Dan Davies{ Front-end Developer }

Ignorance in the web

19th May 2015

I’ve been doing this a while now this web thing. I’ve worked with people who had various levels of web knowledge but one thing that has been consistent over the years seems to be the odd statements and facts people come out with. Here’s a few hot topics. I’d love to hear your pearls.

The fold

Yes, the fold. It’s still not going away. Even with sites like http://thereisnopagefold.com/ and http://www.iamthefold.com/ live on the web, people are still talking about the fold as if it’s a real thing. But why? Ok granted, it’s mainly client’s or outdated account managers (if I ever meet a designer / developer who respects this mythical creature I’ll run them over).

Now I am certain some of you will be thinking and probably shouting at the screen here. “You still need important stuff at the top Dan!” And I would agree but that comes down to content heirarchy rather than a fold. Of course, calls to action and really important stuff should be seen quickly but let’s be real here. There is still no fold. People don’t mind scrolling despite what people keep saying.

You must have a responsive website

I think this stems from the whole Google update for mobile searches. Certainly, it seemed to be the generic answer which I guess in most situations, it’s fine, a responsive website is the answer. But we need to be careful here. Not every website needs to be responsive. It all comes down to what the goal is. A friend of mine always talks about a theme park. You might want to book tickets and see what is there but once you are there, you have a different reason to use the website like finding waiting times and so on.

I recently spoke to a mate who had gone to an interview and was told he hadn’t done much responsive work based on his portfolio. He had to be fair but the sites they brought him up on were not. One sniffed devices and served the right site (they hadn’t checked) and the other, the client hadn’t wanted it or had the budget to make one. for me, the fact that people are seeing a non responsive site as bad is damaging. He said they took great pleasure in dragging the browser window left and right to demonstrate it not being responsive. It’s good to remind people that at times, it comes down to cost and needs. It’s not a fit all solution.

White space

When I worked in Chester, we worked on sites that were dripping with adverts. If you got any space, BAM! advert put in. It was like website tetris. Even today, it seems white space is a bad thing for some.

White space serves a purpose. It helps with the page structure and gives emphasis to the content. Paul Boag wrote about it here as have various other authors. Jesus, if my old boss looked at half the websites today, he’d go into a adspace fit.

Costings & Timings

“How much?!” shouted the client.

“How long?!” shouted the account manager.

Thing is, websites take time. Time costs money. Deal with it.

Costings are a nightmare I find. I’ve been doing timings for projects for a while now and I think I have a good grasp of how long things take or at least should take. I also know the potential pitfalls of stuff. Costs? Well that’s not my job and to be fair, never has been but if you are an agency, you are going to be more expensive than a freelancer. Also, certain agencies will be more expensive. That’s the food chain I guess. There is a separate blog post for these things I reckon but today, we’re just skimming it.

One thing I don’t do is cut time on stuff unless I have to. But if that happens, they get less functionality or we strip out some templates. I’m sure most will do that. The problem with the web is that everyone is an expert. Making a website to be fair is not that hard for someone new to it. You can download a theme on WordPress or get some robot to build it at 1&1. People see this and compare your £20k quote and think, “What the fuck am I paying for here?” They don’t really understand the work that goes into a website. They see a finished product already. And why not. When you buy a car, you don’t think about what goes into it. However, I wouldn’t expect to pay £8k for an Aston Martin.

I’ve come to the opinion that there is a place for website builder sites, a place for Johnny the Photoshopping nephew and a place for the professional outfits. You just have to be patient and pick your clients well.

Failing that, win the lottery.

Any more?

I could add Carousels to the list but I’ve done that before. SEO is another. There are so many myths out there about what you should have and what is damaging. People make thousands out of guessing what Google wants you to do. It’s our job to educate but my god it’s hard, I appreciate that. I’ve been working on eradicating the fold argument along with so many more for years. The new battle is the responsive one for me as so many people are jumping on the bandwagon trying to cash in.

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