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Chris Coyier Shares Web Design Opinions That Might NOT Be for You


The Podcast Episode with Chris Coyier

Chris Coyier is a man who wears many hats. This might not sound very surprising as there are a lot of people who can do the same. However, not all people can look good in different types of hats and that’s where the comparison ends because Chris Coyier manages to look good wearing each one of them.

The hats in question are, of course, the things Chris is involved in – that of a designer at CodePen, as a writer at CSS-Tricks, and as a podcaster at ShopTalk. You can also include in the list as that of a ukulele player. Oftentimes compared to Jeffrey Zeldman, Chris is considered as one of the top guns in the web design industry. For a lot of web designers, he is the modern-day web design god whose very path they unabashedly worship.

Worship might be too strong a word to use and Chris Coyier might not like the description, but you cannot deny the significant impact he has made in the web design industry. Evidence of it was the reaction of community members had when they heard that 1stWebDesigner is going to have a podcast interview with him.

On Themes and Frameworks

One of the most talked about topics in the web design community, especially in the 1stWebDesigner community, is WordPress. And when the subject of WordPress is brought out, you cannot avoid talking about themes and frameworks.

So, we asked Chris which is better in delivering custom solutions to clients in the fastest way possible – themes or frameworks?

Every web designer or web developer knows the difference between these two – the framework is used to develop the theme while the theme allows you to customize the base. To simply put it, the framework is the base while the theme is the finished product.

However, even though web designers know the differences, it seems that it stopped their understanding to the definition; thus, the debate. The key that every web designer should bring to heart is – DIFFERENCE. Therefore, there should not be any comparison because there is nothing to compare. Moreover, one cannot exist without the other. And even if you can use each separately, you won’t be able to achieve the same results as when these two meld together.

As Chris Coyier said, it is irresponsible to give your client an incomplete answer without trying to know every aspect of your business, your talents, and your clients. There is too much missing information in this conversation to ever prescribe a solution.

The most important answer rather is what does the framework do or what kind of functionality does it bring to the table. No matter what kind of things it offer if you think it will help your client, then you can use it.

Why WordPress?

Aside from the fact that WordPress powers some of the big-name websites, there is a lot going on in some websites that only WordPress can handle. Yes, there are other amazing platforms out there but there are specific features that can only be delivered by WordPress. A good representation of what WordPress can do is CSS Tricks, which is both a blog and a forum.

As a forum, CSS Tricks use the plugin bbPress which is powered by WordPress. Then, there’s also Restrict Content Pro, a membership content log in area which works well for both blog admin and community members. This plugin enables you to control which posts can be accessed by what type of readers you have. It also help you create and track subscription level members.

Aside from this, it also has an authentication and user rights features which allows you to  manage the site, editors work with content, authors and contributors write that content, and subscribers have a profile that they can manage. This lets you have a variety of contributors to your website, and let others simply be part of your community.

I agree with some people saying that a static site generator is much better than WordPress because there’s nothing for hackers to hack in there. Security is the main strength of static generators because no matter how badly designed it is, it does not affect the security and performance of the site. However, just because I have trouble once every six months is indicative to move platforms.

On Building Themes and Frameworks

When asked why he doesn’t build his own theme since he has the expertise and experience to build a really great one, Chris said that he feels envious of people who make a lot of money and running their own company selling these themes on ThemeForest. However, it doesn’t feel right for him to do so. He doesn’t have anything against people who let people sign up so they can have as many themes as possible but how many themes do people really need?

It is a given that when you designed a theme loaded with features it will sell more. Simply, the more it can do, the more money it could make. On the other hand, the most ideal thing to do is create a performance-focused WordPress theme but it won’t sell as much as the theme loaded with features.

There is a lot of debate going on about this issue. It is probably a hot-button topic in the web design community but it happens – those themes who make a lot of money usually makes money for the wrong reasons. It is easier to make money for the wrong reasons.

Also, most features-loaded themes tend to slow down the site. However,  you can still make a performance-driven theme with lots of features without slowing down the website by offering 50 features with back end codes that know which features are enabled at the moment. There is a trade-off when you’re talking about performance – the number and size of the request. The size of the request will be bigger but at least we are only loading a single resource but Jetpack also have these issues.

Chris Coyier can surely build a performance-driven site for the right reasons but that would become his full-time job because it will consume all his time from the coding to the marketing aspect. However, he doesn’t want to give-up all the things he’s doing now because he loves what he’s doing now.

That is also the same reason why he doesn’t build a framework. He is more than happy to build a performance theme or bare bones which people can use for their  mobile first website, or create an artist theme with artist-like features, like carousel or store.

For Chris Coyier, he simply wants to build something that would help people solve their specific problems.

3 Must-Haves in 2015

Aside from WordPress, we also asked Chris what his 3 must-haves are for 2015 aside from performance and technicality. They are – https, SVG, and front-end arhitecture

HTTPS is very important for websites first and foremost for  security reasons. The longer your website exists on the Internet, the more people will view it in a screwed-up way, like snooping into your topic and hacking into your database. HTTPS protects you from all these risks because it runs on SSL and for people who try to get into your system must have a code in order to decrypt it.

Another item that should be on your radar is SVG or scale vector graphics which makes the file size smaller and renders crisper.  Nowadays, most of the solutions that exist to fix resolution-based issues, such as retina screens, involve either a large amount of unnecessary data downloaded or compromise for one browser or the other. This makes us rely on the speed of the data download-speed bottleneck to bring higher resolution images to devices that are often on wireless data networks. Not a very ideal solution. This is where SGV comes in because it offers a way to do full resolution graphical elements, no matter what size screen, what zoom level, or what resolution your user’s device has.

If you want to know more about SVG and what it can do, visit CSS Tricks and read Chris Coyier’s article called, A Compendium of SVG Information. Here you can learn precious nuggets as well as tips and tricks about SVG.

The third is front-end architecture, such as BAM, OOCSS, and more. This has become a trend because every time you mention it, comments on forums just flare up. It is also important when you’re thinking long-term as you build your website without it ending as a disaster. The answer- you have to make the right decisions when you’re designing your front end. Therefore, if you don’t understand the front end stuff, you’ll end up with a disaster.

Conclusion

Web designers, in reality, are a little “mono-cultural.” Just look at the conferences for web designers and everybody is using Macs and Chromes. This has to change and see people developing an IE on Windows to give us a wider perspective.

Article source: http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/chris-coyier-shares-web-design-opinions/

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