I’ve become a builder-consumer hybrid - Building Something

It’s a Sunday in July, and I’m working on launching my personal site. Partially because I want to start writing like this and sharing my work more, and partially because I’m deep-dive-learning Webflow as part of my agency business.

Since I don’t have infinite time and resources, I coughed up 50 bucks for a base template. When working off one of these, so much comes out of the box. This is true on any project I’m working on, be it Webflow, Elementor, or even full blown web applications. In my experience, some sort of style guide is hands down the best way to start any of these, even if the plan is to customize the daylights out of it. Here’s the problem. Whether creating, buying, or using something that’s open source, there are ALWAYS shortcomings, missteps, or opinions baked in. It’s so tempting to skip over these when shipping — after all I started with a theme so I didn’t have to make any big design decisions. Then Webflow called me on a small accessibility issue when I went to ship. Webflow didn’t call out the theme developer, it called out me. If I ship my own site and it has an issue, it’s my own problem.

1 issue to improve on this page before publishing

This simple stupid thing triggered a massive realization. I’ve become this weird half-consumer half-builder hybrid when working on the web. Throughout my career, even building “from scratch” meant putting together open source libraries and tools like Rails and Bootstrap (showing my age in internet years here). I now have these expectations that certain things work out of the box, and I can just pick it up from there. When something breaks or is wonky, I expect some community question to be answered or even customer support to be available. As I adapt my skills to the web3 world, I can see myself following the same pattern. How spoiled!

I’m not alone in this, rather it’s the norm. What an empowering and evolutionary world, where a pragmatist can speed-run basic coding and design skills and be equipped to deliver a fully functional app, dApp or site.

It made me sit back and think about all of the things I’ve pushed into that backlog as a product manager battling the Fast, Good, Cheap trilemma.

It made me feel guilty.

I’ve acted as a consumer of all of these open source projects or paid templates, saving me literal years of time and headache to bootstrap whatever I’m working on. Even after saving all of that time, I’m guilty of racing myself or my team off to the finish line with a trimmed down definition of an MVP as the final product.

I’ve been taking for granted how amazing these resources are. The better they get, the more responsibility — be it my own or my teams’ — I offload onto them. I'm only now realizing this as something I need to nip in the bud instead of continue exploiting.

So to all of the true open source contributors, template builders, designers, developers, and visionaries who have created these kernels I’ve put to use in such massively valuable ways over the years, I have to say thank you.

So thank you.

I also feel obligated to commit myself to a higher standard. I can be better at not pushing the little things into that backlog. You’ve already saved me so much time. It’s those little things which are often the difference between good and great. Between nice and pixel perfect. Between “mostly accessible” and “accessible”.  

I’m sure I’ll have to find a middle ground, budgets and stakeholders be damned. But realizing you have a problem is the first step…..