The Bottom Line Website

Published in Web Development on Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

Real world web design and improving the bottom line website.

The latest post over at Asterisk, Real World Web Design, is, as usual, a great read.

One thing that stuck with me (and that I commented on) was this bit (sutured together here for clarity):

A quality "real world" Web design is what it needs to be.

Quality on the web

Taking this bit in my own direction, one of the things I have faced while building sites for the web has been building something that is not perfect but either what it needs to be or what the client is willing to pay for.

Depending on how you define those concepts they could be one and the same, but no matter what happens, the almighty buck often defines the bottom line.

This reality is one of the reasons that there are some low-quality sites out there on the web today. I know that I am guilty of designing a site that could have been better had the bottom line been higher. But that's not so much the case anymore...

Can we make it better?

There is a way that we can make these too-low-bottom-line dwelling sites respectable: the concept of reuse and recycle.

Reuse and recycle

The idea is simple. As a designer develops their portfolio, they should look to begin to streamline and improve their development process.

Reusing similar methods or frameworks, or developing your own CMS for building sites, allows a developer to work in little tricks and things including good contingency design and perhaps some method for easyily buildling intelligent forms, for example.

Build your toolbox

As the developers toolbox gets filled up with good markup and best practices that can be implemented with ease, perhaps what it needs to be won't result in an unusable web.

A sort of redux

After writing this, Keith comes out with Real World Web Design Revisited. In this post he says:

The reality is that we've got to deal with less-than-defined projects, a lack of role definition, tight budgets, micromanagement, ego, browsers with poor support of standards, legacy code, inflexible proprietary software and more.

I suppose that what I am getting at in this post is that if we, as developers, can take care of the details that we need to in an effective, (re+)usable, semantic and happily coded fasion, we'd be doing our best to improve the level of a 'bottom line' website.

Comments and Feedback

I founded Keystone Websites last year, but I haven't been able to devote much attention to it lately because of construction work going on at my house. As a result, I still have a rather sparse portfolio. At the early stages of a web design career, I am finding it is necessary to have portfolio diversity, so reworking old designs and concepts is not a good idea for me right now.

But developing a “bag of tricks” for use in any project is definitely on the cards. Whenever I build some piece of PHP-based functionality, I make sure it is as modular as possible. That enables me to use the same piece of code in a variety of different projects. CSS techniques that I have developed over the years can be used anywhere. When all the Fahrner Image Replacement hullabaloo came out, I'd already been using the technique for over a year on my personal site; however, my lack of design knowledge limited what I could achieve with it.

I refer to as a “test bed” - it is my playground for experimenting with techniques and honing my skills. Elements of the site can be seen in all my commercial work, but I still strive to make sure my clients get a unique look.

Anyway, excuse me for going of on somewhat of a tangent.

Tangents are always allowed ;-]

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