What habits should a web designer have? In my last two posts, I talked first about meta-habits, or how to create habits, and then about what bad habits to avoid, but I have yet to talk about what good habits web designers should have.
In my post about meta-habits, the last meta-habit that I mention are identity habits. Developing identity habits means identifying the habits of the type of person that you want to become and adopting them as if you are that person already. So, instead of focusing on what you want to achieve, you focus on becoming the type of person who would achieve that. Below are five habits that a highly successful web designer would have. These are the identity habits you should adopt that will help you become the type of person who is successful at web design.
Instead of focusing on what you want to achieve, focus on becoming the type of person who would achieve that.
The most important thing overlying all of these good habits is being proactive. Being proactive is the number one indicator that someone will become successful. Proactive is the opposite of passive. it means that you don’t just let things happen to you, you make things happen. It requires forethought and planning. Identifying the habits that are most likely to make your business or career successful and making a priority of establishing them is like putting your business on auto-pilot for success.
The first habit to success is regular customer feedback. Again, you must be proactive and reach out to your clients regularly. Schedule a weekly meeting with each client you have any active projects with to review the process, get feedback and most importantly, course correct. This prevents you from wasting too much time going down paths with a website based on a misunderstanding of what a client wanted, or maybe based on the hope that they would change their mind after seeing it.
For large, active projects a 15-minute daily meeting can be a huge time saver in the long run. If not a phone conversation, at least consider making daily email a habit to touch base.
The second habit to success is single-tasking. In our ADD world of multi-tasking, you may not realize what is being lost. Jumping back and forth between various tasks doesn’t save time; it is a bad habit that prevents you from entering into a good flow. I am talking about that place where you lose track of time and things just seem to fall into place. This is the most productive type of work you can do and also the most satisfying. The catch is that it takes uninterupted time to reach your peak “flow;” whenever you are interrupted, your concentration is broken, and it can take ten to fifteen minutes to get back into the flow upon returning to the task. Imagine if you are interrupted every 10 minutes!
Entering into “flow” will not only make you more productive, but more satisfied with your work!
Making a habit of setting aside large chunks of time, like several hours, in which you close your email and any social media, silence your phone and remove all distractions, and completely dedicate yourself to one task or series of tasks, will make you more productive, more creative, and raise the quality of your work. At the end of the day, you will find yourself more satisfied and content with having actually produced high quality creative work. Don’t worry, that email isn’t going anywhere; it will still be waiting for you at the end of the day.
The third habit of good web designers is to schedule time to learn. Put time on your calendar each week for intense study to learn something new. Even if you know everything there is to know about web design, wait a week and there will be more to learn. Creating websites is an ever-growing, expanding and changing field. Not only are technologies advancing, but so are best practices, styles and trends.
Be sure to apply habit two, single-tasking, to habit three. Don’t let yourself get interrupted from learning; do it purposefully. The only exception could be what I call free-form-learning. This is where you sit down without a specific purpose other than to learn what new things are out there. You could start with doing a search for a general topic or interest and then following the rabbit trails until you have exhausted your brain. Be sure to use something like Evernote or Pocket to keep track of the stuff that you find interesting so you can come back to it for reference later on. Free-form-learning is good to use occasionally, just to get new ideas, but not all the time, since you never get very deep into any one subject.
The fourth habit of good web designers is… this is a really big deal, so I want to make sure you are paying attention… Do you hear me? Be sure to read this! The fourth good habit of good web designers is dedicating time every day to marketing your services. Once you have this habit down, you may need less than half an hour, but do something every day to reach out to new potential customers or to touch base with old customers and see if they need anything new.
Dedicating time each day to marketing your services is what will put food on your table.
This could include researching potential clients on Linkedin and reaching out to them by sending them a message or connection request. You could make a goal of cold emailing or calling three new people every day. You could tweak your Adwords campaign, or send out a flier, or post an ad in your local newspaper, or a billboard, or send out postcards, or stand on the corner with a big sign; but whatever you do, make sure it is purposeful and reaching real people. Anything is better than nothing.
Your habit could be to do it first thing every morning, or before you go to lunch, or at the end of the day. Whatever the case, put it on your calendar and stick to it. Even if you are booked solid right now, you may not be next week. You need to start building those leads now.
The fifth habit of good web designers is to get regular feedback from other designers. Don’t create things in a bubble. Not only should you get feedback from your clients every chance you can, to keep you on task for their projects, but you need to get feedback from your peers to keep you on your toes and help you develop as a designer.
Create a feedback-loop with both clients and other designers to push your creativity and skills
You could just throw your work out there on random forums to get feedback, which has some value if you are thick-skinned enough. However, having a personal relationship with your critic has the most value. Develop relationships with other designers or become part of a community, and build friendships with people who are invested in you and care about your personal development. It is easy to throw out random criticism to a stranger online without having any experience or benevolence, so find someone who you know you can trust both for their experience and their desire to spur you on to greatness.
When you are regularly proactive with these five practices they become habitual, second nature. They become part of who you are, and you don’t even have to think about doing them. They just happen out of the natural flow of your day. Soon you find yourself achieving the goals that you set in the beginning, because you have already become the type of person who reaches those goals.