Your Web Dev Process is about Mastery

When I first started building websites, all I wanted to do was tinker with code. I wanted to build the latest widget, get my hands dirty and show everyone what I could do. I was insatiable. I wanted to take everything apart and see how it worked. The more code I knew, the more valuable I was. In fact, if you can code, you are actually highly regarded. You step up in the social ranks of Web Development. Unfortunately, I soon learned that Web Development wasn’t just about building websites. I was so concerned about building cool stuff, I didn’t focus on anything else. I lost sight of all of the other steps involved in building websites and so my business suffered.

In a new book I’ve been reading called,
The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, Sarah Lewis describes how this happens occasionally with the quick success of Archer’s during a practice session. They call it, “wanting the gold without thinking about process.” It happens when an archer gets too good, too fast and they take their success for granted. When I read that, it really hit home for me. Time and time again I’m reminded about process, especially when I don’t follow one or I mistakenly decide to step outside of it. Every time, the results are disastrous. Typically resulting in the end of the project. What impressed me about Sarah’s description of “the gold effect,” was what the archer’s did after this experience, they routinely “start anew, to relearn the motions and to focus on the essentials.” This reminded me of another book by Dan Cederholm, Handcrafted CSS: More Bulletproof Web Design, where he talks about being a Web Craftsman. The idea of taking the art of Web Development to a Craftsmanship level. It made me think about the art of the Web Development Process. Shouldn’t we be taking the Process of Web Development to a Craftsmanship level? Isn’t guiding a Website through the development process, it’s own form of coveted Mastery?

Mastery is about discipline. Creating excellence again and again. In the world of Web Development, this means executing a project perfectly every time. When so many things can contribute to a projects demise, having a project be completed on time and on budget, seems almost unattainable. I’m here to tell you it can happen and Mastery is our ultimate goal. I get push back about implementing a Web Development Process all the time. In a recent blog post, I outlined my process, Business is in every Web Development phase. One excuse I hear a lot is, “We tried that before and it didn’t work.” Many people think every project is different and one size does not fit all with creating a Web Development Process. Though it is true that having a process, any process, is a good first step, a Web Development Process that anticipates what is going to happen next, will allow you to stay one step ahead of any problems that might pop up. This isn’t a checkbox that you select. To obtain Mastery, you have to come to terms with the idea that your Web Development Process will constantly evolve. In essence, it will never be complete.

What drives Web Developers and Web Development shops to implement a process usually has to do with the frustration of having another client upset. If you are constantly having to negotiate final payment, return money or walk away from projects altogether, there is clearly something wrong. Implementing process is hard, is a lot of preparation and takes a lot of time, but when it’s there and it’s working, it’s magical. Your client stance changes from the defensive to the offensive and you work more on making your clients experience better. This is where the Mastery comes in, because the process of Web Development isn’t about building websites, it’s about building great Websites.

One thought on “Your Web Dev Process is about Mastery

  1. Wes, great reminder about process and its need to be fluid and continually evolve. I know from my own experience that when process was ignored, or pushed aside because something didn’t “fit” the project ultimately ended poorly.
    Bad for me, bad for the client, or bad for both of us—which is not the way to end.
    If something’s not working its time to take a look at what’s going on behind the scenes.

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