It’s not that easy

About a week ago, Andy Clarke wrote a post entitled Advocating the quiet revolution. To sum it up, it’s about not trying to justify every choice of technology to your managers, clients and other people in your team, but just by default write code with web standards, separation of content and presentation and accessibility in mind.

While this is true and a good advice for you personally, it mostly only applies to situations with small teams/companies and when the customers don’t have developers that will inherit your code and continue to build on it. When working on a larger scale or in conjunction with the customer’s developers, it is crucial to explain and motivate the choices of technology, and why everyone in the project should abide to these guidelines.

Because, if you do things right on your own and avoid informing everyone else affected by this, they won’t understand your code and will just alter it as soon as they get the chance. And if you just put your foot down and demand valid accessible code from the developers without giving them reasons why, they will just run to the manager, complaining that it will take longer time to develop then (which is not true, but they usually state that out of fear, because they’ve just realized that they lack the necessary skills).

You don’t have to be a raging standardista full of elitism to convey this message; on the contrary. If you explain in a humble way why this is important by mentioning factors like lesser bandwidth usage, SEO, faster loading pages, maintainability of code etc, then they might understand you, from a business perspective as well as a developing perspective.

So, make sure you write good code. But also make sure to inform people around you why you do it, and why they should do it too.

7 Comments

  • Tommy Olsson says:

    which is not true, but they usually state that out of fear, because they’ve just realized that they lack the necessary skills

    Which is why it will actually take them longer. πŸ™‚

    The sort of people who run to their manager when asked to write standards-compliant code will need more time to code properly than someone for whom it is second nature.

    Once standards come naturally to you, you'll work faster than the old-school people. As an additional advantage, your code will also be easier to maintain, and it will work better for more users.

    As dinosaur browsers slowly become extinct, this will become even more apparent, because we won't have to resort to hacks and cunning ways to circumvent their bugs and quirks.

    We who have been 'into' standards for a while sometimes forget that it can be daunting for those who have yet to embrace compliance. A person who thinks in tables will need a lot more time to do an all-CSS layout than someone who thinks in objects rather than grids.

    Andy's proposed quiet revolution is a good idea, inasmuch as it will generate standards-compliant code even if the client isn't smart enough to demand it. It's not enough by itself, though; we still need to shout from the barricades to get the attention of the scores of designers and developers who are still living in the Middle Ages.

  • Kristin VÃ&fn says:

    Yes, this is a very good point. If you make standard code – it´s not worth in the end if you haven´t explained why and how for the rest of the people in the project.

    Usually I take a meeting with all programmers to explain the code, but recently when I was lazy/thought the developers already was in to it – guess what has happened. Lesson learned…

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Tommy, Kristin,

    I'm happy to see that you share my opinion!

    Now I need to go and practice my vocal skills, because apparently sometimes one has to shout really loud from the barricades to be heard…

  • Kalle Wibeck says:

    I'm in! πŸ˜‰

    Since I'm working in a very large company myself I've noticed that everything "good" tends to be flushed down the drain if it's not pointed out strong enought.

    Not to mention what other consultants like "SEO Jackals" will do with your markup πŸ˜‰

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Kalle,

    Knowing where you work, I was pretty sure you would share my opinion on this. πŸ™‚

  • You're right but it's a very exhausting process trying to get people to adapt.

    My trouble is not in the developers, but in the designers who's sole imperative is that is looks good and nothing else. Suitable kicking and pointing things out has shifted them a fair way, but sometimes it feels as if I'm Sisyphus undergoing his punishment.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Richard,

    Yes, it's a common problem that designers aren't aware of the demands of designing a web site, as opposed to creating a poster.

    Thanks for the story, I've heard it before. Although Sisyphus didn't sound like the nicest guy himself (depends on who you ask, though)…

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