Looking Ahead—Insights from Jeffrey Zeldman

November 2022

An Event Apart co-founder Jeffrey Zeldman shares his thoughts on the current state of the industry and what’s to come.


As the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it is a useful exercise to take stock of our reasons to be grateful. On a personal level, even if our lives are hard, we likely have many reasons to be thankful nonetheless. But today I want to talk about professional reasons for gratitude. There’s one multifaceted reason in particular.

I’m thankful to work in a field that is never boring, because there is always something new to learn—a new technology or an update to a classic one; a new challenge in interface design; an accessibility problem that we somehow overlooked and must correct; a nuance in our microcopy that can make our website easier to understand, more enticing to engage with, or less likely to offend; a new tool that does just what the old tool did, but which our job nonetheless requires us to learn; a new capability in the standards that create the web; a new bug to track down and fix; a new exploit to guard against; a new manager with new ideas to consider, and new expectations to fulfill or manage up; a new, kinder or more effective way to share feedback; a new interpersonal skill to become aware of and improve upon; a new shift in office politics (even when “the office” is remote); a new internationalization requirement; a new legal requirement; a new skill set that is suddenly part of our jobs—from writing copy to creating ads, and from developing, launching, and sustaining a social media brand to documenting code or styles.

The knowledge that made me feel expert a year ago seems absurdly shallow to me now.

I never have the same work day two days in a row. And neither, I’d wager, do you.

Imposter syndrome is real and hits everybody. The best defense against it is constant learning. Life itself is constant learning, or ought to be. Not everybody is up to the challenge, but we web makers are. The challenge of constantly learning new things is half the reason we blundered into this field to begin with. At least, it was for me, and it remains what keeps my heart engaged and my mind young.

Anyone can burnout on any job, but I am thankful not to have done so yet. And as long as the web remains a mysterious melange of interlocking puzzles requiring our best thoughts and our truest hearts, I am confident that burnout is the one thing none of us need ever worry about. (Now where was that tutorial on why everything I know about CSS layout is wrong?)


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