Never Stop Learning

Our industry is in an ever-changing state. Sure, on the surface it doesn’t look like much changes, but that’s where you’d be wrong. You might find it hard to believe, but there are some developers that still use tables. There are some developers that use inline styles or refuse to use CSS at all. Why? They stopped learning or learned just enough to get their job done. How can you stay on top of things and avoid?

  • Follow industry leaders on Twitter. Sure, not everything they say will be relevant, but industry leaders will frequently post links you should be reading. Check out Listorious or WeFollow to get started.
  • Subscribe to the RSS feeds of well-known designer and developers (and their firms, if applicable). If you’re using Google Reader, check out feed bundles.
  • Attend local meetups. Find a Refresh group in your area. Attend a BarCamp or WordCamp. If there aren’t any in your area, change that. You might be surprised to find out how many web designers and developers are in your area. Learn from each other. Push each other to learn and improve your skills.
  • Go to conferences. You’ll learn a lot from conferences like An Event Apart, Web Directions, FoWA/FoWD, SXSWi, etc. If you can convince your boss to let you go, trust me: make this happen. You’ll meet people who will inspire you to improve yourself. You’ll learn from people who really know their craft.
  • Read books related to what you’re wanting to learn.
  • Look for e-learning opportunities.
  • Experiment. If you have a personal site (and you should!), use it to experiment with things you might not otherwise be able to use in your day job.
    Push yourself to learn at least one new thing each day. You never know, some of these experiments might yield better ways to do what you’re currently doing – or may help you land a new job.
  • Go to [back to] school. If a local college or university is offering classes on things you want to learn about and will help you become a better ____, don’t miss out on them. Plus, you’ll be exposed to others who are just as interested in ____.
  • Don’t ever get comfortable. The moment you do is the moment you’ll be left behind

Make a commitment to learn. Make a commitment to improve your skills. Don’t let yourself or your current situation keep you where you’re at.

What are your strategies for learning? Does your current employer encourage you to learn and improve upon your current skillset?