In a nutshell… my answer to the question of becoming a designer or web developer.
I was recently asked the following question… “Hi, I am a college student currently trying to figure out what I’m doing. I was wondering if I could pick your brain. I’m in my second semester in Computer Science and I have no idea what I want to do with it. I’ve thought about web design. Is Comp Sci the way to go? I hate to admit, but I don’t even know how to start a website. I love design though and I am creative. I’ve just been doubting that Comp Sci is for me. Mainly because I’m struggling with the math and logic behind it. What are some skills and things I would need to work on as a web designer?”
Always Double Check Your Email
The young lady who posed the question above must have given an incorrect or invalid email address because after two tries using different email accounts I could not get the email to go through. I was actually excited about sharing my ideas with her because I love to help people and especially love to inspire people (if at all possible). Instead, I thought I’d just share the exact email I proposed to send to her. Maybe it will help (or inspire) someone else similar in her shoes.
The Email That Was Never Sent…
To Whom It May Concern,
Compsci is more for programmers in my opinion. Unless you like that stuff you might be better off in a design or art school? I just depends on your specialty and talents. Anyone can learn programming with enough time and effort. My personal opinion is that you cannot teach great design. It’s learned but not the same way. It’s like teaching someone rhythm… either it’s there or it’s not.
I have been building websites for the last 10 years. I have worked with some of the best designers and developers in the industry. Typically, I refuse to work with the “do-it-all” (jack of all trades folks). I always specialize the skill sets. In my mind you’re either a great designer or your a great coder. I know there are excellent designers out there that can code but I suggest you choose one or the other. If you truly want to do a good enough job to get hired and paid in the industry specialize and focus on one or the other.
Think about things this way… get so good at something that people would be out of their mind not to work with you or hire you. That’s the ultimate goal. You can’t just hope people will like your work or “feel sorry for you”. Basically, all the people sitting around looking for jobs just don’t have it figured out. If they were really “lynchpins” like Seth Godin states in his book “Lynchpin” (http://bit.ly/fDsjQC) they would have never been let go. And if they were they would be snapped up by a smarter company than the one that let them go. Basically, set your bar so high that if you reach you’re goals NO ONE else will be around you.
Decide what you want and burn with passion for it. Passion is the ONLY thing that will allow you to work until 4am 5 nights straight and it’s the only thing that will allow you to get rejected 50 times and not give up. Read the story of Col. Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken (http://bit.ly/fDsjQC). Remember that in our industry everyone with a computer and an internet connection can claim to be a “web design company”. On top of that you have people that want everything for nothing. You have to bring something significant to the table to make it worth peoples time and hard earned dollars.
Also, always remember that your best sustained success in life is to always ask yourself, “am I happy with what I’m doing now?” If the answer is “no” change something immediately. Even if it makes you poor or temporarily homeless. The worst existence ever is spending the rest of your life in a rut because you didn’t want to risk following your heart. Aside from sleeping, work is what you do more than any other task. I’ll leave you with this…
“Find a job you love and never work a day in your life.” — Confucius
P.S… be a self-learner, here’s a few great books to inspire you.