Virtual private networks, or VPNs, are becoming almost as commonplace as public Wi-Fi hot spots, and it is no coincidence that their growth increases at similar levels.
There are nearly endless uses for a VPN, and many individuals have a specific reason for their interest in using such services.
That goes for home users that want to access content from another country, all the way through to professionals that require secure access to office networks from anywhere they happen to be.
It is eminently possible to make a case for using a VPN across just about any profession. However, as people who work online every day, WordPress developers should always prioritize doing so.
That doesn’t only apply to those that solely work on making great-looking sites. Whether you use our WordPress best themes as the basis for your work or create everything from scratch, and whether you develop sites commercially or only for personal use, a VPN could take your efforts to another level.
It is important to note that while there are many great reasons to use a VPN in your daily activities, you do not necessarily have to only take our word for it.
The reasoning below should be enough to convince you, but there is absolutely nothing preventing you from finding out for yourself based on your genuine use cases.
Such is the competitive nature of the VPN industry that providers do all they can to catch the eye of potential customers, including offering a VPN free trial.
With no commitment, customers can try out everything a service has to offer, in addition to addressing any concerns they might have.
For example, this could involve seeing whether the available speeds are up to par for your streaming requirements or if a service provides a specific location you wish to appear from when visiting websites.
Designers, in particular, like to use many different tools and devices, and a free trial is a great way to ensure that a service can protect everything from your computer and tablet to your TV and laptop.
From there, users can decide which service best suits their needs and put the below tips into action to take their web design up a notch!
1. Unrestricted Access to What You Need to See
The act of putting together websites is only one part of a successful web designer’s job. The rules around what is new and current change all the time, even potentially daily.
While there are numerous established resources out there to remain on top of developments, like Wired’s web design section, nothing beats stumbling across something fresh before it draws the attention of the masses.
Mindless surfing in the hope of stumbling across something unique can be one of the most cathartic tasks on any designer’s to-do list, and you want to be able to access anything that looks promising.
While the internet is considered free and open in many countries, that is not always the case. If you are based in Europe or traveling there, for example, you may be unable to access some US sites due to delays in GDPR compliance.
If you want to investigate and replicate something a major brand has done in a foreign market, a VPN is the best way to ensure you can access the right international site.
Without a VPN, you might get stuck in an endless loop of being redirected to your domestic site, where the inspiration you seek is nowhere to be found!
However, when it comes to exploring and investigating the best of what the web has to offer, there is no better way to break down artificial barriers than with a VPN.
2. Personal Data Security
Keeping yourself secure when working online evolved beyond antivirus software and firewalls long ago, and while they still have a place, VPNs can be the protective key to remote working.
The dangers of public Wi-Fi networks are well-documented, and we have already mentioned them once in the opening of this article.
However, they are often preferable to a mobile hotspot, especially indoors, where signal strength may be compromised. A VPN protects the traffic between your device and the sites you visit in the same way as everywhere else.
This can be pivotal when working on sensitive projects as those on the same network have advantages over the wider internet. With an active VPN, all they will encounter is encrypted traffic in both directions.
If you are a commercial web designer, this becomes even more important. Security concerns extend beyond logging into WordPress or reading the latest industry news. You may be checking bank accounts at the coffee shop or producing invoices at a hotel.
While you may not be overly concerned with others seeing what you’re up to when browsing in public, anything that involves inputting personal information is far better protected with an active VPN across all devices.
This can be as simple as logging into your email account or a communication tool like Slack.
3. Client Confidence
While this reasoning does not apply to every web designer out there, especially those focusing on their own projects, it is important not to understate the potential importance clients may place on security.
VPNs are no longer solely for those with above-average technical understanding. The rise in flexible and remote working, in particular, has resulted in most businesses and hiring managers, including those that deal with freelancers and contractors, taking an interest in the benefits.
Depending on a client’s size, the use of a VPN may be mandatory. Even before the surge in remote working, web designers were rarely required to be in the client’s office for a whole working week, if at all.
However, working with them will, at the bare minimum, require you to access the backend of their website and hosting.
The same concerns raised in the previous points apply here too, but can potentially be far more damaging. It is not unheard of for negligence with systems and data resulting in a penalty for the contractor.
Even in more minor cases, a breach that can be traced back to the designer puts paid to any idea of word of mouth marketing, which is particularly valuable in an industry like design.
In other cases, a VPN may be required to access the client’s network. For example, a design job may involve using their image library, proprietary code, and other existing resources that they would prefer not to put on a website or FTP server, protected by nothing but a password.
Of course, if and when this happens, the chances are that you will use something other than your personal VPN connection, but knowing how to configure access and deploy their preferred setup across your devices means less time spent learning and more time devoted to the project at hand.
It is too early to state that VPN use is a requirement of most design contracts. Nevertheless, even confirming in pitches and proposals just how seriously you take the data and property of a client may be the edge required to land business in the face of stiff competition.
While these reasons to use a VPN as a web designer are specifically tailored to the role, they showcase only some possible benefits. Naturally, you are under no obligation to start the VPN service when you begin work and shut it down at the end of the day.
All the standard benefits continue to apply with the same subscription, regardless of what you choose to do.
This could mean changing your location as and when required, ensuring that nobody can see what you’re doing online and when – even your ISP – and adding another layer of security to your online communications.
Those that have never used a VPN before may have concerns, such as whether a VPN will reduce their internet speed or complexity around configuring multiple devices.
However, as mentioned previously, there are plenty of discounted packages, short-term contracts, and free trials out there, and it makes sense to take advantage of them to put a VPN to the test, ensuring that it meets your individual requirements.
Incidentally, such concerns are often unfounded. A VPN connection will usually be slightly slower, given that it cannot exceed the available bandwidth of your regular access point. However, in this day of superfast access at home and while traveling, it has a negligible impact.
Similarly, the days of needing to access deeply hidden settings are long gone, with most services boasting apps for computers and mobile devices that begin to work immediately upon logging into your account.
So, while a VPN will not necessarily make you a better web designer, it can represent a supremely worthwhile investment.
It will make your life easier when researching, help to keep the data on which your business relies safer, and potentially even make the difference between winning a design contract or landing on the ‘kept on file’ pile!