Web design is a competitive business and a good designer needs to stay on top of current trends.

So what do you need to be doing to stay ahead of the game over the next few months?

We asked designers from some of the top agencies what they reckon should be on every designer's to-do list.

Here are the 10 things you need to work on...

1. Understand the smaller screen

Tom Dougherty of Delete says: "Industry professionals must be aware of mobile technology and the integration capabilities offered. iPhone represents the future of mobile tech. The quicker we get to grips with designing for the smaller screen, the better."

2. Teach yourself new skills
Cennydd Bowles of Clearleft says: "If you can't already, learn to code – this is your last chance to avoid obsolescence!" Eric Meyer adds: "Continue to learn and diversify skills. Diversity doesn't assure your survival, but it's a safer bet than narrow specialisation."

3. Practice good typography
Simon Crab of Lateral says: "Type is one of the fundamentals of design, yet it's a factor that's often overlooked or marginalised in the online environment. Starting from a typographic point of view helps define a clear structure and purpose in a design."

4. Focus on what's important
Jeffrey Zeldman of Happy Cog says: "Standards will cause designers and agencies to focus on content, usability, user experience and design excellence. Those already focusing on these will work harder and rise to the top. Those who haven't will need to get in gear."

5. Investigate frameworks
Danny McClelland of DannyWeb says: "With the use of ready-made coding libraries, more time can be spent on other things and keeping your clients happy. For example, there's absolutely no sense in making a similar application to WordPress from scratch."

6. Continue innovating
Eric Jordan of 2Advanced says: "Stagnancy breeds mediocrity, and no one wants mediocrity. Re-invention enables designers to stay relevant, on the cutting-edge and fresh in the minds of the industry. Those who don't will fall behind."

7. Diversify your client base
Marcus Greenwood of Webjam.com says: "In the current climate, a company's web budget may be reduced or cut, leaving you in a spot of bother if this happens to your main client." Diversifying your capabilities means you can appeal to a wider client base.

8. Think 'refurb', not 'relaunch'
Marc Peter of on-IDLE says: "Support clients in their time of need with ideas for revamping existing designs rather than full-scale new designs that affect everything from corporate literature to signage. Keeping costs low could help you to grow."

9. Master JavaScript
Eric Meyer of Complex Spiral Consulting says: "JavaScript performance and capabilities, coupled with <canvas> support, will be key to nearly everything, including pushing web standards' adoption rates forward. Everything else is just secondary."

10. Bring about catharsis
Paul Annett of Clearleft says: "Campaign for Adobe to align prices globally and stop ripping off customers. Prices outside the US are often doubled, even on downloads, an issue that's drawn fierce criticism on the Adobe forum at http://tr.im/adobe."

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First published in .net magazine, Issue 185

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