If there’s one thing I wish someone had told me when I was still in school, was that very few people get to make the really fun web sites, apps and designs at work. Most of the time, they’re just done as experiments or because someone has a great idea and worked on it on weekends. I was thinking about this today after a former teacher was telling me his students only seem to give it their all when they’re working on an assignment that they’re really into. All his advice that in the real world, clients don’t care whether you’re really into their wine tasting books or lawnmower parts, they just want your best work.
But I think most, if not all, of us thought that we would put out our shingle and a huge company like GM or Motorola would come calling, asking us to build something awesome for them, while giving us complete free reign creatively. We learn pretty quickly that’s not the case. But if you’re smart, then you make an amazing web site for the client to sell their lawnmower parts, even if the client wants you to use the logo their nephew made 8 years ago.
If all you do is client work, then I have a feeling eventually you lose the passion it takes to do this day in and day out. I’m surprised at how much time I spend learning new languages and experimenting with new web technologies outside of work. And most of the work I’m most proud of and happy with are things that will just sit on my hard drive, but the knowledge I’ve gained help me every day at work.
It’s not just about becoming better at what you do, it’s also about having fun and making things you want to build. Some of the coolest things I’ve seen online were made by designers and developers messing around. These are the things that inspire me to get better and keep trying to bring my ideas to life. A perfect example of this is a video I saw today, Blade Runner revisited is a homage to Ridley Scott’s film. A client might never ask for something like it but it’s the kind of thing that we should all be trying to make on the weekends.