How much time should a web developer spend on educating themselves in relation to the amount of time they spend working? There are different schools of thought on this topic, but collectively most successful developers know that minimizing the need for keeping up with the latest trends can be detrimental.
The key is to set goals for yourself relative to what you want to achieve. It is possible to learn as much, if not more, from completion of client work. Challenging yourself to do something you haven’t tried previously is a way to build your skills and deliver a higher level of excellence for your client.
Another way to follow the latest trends in design and development is by following the blogs of others whose work you admire. The web is a valuable source of information. Subscribe to RSS feeds and read them regularly. Look for sample work from the writers that you can use as inspiration for your own designs. You can even start your own blog, this requires research that will encourage you to keep your skills updated.
Don’t discount formal education as a way to increase your skill set. Take classes at your local university, most state universities allow you to enroll in individual classes without enrolling full-time. Not only will this increase your ability, but it will also get you back into a classroom with your peers.
Being a well rounded developer is what makes you most marketable to employers and clients. But the things you learn, learn well. It’s important to have a strong understanding of what works and what clients want.