I was once told websites age like a fine… milk. Much of the same can be said for developers. It is important to keep learning. This is applicable to all trades, however in our field of web development it’s being improved and re-invented everyday.
It’s hard to recall the number of times that a client has come to us with a buzzword and basically asking the site to be build around it. “You’ll be building this with HTML5 right?” Well, you’re not using audio, or video, but I suppose I could semantic it up a bit and add a JS library to support old browsers that don’t understand the <nav> tag or <section>… Mentally I’ve quickly become cynical over this though. When the reality is most browsers are becoming “evergreen” (updating behind the scenes). This allows us to know/assume that clients will be up to date and legacy browser will continue to fade away.
Honestly, I’d rather have a client that is interested in the technology enough to ask about what these things mean and offer to us for our following projects than one that thinks we have a bunch of voodoo magic running around in tubes.
As Pixelsmith gets more established we have to realize we’re still a small shop. We need to be nimble and flexible and not set in our ways. We continue to use solutions that have worked since the very beginning, but we continue to utilize services and tools that improve/automate and speed up our workflow. It can take several hours to switch a core part of our process out, yet it can save a lot more time in the long run and it’s important to realize those details.
I’ve been very grateful to be a developer that began building websites when I did. It was at a time when IE6 ruled the land, though that seemed to be the better part of a decade. It had a substantial impact on my future, realizing that I didn’t want to spend all my time building for legacy browsers. It was also at a time when Firefox was the greatest browser ever because of Firebug (RIP) and the beginning of developer tools. It was a time where we could write code by hand, and thats the same code that went into production sites. It was before preprocessors, so I could understand the most effective way to write code. It wasn’t being minified or concatenated for me. I certainly sympathize with new developers to the field today. They have a huge learning curve ahead of them. I don’t believe you drag and drop 5 libraries/frameworks on your project and have something portfolio worthy at the end of the day.
Whether you’re just starting in the field or if you’ve been doing it for 15 years, you need to keep considering what is coming next and be ready for the changes that will make tomorrow’s job easier.