|Strive to do Better|
|Written by Anthony|
|Monday, 29 November 2010 22:52|
Strive to do Better
I recently had the occasion of dining in the restaurant of a particularly posh hotel in Dublin City centre. It had all the pomp, much of the ceremony, and certainly buckets of charm, with price-tag to match, but it was still somehow... lacking. The chef - this was one of those joints where the chef is named upon the classy-looking menu - had obviously gone to a lot of trouble to get the victual-related prose just so, and if said prose was to be believed, an equal quantity of effort was put to sourcing the ingredients from the more esoteric and inconvenient vendors and places.
Certainly, one was warned to watch out for bits of buck-shot in one's pheasant. I think said buckshot might have made it into the terrine to boot, as there were some decidedly inedible constituents in that particular item.
Shotguns, Mushrooms & Cream
In all fairness, it was not all bad. Certain ladies amongst the party opted for an artichoke soup of sorts, which it transpired was almost solid cream. Be still, my beating arteries. That was a treat to taste, although a less than hardy diner might expire quietly under the table after the whole soup experience. And boy, can they do mushrooms. I am coming to the conclusion that one should always go with mushrooms in a good restaurant, as they are a treat that chefs love to spend on!
Everything presented to us was edible, bar the aforementioned, terrine-invading unmentionable bits, and all terribly well presented - pretty as hell. But alas, that was where most of it remained: merely edible. When you go out to enjoy a posh meal and you end up in a classy-joint where someone is putting their name to the food, you expect that the little cakes made of mashed spud will melt in your mouth once you crack their fried-in-butter-evil exterior. You don't expect mediocrity or lumpy, boring mash. You don't enter into a dining hall going "Oooh, I bet the food will be... meh".
The entire time, as I battled with an exceedingly resilient pheasant one could have used as ammunition when hunting terrines, I thought: "These guys are meant to be pros. They should know better".
The Art of Cooking up a Website
Making websites is like making good food. There's a lot of thought and effort that goes into the planning. The execution is not something that can be picked up over night. The creation of a good site is reminiscent of the artistry involved in honing a menu to perfection and bringing guests through dining pleasure to sated happiness. Many of us in the business of making web sites and applications can end up like that restaurant - producing perfunctory product and charging too much for the privilege. Because that's what it is - a priviledge - to have the opportunity to create something artistically meritous and functionaly useful for someone else.
We often cut corners, relying too much on frameworks and the work of others. We often go "ah, I'm not supporting that", or "sure that'll never happen", or "who cares if it's 107KB?". We wonder if it really matters.
Cutting Calories and Kilobytes
As an industry, we have become lazy. With broadband, faster processors, better browsers, slicker interfaces, we're often seduced by the nicest, shiniest things to the detriment of the core raison d'etre of our sites - to convey information to a reader - fast. Tools like YSlow, SmushIT and Closure as great, and excellent as far as they go, and techniques such as compression, css sprites and minification go a long way to helping, but fundamentally we need to bear in mind that it is not all about the bling and the tech. When it comes down to it, the web worked quite well when 32KB was about as much as you'd want in a page. People did not like waiting in 1995 and that has not changed. However, even with all the toys and tools we now have at our disposal, we're still making them wait.
There's a lot of good work out there on the web, and a lot of good people producing it. But we must avoid getting lazy. No site is perfect, and that's a good thing - it means we've always something to aim for.
We just need to remember to always strive to do better.