Ask Me Anything: @zeldman, here

4 years ago from Jeffrey Zeldman, Principal, Creative Director

  • ChrisArchitec t, 4 years ago

    Thanks for coming by Zeldman! Blue beanie represent

    What do you think about the complexity of modern web design as far as the multitude of frameworks and basically totally different approach with technology stacks like React/JAMstack etc etc and relation to the core web standards

    2 points
    • Jeffrey Zeldman, 4 years ago

      Blue beanie represent! Thanks for asking, Chris.

      Back in May, 2018, I wrote The Cult of the Complex in A List Apart to express my frustration with the feeling that toolchains were replacing know-how, and that web making was becoming a d*ck-measuring competition: “If we wish to get back to the business of quietly improving people’s lives, one thoughtful interaction at a time, we must rid ourselves of the cult of the complex. Admitting the problem is the first step in solving it.”

      My theory was that chasing the new for its own sake, and to prove how good you are at your job, was a distraction from our real job of removing our own biases, figuring out what our customers actually need, and relentlessly focusing on the hard task of solving our customers’ problems. Solving customer problems isn’t as sexy as slinging tech, but it’s our real job and it’s where true satisfaction for designer and customer alike resides.

      That said, some of the change we’re seeing now is good and important and worth struggling through if it helps us bring better products and experiences to our customers. I talked about my own struggles learning new things after decades in the industry in “You Got This” on Automattic Design this year. Some of my resistance to the shiny new is because it’s a distraction. But admittedly, some is also because learning new things is hard, and gets harder as you get on in life and your career. (Learning new things about your work after 20 years in a field is harder than learning new things when you’ve been on the job for only a few months because after 20 years you also have things to unlearn, whereas in the beginning you’re a blank slate.)

      So I’m all for change for personal growth’s sake and when it benefits the customer (for instance by allowing you to create affordances you couldn’t create in the past).

      But I oppose throwing out future-focused, progressively-enhanced, accessible, semantic markup and lean, well-optimized CSS (with only the JavaScript that is absolutely necessary to deliver niceties that are delightful but not essential to the experience). That is the bedrock on which our whole web is built. It matters.

      4 points