The Passion of the Developer

Passion: it is most often the difference between the mediocre and the sublime, the merely acceptable and the exciting, between trudging your way down a rock strewn path and dancing barefoot through the wildflowers.

It’s also the one thing so often missing in web design.

There’s too much “that’s good enough” and too little “is it great enough?” The web is the place where we can strive for greatness and make it stick. Look at your site and try to decide “would I do business with this company?” solely based on what’s available there. Why? Because that is what your customers are doing every day. And that’s only if they can find you.

A friend once told me he’d lost about 14% of the business from his retail store in the course of the year. The industry was down. “Thank God for the Net, because I’ve increased sales there 15% this year.” He then noted that this wasn’t a case of his customers switching to online buying, it was a case where he was grabbing customers from all over the country, taking money out of other shops pockets. “There’s some schlub in Boise wondering where his business has gone.

I’m reminded of a quote from Anthony Bourdain in regards to chefs and cooking. Simply substitute the words “Site” for “Food” and “Designer/Developer” for “Chef.” From Chris Tan’s interview with the chef in The Edge, Singapore, 2002 (the bold is mine for emphasis):

Bad food is made without pride, by cooks who have no pride, and no love. Bad food is made by chefs who are indifferent, or who are trying to be everything to everybody, who are trying to please everyone … Bad food is fake food … food that shows fear and lack of confidence in people’s ability to discern or to make decisions about their lives. Food that’s too safe, too pasteurized, too healthy – it’s bad! There should be some risk, like unpasteurized cheese. Food is about rot, and decay, and fermentation….as much as it is also about freshness.

Is your chef indifferent? Does your site show fear and lack of confidence? Where’s your unpasteurized cheese?

Passion – it is what makes life worth living. It is the difference between ticker tape parade worthy success, and mind numbing drudgery.

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