I am a designer and not a developer, but every now and then I like to tinker with code — you know, just to prove that I made the right career choice. I started out as a computer science major after all. Sometimes when I get a side job to design a website, I end up building it myself. Primarily I do it to save money, but I also think it’ll be fun and easy. I usually curse myself for it later.
About a year ago at my full-time job, I volunteered to work on the website for an organization we’re supporting through our corporate philanthropy program. We threw up something quick last May using a WordPress template, and since October of last year have been working on a legitimate redesign.
I drew the wireframes while Liya, another designer on my team, did the visual design. That should have been enough, but no, I offered to put the site together in my spare time. I was feeling charitable.
At first I pieced it together pretty quickly. Liya was surprised by my speed and I played it off like it was nothing — yeah, HTML and CSS are easy. But while it only took a few hours to get 70% of it done, it’s taken four weekends to get the last 30% right. And I still don’t even think I’m there.
The real time-suck was the work involved in making the website cross-browser compatible. Because the site is for an organization that supports orphans of the Rwandan genocide, I wanted to ensure that it could be accessed on machines that aren’t exactly modern. Anyone who has done this work knows what a pain in the ass it is, and I’m reminded now of why I gave up CS all those years ago: hours of mindlessly hunting for a semi-colon out of place. In this case, it was a couple extra pixels of padding between divs that made one of them drop half-way down the page. The newer browsers accommodated for it, but the site was a mess in IE6 and it had to be fixed…I had to fix it.
Last night after much trial and error and some help from a few Twitter friends, I finally got it to work. As I put my head down on the pillow, feeling oddly satisfied and pleased with myself, yet simultaneously annoyed about having wasted all that time, I had a revelation. I jumped out of bed and drew it on a post-it note. And now I share it with you.
Have other people experienced this? Does it get easier after your hundredth website or should I just plan to send it out from now on?
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