The Great Web Misconception
Ok here I go, it is my first "real" post and I am already venting. Well I take that back, I am not venting, but it may sound like it a bit.
When I started building websites, there really wasn't a lot of people wanted high priced sites anymore. In fact, when I started building sites it was in 1998 and it was smack dab in the middle of the great "Dot-Com Bubble" which is sometimes later and/or better known as the "Dot-Com bust or crash." I was 19 and a freshman in college at the time. It was early enough that there was still a frenzy of activity in the web sector, and venture capitalists were still throwing money at 20 something year old wiz kids who where burning it up as fast as they got it in hopes of being the next Yahoo. It was after reading these type of stories that I first thought of combining my interest in art/design and the web. I thought "if these websites can make millions, then I surely can make a decent living doing this."
Well, little did I know at the time all that a website can be, or not be. I had no real knowledge of the difference in a static and dynamic website. In fact, I gave little thought to the functionality of a site. All I cared about was how it looked and if the design was rad or not. And since the "Dot-com crash" was in full swing, sites that didnt do much more than serve as an online brochure were all anyone was willing to spend money on anyway. But as the years went by, and the fears of the "bust" wore off, slowly people started wanting their sites to do things again, I had a lot to learn and fast. And the word "website" quickly became a word that I grew to love and hate. In some instances it fit to a T, but in other cases it just didnt capture all the complexity, blood, sweat, and years it takes to develop some of the bigger online endeavors.
When people ask me if I can build them a site, especially people or friends I know outside my professional life, I sometimes wonder if they will think I am crazy, or just a jerk after they get my proposal for building their version of Ebay, or MySpace. I don't mean to sound cynical and certainly am not mocking the people who give me my livelihood. I am simply stating that there is a serious misconception in some peoples minds on what it takes to build these "websites."
I am simply stating that there is a serious misconception in some peoples minds on what it takes to build these "websites."
Ok, for all the people out there who know what the difference between your average softball league team site and Amazon.com, I am not talking to you. The people that I am talking to are the ones who think it is just as easy to build a site that does everything, other than cook you dinner, and site that is not much more than posting an image file on a server. What I mean to say is that if a site actually "does" stuff, it instantly gets complex, and the more stuff it does the more complex it gets. Now take that complexity and mix it with high design, and nit picky, perfectionists like me and you have a recipe for irritated developers, sleepless nights, and a prescription for Lexapro.
My biggest complaint about our industry is simply that people do not understand what it takes to make these sites work correctly. I always tell my clients that building a website is a lot like building a house. A house can be very small, simple, and easy to build. Or a house can be a 30,000 sq/ft monster with all the bells and whistles. Everyone knows that one is easier, cheaper, and less time consuming to build than the other. Well the same holds true for websites. They can be small and simple and therefore cheap(ish), or very functionally dynamic and large and therefore expensive(all in the eye of the beholder). Anyway my point is, some people just don't get it. No one would say to a home builder, "hey man, build me a mansion with 30 rooms, a theater, and a giant pool for the price of a double wide." The builder would be think you were crazy and laugh in your face. Luckily, I am not like those heartless home builders, I will simply think you are crazy!
The difference in the a home builder and a website developer is one key thing. The average person can see what it takes to build a home. They drive by hundreds of construction sites a week, where teams of guys climb scaffolding and skillfully assemble roofs, cabinets, fireplaces, etc, etc. right in the open. The problem with building websites is that not many people see what it takes to build these things. I mean, basically, one day their not there and the next day they are. The teams I work with are all behind closed doors, with their noses to flat screened monitors, all hopped up on caffeine. You can't watch these guys build these things in real time. At least not in an efficient way for our business to run. So I understand the confusion. If it seemed to me that builders could just snap their fingers and a home would appear then I probably would be like "dude, I will give you a 1000 bucks for that house, I mean after all you have to do is like snap your fingers right? "
I guess that's it, that is my curse, my challenge, my everest! From this day on I will try to teach each and every person on the planet the difference in a static and dynamic website. Stay Tuned!