Lessons from 2011

Paul Boag

A List Apart recently released a mammoth collection of thoughts from people across the web design community on what they have learnt in 2011.

It’s a brilliant post and well worth the read. One particular theme really resonated with me.

Dan Cederholm introduces the theme when he writes:

These recent advances can seem overwhelming to keep up with: HTML5! CSS3! Responsive Web Design! Mobile! Web Fonts! Grids! It’s become impossible to keep up with everything. And that’s why I’ve learned to let go and focus on incrementally folding these new ways of thinking into daily work as I grasp them—while at the same time trying not to worry about everything being perfect or solving a problem “correctly.”

He is spot on. As Drew McLellan goes on to write:

We’ve mainly learned how much we, as an industry, don’t know. And how much more there is to learn.

The truth is that even though the web industry has matured, we are still evolving at a ridiculous rate. It is easy to get demoralised because as soon as you release something it is out of date. We strive to create the perfect website, but that is unattainable because the goal posts are constantly moving.

The recent redesign of boagworld is a classic example of that. No sooner had I launched it that I learnt new techniques I wish I had used.

This is an inevitable part of our industry and it is something to be embraced as Dan suggests. That said, Dan Rubin identifies one way to minimise this problem:

My standout lesson this year has been the importance of working with others (and putting complete faith in talented people). The brilliance that comes from the people around me is a constant source of inspiration.

We cannot hope to know everything about the web. Its just too complicated. The best we can hope for is to work with a group of people who all have knowledge in different areas. That is why I love running Headscape. I am surrounded by such talented people who know so much.

However, even if you are a freelancer you can get stuck into the design community and build up friends who help plug the holes in your knowledge.

The only way we can maintain the pace of innovation is if we continue to work together to achieve more than any one of us could hope to understand alone.