. I also am a pet parent to two amazing feline furbabies.

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