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?
Twitter Trends are broken. Yes, they can give invaluable insight on the pulse of Twitter as a whole, but they’ve long been irrelevant to me and I don’t feel like I’m alone.. The system is easily gamed. Random hashtags like #SheProbablyAHoe spread like syphillis but why?
I know what you’re thinking: just ignore them. Use a desktop or mobile client that doesn’t put trends in your face. That’s valid. But ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away.
Trends would matter more to me if they applied to the people I followed. I don’t care about what the whole of Twitter is talking about. I want to know what the people I follow and who follow me are talking about. What is important to my social circle is infinitely more important to me than what’s #nowplaying, #pleaseexplainwhy or #omgfacts. But there are people out there who find that sort of stuff interesting, and it’s likely the people they interact with on Twitter do too. That’s why Twitter needs to fix trending – so everyone can get the most of it. So that everyone’s experience with Twitter is a bit more custom-tailored to their own interests.
So far, over 300 people have committed to participating in Project 52. It’s pretty safe to say that it’s exceeded everyone’s expectations. If ever there was a reason to write, Project 52’s quickly become one of them. If even a fraction of the participants stick with it, content on the web should see a marked improvement in 2010. I hope they’ll focus on quality and not just quantity. Committing to writing 52 posts is well and good, but if there’s little thought put into them, you might be better off not writing at all. After all, this is a personal challenge – one we should learn and grow from.
I know that by announcing my intentions with Project 52, I might be sabotaging myself, but my aim is to be as transparent as possible about what my plans are and what goals I hope to achieve through Project 52. And hopefully my transparency will help keep me more accountable. But transparency isn’t enough. I want my participation to mean something. That’s why I’d like to up the ante. For each post I write for Project 52, I’m going to be raising money for a charity. (Which one? Not sure yet, but I’ll announce between Christmas and New Years.)
If you like what I write, I’m hoping you’ll be encouraged to chip in something to help me reach a goal of raising $500. That breaks down to $9 a week. I know it can be done. And if my content’s good enough, it will be done.
What are your thoughts? Am I insane? If you dig the idea, got any charities you think would be worthy of support? (I’m thinking I might try to find a local charity to support, but would love any suggestions you might have.)
Thanks to Anton’s suggestion of Project 52 – based on a tweet by Chris Wallace – I’m publicly committing to write more in 2010. Beginning the first week of January, I’ll post at least one new (substantial) article. Asides and portfolio entries won’t count. Why am I doing this? I want to become a better writer and I’m tired of this site being consistently stale.
A year-long endeavor like this will require planning and perseverance. I’ll need to identify topics. I’ll need to come up with some sort of regular schedule (and stick with it). And I’ll need to force myself to be accountable through it all.