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2017 New Year’s resolutions for designers

Morgan Smith's Layout avatar

The new year is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start reflecting on the highs and lows of the past 12 months and planning any changes for 2017! Even if resolutions aren’t really your thing, the end of the year is still a great time to do a little housekeeping and prep your business for a successful year.

The best part about resolutions is that they’re personal; they’re goals just for you and your business. But if you’re not quite sure where to start, we’ve created a little list of awesome New Year’s resolutions for any designer. Start here, and then let us know in the comments what you’re planning to do in 2017!

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Tune into new podcasts

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Podcasts are a wonderful way to keep up with the community you care about and stay up to date with the latest design trends. Plus, their audio-only nature makes them incredibly easy to listen to on the go or while you’re working on projects.

If you’re a fan of this type of media, set a goal for next year to increase your consumption of podcasts and find a few you really care about. Maybe you could try a different one every month, or tune into an episode at least once a week. Find the frequency that works for you and queue up your podcast playlist for 2017!

Not sure where to start? We’ve rounded up a whole bunch of wonderful WordPress podcasts you should be listening to. Start here.

Start that side project you’ve been dreaming up

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You probably have at least one for-fun project you’ve been thinking about doing for a while, right? Maybe it’s a blog, a little microsite displaying some CSS tricks you’ve picked up, or maybe even a full site that gives back to your community somehow. Whatever that dream project is that’s sitting in the back of your mind, start taking steps to make it come to life.

A good way to help this project go from idea to completion is to set goals throughout the entire year. You could keep it broad with quarterly goals (Q1 is the research phase, Q2 is the production phase, etc.) or break it down week by week with actionable steps. It doesn’t matter how often you work on it, just make it a free-time priority this year so you can show it off by 2018!

It may not feel like it, but side projects are one of the best things you can do for your business. Here’s why.

Take steps to improve your workflow

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Alright, this goal probably isn’t the most inspiring. But the new year is a great time to reflect on your process and look for ways you can make it better; ways you can make next year better. Think about your least favorite aspects of design projects. Do you get hung up during communication with clients? Does progress slow down during the hand-off phase to teammates? Look for the sticky points, and then do a little brainstorming as to how you can make them smoother.

Depending on your work environment and who you work for (ie. yourself or an agency), the process to improvement might look a little differently. If you’re your own boss, you can implement changes pretty quickly. Set a goal to try out new tools or methods once a quarter, and if you find something that works better than your current process, start doing it. If you work for someone else, it might take some time to convince the higher powers to switch up the system, but if you think it could make the team more efficient, make sure you communicate it.

These web design and development tools will definitely help speed up your workflow. Check ‘em out!

Get out there and network

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Networking is critical to your business, even if you’re pretty happy with the amount of clients you currently have. You never know who you’ll meet and how they can help you grow – or how you’ll be able to help them (and create some big fans of your business).

This year, make it a priority to get out in the community and network with others in your field. You could attend large scale conferences like Dibi or Awwwards UX/UI, or find smaller events in your hometown. Set a goal to attend an event once a month, or maybe even speak at one this year.

Public speaking can seriously increase your credibility and help you find your next gig. Here’s how!

Master some new skills

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No matter how long you’ve been designing for, there’s always something new you can learn to take your skills to the next level. From sketching to iconography to CSS tricks, there are so many different areas you can specialize in that will help you in future design projects.

For your New Year’s resolution, set a goal of a few different skills you’d like to tackle in 2017, and think about what you need to master them. Decide if you’re more of a teach-yourself kind of learner or if you’d rather learn from the experts and sign up for a class. Either way, the act of learning new skills will not only help with future projects, but it’ll also provide some fresh inspiration and a new side-project.

From Photoshop tutorials to CSS walkthroughs to WordPress tips, we cover all sorts of new skills right here on the Layout! Just head to our How To section.

Keep your website fresh

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If you’re great about keeping your portfolio updated and your site design current, go ahead on scroll on down to the next goal. If you’re not so great at doing that, this resolution is for you.

It’s critical to keep the content on your website fresh and easy to consume. What if you attend one of those conferences, make a great new connection, and then realize your website has outdated projects and a broken contact form? Oops – that’s a missed opportunity.

By continuously revisiting your website next year, you’ll make sure that silly mistakes like that never happen. Set a goal to update projects once a month and revisit the site design once a quarter (or however often makes sense for your business).

Time to give your site a makeover? We did the same here at Flywheel. Go behind the scenes of our brand refresh for a little inspiration!

Go offline and read some books

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If you’re looking for a whole bunch of new inspiration in 2017, take your search offline and read some new design books. It’s a great way to pick up new trends and learn some design history, and also a great way to unwind after a long day while staying glued into the creative community.

If reading isn’t really your favorite activity, but you’re still interested in pursuing some printed words, just select a few books that really stand out to you and work through them over the course of the year. If you’re an avid reader, try setting larger goals for yourself, such as one book every month (or more, if you have the time).

For some ideas of books to read, check our ultimate list of web design books.

That’s it for our list! We’re sure your own resolutions will be as unique as your design style, but hopefully this list will help give you a little bit of inspiration before the ball drops.

So, let’s hear it. What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017?

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