I’m a huge fan of Codepen.io. I use it in several ways, sometimes its prototyping CSS or JS without needing to build an environment, but mostly for exploring ideas and evaluating different techniques and libraries. I’m sure at least two-thirds of my pens are forked, some with minor changes others unrecognisable. I love the work of Karim Maaloul and his work with three.js and I just slightly adapted his Chill the Lion to create the Otis and Kiki Valentines animation. My pens can be found here.
Add to all that the pace of change where skill stacks need to be refreshed at least every three years and you soon get to a point where your knowledge is becoming outdated as fast as you can learn the next new thing.
Remember this article from 2016? Already it feels dated!
But if it’s only the last three years of experience that are relevant we would all be juniors forever!
Luckily not everything changes so fast, Graphic and UI principles evolve slowly, the science of software architecture builds slowly. UX is always going to be about research, these are the core skills that matter. These are the skills that take you to middle-weight then senior.
Often when looking for a job I see an overwhelming list of requirements. There’s a small chance this company is using all the same tools, languages, frameworks and processes as you’re currently using but it’s unlikely. I believe the question they should be asking is “What have you learned so far?”
If you’ve learned to use React then you can learn Angular, if you’ve learned CSS you can learn styles in Flutter, if you’ve learned OO then you can learn functional style. It’s a shame that so many hiring managers use a shopping list instead of looking deeper.
Companies that I want to work for are the ones who know the difference between transferable and specific skills, are the ones who are willing to invest in you and have the patience to get you through those first few weeks when you’re learning their design system, languages, frameworks, code styles, source control, TDD, CI/CD and project management processes.
Once you accept there will always be “The new thing” and you can’t know everything up-front and that everyone is in the same boat, and that the specifics don’t matter, once you understand that it’s the transferable skills that matter then the anxiety may just start to disappear. If you try to keep up with everything then you risk burn-out because you can’t possibly do that!, there will be no time for getting outdoors, spending time with family and friends and just being.
Find the balance, learn strategically and it will work out, you may then just be able to cope with the new Job where all you have to learn is the legacy 100,000 lines, 200 class, 15 levels of inheritance codebase that’s undocumented and by-the-way the person that wrote it just left last week.