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A hand touching a round mirror

Jeremy Keith collects a list of “Principles” (with a capital P) that people or organisations live by. Being in the industry for more than a few years, this started to resonate with me as I sat thinking about it. While Jeremy’s list is more “timeless advice”, I wanted to make something akin to a manifesto. So here’s what I try to stick to:

  1. My focus is Design, HTML, and CSS.

  2. Sometimes I write JavaScript, but my skills are more suited to Design, HTML, and CSS.

  3. I like core technologies. Being close to the metal suits me (HTML, CSS, JS). I don’t particularly enjoy working with frameworks, especially in recent years, where core technology has matured. If someone asks me to take on a Vue project or use Tailwind, it's not for me.

  4. Focus on the basics. What makes a site look great? Brilliant typography, sublime photography, and art direction.

  5. Focus on one CMS. As I write this, I've journeyed through three content management systems: WordPress to Perch to Statamic.
    I haven't touched Perch for a couple of years now. Consequently, I can't even remember how to install it. Content management systems are deep and complex, and riding more than one horse is a path to mediocracy.

  6. Stay away from gimmicks. Related to (4), in my experience, clients tend to focus on things that either ruin the basic experience of the web or add very little value to their site other than annoying users. Let's take scrolling, as an example. Clients and agencies fixate on this. Maybe because they think they need to stand out in some way? Parallax scrolling, full-page scrolling, scroll-snapping, infinite scrolling, crazy animation, etc. All of this is complex, terrible, and simply breaks too many things—hashtag anchors, page positions, or being able to flick through a page quickly to find something. Take cars—no one's ever thought, “wheels are boring, let's make them square”—because wheels fundamentally provide the best experience. Similarly, on the web, native and basic is the best fundamental experience.

  7. I should try and control my part of the project. Before taking on a job, I should ask myself, “how much control will I get over the look and feel of the website?” I'm much happier—and it's a better website—when the client trusts me.

  8. Always think about my focus. How much does the project stray out of my core area of focus? If it does stray, can I stick to my focus? For example, I don’t want to get involved in any e-commerce projects myself, but if I do, I only want to take on a design and CSS role for those projects. Don't blur the lines.

  9. Stay away from “unbillable bollocks”. Related to the previous point, sometimes I lose half a day to figuring something out—typically outside my core focus area. This stuff is so obscure that it's almost impossible to bill it to clients. Ergo: code is complicated, and the only way to make a fruitful and stress-free living is to focus on things I can solve with high confidence.

Articles that align with my Principles

Quotes that align with my Principles

The Real Shortcut is to do it right the first time. Anything else is a welcome invitation to start again or clean up some cut corner. – Geoff Graham