Common Sense By Any Other Name…

Seems like these days everyone gets to give a brand name to common sense, obvious practices. OOCSS, for instance… using DRY principles with CSS, come on, that’s just good practice. SCRUM… “let’s have meetings to discuss what’s progressing and what has problems–nobody’s ever thought of that before!” And then silly ideas from ages past, like sIFR and Cuf├│n, the ridiculous answers to problems that weren’t really that huge of problems… well, those weren’t really common sense, more like the opposite, really. Since people like Inman get their 15 minutes of fame for thinking they’re the only ones that ever thought of using Flash to embed fonts, perhaps it’s time I came up with the Bartek Web Design Philosophy. I’m gonna make this up as I go…

  1. Be as semantic as possible. Let everything be what it is, and the universe will stay in balance.
  2. Validate your HTML. If it doesn’t pass validation, and you don’t want to let go of the code that’s causing it, you should probably rethink it. If you truly love Chromeframe, you must let it go free.
  3. Don’t bother trying to get your CSS to validate, except to look for syntax issues. You’re only going to hurt user experience trying to settle for the lowest common denominator.
  4. Use HTML5, but use it like it’s XHTML5. I know it’s a glimmer in the W3C’s eye right now, but you’ll thank me in 5 years.
  5. Polyfills are your friend. CSS PIE will help you achieve enlightenment, even though it has its dark side.
  6. CSS and Javascript do not belong in your HTML. Ever.
  7. jQuery, jQuery UI, and jQuery Mobile. Through this holy trinity, you can accomplish all things.
  8. Wireframe if you feel it is necessary for your clients. Mockup and slice with Photoshop. Don’t start any HTML/CSS without a full mockup.
  9. Don’t over-engineer. There’s no point in going nuts in Javascript for Aunt Edna’s Doll Furniture Emporium.
  10. Load as few external files as possible. Don’t have an external print stylesheet, 50 icon files when you could have used a spritesheet, or a dozen jQuery plugin files that never get touched, that could just be merged together.
  11. Don’t be a slave to backend devs. Pick a language, and learn it. It’s not as hard as you think.
  12. The best solution is almost always a custom one. It will save massive headaches in the long run.
  13. Don’t get caught up in design fads. The homemade look will one day be just as tiresome as the glossy “web 2.0” trend from 2006.
  14. Experiment with new stuff, and don’t be afraid to use Flash if absolutely necessary, but always have a fallback plan.
  15. Make your layouts responsive, but remember this is not always the answer to all mobile user experience problems. Sometimes jQuery mobile, etc. will solve this.
  16. Always plan for IE7 and IE8. Use IETester. IE6 is burning in hell, so no worries there.
  17. Be smart with your SEO. Don’t overdo your SEO, or you will find your SEO fighting an uphill battle it will never win. But if you have a serious budget for SEO, then by all means. SEO.
  18. Don’t settle being employed by ad agencies and web marketing companies for years on end. They help build your portfolio, but are career dead-ends. Keep pushing yourself further.
  19. The quality of your database is directly proportional to the quality of your backend. If you find yourself doing stupid queries, you probably have a stupid schema.
  20. Know a little of everything, find what you like best, then specialize.

And I guess 20 is enough. This philosophy evolved over 7 years of doing this professionally, and has served me pretty well. Hope someone out there finds this useful. And remember, it’s not just common sense… it’s the patented Bartek Web Design Philosophy┬«.

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