Creating your own framework is hard.
Building a responsive website is hard.
Crafting a website that is as good on mobile as it is on a 50″ television as it is on a PS3 is really hard.
Someone posted a question about writing your own framework vs using an existing tool and it got me thinking.
The world has been super fortunate over the past few years with the number of brilliant plug in and play website options. Things like WordPress, SquareSpace, Foundation, Bootstrap, H5BP, jQuery….. these things have all been created to make it easier to jump into building your own site and publishing your content.
If you’ll indulge a quick example….. I’ve been putting together a resource information site over the past 9 months. It’s a side project so it gets my attention when it can and when I’m not burnt out. To start with I put together a homepage, landing page, news listing, resources and article pages using Zurb Foundation all within about six hours. Two hours later I had the site up and I was creating pages and writing content.
Six months later I’m still adding content and I’m happy/content with it, but only as a framework for the content. I’ve spent the last 3 months working with a designer and hand coding the site to look and respond to the way that best fits the content (and of course how I like it). At the beginning I tried to work with the existing structure and update the Zurb CSS to fit what I was trying to do, but I found that there were so many dependencies with the framework it was taking longer to change the framework than it was to write something of my own from scratch.
So that’s what I did. I pulled the pin on trying to extend the Zurb Foundation Framework I had started with, opened up an empty Sublime Text window and started semantically coding the HTML from scratch. Once all the content pages were done I switched to the CSS (SASS using codekit and Sublime Text). So far it has taken me more than 3 times longer than the first basic Zurb template, but a lot of that was also learning how to get the most out of SASS.
Although all these tools, WordPress/SquareSpace/Foundation/Bootstrap, exist for us to jump into production quickly they do so within a scope. If you find that you need to step outside of that scope it will often mean that you will have to spend more time in the long run trying to bastardise a round block to fit into the square hole.
It’s no surprise then that despite the number of these easy-to-use tools and, as a result, increase in “web designers” that there is still only a small percentage of websites created today that are truly something to marvel at, especially when you consider the billions of websites that exist today.
I’m not saying either of the points were wrong, existing framework or homegrown – on the contrary they’re both right depending on the situation at hand.
Like so many questions with the web, the answer is “it depends”.
The best solution for you is the one that comes in on time and on budget, while the best solution for your client is the one that drives conversions/sales/signups…. and it’s when those two points intersect that you have something wonderful…. wonderful and rare.