Building Websites and Building Websites Well

Published on March 12, 2024 (↻ May 21, 2024), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

Ready for a short exercise?

Write down what you associate with building a website.

Then, write down what you think is needed to build a website well.

I sketched that, too, on a Miro board:

Building a website: frameworks, libraries, tooling, and so on. Building a website well: learn, practice, test, and so forth.

Figure: Certainly not all there is to consider.

Now, this is a casual exercise, one we can assign as much value to as we like. First and foremost, how something is being done is orthogonal to the doing itself.

But even an exercise like this can tell us something about our work—here, of our building of websites.

Yes, testing and optimizing get a part of the spotlight—at least for things like test coverage, performance optimization, and SEO.

But then, it’s often tools, frameworks, languages, and the latest of it all.

Our attention seems to be largely on building, rather than building well.

Just do it. Get things done. Move fast and break things.

Not: Just do it well. Get great things done. Move fast and make sure not to break anything.

Our websites look like that (same designs), behave like that (same frameworks), and debug like that (same conformance errors).

Built—but maybe not built well.

And Now?

Why does this matter, what can we do about it?

First, how well something is done seems to be one, if not the indicator for professionalism. For example, it’s probably bad if houseplants can write code as invalid as that of some websites (I’d say that), which makes for one reason why producing valid code is a useful hiring condition.

Then, regarding what we can do, that appears to be a different matter. It looks difficult, because similar to climate change, we can’t seem to bother—some of our greatest peers behave just as hooked not to change anything like those of us who keep consuming oil- and animal-based products as if that didn’t matter, either. I don’t know what we can do precisely—except that any solution will require that everyone starts giving a sh_t.

In the end, it may all boil down to choice. (It wouldn’t be new.)

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

I love trying things, not only in web development (and engineering management), but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!