Stop obsessing over HTML5 and CSS3

As web designers, we all seem obsessed by HTML5 and CSS3 at the moment. Endless posts, tutorials and discussion about them dominate the blogosphere. But how much are we learning that can be applied today?

Don’t get me wrong. We all need to understand HTML5 and CSS3. And a lot of it can be used today.

My point is that we seem to be spending a disproportionate about of time reading up on the subject when so many other areas deserve our attention.

While others are reading yet another tutorial on CSS animation, why not broaden your horizons by researching subjects that will allow you to offer an even better service to clients?

I’ll share with you five areas that I believe are much neglected and that we need to learn more about.

Demo of a 3D sphere created in CSS3
Do you really need to know how to create a 3-D sphere in CSS3? (Image: Paul Hayes)


1. Customer service

“Customer service?!” you cry. “I don’t work at Starbucks!”

If that’s your attitude, think again. Customer service lies at the heart of everything we do as web designers, and yet we rarely think about it, let alone read anything on the subject.

A member of staff working in starbucks.
You may not work at Starbucks, but customer service is intrinsic to our role as web designers. (Image: ChiBart)

We need a good grounding in customer service for a couple of reasons. First, we are in the service business. We like to think that we build stuff, but actually we are offering a service to our clients. We don’t just build websites: we guide clients through an unfamiliar process and provide a lot of advice and support along the way.

Secondly, the majority of websites that we build have a strong element of customer service. We provide a service to end users in the form of either an application or, more often than not, information.

Whether we want to offer a better service to clients or end users, the message is the same: we need to brush up on our customer service skills.

My recommendation is to start by subscribing to a few customer service blogs. Customer Experience Matters a good starting point.


2. Psychology

Understanding of psychology should be woven into every aspect of our job, from sales to project management to user interface design to design aesthetics. Everything we do as web designers should be informed by knowledge of how people think.

Unfortunately, few of us have taken Psychology 101. What we do know we have learned instinctively rather than through any formal training. We design based on gut reaction rather than informed knowledge.

Being able to get inside the heads of others is crucial, whether it’s users or clients. Whoever it is, we have to know our stuff.

Stephen Anderson’s psychology resources
A great introduction to the field of human psychology, curated by Stephen Anderson. (Image: Mental Notes)

Thankfully, Stephen Anderson has pulled together a great set of resources to introduce the field of human psychology. If his extensive list is a little intimidating, I recommend starting with “Made to Stick” or “Nudge.” “Neuro Web Design” is very good, too.


3. Context

There was a time when you could make an educated guess at the user’s context. Surfing the web was done at a desktop computer in relative quiet. Unfortunately, despite those days being long gone, many of us still assume that context when designing websites.

The reality is very different. For starters, we rarely have the user’s full attention. They are surrounded by distraction, both offline and on. The computer is now as likely to be in the family room with kids running amok as in a quiet study. While looking at your website, the user is probably also checking email, catching up with friends on Facebook and tweeting.

The problem doesn’t end there. We no longer just surf the web on a desktop computer. There are netbooks, tablets, televisions and mobile devices of all shapes and sizes.

Girl using a mobile phone while on a train.
We can no longer assume that people access the web from a desktop computer. (Image: Shutterstock)

Unfortunately, not a huge amount has been written on the subject, beyond my own rambling thoughts. But I am convinced this will be a defining factor in web design over the coming years.

If we want to continue creating cutting-edge websites, then we need to take context seriously. Ultimately, good web design is more about context and content than HTML5 and CSS3.


4. Content strategy

How did we ever decide that content was the client’s problem? Why should we expect them to know about writing for the web when we, as self-proclaimed web experts, do not?

Content is the foundation of every website. This includes content in all its forms: images, text, video, audio and functionality.

How a website is built and what it looks like pales in comparison to the content. Still, many of us regard it as the client’s problem.

Clients will be demanding a lot more help to get their content right, and if you don’t offer it, then they will turn to your competitors. I would be willing to bet my company on it.

Don’t get me wrong. You don’t need to become an expert content strategist. As McCoy would say, “Damn it, Jim! I’m a web designer, not a copywriter.” (Okay, he was a doctor, but you get the point.)

But just because you are not a content strategist doesn’t mean you can ignore the basics of writing for the web. You should know what a content audit is, how to make copy more scannable, and what goes into a style guide.

