Why I used to build websites.

A few reasons I used to enjoy working with the web over 10 years ago.

Be aware this is a draft post — please adjust your expectations accordingly. Get in touch if this post could use an improvement.

Of course, I still build websites. Let me explain the title a bit.

Websites have morphed into applications over time. Not something I am entirely happy about, but I suppose the web was always going to head in that direction after Web 2.0. Everyone would want to be the owner of a platform. I would go so far as to say there’s a certain kind of power trip or an ego boost from yelling at offline people, “Hey! I run a community.”

I digress.

Here’s what gave me a kick when I started out — as a hobbyist over 10 years ago. I don’t think much of it holds true today.

Instant feedback.

Write HTML.
Ctrl+S for save.
Alt+Tab for switching to the browser.
Ctrl+R for reload.

It was all that simple. Three steps.

Narrow scope.

Since web applications weren’t a thing, you could complete projects fairly quickly and it wouldn’t be so hard to maintain even for a single person. The biggest parts of your job were creativity, designing, and fighting browsers. At least on the frontend side of things.

The landscape today, to put it plainly, is fucked.

Participation in a global network.

Honestly, a big, big one. Grab some HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, put them on a hard disk that someone is renting to you (this was a very tangible process), and everyone around the globe could enter a few letters to reach something you made. Everyone!

I suppose the novelty has worn off a little with time and abstractions.

Predictable deadlines.

Thanks to narrow scopes, predicting how long a project would take wasn’t a wild, wild, wild, wild guess. Along with of course, many teams having similar stacks and pipelines.

Now? Everything is a language to a language. HTML is abstracted. CSS is abstracted. JS is abstracted. The number of technologies that can be used to build for the web, essentially, has shot up.


Inclusivity was perhaps an accident. You were writing and building for everyone because of the server-client architecture at the time. Computation was done server-side, right? You never assumed all of your audience had powerful computing devices.


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