The Coffee Notepad manifesto

A little perfectionism is a good thing. This might be controversial.

Sure, too much of it can lead to analysis paralysis. But if we were all just satisfied with “good enough” all the time, I don’t think we’d make much progress as a species. Perfectionism can inspire us to step up our game and not settle for half-baked solutions.

So what does this have to do with web design and development? It occurred to me recently that the whole reason I learned HTML in the first place was because I’m a perfectionist.

I’ve mentioned before on this site how my first exposure to “web design” was through having a GeoCities site in the mid-1990s. They offered two editors for their users: a simple WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, and a more advanced text-based editor. Of course, they recommended the WYSIWYG editor for beginners, which I was at the time. But our relationship was short-lived. The limited customization options frustrated me quickly. Of course, customizing my site the way I wanted meant I would have to learn HTML.

The decision was a no-brainer for me.

Fast-forward a few years. In some ways, a lot has changed. In others, nothing has changed (I still don’t care for WYSIWYG editors, for instance). Obviously we’re using the Internet on a much wider variety of devices and screen sizes than we were 20 years ago. But a I feel like we’re seeing a lot of the same issues that we were back then: broken links, fonts and color combinations that are difficult to read, etc.

I think there are two main reasons for this:

  • Lazy design is alive and well.
  • People are often limited by their tools.

Again, these issues aren’t new, or unique to web design, for that matter. The photo at the top of this post illustrates this. The version in this post is actually my second attempt at this shot. The first attempt wasn’t bad, but the dark area at the top didn’t have enough detail for my taste, so I decided to try the shot again and get more exposure to bring out that shadow detail. Not being satisfied with “good enough” helped me get a better version of the shot.

The latter issue is a tougher one to deal with, because people are sometimes stuck with suboptimal tools for a variety of reasons. It’s no surprise that tools can be great for certain tasks and terrible for others. Even with this site, I’m not in love with the fonts that are here at the moment. But WordPress makes it difficult to use fonts that aren’t Google Fonts. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with this yet, because all the solutions I’ve found so far have been clunky. But you better believe I’m working on the problem.

So what am I advocating for in this manifesto? I’d like more attention to detail, sure. But I feel like that drive comes from within, and what I say isn’t likely to change your mind on that subject. I feel like there’s a lot of room for discussion on what tools are appropriate to make a good website, as well as how to get the most out of those tools.

This was inspired by Jeff Goins’s Blog Like A Pro challenge.

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