Expert Web Development: A 3rd Key Differentiator

Published on December 13, 2017 (↻ June 1, 2021), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

As web developers we have decisions to make and our decisions depend on a few variables. Two that have become much more important over the years are the one of code for research or production, and the one of web site or app (that the line can be blurry does not mean that there is no line).

A third variable to watch out for, and this is rather spelling out what should often be obvious, is the one of complexity. How complex is the project we’re working on?

The reckless, carefree days are over now.

Figure: Complexity back in the days. (Copyright King Features Syndicate, Inc., distr. Bulls.)

This differentiator is getting more important because we make a mistake deducing that when Google, Facebook, or Twitter present a technical solution to a problem, we’re dealing with the same problem and need the same solution.

Most of the time, we don’t.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others deal with problems of a and at a much greater scale. Sometimes, they deal with problems that literally no one else has.

Not recognizing this is a problem as much as is releasing experimental code into production and applying software (app) development patterns to small one-pager websites, because a big solution to a small problem is a big problem (with a small solution).

We see that when developers use Material Design for their travel blog, or React for their portfolio site, or Bootstrap for their Hello World page.

When we don’t have a complex problem, then we don’t need a complex solution—or a solution aimed at complex problems.

Whether we always see what complexity we’re dealing with, and what complexity a solution has aimed at, these are good questions. Probably we don’t. But sometimes we do. And that’s when this awareness will keep us a bit more alert, and help us make better decisions.

For the moment, let’s be aware that not all web projects are equal; that not all code is equal; and that not all code problems are equal.

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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!