If you can’t answer these (and many other similar questions), then it is time to upgrade your skills. A good starting point is anything by Relly Annett-Baker, or get your hands on Kristina Halvorson’s book Content Strategy for the Web.
Kristina Halvorson’s book Content Strategy for the Web is great for learning the basics of content strategy.


5. Strategy

Things used to be so simple for the average client. They came to you, and you built a website that sold whatever service they were selling. Now we ask them complicated questions about business objectives, success criteria and calls to action. Compounding their worries, they have to think about Facebook, SEO, Twitter, user engagement and endless buzzwords.

In short, the average client is no longer looking for someone to just build a website. They are looking for a consultant to guide them through the confusing online world. They need someone who can look at their business and answer one simple question: how can the web best help them?

The problem is that most web designers are either frustrated artists or code monkeys (okay, maybe that’s a stretch). But we are not business advisers.

Geek Dressed as Business consultant
How much do we really know? (Image: Shutterstock)

We like to think that we know how the web can benefit a business. But we really don’t know that much. We are not schooled in business theory, marketing or economics.

Again, we don’t need to pretend to be something we’re not. But we do need to improve our basic understanding of these topics so that we are at least capable of having a discussion with business folk about how the web can help them.

When was the last time you read an article on direct marketing or corporate restructuring?


The problem

Herein lies the problem. We are so busy reading HTML5 tutorials and looking at CSS3 demos that we miss these other areas.

We are scared by what we do not know, and so we tether ourselves to subjects that we have a handle on. But as the web becomes more complex, we will need to broaden our horizons.

I am not suggesting that we all become generalists. I am saying that our skill set should be T-shaped. We need broad superficial knowledge of a lot of subjects and then deep insight into one area. The problem is that most of us don’t look beyond that one area of expertise.

If you don’t broaden your outlook, clients will look elsewhere.

  • Federico Brigante

    I get your point but, yes, we need that rotating CSS3 sphere for about the same reasons we need car concepts. Technical blogs are going to talk about HTML5/CSS3 and not about content strategy, it’s our duty to read non-technical blogs too.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t get me wrong. I think it is awesome that there are people out there doing this kind of stuff. I just think the majority of us spend too long oooing and aaaaing over this kind of thing when we should be looking at other areas.

  • Jason Gross

    Paul, I agree with you to some extent that there is a lot of discussion around CSS3 and HTML5 right now and unfortunately a lot of it is buzz driven. However, I find myself lacking the conviction to run out and improve myself on some of the topics you discussed. I wonder if we would be better off with some suggested direction for why we might want to break into these areas or examples of how they improve a web site. 

    A good example might be associating Pavlov’s classical conditioning theories with the argument to dig a bit into psychology. Can his methods of stimulus be applied to a web design in a way that we reward our users for the behavior we want them to take?

    Also I find it interesting that you bring up a point about context when a lot of this discussion has been driven by the abilities we gain with CSS3 to learn about our users context. Apart from media queries and browser sniffing how do you incorporate the idea of context into your projects? 

    • Anonymous

      It was not my aim in this article to spoon feed the read. I just wanted to point people in the right direction. For example, check out the Mental Notes cards I mentioned. They will provide some real inspiration for applying the principles of psychology to web design.

  • Christian Krammer

    Of course it’s good to broad your horizon, but when to do all of this? Design and HTML by itself is a very broad subject and it’s very difficult to stay up-to-date, but if we also need to know “a little bit” of that, and of course photography, and to draw by hand, and all about typography, and SEO, and, and, and … A day only has 24 hours and many of us also have a family and a “real” job where we can’t just read and educated ourselves. Time’s the problem, not the motivation. I’d love to learn even more than I already do, but I simply can’t.

    • Anonymous

      I have a family and I have a real job that demands huge quantities of my time. Its not about finding more time, its about spending the time you have more carefully. That is what I am saying in these articles. I am not saying reading about HTML5 and CSS3 is wrong. I am saying we waste a lot of time by reading the same kind of articles again and again. Instead of going over the same ground we should be looking at new areas too. Its not about more time, its about less repetition.

      • Its159am

         I agree with you Christian. Personally I think this whole HTML5 and CSS3 thing is a huge buzz right now, but is it practical? Probably not, we’re still very far away from the need of requiring it in our content. I’d rather take the time I have now to develop on my business and strategy skills until the demand of HTML5 and CSS3 takes over fully.

    • Ross Ritchey

      I used to say things like this as well – then I realized I was spending more time complaining about not having time to do things than it would have taken to just do those things.

