Web designers and developers now live in a much happier time. In the past, they needed to do plenty of trial and error learning, while the largest hurdle was to get people understand what Web professionals were on about. Overtime, major online companies like Yahoo, Google, Skype, Twitter and Facebook bring the geeky digital realm into the living room and into the mobile device of regular people, and also into the media headlines. Now there are far more opportunities for us, as professionals. For many professionals, success not only depends on how they get themselves known among the clients, but also how they make their mark on the Web development industry. You can gain significant advantages by knowing other professionals in your field.
These are ways to get yourself known in the Web development industry
Use Social Networking Actively
Social networks offer the beneficial yet unsurprising features of being social: web professionals can meet those with the same interests and occupations. Eventually, you’ll stumble over a few Web experts, which may happily answer a few quick tweets. You can visit their Facebook and Tweet pages and use their quick thoughts as the inspiration for your blog post. Social networks are a wonderful place to get relevant ideas based on trends in the industry.
You can make other Web professionals to know you by sharing your thoughts by uploading your screencast to YouTube, sharing your work development in the Facebook and posting examples of mock-ups on the Flickr. Who knows, after a few years people may consider you as an expert! By delivering engaging and unique thoughts, whatever you put on the Internet can be read by millions of people. If you are limiting your mark on the Web only on website production, most people, including potential clients, won’t know you.
When using on social networks, you should act and think like yourself. List your name and write a truthful bio. You won’t get plenty of traffic if you use a cartoon dog for the photograph and a made up name.
Write a blog
With a blog, you can easily share your ideas, thoughts, photographs, anything. Initially, your blog doesn’t have to be the inspiring and refined output of a Web guru. Similarly, your blog shouldn’t be filled with endless stream of personal news (like sharing the joy of getting a new mobile gadget). If nothing interests you today, you can use the blog as a personal scratch pad. However, if something about web development happens to attract or annoy you in some way, you should write a blog post and invite others to comment. Don’t forget to comment to others’ blog and give useful commentaries.
Just like average bloggers, you need to post regularly and deal with spam. Services like WordPress, Soup.io and Tumblr can help you to jot down interesting thoughts.
Many people wrongfully use their blog as a lab or playground, by trying out all possible design ideas and CSS tricks, as the result, the site is redesigned almost each month. This may be tempting, but often you’ll only get a fleeting joy. Eventually, you’ll realize that de-emphasizing the content was a big mistake. Many web designers have minimalist, clean blog, but they often provide good contents and perform standard SEO practices. Blogs with engaging contents will likely be referenced by peoples and shared as bookmark. Looks are not too important; just use reasonable titles and well-structured contents.
Conferences are good opportunity to meet with other Web professionals and get a sense about latest trends in the industry. These events are priceless opportunity to build a network and get to know other Web professionals ‘in the flesh’.
You shouldn’t get bogged down taking notes, instead swap Twitter handles, give out cards and chat a lot. Go with the flow, if everyone goes to drink coffee then it’s the time for chatter, but perhaps it’s not a good time to talk about highly technical matters. Use the event to your advantage, tweet on your smartphone and mention about things that you find interesting. If possible, create a blog post immediately after you leave the conference. Sometimes there is much discussion among those who didn’t attend the conference, so you should be the one who tells the story to them. It is quite likely that they’ll remember you for it.
You should keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to submit your proposals. Everyone always needs for a fresh speaker, so don’t be afraid.
Seek partners and build alliances
Always ask questions to others, especially if you want to crack certain problems and you don’t know what to do. A group of Web professionals who work together on a demo product can produce better results than an individual who tries to do everything. Collaboration helps you to deliver better product and examine others’ works.
Visiting blogs of other professionals and leaving good comments are a good way to get yourself known. Try to give articulate comments that explain the subject matter farther and add to the conversation. There would be no point posting if you end up diverting the discussion. Decent comments include:
- Company A offered similar solution for B, but it lacked feature C
- Would it also work for A problem?
- Good post! You can visit A to see it in action.
You get the idea. Just point out possible issues in the solution and show people about things that back up the solution. You may leave additional comments to verify or politely disagree with those who stirred the discussion. You should be known as an individual who prevents or stops flame wars and steers the discussion to more productive direction.
Improve current solutions
It is easier to build on available solutions as you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Instead of working from the scratch, you should improve solution that nearly solves a problem. It is also a good idea to modify a solution to fit your target audience. This could entail changing, adding or removing some features, For example, 12px Arial could be great for standard Web typography, but at 12px, Chinese glyphs may be too small to read.
There’s no shame in improving others’ works, you may only need to learn its inner working and improve it; they could be themes, CMS extensions or others. It is important to understand the work you are improving on and don’t leave anything unchecked. Without thorough examination, an extension may break later, which can tarnish your reputation. When releasing a code, you should omit a functionality that is inaccessible to your current audience. Before changing the code, you should read the documentation and understand the rationale behind the functionality and structure used. The original coder might have a good reason to choose a slightly unusual approach.
Release free templates, designs and code
Once you understand how to create a useful product, by making a research and building on the skills, you should share the result of your work. When giving out stuff, make sure people will also mention your name. You can showcase your templates in deviantART, upload your codes to Google Code or GutHub and put your photos, sketches and illustration on Flickr. By using popular sharing services, you can reach people far more easily, because they already hang out in those places. Most of your contracts for paid work may eventually come from those who are impressed with freebies you’ve released.
Prioritize and listen
If you have plenty of contents online, keeping them up to date can become a full time job. So, if you don’t have the time to manage your contents, you can still be renowned as a good librarian (curator of contents). Just like librarians, you don’t have to know everything inside a content, but you need to know where everything is located. This will allow you to help others quickly and effectively. Maintain RSS feeds and bookmark them using proper tags and simple notes.
To get yourself noticed on the industry, these ideas are both effective. Most of these methods are fairly inexpensive or free, all Web professionals, including designer, developer and consultant should use them. If you do it properly, before you know it, you could become a respected Web citizen.