As a web developer I tend to focus on the back end of the implementation of web sites and applications. It's what I do and what I am good at, however I'm not shy to put together a basic front end design for a website if I have to. However that's where my skills start to dwindle. I understand all the concepts of front end design and I know enough best practices to get by but I lack the confidence and knowledge to really put out a professional design.
There's always the argument for professionals as to whether they should generalise or specialise. I would like to specialise in a couple of web frameworks that use my favourite programming language, however the web and the technology that is used by it and on it is increasing daily. Which is why I want to generalise on these fringe technologies.
I'm starting to consider expanding my skills by signing up to Treehouse for some online learning in web design, building iOS applications and Wordpress.
As a web developer you should be familiar with the building blocks that make up a web page and how it can be styled but this can only get you so far. I've worked on this basic knowledge for a long time now, but now I want to take my work to a higher level of quality which is why I'm looking towards learning more about web design.
Mobile applications are everywhere. There's simply no getting away from them. Most online services and products have a mobile application to connect to their service, and while I prefer the idea of using websites on my smartphone, there is a place where native applications definitely excel. As a first learning exercise I am going to start building an iOS application for my Journalong product this year. Journalong works well on my iPhone but I want less in the interface of Journalong when it's used on the go. I just want to write and save it to my journal. It will be a good initial project to start on with Jouralong.Finally there's Wordpress. Like or not, Wordpress is still the king of blogging platforms. It's been a success story on the Internet form the early years and today there is such a vibrant community of Wordpress designers and developers that have formed as a result of the success of the open source blogging platform. Why am I interested in Wordpress? Curiosity really. I want to know how difficult it is to pick up Wordpress from a developers point of view and implement a small website with it.
I would like to say that the current range of content management systems offered in the Rails community are better, but the truth is that Wordpress is so much easier to work. If a client approached me and asked what blogging platform would I recommend then I would have to say Wordpress.
At the end of the day taking care of your career is something that everyone needs to do. If I can improve my career with a few new skills then why not. After all, it should improve my appeal to clients as a web developer with a more rounded set of knowledge on not just web development but also the technology that makes use of the web.