The biggest web lessons learnt in 2015

Web experts reveal their biggest takeaways from the last twelve months.

In the fast-paced world of web design and development, a lot can happen in a year. So what are the most important takeaways from 2015 you need to be aware of? We asked the experts.

Avoid self-limitations

Rachel Smith

Rachel Smith

Interactive developer Rachel Smith says: "I learnt not to create self-limitations based on career choice or job title. For the past five years I've been a 'Front End Developer'. Because I worked in a small company I was forced to take initiative and work in other areas such as Back End or Ops.

"What I discovered is that I actually enjoy other areas of the stack and it has significantly improved my Front End work. I learnt that we probably shouldn't set ourselves internal mental barriers as to what we’re capable of, and try something out of our comfort zone."

Rachel is an interactive developer at Active Theory

Patience is a virtue

James Greenfield

Creative Director James Greenfield says: "As a child I had many qualities, but one I lacked was patience. As an adult I’m seemingly no better, but 2015 was the year I started to value it as a quality more and more. This quiet, steady perseverance, even-tempered care, diligence is now considered a little Victorian, quaint and at odds with the move fast and fail quick digital world we live in.

"Often start ups want our work ASAP, as they look to pivot, grow and ultimately get acquired without burning through all their funding. This isn’t how design and in particular brand building is best achieved. Brands take time and care and this lack of patience can often not give them the room to breathe that all great creativity needs. 2016 is about me advocating this more."

James Greenfield is the founder and creative director of Studio Koto

Go for it!

Ally Palanzi

Ally Palanzi, a senior front-end developer, reveals that: "If you're passionate about something just go for it. In 2015, I did many things I have never done before – spoke at conferences, taught classes, and organized community events. As an anxious introvert, interacting with others (strangers!) regularly is extremely difficult for me.

"I worked hard to push myself out of my comfort zone. Doing so allowed me to gain confidence, opened up more opportunities in my professional life, and bettered my personal life."

Ally Palanzi is the senior front-end engineer at Vox Media

Focus on the foundations

Cat Noone

Cat Noone, the Co-Founder of Iris, says that: "Creating a brand and product people fall in love with doesn’t always ensure its success. Ideas are easy (and often a playground for exploration and innovation), but building a sustainable business around one is where the difficulty lies.

"Much like a house, it’s important to remember to focus on the foundation of the product first, build features on top that support the core and only do so when the time is right. As you do, build, break, fix and iterate fast."

Cat Noone is the co-founder at Iris

Know when to move on

Joanna Lord

Marketing Executive Joanna Lord says: "Know when to move on. This year was a big year for me. As a woman executive who defines herself by her career, I all but lost my mind when I chose to leave my role as VP of Marketing at a hyper growth startup earlier this year. It was one of those decisions that smacks you unexpectedly.

"Faced with the company’s new product vision and realizations of a non-culture fit, I just knew it was time to move on. The problem is people like me are taught never to quit. So many of us are encouraged to force it, bulldoze past adversity and double down. But that’s not always the best. Sometimes it’s best to thank life for the learnings and move on.

"Whether it’s a business strategy that’s not working, a relationship that isn’t fulfilling, or simply a challenge that you realize you don’t actually want to conquer…don’t be afraid to just move on. Something beautiful is waiting for you. Trust me. Nah, forget that. Trust yourself."

Joanna Lord is a marketing executive, blogger and tech advisor

Embrace new skills

Cassie McDaniel

Design Director Cassie McDaniel explains that: "2015 was a big year as I fully stepped into my role as Design Director for the Mozilla Foundation, moving from full-time design tasks to managing people and building strategies. The most challenging part has been letting go of how I had previously valued myself as a maker and learning to embrace new skills.

"I discovered that it didn’t matter if I was a designer or a writer, a project manager or a team lead, as long as I was contributing to worthy and challenging goals. That surprised me."

Cassie McDaniel is a design director

Take a dose of your own medicine

Jennifer Pahlka

Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka says: "We started to build a product this year, and the team had a variety of different ideas about how we would evaluate its progress along the way. We learned some hard lessons about putting clear milestones in place and getting everyone aligned about what they mean.

"We've emerged stronger and better positioned to help governments work better using iterative, user-centered approaches to technology, but it was a good reminder to take a dose of our own medicine!"

Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America

Pick one thing and do it well

Amber Case

Cyborg anthropologist Amber Case says: "The best things to do in life are the most difficult ones. Pick one small thing. Do it well and it will turn into a big thing. Push an extra mile right as you're ready to give up. The answer is only a few feet ahead, but many people stopped there and never got to it. What you see as an overnight success is often ten years of work behind the scenes.

"Want to save time? Learn from the past. Don't substitute working hard for working clever. You do your best work when you don't take things too seriously. If you're stuck put it down and come back to it after doing something completely different. A little is a lot. Don't overbuild. A startup is a side project until proven otherwise."

Amber Case is the author of Calm Technology

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