I've been struggling with my work for a long while now. Web design and development has been in my life for 18 years or so, first as a hobby and soon at work. I even got a degree in digital media, because it felt like the thing to do. Before that, I studied computer science for a while. Yeah, a pretty clear path, don't you think? During these years something has happened. I have found myself less than satisfied professionally, creatively and financially. Things must change.
Professionally speaking, I have felt being stuck for years now. I don't seem to be able to convey my expertise, and these days everyone thinks they are a web designer. As a Samsung web developer on Twitter just the other day pointed out, HTML and CSS are harder, more detailed and have more complexities than people think. Making websites is often considered as something you do by clicking some buttons. But how did those buttons came to be, did you think about that? This lack of appreciation for what I do has made me appreciate less what I do. On the top of that, every web project is expected to be done in half the time (and effort) it would really take. In Finnish we have a word for it, juostenkustu, having peed while running. Imagine running and peeing at the same time, and you'll know what means.
Creatively the job has became less and less interesting. The people in marketing and design companies have gotten lazy and are making sites that all follow the same trends. As a result, the clients are expecting all the websites to follow all the same trends too. The latest thing is having that big, full width header image, preferably a background with a parallax effect (background scrolls slower than the foreground). On that header, there's some text and a button with call to action. Then there are more full width images with more text on them, and often that text is somehow animated. Also there are other modules with animations. Seizures for everyone! No, really, this is not a joke. Those animations are causing seizures. Anyways, I'm not feeling the "let's make web look the same".
The last part, which derives from those two other issues, is financial. I don't get paid enough. It's partially my own fault for having taken cheap projects and partially it has to do with the lack of appreciation for my line of work. If I don't make sites that look like all the others, my work doesn't have the value. Because everyone now can push the buttons to create a basic website, my work is also undervalued. Each time I see someone offering web design and pushing buttons to put it together for $200 I want to scream. That pricing can't be based on hours (what, they design and build a site in 2 to 4 hours?) and especially not on the value of the work (a $200 website is not a very valuable website). I've come to realise that offering cheap services isn't only undervaluing my own job. It's also undervaluing the project at hand. If you want a cheap website, it means you don't value your website. Either way, I'm not quite making my living with this job. Plus, I do a lot of work for free, because nobody wants to pay anyways and I don't like leaving jobs half done.
Last month I had a mini-burnout. I felt exhausted and quite hopeless. I call it mini, because years ago I had a worse one. I know the difference. That worse one, years ago, I took as a sign. Back then I switched from studying computer science to digital media. This mini one, last month, I'm taking as a sign too. I'm better off keeping web design and development as a side project, a hobby, and doing something else for the bread and butter. Something more satisfying professionally, creatively, and hopefully, financially. The girl has got bills to pay.
I'm not jumping far off the old career. At least for now. I'm adjusting and refocusing. Branding, brand based marketing and (web) consulting are where I'm going. This means that I won't be building your website, but I may make a design concept for it. Someone else can "push the buttons" for you. I can also give you ideas on how to make your current site better. I will work with you with your brand, making it more cohesive, more attractive and better. If you are interested in such services, do contact me and we'll discuss more. I also value my work and my time and I know your brand, marketing and website are valuable. Thus I won't take the cheap jobs anymore. Additionally I'm planning an online course and a workbook (ebook) about a subject. Those will come later, but they are on the way.
So yeah, that's what's going on. And that's why I'm jumping off the web design and especially development train. Keep your seizure causing animations.
I'm Mervi Eskelinen
I'm an artist, nerd and creative business wizard, dedicated to help you build the business of your dreams, market your creativity, and find a meaningful way to support your lifestyle.