In many discussions with professionals in different fields, I keep getting excited about all the cool things one can learn and work on. And I would LOVE to try out many of them, but there is just not enough time. And sometimes, not enough energy. Sadly, it feels like you are starting at a mountain covered by mists, knowing how huge it is, and yet, no clue on the way up and how far you have to really go.
For every new field, knowledge, direction, this kinda fits the description quite well — I know I would have to spend hundreds of hours of deliberate studying to get up to speed and start implementing, thinking of new approaches, and solving problems. So what I figured out along the way is that this might not be the right mindset I should have.
If now, after I’ve spent a few years practicing just my CSS/HTML knowledge I decided to study more on CRO (conversion-rate-optimization) or Copywriting or Design or any specific BE field, systems, etc, I would need a few more years, 8 hour job on it and practically start as a junior. Which is not very practical.
So, instead, my thinking is this — how can I quickly know enough about that field so that I know what to search for, what questions to ask and what resources to re-read in order to improve my work speed and quality overall. Or, simply put — be good at one thing and be somewhat okay in others. With this, I am targeting a few fields that I find useful and interesting:
Learn more about CRO, Copywriting and A/B tests
I gotta admit, this is not really new, I’ve been reading and testing with CRO for a few years now, but nothing too special. I would love to get at least a couple of books down, write lots of notes, write down some workflows and tactics and start bringing up the conversion optimization opportunities in discussions, calls, brainstorming, planning and more.
If you wonder what CRO was — basically, increase the people that “convert” from visitors to <something> that the company needs. Example: A new visitor on the site can convert to customers if they purchase a product. Another example — a long-time reader of a site can convert to subscribers after they fill in a form with their email.
Why though? Well, because this increases the profits a client has. What better than that? And with higher profits, there could be a higher budget for development, new campaigns, needs, and so on. But, there are also problems with this — CRO is a service that has to be marketed and sold, which doesn’t really fit my role and probably any of the projects I might be working on. That doesn’t mean however that the knowledge I gain from learning about it won’t help me provide suggestions about features we are building.
A simple change of a word, change of the color of a button, bigger font size or position of an element can have a positive impact. Unfortunately, we could be committing one of the most important parts — A/B testing. If one does an “improvement”, it’s only improvement after it’s measured. We all know that from premature software optimizations — unless we measure the speed gains, we can’t be certain we didn’t actually worsen things.
Next.js, React, DB, Serverless, JS stacks
Another goal that has been floating for more than two-three years, but I am slowly forming some paths to studying it. The misty mountain problem — you know the mountain is there, and you know it’s huge. From here onwards, it’s just to start exploring and find my way slowly, knowing that there is no summit in the end.
This one at least is closer to the day-to-day work and it can get practical real quick. In fact, the react side alone is already in use in all the Gutenberg work we are doing. Next.js is more of a potential for future assignments and side projects.
As a long-term investment, I can’t say anything about React alone, but I personally think it’s gonna stay for long, so it’s worth it. But what is more useful is that there is a lot of vanilla JS learning that goes alongside and this one translates well for pretty much everything.
How to progress — I am mostly going to be building small projects, ideally trying to focus on a specific type of problem for each. Some could be about managing events — keyboard, mouse, etc. Others would be more about working with routing, others with APIs. In fact, I also would love to work on the BE side as well, store data and everything, in order to get the full picture
Structuring content for learning
This alone isn’t easy too. How to learn about a topic, put it in practice, and then explain it in a way so whoever studies it afterward, will have an easier time than you. There have been countless amazing guides I studies from, which, unfortunately, were surrounded by even more bad ones.
My goal would be to finish a full course or a book on a given topic. I have already started writing a few but never got to the end of it. The main problems I faced were lack of hype. I started well, got to 15-20k words, and ended it there, without finishing the rest. And it’s not a problem of time, just motivation and completing goals that no one is waiting for you to complete.
So, this time, I will try to not just throw words at my laptop but also structure it better, give explanations, proofread, re-read, rework, rearrange, record videos, build guiding PDFs and cheatsheets, everything that goes hand in hand with a good course, but also get feedback from people. I think that last part would be the critical factor, as then, I will no longer be making it for myself, but also trying to meet expectations and deadlines.
I have been researching some more guides and courses on building courses (going meta) lately and lot’s of thinking/planning on what would be the best way to present it. With that in progress, I am looking at some older content and I really think I have to rewrite it a lot. The problem is that I still don’t know how, so … yep! A goal for 2022 🙂
Work on my workflows library
I have started a couple of months back to write down workflows — repeatable steps or precise notes on doing a thing. That could be “work on a ticket for project X” because that project has 2-3 specific things I keep forgetting or “start a new Gutenberg block” or “setup a new pattern” and such.
These patterns take roughly 2-3 minutes to write down after I do it for the second time, but after that, it can save a lot of time when I get back to the same task. Especially if it’s for the first time in a few months. I would love to have had at least 50-60 workflows written down next year.
Publish side projects
For almost any small side project I work on (learning purposes basically), I have to get a public URL that can be shared. The reason – I gotta start finishing my things. I have noticed that the first part of a learning project helps you study the theory/practice of a tool, program, language, framework, etc. And the second half teaches you what you need to work on a real product that has to launch (which we all do). So I must stop skipping the second half.
What are your goals?