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It’s a 5 minute change

27th August 2019

How often have you heard that? It’s only 5 minutes, it won’t take you that long to fix.

Well it depends on the fix. Usually text amends or some styling only takes 5 minutes to do according to some whereas in reality, certainly at an agency, it’s a longer timescale mainly due to processes we follow and doing the right thing.

Ok so let’s take text amends. Amending text happens all the time whether it be in code or in something like Word, it’s a pretty standard task that doesn’t take much time to do.

But when what should be a quick amend takes 1 hour, the questions start to fly in. People can lose trust in what you are telling them. Sure, if you change text in Word, that’s it, done. Move on to the next thing. But with code, there is a string of events that happen to get to that point.

First off, the task has to be taken on by the developer. Understand what is needed and think of the solution.

Next up, they need to get the site working locally. Now if like me, you use Vagrant, it can be be a guessing game as to how long this will take. Will it work first time, do I need to update or do I need to completely install it for the first time. On a good day, it could be 5 to 10 minutes before you get the site up and running.

Then we probably have to make a branch with our changes to go in and then we have to find the files we are going to edit and then make that change. This might be the 5 mins you were referring to. Then we need to test it.

Woah there Davies. It’s just some text.

Aye and if you are like me, I can’t spell for toffee so I need to make sure I got that right plus it’s a responsive site so whilst that change might work fine on desktop, it’s possible that it could throw up an issue on mobile so we need to check that out also.

People always forget about mobile and tablet. For text amends, it’s probably not the end of the world but changing something on desktop can seriously affect mobile. I once had to add an extra social media icon. Looked great on desktop, but mobile, nah, dropped onto a second line. And then it broke on tablet. Always consider the impact on various breakpoints. It might seem simple but it often can be a little troublesome.

OK so we’re good to go, it works locally. Now for the code review

The what? It’s just text.

Yep but process is process. Rather it fail here than once it goes live.

Text amends is probably not the best example for this but any change to the code should be reviewed. Even spellings. I saw one dev once misspell a class name in CSS as to match the misspelt class name in the HTML. He could have just corrected the original spelling. But anyway I digress.

Code reviewed, passed first time. Yay! Now let’s get it on to the test environment for sign off. Deployments can take maybe 10 minutes and then I need you to sign off the change so it’s a waiting game sometimes.

Once signed off, we’re good to go but deployments to production don’t magically happen, that also takes 10 to 15 minutes maybe.

OK Dan we get it, 5 mins was optimistic.

Yes and no. the change was 5 mins but there are so many factors to consider around coding and how we get it from A to B. All that for a small change, imagine how it is when the task is complex.

The biggest problem is that on the face of it, a website is just a collection of text and images which do things and we’re constantly reminded that you can buy these solutions off the shelf and you can just buy a theme and away you go. It’s true you can. It’s never easier to get a website.

And of course changes in our heads sound so simple that it can’t be that hard surely?

I also think that maybe there is a mistrust between what the experts say and what people believe. There are cowboys out there but most of the time, we’re just trying to do the job.

What we should have done is make the text editable in the CMS so you can change your own fucking text.