Making mistakes is part of the human experience. They go together like pizza and breadsticks. But the beauty of a mistake is that you have a chance to learn from it.
Still, the reality is that we usually don’t learn until that mistake properly blows up in our face. Even then, that one false move can come back to haunt us time and again. Once that happens, it can seem impossible to shake yourself from the clutches of such horror.
Perhaps the best (and only) defense is to avoid making that mistake in the first place. So, before you go about your daily business, stop and read our list of business and design-related actions that can come back to bite you in the future. It may just save you from some future headaches!
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Taking on Projects That Don’t Feel Right
Not every project or client is going to be the right one for you. And it seems like, quite often, you can spot a bad one right from the beginning.
Yet one of the most difficult things to learn in business is to trust your own instincts. Other factors, such as the need for money and to build out our portfolios get in the way and cloud our decision making.
Signing up to work on a project that looks like a disaster-in-waiting is something that can have detrimental effects to your business and health. Whether it’s because of the work itself, an untenable client, or both, it’s a bad situation. And unfortunately, there’s not often a graceful way to get out.
Therefore, it pays to think long and hard before agreeing to something you’re uncomfortable with. If you can’t see yourself cozying up to the project, it’s okay to say “no”.
Failing to Comment Code or Document Changes
Have you ever written a piece of code and said to yourself, “I’ll remember it”? Even if you are blessed with a sharp memory, there is still a good chance that at least something will slip your mind. That makes future maintenance for you (or the next developer) much more difficult.
The same can be said for other changes, as well. For instance, maybe you need to temporarily remove a design element from a template or change some CSS. Not taking the time to document what you’ve done will typically come back to haunt you. You could waste precious time searching around for a past change or attempting to figure out that code you wrote a few years ago.
Over time, everything changes and there’s even a chance it could break. When that time comes, wouldn’t it be nice to have a detailed explanation of how things work? Do yourself a big favor and start documenting items large and small. Your future self with appreciate it!
Relying on the Unreliable
Truth be told, virtually any outside piece of code we implement can become a weak link in the chain. However, it’s up to us to try and mitigate that risk as much as possible. How do we do this? By taking the time to research the products we use.
While no one is clairvoyant enough to know what’s going to happen, you can tell the difference between products that are well-maintained and those that aren’t.
Sometimes, we pick something simply because everyone else is buzzing about it – doing so without looking at factors like compatibility and release history. The danger in this is that, by the time we find out how poor the product is, something has already gone wrong.
So, before jumping on that bandwagon, do your homework. Look at support forums and changelogs. Test things out for potential weaknesses. A little extra effort up front can save you from having to remove that previously-hot item from every site you manage.
Not Standing up for Yourself
As the old saying goes, give people an inch and they’ll take a mile (or the metric system equivalent). It’s bad enough when you’re the nice person who lets a bunch of people go ahead of you at the coffee shop. But when you give in to a client, well, that’s a punishment you could relive over and over.
Acts such as doing work for them after hours or providing price breaks can boomerang on you. Respond to their message on a Saturday night, and some will take it to mean that it’s okay to reach you at that time. Charge way less than you normally would and they’ll expect that will always be the case.
It’s not all the client’s fault. People tend to base their behavior on the reaction of others. In other words, if you let them do it – they probably will take advantage and not think a thing about it.
Sometimes we have to tell ourselves that it’s good to hold the line on these types of things. That is, unless you want clients to routinely interrupt your dinner/binge-watching sessions.
The Key to Avoiding Ghosts
Much like a game of PAC-MAN, a web designer needs to find a way to outrun those ghosts looking to haunt us. Strategically, just like in the classic video game, doing this requires making moves with the future in mind.
When you think about it, so many future problems can be prevented by avoiding lazy practices. Things like commenting code, researching software or even weighing the potential consequences of a project could save us from a whole lot of issues.
The good news is that each item mentioned here can be avoided, or at least mitigated to a certain degree. Learning from mistakes is great, but preventing them is even better.