The longer I work in the web design industry, the more mistakes I make, and the more "truths" I figure out. There are loads of preconceptions that float around from month to month in our industry, and today I thought I'd take a little time to debunk a few of them. Let's begin.
The bigger your reputation gets, the more money you make!
Not true at all. Unfortunately one of my biggest failings as an entrepreneur is that while my reputation and my personal brand have both grown exponentially, my bank balance has not. I've talked before about how The world's best web designers are unknown, I would say that the world's richest designers are equally unknown.
The more money you make the better you are at web design!
Fail. I know far too many web designers who are making a decent living by really sucking at their jobs. A roster of regularly paying clients does not mean you're good at what you do, it means you're good at selling what you do.
Web design is a saturated market, there is no money to be made anyway!
Wrong again. On that basis, every single industry in the world is a saturated market. People called the mobile phone market saturated until the iPhone came along, they called the social networking market saturated until both Foursquare and Gowalla came along. The cream will always rise to the top of any industry.
It's easy to get rich off web design!
Actually it's very hard. This is a service industry, so people are paying for your time, and there are only so many hours in each day. It's not very scalable, so starting an agency with multiple people is the only way to make more than a freelancer income, and you need to be really, really good if you want an agency to get anywhere. Do not take this lightly. If money is your ambition, then web design as a service is not the answer in the majority of cases.
Going to web design conferences will teach me important things!
No! It won't. Honestly, unless you're a beginner then the chances of learning anything concrete to justify the ticket price of a web design conference are pretty slim. Treat conferences as a social / networking opportunity, because that's what they really are and that's where the value is. Though due to the incredibly high prices of most of them, that might be a hard justification to make to yourself. There are exceptions to this, of course, WebDevConf at the end of this month is only £35 per ticket, not hundreds.
The famous web designers are all far too important to care about little old me!
I think there's only one of the "big boys" who I've come across that hasn't bothered to reply to an email, if you need help or advice with something then just ask them, don't sit there idolising them.
The famous web designers are all DOUCHEBAGS!
This statement is common amongst web designers who work hard but haven't managed to achieve a reputation. It's usually triggered by jealousy and/or resentment. We all go through it at some point, so, don't worry - it's just part of the process. If you take a step back then you'll eventually see that most of them are really friendly people, doing the best they can at a job they love. Very few of them have any sort of real ego to speak of. Every preconception which I've personally held about a "big wig" has turned out to be totally wrong when I've met them.
Some of the famous web designers are famous because of their contacts, not their abilities!
Not a misconception, this is absolutely true. Guess what though? Welcome to life, waves. This is true in every situation, profession, industry and market in the entire world. Accept it, and then either move on or find a way of using it to your advantage.
There is sexism in the web design industry, women are not treated fairly!
Oh would you please give-over. Women do just fine in this industry. Ever heard of Veerle Pieters? Molly Holzschlag? Cyan Ta'eed? Skellie? The women in our industry who are really successful are just getting on with it, doing amazing work and being recognised for it. Blog posts showcasing the "top 50 female designers" only serve to foster the divide even further, why does it matter that they're female? What's next? Top 50 Jewish designers? Black designers? Arabic designers of African-American descent who live in Wyoming but were born in Tennessee? Ridiculous.
If you feel that women designers are treated unfairly then write a post titled "Top 50 Web Designers" and include both men and women, ranking them as you see fit. This eliminates the divide instead of focusing on it.