      I have found that most people would be surprised how much time you waste throughout the day doing random things that aren’t necessary – or even a priority.  He is saying that these topics need to become more of a priority in your day.  You don’t need to research all of them today -> but make an effort to have a basic understanding of all of them.

  • Paul

    Solid arguments, and a timely post — points well taken: make use of, and leverage technology where it’s applicable, and when it adds value…

  • Anonymous

    Paul I have to admire your skill it picking awful stock photography, do you work freelance?

    • Anonymous

      lol… yeah I do tend to have some fun with that :)

      No I don’t do freelance. All of my work goes via Headscape.

  • Anonymous

    If you take psychology 101 only, my suggestion is dont take it.  Because you will get out of their like a scull full of mush.  Not only will you yourself be confused, but people will be confused about you.  If you are planning to take psychology, take at least two more upper division classes to get things settled. 

    • Anonymous

      I think we will have to disagree over that one :) I would say is a core design skill we should all have if we build user interfaces.

      • Anonymous

        User interfaces do not require psychology, they require simplicity and logic.  Psychology comes into play as the after-affect of what people do when particular interfaces are built.  So instead of studying psychology, study interfaces.  There is a reason why companies hire testers to test the usability of their interfaces rather than doctors of psychology.  

      • closdesign

        The part of user interface design is based of off psychology and the way a person uses the interface.  That is psychology. Anticipate the users next move or psychologically guide them to the next point.  Companies hire testers to study their habits on using the interface, which is Psychology. Simplicity and logic are psychological factors that go into interface design. If you don’t understand the psychology of how people think then you can’t really effectively design a simple and logical interface. Especially if you are dealing with other cultures, customs and demographics.  A website designed for designers is psychologically going to be designed much different than a website designed for elderly people or their care takers.  That is why understanding your client’s customer base is psychology as well. No matter how simple you make a website you should take into account the target audience, which is taking in account the psychology of the user.

      • Anonymous

        No, for the most part it is not based on psychology, it is based on peoples’ previous operating habits. These operating habits have migrated from earlier built technologies, interfaces, OS’s, and Gaming consoles….etc.   Take Apple and Microsoft, for example.  Their interfaces, button layout and orientation, is polar to each other.  Both sides may claim they have hired psychologists to do their work, but the results are very much different from each other.  The bottom line is this: people got accustomed to either one interface and learned to use it and accept it.  There is no psychological shortcut in interface design. A lot of it is user testing, experimentation, technological advancement and learning curve.

        I think you way over-broadened the definition of psychology in interface design.  I do agree that by understanding your user base will help you design better suited interfaces, but I do not put this into the psychological category, I would put it in research or statistical category.  What you do is view and measure the statistics of your users, and then you decide the best interface to implement for that user demographic.  I do not see anything psychological about this method.  It has been used way before the internet. This procedure is used in non human processes as well.

        When designers claim that studying psychology will help them achieve better design results, I say it’s a myth. There is a reason why enterprise level companies test the market prior to launching their product, because psychology has failed to let them know whether people will like their product or not, so they have to revert to conventional methods; Test and see if people will bite.  You may say this is psychology, I say this is market research.

        The reason why we build interfaces for elderly people differently is because at one point elderly people have complained that they cant see or hear the Internet.  So what do you do?  Do you consult psychology to find out how you can help them best?  No, you brainstorm ideas, implement the first idea, have the elderly test it for you, then tweak it…etc.  Who does the testing?  the psychologist?  No, the end user. 

  • Michael Gunner

    You may find the coverage of HTML5 and CSS3 a tad sisyphean, I and clearly most others find it commodious.

    • Anonymous

      That supposed to be clever? :-/

  • Paul Herz

    This is bullocks. HTML5 and CSS3 are just designers taking interest in the future of standards. You lack statistics that the majority of even 1/4 of web design discussion and content involves these new standard sets. Designers don’t play around with super experimental stuff when they’re making a website. Your list of what we should be focusing on — those are the ABCs. And those things and standards are NOT mutually exclusive.

    • Anonymous

      Couldn’t agree more Paul. I think you misunderstood the thrust of my post. They are not mutually exclusive. We should be paying attention to both. Unfortunately we often do not because we become obsessed with the latest CSS3 demo. We need to make sure we find the balance. 

  • SamMarkiewicz

    I agree with you Paul, and more specially on a technical view.
    Sure HTML5 and CSS3 are good things, and yes, they will be useful for the future.

