About two weeks ago, a senior friend called me and said he’d like us to build his personal website together and I replied “No worries, come over on a Friday night” (stuffs you do for friends). After dinner, we bought the domain name and hosting, install WordPress, install the theme we selected and jumped at work. By morning, we have a basic looking website (which we’ll hopefully complete at our next meeting). Then he asked me “why do we still have funny-looking websites if it is this easy to build a website with WordPress? So here is my expounded answer below.
Looking at this critically, I realised that Designers, Developers and Clients have their part to play in this shitty-website business. Here are the things I feel we designers and developers is guilty of
We fail to evolve and don’t really follow latest trends. At some point in our career, we lose our enthusiasm to continue learning and being in tune with latest trends. We shift focus to making more money which is not bad but can really be on the long run. This is why we still have 2016 websites using 960px grid layouts and gifs for animations when most sites out there are now using all the pixels available (full width) and using SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) + CSS for logos and animation. I follow blogs like Smashing Magazine and read interesting answers to dev-related questions on Quora (and even answer once in a while) and Medium. That’s my way of staying in the loop.
We love to wield our spokes, then join them together to re-invent our very own wheel. I know the good-god-feeling that comes with picking up a task of developing a site from ground-up using minimal libraries and extensions and getting job done instead of using any of the available resources, often open source. But I really do not understand why we still do that, except maybe final year projects in school. Most clients do not really care about the language or tools in use, all they want to know is if it depicts their brand, work as intended and can be managed easily. Supporting and extending custom platforms is just enough pain in the ass to consider before using the approach. I, for one, made up my mind in 2012 never to code any site from scratch again unless its requirements can’t be met with WordPress or another robust CMS or if it takes longer to use child theme, write a plugin or break one…in that order.Don’t start Sublime Text or your favourite IDE just yet, comb SourceForge and GitHub, you’ll find mostly open-source projects and libraries relating to tasks at hand — simply modify and use. I prefer premium assets from Envato though.
Going solo seems like programmers’ hobby to me, esp. in this part of the world. Maybe this is because we want all the goodies and glory to ourselves not minding the fact that 99% of all the beautiful sites we see out there are designed, developed, tested and maintained by a group of professionals and/or maybe wannabes. Full-stack developer role seems over-rated in this part of the world and even in countries like India that Nigerian clients love to go (c’mon don’t tell me you’ve not seen some of their UIs, NDAs won’t permit me to share). My priority at work for instance, is what happens when a button is clicked, then how it looks. Meanwhile, reverse is the case for my colleague Evans Akanno, in fact left to Madubuike Precious, he would want the buttons animated and more snazzy. That’s the essence of teamwork; focusing on your core strengths while you leave the other parts to your team-mates and at the end, everybody gets a virtual badge for a nice functioning website. God himself knows the impact of collaboration (the Tower of Babel) and tools like Trello and Slack makes collaboration easier, especially when team members are in different locations. Don’t use Whatsapp!!!
99% of all the beautiful sites we see are designed, developed, tested & maintained by a team
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I’m sure we’ll have better looking and functioning websites if developers start collaborating, maximising available resources and do all it takes to be at the top of their game. I know clients have their own side of the argument, so I’m going to write about that in my next post.
Stay tuned and don’t forget to add what you think I’m missing in the comment box.
P.S. The image above is actually screenshot of a popular Nigerian blog.