6 Ways to Keep Your Website Design Current
Every time you check your website, a million questions zoom through your mind. Should you tweak this or that element, or should you leave it alone? Should you try that newfangled framework everyone else is raving about, or should you wait until the flames of hysteria die down?
Questions like these never have a simple answer. After all, the Internet is like a rapidly moving set of tectonic plates. 24,000 gigabytes are uploaded to the Internet every second, and the rate is climbing. One moment, a trend slides into the scene and dominates everything else; the next, that same trend gets buried under a bigger (and presumably better) one. Keeping up with all those movements can drive anyone out of their mind.
Still, it's better to keep up with the bandwagon — or, at least, be aware that it exists — than to be left behind. When you have at least a working knowledge of existing and emerging trends, it's easier to make informed decisions about what to do, and what not to do, when putting together a website. To help you with that, here are ways to stay updated on the latest web design trends.
1. Take Advantage of Feed Reader Apps
Instead of manually sifting through 50 blogs and news sites, use feed reader apps. Aside from helping you customize what's on your feed, they also let you organize articles, videos and other content into categories in case you need them later. Some of the best ones (which also have free versions) include Feedly, NewsBlur, Inoreader and Selfoss.
2. Make Use of "Mainstream" Social Media
This isn't just about following "industry names" (although that's a great idea too). It's also about connecting with fellow designers and developers, and swapping info that normally flies under the radar of mainstream sites. For example, you can start something like a Facebook Group or subreddit, use it to post concerns not usually addressed in web design articles, and watch the community grow like crazy.
3. Take the Latest Courses
It might sound cliché, but it's true. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Whether you have an existing skill you want to upgrade or you want to add a different skill altogether, there are at least 50 educational resources about building websites you can work through. Most of them allow you to learn at your own pace, so don't worry about finishing them in one go.
4. Make Use of Niche Social Networks
If you find Facebook, Twitter and similar sites too saturated, that's okay. You can always head over to the likes of Behance, CodePen, Dribbble and GitHub to share your work with — and derive inspiration from — your peers. Check out their trending pages in particular, so you'll have a feel for what's hot in your field right now.
5. Go Offline
If the Internet isn't doing enough for you, try getting away from the computer once in a while. Attend at least one of the many upcoming web design conferences and meet other designers/developers who share your passion. You can also listen to the speakers — who are usually experts in their field — and find out what the future holds in store for web design and development.
Alternatively, you can meet up with a seasoned designer/developer you know personally. Ask them out for a cup of coffee, slip in a thing or two about current trends, and catch up on personal matters if you're so inclined.
6. Create Your Own Trend
When it comes to trends, there are two kinds of people: Those who follow trends and those who make them. Why not be in the second group for a change? If there's a problem that's been bugging you, and no one seems to have a solution for it, you might be on the heels of a breakthrough. Might as well grab that opportunity before someone else does!
Web design trends don't have to be perpetually beyond your reach. When you know what to look for, where to look for it, and stay open to new things, you'll always be an "expert" in your field.
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