    But the fact is they are presented as a current norm, and not as a beta (which is IMO the case, because there is still a large part of the dream that cannot be achieve with ALL the browsers).
    And the problem is that : there is a lot of webdesigners (newbies, and more dramatically pros) that don’t understand the fundamentals.

    I have an example of a friend telling me that during a job interview, he asks people to simply put three divs side by side. Easy, uh ? A lot of people surprisingly use… Positionning !!! 
    To make that, a simple float, or a display:inline would have been right.

    It’s not a fake. It’s a fact. 
    We will put a technology between some hands that will clearly make worst than better.
    How many sites will we have that will look like Xmas trees, or “epileptic-please-don’t-watch” pages, as were some Flash sites in 2000 ?
    A lot of (useful) CSS2 properties are still unused (with IE6 death, there is less of them every day) or misinterpreted, and you are all chasing ‘bling-bling’ because it looks so attractive ?

    I also agree that a website is not only a matter of HTML and CSS.
    Although it is clear that a webdesigner or a front-end developper shouldn’t have to be a good SEO-boy or a content strategist, he should be aware of some points and problematics inherent to these jobs.
    For example, as Google wants to take the page speed as a criteria to display searches, a webdesigner has to be aware of that more than how to make a Bender in CSS3.
    It’s more useful for a client and a user.
    IMO, web is not a field where you can work as a lonely hero on your side, but by being aware of how the global structure works.

    Last, I would say that for most of us all, we work for companies or clients, for whom those HTML5 and CSS3 things are clearly misunderstood or totally unknown. 
    They focus on : how the user will use my site, how will he get the information or will I earn money with it and Oh, great it looks great on my good ol’ IE6 (generally described as “My Internet”).

    This may sound a little extreme, and in a way, it’s openly provocative.
    But I really think that we should temper our enthusiam, and most of all educate.
    Technology without understanding or background is a waste of a time, and could be destructive for itself.

  • Andy Parker

    That is ridiculous. You might as well have said let’s not worry about global warming I just bought a bagel and it has cheese and chilli sauce with salt beef.

    Another article that has absolutely no relevance to its title!

    CSS3 & HTML5 are languages for construction, you’re comparing their relevance in study to things that are totally unrelated!

    • John

      Spoken like a true warmist. Wow.

      CSS3 & HTML5 are largely distractions, used mainly to reassure nervous nellies that they are indeed keeping up (and to further corporate agendas that have nothing to do with our own businesses prospering). Try this: commit to avoiding every tutorial, every article, every speck about CSS3/HTML5 for a solid month (or year) and take your breaks reading about how to develop your business and after a month/year I bet you will be much, much farther ahead (and happier with our profession).

      • Anonymous

        I wouldn’t go that far John. All I am saying is to avoid going over the same ground again and again. Once you understand the basics of HTML5 and CSS3 turn your attention to other topics. Seriously, grasping the new elements of HTML and CSS doesn’t take that long. Its not that complicated.

      • Anonymous

        I wouldn’t go that far John. All I am saying is to avoid going over the same ground again and again. Once you understand the basics of HTML5 and CSS3 turn your attention to other topics. Seriously, grasping the new elements of HTML and CSS doesn’t take that long. Its not that complicated.

    • Anonymous

      I am not comparing the two. I am saying that we should ‘stop obsessing over html5 and css3’ but instead spread the limited time we have to learn new stuff to embrace other topics as well.

  • Lobo

    overexcitement is best word to describe what happen right now (and for past year). Html5 bring some improvements to html language but people speak about it sometimes like it’s Jesus second coming. Bloggers want to be hype and popular. What’s more hype than html5 right? Wrong.

  • RanHazut

    CSS3 sure gives you awesome features, such as animating, and 3D in some parts, I don`t think everyone should rush into it, but, it sure is ok to ask about it, i see nothing wrong about it.

  • Shezallthat

    This article resonates to the single freelancer who has to be everything to everyone. What makes money for me is what makes money for my clients. Today they all want to score with social media. Everyone wants user interaction, slideshows/video, blogs, online ordering and registration plugins. They definitely demand SEO. And they don’t have time to help you develop any of it!

    Your article may seem simplistic to developers at a firm with multiple designers and front/back-end people to spare, but us loners have to pick our battles. I opted for learning WordPress customization and delivering the tools my clients want with that platform. And, your spot on about creating content.

