Style over substance, Good Enough

2019-05-25 12:27:00 +0000 - Written by Carl Burks

In the development world there are far more technologies than there is time to learn everything. As a result you might find you learn enough to get by on one, and not do a deep dive learning all the nuances. This makes a lot of sense if you are not going to be using it as a “daily driver” technology, spending a lot of time in it doesn’t have a good payoff. If you go long enough you might eventually need to circle back around. It is worth your while to take an assessment of your skill inventory and determine if you have areas for improvement. I found that I have been focusing more on functionality and less on style.

If you are a fan of the Food Network, or hang around chefs you will most certainly hear the phrase: “You eat with your eyes first.” Before people are willing to give your application a second look they need to be pleased with the aesthics. If you are working with clients, determining how closely what you deliver needs to match their expectations is key. Sometimes a functional page which is an 85% match to what they’ve got in their heads isn’t going to be good enough. This is something to plan for, and budget when estimating.

Here are some tools for styling a website:

Just because you have included the right tools for the job in your tech stack, doesn’t mean your resources will succeed using them. Not every resource takes the time to invest in learning the right way to do the task. Planning for getting developers up to speed to use tools efficently is key for success. A developer who knows CSS, but just has started with Bootstrap might choose to bludgeon their way through and get a page that looks okay, but you’ve accrued technological debt, and depending on how they implemented it may break other developers. If you spend a few hours getting them familiar with Bootstrap you may save you and your team countless hours of cleanup and refactoring. If you know Bootstrap but don’t know SASS you might not be able to build your own theme, and that will work for a lot of cases. There are great looking themes that will get you down the road with a great looking site, but if your client has something specific you might need to pick up this skill. As someone who has coded raw CSS for a while, it is a welcome change to be able to use a preprocessor like SASS or LESS, but someone who hasn’t mastered the basics of CSS might abuse this tool and build a monstrosity.

TLDR: Sometimes good enough will get you through a Sprint, or project even, but if you are going to be in the area it is worth mastering the tools, and getting your teams up to speed.