otsukare Thoughts after a day of work

The Message, The Trigger And The Ugly: Web Agencies Priorities And Skills

The Message

In my ephemeral inconsequent blurbs of expressions, I recently tweeted:

There is a little bit inside me which is dying when I notice a Web agency releasing a new site without a proper Web optimization.

Action. Reaction. Alexa took me by surprise.

@karlpro sounds like the beginning of a blog post

And there is this deep feeling that I should have just shut up and probably not write this. But oh well. So let's see if I can make my life more miserable.

The Trigger

The tweet was triggered by a Web agency releasing their new Web site. Beautiful design, typography, responsive and even for your own bonus points of geekiness. Baked and not fried, which basically means that it is managed in a system which creates static pages. Cool thing. I navigate the site and it seems all cool. Curious as I am, I started to look under the hood. Opened the browser developer tools, and wandered to the Network Panel. Oops. A homepage with plenty of images and assets which is reaching 2 Mb and has no caching at all. Zero. Here you can insert a deep feeling of sadness sinking in. Yeah I know Halloween was so last week, but you know.

The Ugly: Web Agencies Priorities And Skills

Alexa's message helped me to go a bit further and go over my sadness.

What I think was important to me was not necessary understood by people releasing this Web site. I know the people behind this Web site. They are nice persons with excellent skills in design and typography applied to the Web. They have developed an excellence, an expertise in it. And what I could see was not necessary visible to them. The same way you can be listening a piece of music and not grasp certain subtleties because you have not been educated to do so (my case). I would probably miss an incongruity in typography or imbalance in the layout.

It's one of the issues realities with our business. We are not omniscient and specifically in the context of Web agencies. The issue is even more acute for small Web agencies. Put together a group of friends having shared core of interests and sensibility, decide to start a business around your skills, et voilĂ  you get a Web agency which starts delivering "interactive paper online" or a "performing hypermedia engine" or an "accessible transcript of a story".

Some Web agencies will focus on layout, some on Web mechanics, some on accessibility, and all of them will further entrench their competencies into the core set they have developed. It takes a lot of efforts, translations, education to understand the other aspects of a project. And that costs money which is sometimes not good for the business, specifically for small Web agencies.

The Web ecosystem being very tolerant on mistakes (and it's partly why it is so resilient), sometimes a Web site is just really beautiful paper pushed from one place to another under the form of bits using HTTP (the transport) without really using HTTP (the protocol).

I'm not necessary sure on how to deal with this issue or even have the start of an idea for solving it. But there is a little voice inside me, that people should sometimes reduce their expectations of excellence on some parts of the project to leave room (time and money) to address the other parts.

There are things in our daily life which seem obvious and becomes less so on the Web. Do I want to make the perfect layout for my shop window with beautiful lettering and colors so my customers are attracted by 10 fold? Or do I want to spend all my time on studying the entrance so it is large enough for wheelchairs, that the opening time is written in braille on the door and so on? Or do I want to spend all my time on using the best materials for having a solid and perfect built architecture?

Obviously, none of each, but some of all these. We better understand these choices. We grasp them because they are physical. We need to have a better understanding at integrated design. One where we understand that a Web project is made of a lot of small things.

Leave room for other things than your core competencies.


Now, do I contact my friend in this Web agency to explain how to fix it? Choose your own pain. Choose you own battle. We will see.