    Mastering every new process that comes down the road as soon as it shows up just can’t be high on my list. It may sound low-down and dirty, but I may wait until it’s a requirement to learn HTML5.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely, but not at the detriment of everything else. That makes us too blinkered in our thinking.

  • Anonymous

    I do not disagree. You are totally right. I am not suggesting you don’t look at HTML 5. I am saying that you need to balance that with other things that also benefit your clients.

  • Anonymous

    Hey all,
    I have responded to many of you individually below but I just wanted to clarify my message here as many of you seem to be misunderstanding me (as is always the case online). I am not suggesting that HTML5 and CSS3 are subjects we should ignore. What I am saying is that many of us spend too long on the subject. HTML5 and CSS3 doesn’t take long to grasp. Its really not that complicated and yet we read post after post about it. 

    There are a lot of other subjects out there that deserve our attention. Subjects that are equally important and we should be careful not to dwell for too long on one subject when our time to learn is so limited.

    That is all I am saying :) Hope that makes sense.

    • SamMarkiewicz

      “as many of you seem to be misunderstanding me (as is always the case online)”That point definitely deserves a full article :)

      • Anonymous

        That it does :)

  • Todd Logan

    You hit the mark, dead center. Thank you for having the guts to say it. I’m a print designer by trade; that’s what I love, that’s what I am good at. I could be great if I focus and develop my skills. With a moderate interest in web development, a basic understanding of HTML and CSS knowledge, I do not have enough time to become great at two fields of study. I want to be a great GRAPHIC DESIGNER, not a WEB DESIGNER. I know some because I have to in order to survive – but I am not very good at it yet, and don’t entirely enjoy doing it. I prefer to focus on other areas that I am passionate about, and that currently need serious attention, as you have so rightly stated.

  • Anonymous

    I do agree with this article, but not 100%.

    There are enough designers out there who feel that they can (and should) ignore the new technology until it is widely used (read: until everyone is using IE 9). And while that is a good, conservative approach, designers who do that end up being left behind by the designers who don’t.

    I also disagree with the idea that the customer doesn’t care. Yes, it’s probably true that they don’t care what the name of the technology you’re using is. But they do care (even if they don’t know it) about whether their site runs fast, downloads quickly, and has “that cool animation they saw on their friend’s site.” While most of those things can be done with HTML4 and CSS2, they are done more efficiently with HTML5 and CSS3 and fallback options for the browsers that don’t support them. As professionals, we should be delivering the best technology we can deliver–regardless of whether our clients can ask for it by name or not.

  • Bratu Sebastian

    Interesting point. I also was thinking of making a couple of HTML5 tutorials on my upcoming tutorial blog, but I figured people need solutions now rather than lose time with cutting edge buggy stuff. And I also figured it would take me less time to learn people real projects rather than hypothetical solutions to a simple problem ( 3d sphere in HTML5 wtf ? :) ) 

    Great article!

  • Dave Ashenden

    Thanks for a interesting article.

    I agree with the points made. HTML5 and CSS3 are great technologies. But that is all they are, technologies. A painter can have the best paintbrushes in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’ll paint a great picture.I personally put most of my learning time towards areas of Business and Marketing topics as understanding them makes design and development far far easier to get right for the client.

  • Xacto01

    I find it entirely okay to obsess about these picky technologies, because this is our world. The Web Designer’s world.   The customer service and content strategies is our Client’s world.  

  • GWA Admin

    I also agree.  Wow you can do stuff with html 5 that flash did like 9 years ago!  But it’s open source! 

  • GWA Admin

    I also agree.  Wow you can do stuff with html 5 that flash did like 9 years ago!  But it’s open source! 

  • GWA Admin

    I also agree.  Wow you can do stuff with html 5 that flash did like 9 years ago!  But it’s open source! 

  • Mpieszak84

    Agree completely, the amount of things on CSS3 are simply annoying…

    There are about 5 things that are almost cross-browser and actually worth using on everyday projects, most other things are almost pointless… Unless your working on a safari/chrome only project (which never happens), or IE6-7-8 and FF3 dissapear from existence, its almost a waste of time.

  • TheCoffeeshoppress

    Great article, i enjoyed reading it. Alot of good points and very standard reasons to not stress it.

  • VJ

    good article !!

  • Ribin

    majority of clients don’t care which way you have done , they need only the output

  • Edwin Hollen

    “I also agree that we stick with what we know. The technical end by and
    large is relatively easy. It’s a matter of doing it over and over. The
    exception may be straight up programming. (I don’t mean prebuilt JQuery
    modules either, I mean from the ground up programming.)”

