Pretty much anything connected to the internet is in a constant state of flux and evolution. Web design is certainly not exempt from this. That’s why it is important for every working designer to stay in touch with what is current, but for someone who may have graduated from school five, ten, or even more years ago, it is easy to not realize how out of touch you really have become by sticking to what you know.
Brian Morris, writing on Creative Overflow, realizes how easy it is to get disconnected from current web design if you aren’t making a point to stay up to date. But he also points out seven easy ways to make yourself a good current designer again.
Getting back in touch with what is happening is as easy as taking a class at a community college. I’m sure you don’t need a design 101 class, but just looking at a class catalog you can identify areas where they may be teaching programs, skills, or ideas that weren’t en vogue or even created when you were in school.
The largest reason there isn’t an excuse for being behind the times is the community of web designers just spewing out tutorials, resources, and helpful articles available for free. Just browse design blogs until you find something you don’t know how to do, then follow the tutorial while you watch it. Just viewing a movie of someone telling you how to do something won’t help you learn it very well.
Honestly, most of Morris’ suggestions are things any good designer should be doing to start with. Constantly viewing colleagues and peers’ work helps jump start the creative process, and you can see ideas and skills you might not know, just like entering contests keeps you pushing to make the best design possible. What the suggestions do show though is the one thing you can’t do in web design: become complacent.