What's easier? Boiling a single potato, letting it cool, mashing it using a toothpick then repeating with a different potato until you have a plateful of mashed potato...


Boiling all the potatoes you need at once then mashing them together with a potato masher?

Okay, choose between one of these methods of determining whether the bathroom light is on: Draw up a list of people who have visited your house recently. Interview them to build a data set of all rooms visited and by whom. Re-interview those who visited the bathroom. Determine a timeline of bathroom visits and light switch position on entry and on exit. Analyse the data to find the last visitor to the bathroom and the position of the light switch. Examine the electrical connections between the light switch and the light bulb to determine what the current status of the light itself might be.


Go look.

How are you doing on the quiz so far? Okay. So, final question: What's easier? Building a convoluted web site using proprietary code, conflicting CSS requiring you to target everything with !important, making all interaction rely on JavaScript for even the most basic functionality, fighting between form and function so much that you end up having a website that only works occasionally and even then only works for a subset of the available users.


Building a straightforward website using nothing but standard mark-up, styles which cascade in a predictable fashion and enhancing already-working functionality with a dash of JavaScript to make people go 'Ooh, shiny'?

If you thought the second option was easier, I'm sorry, you would appear to be wrong. At least, that's the impression I get every single day while wandering round the internet. It must be really easy to make a ham-fisted, in-bred, should be kept in the basement monstrous-crime-against-nature abomination of a website because otherwise, people wouldn't do it so much.

I've used Opera as my main browser for almost 10 years now and I've lost count of the number of times I've been faced with a message apologising to me because it appears my browser is out of date. If I could just update my browser to Internet Explorer 5, I could enjoy their site. Seriously, it must be a lot easier to make a web page locking me out of the site than not to. It must be a matter of a few seconds work to write browser-sniffing scripts and learn all the proprietary foibles of IE whereas not writing that script must take hours and not learning bad habits must take years.

I have some ability to forgive those websites which are obviously the work of someone whose passion is something else. If I'm looking at a site where a guy has meticulously documented the different ways different cats react to different balls of yarn, I'm guessing his interests is in yarn. Or cats. Or the combination thereof. He's not necessarily going to know the best way to make a website. I find it much harder, however, forgive big companies. Either those with an in-house web staff or those who contract agencies. Whatever way they do it, someone is getting paid to make the website. It is someone's job to write code.

I've always been of the opinion that if you're going to do any thing, you should at least try to do it as well as it can possibly be done. It doesn't matter if you're playing piano, rowing, juggling chickens or making a website, you have no excuse for not at least trying to be awesome at it. If you end up being awesome at it: great! You're the world's best chicken juggler, go into the world knowing that and be happy. If you don't: great! You gave it a darn good try and you probably ended up pretty good, at least. Maybe try juggling cats next time. I have a hard enough time getting my head around the idea that not everybody follows this same level of obsession in their interests but to have people who are actually getting paid actual money to do something (in this case, making a website, not chicken juggling) and who feel it's okay to be 'okay' is a concept I have great difficulty understanding.

Okay, impassioned rant over. I'm not going to name any sites. Just consider this a warning, Internet.