The 7 Hidden Health Dangers of Web Design
Working as a web designer can be great, especially if web design is what you love to do.
You get to flex your creative muscles daily.
If you're a freelance graphic designer, you may even be able to work from home in your pyjamas.
However, while there are many benefits of being in web design, there are also some health dangers you should watch out for.
No one goes over the hidden health dangers of web design when you're studying it in school.
However, forewarned is forearmed, so here are seven hidden health dangers of web design – and, more importantly, what you should do about it.
1 – Prolonged Sitting
Web design involves sitting in one spot for long periods, but prolonged sitting is proven to be dangerous.
A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk for conditions like obesity and heart disease.
Sitting all day is especially dangerous for you because your body was meant to be upright.
If you've ever dealt with a crick in your back after a long day hunched over your tablet sketching out designs, you understand the risk of this hidden health danger.
Luckily, this is one health danger that's easy to mitigate.
Try moving around more often, and consider investing in a standing desk.
There are many differences between sitting at a desk all day and standing all day.
A good standing desk can also be adjusted to your height, so you can bring it up higher when you're sketching and reduce the amount that you need to hunch over.
2 – Repetitive Motion
Clicking your mouse and typing on your keyboard.
Sketching designs out on your tablet.
All of these activities rely on the use of repetitive motion, especially of your hands, fingers, and wrists.
That repetitive motion, in turn, can lead to a painful condition called carpal tunnel syndrome.
Not only is carpal tunnel syndrome painful, but for most people, it gets worse over time.
The fact that the thing you love—and do for your career—could not only cause pain for you but be painful for you for the rest of your life, is scary.
Though there's no surefire way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, you can reduce your chances of getting it by working with an ergonomic keyboard and an ergonomic mouse.
Additionally, like with any other muscles in your body, you should stretch your hands and wrists before and after you use them each day.
3 – Working with Blue Light
Computer screens are lit using blue light.
Blue light is a short-wave light frequency, and studies show that long-term exposure to blue light can cause irreversible eye damage.
When you spend hours in front of a computer screen every day, that's a serious concern—especially when graphic design is your livelihood.
Dimming your computer screen can help reduce the blue light, but when you work in web design, you need to be able to see things in their true colour.
Instead, consider investing in a blue light filter.
You can either get a screen to go over your computer, or you can get glasses that block blue light for when you're working.
This can reduce your eye strain and increase the longevity of your vision.
However, to really keep from getting eye strain, you also need to take regular breaks from your work.
Take time to let your eyes rest between projects.
You can work this into your day naturally by scheduling phone calls or consultations in between long chunks of computer work.
4 – Flashing Screens
In the early days of web design, working with flashing colours was a big part of a designer's job.
Luckily, those days are mostly behind us.
Today's web designers may go months without dealing with the hazard of flashing screens, but they do still come up occasionally.
This is especially prevalent when you're updating old or amateur websites to be new, fresh, and professional.
Of course, the reason flashing screens went out of vogue is the same reason they're a significant health hazard.
Not only can they cause eye strain, but they can actually provoke seizures.
So, what do you do if you come up against a flashing screen?
Consider taking screenshots of the pages you need and then looking at them separate from the website itself.
Screenshots take pictures of web pages at one point in time, which means that they will freeze on one colour.
Moreover, if the flashing is particularly bad, don't be afraid to tell your clients that they need to disable that feature before you can start working on improving their website.
Meanwhile, if a client wants you to build flashing screens into their web design, you are within your purview as a web designer to educate them on the health issues that may provoke and explain that it could even cause them to lose customers.
For most businesses, that information is enough to dissuade them from wanting flashing screens.
If not, you can always refuse a project that will be detrimental to your health.
5 – Small Fonts
Another major issue with web design is dealing with small fonts or fonts in poor colour choices.
Both of these things can make it hard to read, leading to eye strain and tension headaches.
Of course, if you're designing a website or font, you can avoid this by using legible fonts.
However, if you're redesigning a website that already exists and has to get acclimated to what they already have going, this can be an issue.
One way you can lessen this issue is zooming in on websites rather than reading them from far away.
Using a desktop to work rather than your phone or a tablet can also give you more real estate to see their fonts on.
Also, if things are particularly bad, you can always copy the words, paste them into a word document, and increase the font size so you can read what it's supposed to say without straining your eyes.
6 – Insomnia
If your sleeping hours have decreased since you started working in web design, you're not alone.
Working in front of a computer screen can mess with your circadian rhythm, which, in turn, can make it hard for your brain to differentiate between day and night.
Thinking about your work or worrying about a troubling design can increase your insomnia.
Meanwhile, lack of sleep can cause serious issues to your health and your quality of life.
Luckily, you don't have to sit back and accept insomnia as part of the job description.
There are a few simple life alterations you can make to kick your bad sleep habits and increase your restful sleep.
One crucial step is to set a stop time to all screens, including the ones you use for work.
This gives your eyes and body time to settle down and process that it's time to get ready for bed.
Next, give yourself a soothing bedtime routine.
Doing the same thing every day to unwind can, over time, send a message to your brain that it's time to go to sleep.
Unwinding activities may include taking a shower, reading a book, and chatting with your spouse.
If you have a particularly hard time getting your mind to settle at bedtime, yoga or meditation may be good options for you.
7 – Chronic Stress
By far the most significant health dangers facing web designers is chronic stress.
Chronic stress may be caused by taking on too much work, dealing with demanding clients, or facing tight deadlines.
Trying to do too much work while also caring for a family and keeping up with your house may also lead to chronic stress.
Meanwhile, web design is a perpetual game of selling yourself and honing your craft.
The industry is continually changing, and you have to change with it, which can be stressful.
Dealing with your chronic stress can be as simple as learning to schedule your workload and say no to new work when you have a full workload.
Chronic stress may also be managed by redefining your expectations of yourself and by dropping toxic clients who add weight into your life.
Any career choice has both pros and cons.
While there are many positives to working in web design, there can be negatives.
These negatives are especially true for web designers who don't have clear expectations for their clients or who don't set proper boundaries with them.
It's important to learn to say no when clients ask more from you than you can reasonably deliver.
Meanwhile, having an ergonomic and safe workspace and setting personal boundaries on when you will and will not work, will help you lead a healthier life while also enjoying your chosen career path.
The most important thing is remembering that you don't have to accept the potential health dangers of web design.
Instead, do what you can to mitigate or eliminate them.
This will not only keep you feeling better, but it will ensure that you can remain in this industry as long as you want to.