The purpose of this article is an attempt to reduce the amount of crap on the internet by showing the lazy, and incompetent how to achieve at least mediocre results instead of pumping out broken garbage pages; and worthless sites.
The pros and hobbyist don't need a lot of help, they try to do things right and are willing to put in the necessary effort. The wannabes can benefit from advice that points them away from the "dark side". Most of the advice given to the lazy and incompetent will fall on deaf ears because they don't care, and probably don't know how to implement good advice anyway. However if we can just prevent a few load of crap sites, then it is worth the effort to try and educate.
The starting point for the L & I is often a CMS. Building a site in Wordpress, Joomla, or Drupal looks easy. For a pro it is not a major thing to get a basic CMS site up, but they have the technical skills and understanding to build exciting and unique sites with customization and creative work. So the first bit of advice for the L & I: Use an established Content Management System and just install the basics... keep it simple. The L & I will just screw it up if they play with it. A plain, simple, mediocre site is better than crap that does not work right.
The L & I are always looking for"easy shortcuts" that help them avoid having to work with code. Frameworks, platforms, and development toolsets are what they want and they generally evaluate them based on how little work they require. These tools range from free to very expensive. They all have limitations, some of them are based on obsolete methods, and there a boatload that are nothing short of crap. So the next bit of advice for the L & I. Development tools are worth what you pay for them! If you are not prepared to pay for a well-supported quality toolset, then use you hosting providers web site builder. It won't win any prizes, but at least you might get some support when you screw it up and it turns into an ugly bag full of dog turds.
The really big deal for the L & I are Templates and Plugins. See a really cool template... use it. A plugin that does some gee whiz effect ... gotta have it. Again we have a price range of zero to infinity. They all have a demo page that is perfectly implemented. So in addition to the previous cost/value advice we come to some more advice: Demo pages always work... they are promotions designed to suck in the gullible. Even poor templates and plugins work under ideal conditions, but mix and match will create incompatibilities sooner or later; then B - O - O - M a screen full of crap! So pick one that you think is cool, then quit looking for something else that will screw up your site when you try to add it.
If the L and C just did personal sites it would be no big deal, but of course web development is "easy money" as long as they can find morons who will pay for them to build a site. So some moron pays L & I who gathers up what they can find with a Google search... instant site.
Now the moron(a paying client) wants something added or changed ... uhm ... ah. L & I might actually have to earn the money by doing real work. The code needs to be changed. Maybe there is a plugin or code to do what they want. Hmmm... a search seems to indicate the change will involve server side database stuff. L & I needs help. Where to get it? They could hire a pro, but doing inferior web sites on the cheap, does not leave much room to pay someone who knows what they are doing. Enter Q and A sites and forums.
Anyone who has ever worked the boards, has run across the L & I. It sort of goes this way:
LI: I need help to add a contact form, but the code does not work
Cd&: Does not work how? Can you post your code?
LI: I don't have any code. I was hoping you guys could do it for me?
Cd&: Well we are here to help, not take on a complete job. Maybe this link will help. They have snippets you can customize.
LI: I looked at the link, but I don't understand how that code works. Can someone just write the code for me?
And on and on it goes; sometimes for days. Eventually LC either bites the bullet and takes the time to do a tutorial and learns something or they just disappear and go to another forum to whine.
So a final summary for L & I:
- If you can't or won't take the time to learn how to code, then don't scam morons into letting you do a site for them. Find another way to make money.
- If you are going to do a site in spite of lacking skills, then keep it simple. Goods sites and great effects, require skill and hard work. If you can't or won't do the work, then be content with mediocrity
- If you are going to use third party code then don't get cheap. Free is worth what you pay for it.
- If you screw up a client's site don't go whining to forums looking for someone to do your work for you. Eat the cost of hiring a professional to bail you out.
Are you a pro? Can you code; understand other developer's code; successfully modify an existing site; and work on both client and server side? NO! Then if you are not interest in gaining those skills; you are lazy. If you are willing to learn, but not capable of using the technology then you are incompetent. If you are lazy or incompetent then please do not bill yourself as a web developer. You should find a more rewarding occupation; like selling shoes or flipping burgers. Perhaps, you could become a Wall Street banker where lazy or incompetent would fit right in; and lying to clients is the way business is done.