Web interface and front-end development are getting pretty standardised these days. And with the proliferation of front-end frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation and Angular this is evermore the case.
I often think that people are most creative when constrained by limitations. They work out ways to achieve what they are trying to do within the boundaries and this nurtures more creative thinking than if the creator had unlimited tools at their disposal. It also leads to the creation of unintentional positive side-effects only made possible by the kind of resourceful thinking limitations stimulate.
When Liam Howlett created the initial 10-track demo for The Prodigy in 1990, he did so with two memory banks of 384KB (and maybe a further 80MB if he had a SCSI hard drive), a 12-bit sampler/synthesizer and a 16-track sequencer.
Today’s producers have Mac Pros with 6-core processors, 16GB of RAM and 27 inch monitors running Ableton Live 9. They also have all-but-unlimited instant access to samples and software synthesizers at their fingertips.
But who would you say is more creative? Calvin Harris or Liam Howlett?
In a lot of ways I think the web is the same. When we all first flooded through the doors of the World Wide Web in the 90s, and began cobbling together our own websites, MySpace pages and early weblogs, none of us really knew what we were doing, but we did it anyway!
Back then we had limited knowledge, limited available CSS rules, limited HTML and limited front-end scripting tools. But we still took Sir Berners-Lee’s brainchild, and we hacked about and created our own shit with it.
I Miss The Old Internet
The old internet was full of awesome ‘out-there’ websites that were created despite these limitations. While many of the websites we see today are incredible, and technically far superior in terms of design and implementation, they all kind of follow the same frameworks, and I miss the quirk of the ‘old internet’.
While I don’t miss developing with endless nested tables, positioning stuff using spacer GIFs, and having to create a separate style-sheet for every single fucking browser, I do miss stumbling on mental sites like these and thinking “What the fuck?!”:
And of course the best webpage in the universe, which I used to chuckle at regularly once upon a time: Best Page in The Universe
Seriously, I miss that shit. They were ridiculous, but awesome in their own way.
When I first started using Google. It looked like this:
It seems like today we have replaced the limitations we used to have in the early days of the web with pseudo-limitations of our own creation. We have devised best practice standards based on the best of what we discovered before, and out of these created frameworks.
Aside from acting as our new creative boundaries, there are plenty of other reasons why we need today’s web development standards and frameworks which stops my nostalgia running wild. Professional web development would be much harder without them and here are some of the reasons why:
Frameworks allow us to quickly prototype, they have ‘out-of-the-box’ styles and layouts which allow us to quickly knock something up and see if it’s going to work before committing loads of resource to building the real thing.
Cross Browser Compatibility
Frameworks and standards deal with a lot of the cross-browser pitfalls for us, and although this is becoming less of an issue with browsers moving more in-line with standards (even Internet Explorer works now – most of the time), it’s nice not to have to worry about this issue, which in the past used to add hours and hours of stress to projects.
Cross Device Compatibility
It’s so much quicker to use a framework such as Foundation to deal with responsiveness, navigation and performance across devices than to hand-code your own CSS for each project.
For developers like me who hate the tedium of trying to perfectly align elements using CSS, frameworks and standard practices are a god-send. They make my life a lot easier.
Leveraging frameworks and standard practices reduces development times, it means we can build more useful business logic with project budgets and deliver more value. It also means we get to focus more on the interesting stuff, and not have to repeat the same ground work for each build.
These thoughts were inspired by a conversation with my good friend Ben Cooper
, but he believes all websites should look like this: Motherfuckingwebsite
, so he doesn’t get a say on the subject.
What do you think about today’s web standards and frameworks? Do you feel nostalgic sometimes? Comment below and let me know.