I Aspire to Be a Web Craftsman

The other day I saw some front-end code that just plain angered me. I wasn’t upset that the website looked bad in the browser or that it wasn’t faithful to the original visual design. It was just poorly executed. It lacked semantics, clarity, and direction. It seemed obvious that the developer simply mailed it in. That experience compelled me to write a few words about craftsmanship and good old fashioned pride in one’s work.

As I sat down to write about this subject I decided early on that I’d take a positive approach in hopes of inspiring others instead of pointing fingers at a bad example (which is why I’m not including a link to the bad code in question). So I searched the web using keywords like “handmade websites,” “beautiful code,” and “web craftsman” in hopes of finding people like me who take pride in a job well done. In my search, I found a bunch of people who go to great lengths to create carefully handcrafted custom web solutions… and don’t hesitate to mention that they’re pleased with their accomplishments. They point out things like: attention to detail, finesse, simplicity, ease of use, and even performance. I edited my own About page to capture some of these same points because I feel strongly that they’re good things to do on every project, even if it takes a bit more time.

While I was poking around looking for inspiring words to share, I ran across Joshua Porter’s presentation On Being a Web Craftsman on SlideShare (no longer available). It’s truly one of the best things I’ve read in years. It’s only 17 slides total, but it so eloquently captures what I feel strongly about and what I aspire to be—a web craftsman. There are several great ideas captured in those few slides, but I think this one is my favorite:

Craftsmen are not driven by money or recognition, but by simply doing Good Work.

I really love that… because it’s so true. I feel like it’s definitely worth it to do “good work” on every project. Toward the end of Joshua’s presentation, he includes a slide titled “Trouble Spots” that really hits close to home:

Craftsmanship takes a lot of time.
Craftsmen have trouble managing people.
Craftsmen don’t necessarily play well with others.
Craftsmen tend not to be business savvy.

I don’t necessarily think these are negative. I think they’re good qualities to have because they so accurately describe someone who goes out of their way to create something good and honest… and possibly even beautiful. Perhaps you feel the same.