Robert Spangler

UI/UX designer & front-end developer


Why I’m Not Afraid of Software or Services Aimed at Taking My Job

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First of all, I love designing and coding for user interfaces. I’m not sure what turns me away from print design or other forms of media. It’s not that the web and other forms of digital media are necessarily a safe haven for your work; especially in terms of the web, it moves fast and often you become obsolete if you stand still for more than a month. Maybe that helps keep me engaged every day.

Some in the web community get really angry and even demonizing at the announcement of any software, service or technique that comes out saying that it can to a part of their job. But I don’t.

When it comes down to it, if we don’t adapt to a changing environment we’ll soon find ourselves copying manuscripts by hand. I’ll briefly explain. When the Gutenberg Press was invented in the 15th century, what do you think happened to all the hard-working folks that were copying documents by hand? They were now obsolete and eventually replaced with a machine that could do it faster and more efficiently. If you were a scribe you had two options to move forward: 1) learn how to use a printing press, or 2) train for a new vocation.

At this point in my life I’m ready to learn how to use a printing press. If there’s a software, service or technique that replaces a function of my job, I had better learn how to use it. If I don’t, there’s only so long I can go before someone else does it better, faster and cheaper than me. Beyond job security, innovation is important in its own right. Why should I slow down progress for the sake of my own stubbornness to learn something new? Your client is looking to you as the expert and if they benefit from a new technology they’ll appreciate your commitment and willingness to make sacrifices to seek their good over your own.

Now, I’m speaking vaguely, there can very well be another moral aspect to this. Perhaps the new software or service does a poor job, or takes a detour from your client’s goals or user-centricity. In that case, reject it and be able to explain why. Generally though, I don’t see that happening. What I do see happening is that designers/coders are saying, “I know how to use this software not that software and I don’t want to change.” Or perhaps immediately writing off something new because it’s in a beta-phase, rather than trying to make it better.

Let’s not be afraid of innovation. If there’s someone or something out there doing your job poorly, do it better. And if there’s someone or something doing your job better and you’re afraid of it, you have two options to move forward: 1) learn it, or 2) excel in a different direction that you are more gifted in. But, unless you can provide a niche value to your clients, stop copying your manuscripts by hand.

One Response to “Why I’m Not Afraid of Software or Services Aimed at Taking My Job”

  1. Chris

    Great post Rob. I agree with you. I always use changing motor oil in a car as my example. Sure there are ways that ppl can change their own oil and it isn’t that difficult but I don’t know anyone who actually changes their own oil. They take their car in a get the oil changed. Granted the cost is a little different comparing development and changing motor oil but I think software development is here to stay.


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About Robert

I work with clients ranging from local small businesses and non-profits to large Fortune 500 companies.

If you think I'm the right guy for your project, please feel free to give me a shout.

I am a full-time freelance website designer and front-end developer from Baltimore, Maryland, currently living in Nairobi, Kenya.

I design and code for user experience on the web with special attention on mobile devices. I come from a background in eCommerce and lead generation, which I'm very good at. I spend most of my time personalizing and creating customized WordPress themes for clients. Other than designing websites I spend time with family, study, occasionally tweet, and rarely +.