Everyone at one time or another encounters a brick wall when trying to find a solution. How you react to that dead end can shape who you are as an employee, employer, parent, teacher, and even a person. As I mentioned in my last blog, I recently got a Corgi puppy named Willow that is now one year old. My wife and I researched for months before picking her up. We were confident we had thought of everything and were fully prepared. However, within days we realized we were wrong.
We now had a new set of questions that we needed answers to. For starters, she would only eat her breeder’s kibble by hand. There was no excitement or drive for her to eat it on her own, so I needed to find a solution. The internet is a confusing place when doing research on a new puppy. Everyone is an expert, and they frequently contradict one another. Plenty of poorly made ad-ridden websites claimed to be the experts on the right food. While Amazon reviews claimed that the food made their dog sick, and in some cases, they claimed it killed them. We even called our vet and received a list of eight different foods. Eventually, we landed on the right food, and she gobbles it down every meal. My point is, there was a easier solution to this problem. We could have just kept hand-feeding her, or we could have just kept trying different foods. But these solutions are just settling for the easy way with poor results.
I learned a long time ago that I did not want to be the type of person that makes the easy choice when faced with obstacles, unless it was the best option. But many of us have worked with someone or been exposed to a person that does not deal well with obstacles. Sometimes they will hit a dead end and they will sit on it until they are confronted. Or they will ask for help, which is not a bad thing, but when you can find the answer on the first page of a Google search, you know they gave up.
The people that persevere, you know as well. I first noticed them in college. They were commonly found as the person in charge of group projects. They were also at the office. They are the ones asking well-thought-out questions at meetings. You know when you gave them a project, they would take care of it. The people that persevere are the people you can trust and will bring results.
When faced with a problem, I utilize a variety of resources, leverage my connections, and employ various techniques before ultimately giving in.
1. The Web
The internet offers an abundance of resources, but it’s crucial to be mindful of the potential for false or misleading information. Once you do find a reputable source, make sure to bookmark it for future reference. Google is a reliable search engine, but it’s also worth exploring other options to get a diverse range of results. Additionally, it’s important to connect with other professionals for guidance. Websites such as Reddit, Stack Overflow, and Discord can provide valuable resources and expert insights. Don’t overlook the value of videos on YouTube, courses on Udemy, and tutorials on LinkedIn Learning. I’ve personally found that a single chapter in a Udemy video has helped me solve a complex development problem on multiple occasions.
Having the right book on hand can often provide a swift solution to your problems, especially when it comes to web-related information. I keep a collection of books pertaining to this subject matter in close proximity to my office. I trust the information they contain, but it’s important to keep your library updated as technology and trends are constantly evolving. I also find it essential to read both recent and older books on design to stay abreast of current and emerging trends. This not only helps me to stay up-to-date with the latest design techniques but also allows me to understand the historical context of design and how it has evolved over time. Additionally, reading books on design also helps me to develop a deeper understanding of user experience, which is crucial in today’s digital landscape.
3. Industry Experts & Network
As you advance in your career, it’s important to expand your network of professional connections. After researching and exploring all other available options, it’s time to turn to your network for help. This includes reaching out to past coworkers, classmates, and even professors. I’ve even gone as far as to seek advice from competitors in my industry. Building a strong network of professional connections can provide valuable insights, resources, and opportunities, as well as a sounding board for new ideas, and a support system when faced with challenges or roadblocks. It can also help you to stay informed about industry trends and developments and provide a source of inspiration to stay motivated and focused on your goals.
4. Change your perspective on the problem.
When you’ve hit a dead-end and haven’t been able to find a solution, it’s important to take a step back and re-evaluate the problem, goals, and methods you’ve been using. Start from the beginning and take a fresh look at the issue at hand. Consider different perspectives and approaches. Sometimes, simply changing your environment can help you to see things in a new light.
One effective technique for re-evaluating a problem is to take some time to reflect on it. This can be done by taking a walk, going for a drive, or even just stepping away from your workstation for a few minutes. Reflecting on the problem in a different environment can help to clear your mind and allow new ideas to surface.
Additionally, it’s important to consider the goals you have set for yourself, and your methods used to reach them. Are they still valid? Are there any adjustments that can be made to better align with the problem at hand? It’s also important to revisit the problem’s context and constraints, and make sure that you understand them fully.
5. Break the problem into smaller chunks
When faced with a complex web development problem, it can be helpful to break it down into smaller chunks and tackle each one individually. This approach allows you to focus on one specific aspect of the problem at a time, rather than trying to solve the entire issue all at once. For example, if you are working on a website redesign and are having trouble with the layout, you could break the problem down into smaller pieces such as header design, navigation, and main content layout. By focusing on one piece at a time, you can more easily identify and solve any issues that arise. Additionally, this approach allows you to test and iterate on individual elements of the design, rather than having to make changes to the entire layout all at once. This can save time and resources while also allowing for more efficient problem-solving.
6. It happens, it may be time to move on
When faced with a web development or design problem, it’s important to remember that not all issues have an immediate solution. Sometimes, due to factors such as budget constraints, time limitations, or a lack of necessary skills, the solutions that are found may not be the ideal ones. In these situations, it’s important to consider shelving the problem for a later time and moving on to other tasks. By stepping away from the issue and coming back to it with a fresh perspective, new solutions may present themselves. Additionally, it’s important to remember that even if the solutions found are not perfect, they are still answers to the problem and can be used as a starting point for further improvements in the future.