When Making Websites Was Easy

Do you remember when it was fairly simple to create a website? When all you had to think about was a single file full of code?

Back when I began getting into the world of web the most important things I had to think about were tables, inline “styles” and framesets – that and which humongous background image I was going to use.

It’s all gone horribly wrong…

To illustrate my point, and just for a bit of fun, let’s take a look at a few examples and compare what we need to think about nowadays to what we used to think back in the “good old days”.

Disclaimer: Most (if not all) of the following is garbage and should not be read – under any circumstances – if you’re feeling in the least bit ‘serious’.

Client: I’d like a website please…

Good Old Days: What a great idea! They’re all the rage these days – we can create you one just fine. Just send us across some text and your logo and any pictures you’d like and we’ll get it done.

Now: Erm, seriously? I don’t even know where to start with that one…


Client: I’d like a new domain name please…

Good Old Days: That’s absolutely fine – what’s your company name? I’ll just type that in – they’re always available – .com or .co.uk?

Now: Ooooooh. Err…OK let’s give it a try…What’s your company name? Are you okay with a few numbers after that? Maybe a couple of dashes? There’s one available – you’re in luck! www.janes-hair-salon-4356.guru!


Client: Can I have a new page please?

Good Old Days: Of course you can! It’ll be exactly the same as this other page but with different text and a different image right? Send us those and we’ll get that done right away. We’ll pop the link for the page in your one and only menu.

Now: Yes…theoretically you can, did you order a CMS with us? Which framework? Let’s have a look…which template are you using – is it the 2-column layout or 3 column layout you’re after? What about the header section or these sidebar elements – all required or do we conditionally remove these for this page? You want to change the images?! Are you sure you want a new page? Who the hell hardcoded that footer nav?!


What about the poor developer?

All the above happens and is completely and utterly 100% accurate. However – we’ve not even touched on the impact all these changes have had on the humble Web Developer (and yes I’m including you – Mr/Miss Web Designer/UX Designer/Full-Stack Developer/Front-end Developer/Back-end Developer/Agricultural Developer/Property Developer…etc).

Requirement: We need to bold that word

Good old Days: Easy – let’s type in <b> around that word and go for lunch.

Now: Shall we use the <strong> tag? It’s 5 characters more than it used to be but that means it’s more powerful right? What did Steve just say? We shouldn’t use it because of SEO? Shall we font-weight it? That means we’ll need a class and a span to stick it on. Right lads, this may take a while…


Requirement: We need to create a pop-up window for that link with our product information in it

Good old Days: Not a problem – what’s that bit of inline JS we use all the time? Window.open isn’t it? Stick that in – whack some dimensions on and paste in that content.

Now: Do you want that CMS? Modal box? Lightbox? Give me something to work with here! Do you want that on the page at the start or loaded in externally via Ajax? Responsive..are you serious? Is there even jQuery on this site?!


Requirement: We need to change the font size to 10px

Good Old Days: It’s a good thing we added a size attribute to every element on this page right? It’s now just a simple process! Set Steve on it for the morning and let’s do the coffee.

Now: You want to what? Okay let’s just edit this SASS variable here – hmm this is written in em’s. What’s the em for 10px? Right let’s give it a go. Oh god it’s all gone wrong! Who the hell has been editing the CSS file? Do you know nothing?! I hope to god that’s backed up…


In all seriousness (ish)

Things have become a bit more complicated.

As a Web Developer (TM) we now need to think about a lot more things – not just our own code – but others in our team. Not just others in our team but the people who have written our CMS frameworks. Not just the people who have written our frameworks but the people who are writing WWW standards and evolving the web year-on-year.

In short we have to keep up the pace or hang up the towel. It’s exciting, it’s fun but it can also be incredibly frustrating to say the least. Back in the Good Old Days things were easier…or were they?