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The Speed of Change: A Personal Account
By: Tom Roarty
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There was a time when I felt that I could take on pretty much any creative challenge and complete it in a timely manner. That time was when the hardest part about executing a design problem was coming up with the idea. My, how times have changed, and for those that did not keep up as best they should have, such as myself, there are quite a few challenges to face.
I will start off by saying that it is not easy to go from a comfortable pocket in your career where there is a feeling of safety to the harsh reality of what things have become. The fact of the matter is that technology is ever evolving, and although it is impossible for any one person to keep up with it all, it is imperative that we try. My awakening came just a few weeks ago when I was asked to do what I felt was one of my strongest skill sets: Design a website.
This is not a new task for me. I literally have been designing sites since the ‘90s, both in agency settings and on a freelance basis. I felt that as the media grew, I was keeping a steady pace with it. The problem becomes that once you start to feel comfortable in what you do, no matter what your profession, you start to settle in areas that you may not be as interested in. Admittedly, I love to design; I program out of necessity. So although my skills in design grew, my programming abilities leveled off over time, which was always more than enough to get by, until recently.
The actual wireframes, mood boards, and design for the site was done in no time. Than came the programming. Three days to bang the site out. To start off, the deadline didn’t make sense to me. Three days? I was literally done in a half a day and feeling really good about the project. Until I found out that my abilities did not cover HTML5, which of course was what the client wanted. OK, maybe three days wasn’t enough of a deadline now. In the past, I have taught myself HTML, FLASH, how to customize WordPress sites, and not just the header, literally the PHP, but in every one of those instances, there was one factor that existed that I did not have the luxury of for this client: Time.
Aside from this project, there were four others waiting in the wings, all with pretty similar deadline dates, and it is at that point that you realize that if this is what you want to continue to do for a living, you find a way to make it work. It wasn’t like I wasn’t keeping up with trends. I just missed this boat because I had a more familiar way of doing things. So, it was work by day and classes by night, HTML5 and responsive web design, some light reading for after hours. It is not easy to retain information with little to no sleep, but repetition after the fact goes a long way in smoothing out the jagged edges, and I am still doing so.
The best part about this whole experience, aside from advancing my skill set, is the amount of resources I have found. Not only for what I needed immediately, but for those things that I may need tomorrow. My suggestion to anyone who might find themselves in the same situation is this: Seriously monitor the trends in your field. Try to foresee the direction of your chosen profession by following those who are a part of your professional community through social networking. You will not be able to learn everything that may be thrown at you, but at least having access to a peer group could be your most valuable resource.

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