10 reasons why I got into web design

After 10 years in retail, the average recruiter looks at me and thinks that’s all I want to do. I mean, I can’t blame them. It would appear I’ve done everything in my power to earn that expectation. I started out as a weekend lackey stacking shelves before spending the next however many years climbing the management ladder.

And that would be fine; except I don’t want to be in retail. I want to be a web designer.

It seems like an abrupt change of tack to outsiders but in my head I’ve been moving this way for a while now – years in fact. But why web design? That’s a good question. So in this blog post I’ll explore 10 reasons why I got into web design.

1. It was time for a change

Sometimes you just wake up one day and decide you need a change. That was me about two years ago when I was a manager in a high-end retail company here in the UK. I’d fallen into the retail sector as so many students before me and before I knew what had happened suddenly almost ten years had flown by.

Starting TJS Web Design is as much an answer to that quest for change as it is a pursuit of something I’m passionate about.

2. To be my own boss

This one is common amongst a whole myriad of potential careers. For me, setting up as a freelance web designer brings with it the chance to manage my own time, set my own goals and treat my clients the way I would like to be treated.

It’s an uplifting experience but it can also be scary at times. Sure, it’s great that you don’t have to go through the shaming experience of calling up a manager to explain why you’re sick, but when you’re self-employed if you’re sick, you’re sick. No-one will pay you. There is no sick pay entitlement or support built in. You’re on your own.

3. Because it’s fascinating!

This is amongst the most important reasons why I wanted to become a web designer. It’s interesting! I find everything about the process fascinating. From the opening sketches of a potential design, through to solving the niggling little coding problems that keep you from getting the design just right. The whole thing is just awesome.

Making sure that passion is there is all important when it comes to setting up your own business. For a start, if you don’t find what you do very interesting, why should anyone else? Why should they pay you to do it? Maintaining that enthusiasm is essential.

4. It’s a chance to be creative

Being a web designer is a wonderfully creative field to be in. Today we have so many tools at our disposal for crafting beautiful spaces on the web. But believe it or not that hasn’t long been the case. For years web designers and developers have been limited by some fairly basic obstacles that other forms of graphic design have never had to deal with.

Now though I feel like the internet is coming into its element. There are tools now that allow for more creative layout designs; the likes of which have existed in print media for generations. But where the internet will be able to outclass print is in its ability to be responsive; to adjust the user’s experience depending on where, when and how they’re consuming the content.

These new horizons beg for creative designs to realise their potential and it’s this challenge that has been one of my biggest draws to the industry.  

5. I want to do something that matters

The old millennial trope is true. At least to me. There’s a hole that needs to be filled by doing something that matters to the world. Now regrettably not all of us can grow up to be Sir David Attenborough – long live the King – but we all have our small ways of impacting the world around us.

While I was teaching myself to code and embarking on my degree in computing, I came across some information about the environmental impacts of the internet. It turns out the global greenhouse gas emissions of the web outstrip those of the airline industry while carbon emissions from running the internet is roughly equivalent to all 31 million cars in the UK going on an annual round-the-world road trip. How crazy is that??

So in order to satisfy my millennial needs, I’ve made sure that my little corner of the internet won’t contribute a gram of CO2 to that growing environmental problem; and if you use my hosting service, the same will apply to your website too.

6. I can help people grow their businesses

It’s important to realise that the honeymoon period with anything new will eventually end; and starting my own web design business will be no exception. Although I’m not there  yet, I know that at times this “job” will begin to feel like a job if I’m not careful. There may even be moments that I don’t like it. At those moments it will be vital to know that what I’m doing makes a difference to people.

In designing websites for new and small businesses I can be happy in the knowledge that my small contribution is helping other people realise their own dreams and that’s an excellent reason to do something if ever I’ve heard one.

7. It brings multiple disciplines together

“Web Designer” is a very broad term. So broad that it’s sometimes used to encompass all manor of vaguely web-related roles. A graphic designer, a user interface designer, a user experience designer, a code developer, a tester, a customer service representative, a boss, an employee, an adviser; the list goes on.

As a freelance web designer I have to occupy all of those roles interchangeably. It’s a fantastic challenge and something that guarantees I’m never going to be bored doing what I do.

8. For a better work/life balance

Being your own boss brings with it some tremendous advantages; including control over your work/life balance. I won’t go as far to say it improves that balance, but it does at least give you control. If you want to go camping for the weekend you can make a decision about whether you can do it or not instead of relying on the whims of a manager.

Similarly, as web designing is all doable remotely, you can work from home! This can throw up its own challenges of course, but in general it’s a remarkable upgrade on the commuting lifestyle.

9. For better prospects

Let’s be honest, this industry rewards well. Particularly for someone like me who has spent the previous section of my life in a sector known for its relatively low rewards; retail.

Pursuing my dream as a web designer brings with it an opportunity to build better prospects for myself and my family.

10. The opportunity to learn new things

When I first began teaching myself to code I started with HTML; the structural integrity of the web. Then I moved on to CSS. Then JavaScript. But the further I get with my studies the more I’m beginning to realise you never stop being a student in this field. There’s always something new coming down the pipeline. Some new technology, some new standard or best practice. It feels like there are new programming languages coming out every other minute and more frameworks and Ways To Do It than anyone could possibly know what to do with.

But after realising that fact you almost get a sense of relief. Where previously I thought I wasn’t getting anywhere and felt like an impostor, now I know that’s what everyone in this industry feels like. There’s always going to be someone somewhere who knows more than you; the trick is to never stop learning. Take on more and more knowledge and your work will improve year in year out.

So there we are…

That was 10 reasons why I decided to get into web design. I hope you enjoyed it. If you’d like to find out more about what I do and how I do it please visit https://www.tjswebdesign.uk.

If you’d like to get in touch you can email me at hello@tjswebdesign.uk or find me on Facebook @tjswebdesign.

– Tom

I'm Tom and I'm a self-taught Front-end Web Developer. I spend every moment I can learning about graphic design, web technologies and workflow in order to improve my knowledge, abilities and skill. I currently work as Junior Web Developer at the Webkick web design agency in Andover, Hampshire.

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