    I disagree completely. Things like HTML5 video will finally allow users to dynamically play video in a browser without a bulky proprietary application like Flash or Silverlight.

    Things like CSS3 animations will allow us to add extra flare to our sites without the need for extensive javascript programming.

    And of course, other CSS3 features, such as box shadow and border radius, eliminate the need to use images and we can, finally, have completely dynamic, image-less websites that we, a few years ago, would chock full of bulky images.

    HTML5 and CSS3 are the largest leaps in both languages, and we should embrace them wholly.

  • Ramon Lapenta

    Agree, i know a lot of people that know how to make the 3D sphere with CSS but they don’t know what “specificity” means, or they can’t create their own grid framework.

    It’s good to know what can be made, but not to obsess about it.

  • Jack Edward Nycz

    I heard your first point put very well by a guy I used to work with when another employee was complaining about having to talk to a particular client a lot more than most. 

    Complainer: “God this joker calls me ten times a day! What a freaking pain this guy.”
    Friend: “I mean that’s just part of job, customer service.”
    C: “I’m a web developer not a customer service provider!”
    F: “Are they your customer?”
    C: “Well yeah.”
    F: “And you’re building a website for them – so your providing a service?”
    C: “Yeah…”
    F: “See what I did there?”

  • Sunny Singh

    I thought I was the only one! I keep seeing these “experiments” that are not usable today, and the only argument I’m given is “it’s pushing what we can do with CSS, JS, etc.” That’s great, but why is it our main focus?

    I definitely like reading articles that are about cool snippets of code or design, AND stuff like content strategy, how to better custom service, etc. Great article, you hit it right on the point.

  • Jamy Golden

    I agree, people should learn more about Customer service, Psychology,
    Context, Content strategy, etc. But the answer isn’t to ignore HTML5 and
    CSS3? Infact, it has NOTHING to do with HTML5 and CSS3. The answer is
    to learn more about Customer service, Psychology, Context, Content
    strategy, etc.

    It’s pretty much like having an article titled “Stop Obsessing over
    Girls and Friends” where the point of the article is to learn more about
    Customer service, Psychology, Context, Content strategy, etc.

    So I agree with what you are saying. But I don’t agree with the title or
    your solution to people learning more in these fields. Removing guns
    won’t stop wars.

  • Bill Cooper

    Right on brutha!

  • Bill Cooper

    @boagworld:disqus The responses your getting prove your point exactly. Those of you reacting negatively to this article are the very people who NEED this article. Wake up and pay attention or go back to your cube, mom’s basement or Starbucks and search for another way to make a living.

  • Federico H. Gherardi

    Don’t get me wrong! I partially agree. But consider that we are like babies with a new toy. Bear us! We have been overwhelmed for years by flash. Now it’s time to enjoy this hype of freshness!:)

  • Patrick Ashamalla

    This article is off base to me.

    I haven’t seen this level of experimentation and “play” since the Flash Wars days from about 10 years ago. It’s this type of exploration around a subject that creates breakthroughs in the discipline.

  • Ryan Frusti

    Thanks Paul for this article, it is absolutely right on the money. – Ryan

  • Tomas Eriksson

    Don’t forget also about popularity when talking about SEO. If you have the most popular site that is spread by links, twitter etc you are the king of search engines, regardless of you use HTML1 OR HTML5. Personally I think its too much about accessibility and details that not affect as much as other things for people and search engines.

  • Valerie Kay Bliss

    After reading this article and all of the comments, I’m glad I had the opportunity to pursue my first bachelors in sociology before graphic and web design took off.  It is vital to understand your target audience.  If you don’t, then what’s the point in designing anything?  For whom would we be designing?  Ourselves because that’s the only person we understand?  That makes no sense.  I agree with the postmaster, now that there is a little bit of a breather, brush up on your people skills.  That doesn’t mean you should take some classes on the subject.  Just get out of the office and do some people watching and talk to them!  Find out what is catching their eye.  Observe them as they’re surfing the web on their cell phone or looking through a magazine.  That information is vital to know how YOU can build a better design.  Then, worry about the coding later when you need it.  You’ll probably find that the work will come a lot easier.

  • Ben Davies

    I completely agree, as Mario mentioned and I’ve often found myself since transferring from hobby web development to working as a web developer, the client often cares very little for how something is achieved.