17th October 12

Finding the ‘one true way’ of the web

As designers and developers we seem to be constantly in search of the correct way of doing things – the one, singular, true way – the definitive, and only, method of accomplishing a task. All alternatives are unacceptable. This leads to a lot of arguments in our community. But, really, do most of these things make a difference? Do they matter?

Like writing your own CSS? OK.
Like using tables for laying out websites? Ah, that’s not so good…How about using a compiler or a framework? That’s fine.
Like working in photoshop? Great.
Prefer designing in the browser? That’s fine too.

The end user will never notice the difference, and they certainly won’t care. We can lose sight of this easily; users are the most important thing when building a website, not getting caught up in the minutiae of how we build or create something.

Choice of technique is not my way or the highway. There are of course broad rights and wrongs, but the rights make up a much broader spectrum than many think. How many flame wars/arguments are there regularly about this across blogs and Twitter?! It’s great that people are passionate, but I can’t help thinking how much further we could move forward if more of the discussion was positive.

A few weeks ago I had a discussion about Twitter with another web designer at a meet up. I described how I use Twitter (I follow a small number of people and read every tweet in my timeline). That’s what works best for me. He was insistent that I was doing it wrong and his approach was the only way to use Twitter.He follows a LOT of people and skims the timeline for interesting tweets to read. I tried to patiently explain that I had given his approach a go and that it wasn’t for me. This went unnoticed and I was told again that I was doing it all wrong.

For me it really boils down to this – I don’t necessarily think you should do what I do, but in exchange I don’t want you to tell me your way is the only way. A lot of this is general human nature, but we are especially blighted by this in our industry.We don’t need these ‘I’m right and unless you’re doing exactly the same you’re wrong’ discussions. If it works for you then that’s what matters.

It is the end experience that is important. I keep returning to that fact that 99.9% of the general internet using public will use a website blissfully unaware of any technical or design decisions that were made. They just want a good experience. And that’s the way it should be.