How to Cheat at Web Design

2019-09-25
I have a new client. She wants a website and she has very specific ideas about how it should look. She wants certain colors, a logo over here, a photo over there, a bunch of links at the bottom, each page showing a different picture that links to other websites, two separate blogs …..

I could dutifully explore my options with libraries, frameworks and software packages reminiscent of mutant aquatic species, 19th century musicians, Bible chapters, Greek gods and goddesses, confectionery, air fresheners or juicing machines, but that sounds like a lot of work. I would have to install all that stuff, find the pieces I need, find a theme and then wrestle it to the ground and force it to display what the client wants on the page.

But I’m lazy and I want to get this done fast. So I cheat.

Shhhhh — don’t tell anyone …. I code it from scratch. With dorky PHP and Javascript..

Coding from scratch appears to be the ultimate crime in web development. All the advice I have ever heard includes ‘Don’t reinvent the wheel!”. along with pictures of guys building log cabins in the woods.

But is coding from scratch really such a bad thing?

The advantage of doing your own coding is that you know where to find the bugs. And how to adjust and customize for a particular client. You know where to add that special feature. And, you don’t have to wonder what else is getting included on your website.

Besides, coding is fun. It’s sad to think that all the code has already been written by angelic beings and your job is just to trustingly rely on their libraries full of illuminated code. Because as we all know, websites built with libraries are always problem-free and work perfectly forever.

Like any good cheater, there are some tricks that help me get away with my scam. I use a set of homemade templates, a flat-file database and a custom markdown parser to handle text editing I also don’t bother with tables, complicated CSS and grid methods (If I am ever caught creating responsive grids using CSS ‘inline-block’, I’m sure the web design police would be at my door.)

Since my hand-coded website is in a single folder, I can upload it to a server as a zip file in a few seconds. Backups can be downloaded just as fast. There’s not a lot that can go wrong since there is such a small amount of code involved. But I kind of miss those elaborate backup utilities featuring pulsing, up-to-the-second updates, And those late nights hanging out with codexes, knowledge bases and Stack Overflow.

Now all I have to do is avoid getting caught!

Disclaimer: Do not try this at home!!!This is not the right way to create a website and no self-respecting designer, much less a developer, would be caught dead writing code. Libraries and frameworks were created by a supreme being, who is not you. And always get your doctor’s advice before starting an exercise program!.

Now get back to work!

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