A couple weeks back, I started posting content in 2 new areas — Things to Do In Utah, and Web Design. I quickly stopped doing the web design posts because I noticed myself starting to want to twist what I had to say into something competitive. I found myself thinking about what other folks were doing wrong, and what I could do better. And I realized that is not who I am, so it was not a good trend for my writing to head that direction.
Instead, I stopped and thought about where the web industry is right now. And because it seems like everything in technology can be explained better as an analogy to either building a house, or a car, let me explain the problem in our industry as if we were home builders. When we all market ourselves based not on what we can do, but based on the fact that we do it better than the next guy, that would be like a home builder claiming that their walls are better than the walls of another builder. Or that they have a better way to pour foundations for your new home. And while there may be some micro-differences in quality at that level, or someone may come up with new techniques… as a general rule, that is NOT how people choose a builder. They choose a home builder based on finding floorplans that work for them, matching them up to their budgets, finding a desired location, and finding someone they trust to get the work done.
The web industry should be the same. We should be selecting our partners based on the results we want from projects, their experience reaching those results, and building trust to get the work done. We should not be bickering over whose HTML is cleaner, whose SEO performs better, or other structural details of your web presence. It isn’t that those things aren’t important… it is that it should be taken for granted that anyone building a web site / app knows what they are doing enough that the technical details aren’t a concern in your decision making process.
Of course, that ideal isn’t true — many web developers don’t get the basic structure correct, and I will build a site for my clients that has a better technical foundation. But that isn’t what I want to focus my writing, or my identity around. I want people to work with me because I help them meet their goals, and we both succeed in the process. Trusted partnerships are my goal, not one-upping my fellow web developers.
So having taken the time to think more about what I am doing, I may start back up with posting on these topics. I am simply going to follow the same advice I give out — decide who you are, and make sure all your web content strengthens that story. Focus your efforts on the results your work will have in meeting your future needs, improving your processes, and moving closer to your goals.