Is Web Design Easier or Harder than it was 10 Years Ago?

Is it harder or easier to build a website now than 10 years ago? Has the bar gone up or down? I don’t have any data for you, but I can shell out some loosey-goosey opinions. HTML HTML5 was the only big HTML change in the last decade, and it wasn’t particularly dramatic. It’s cool it’s the looser variant (instead of getting XHTML3 or something). More compatible this way. Maybe I’ll close my <br /> and maybe I <br> won’t. Having better semantic tags (e.g. <article>) is great. Input types are wonderful. But none of this pushes HTML to be significantly easier or harder. Same. CSS CSS has gotten easier. We use way fewer “hacks” all the time. I can literally feel it. The CSS we write today feels so intentional and direct. 10 years ago I feel like every other element had some kind of weird hack on it, and today, almost none. If CSS feels any harder, I’d wager it’s because the sites we’re building are bigger and more complex so the styling systems for them need to be all the more robust and the dangers of getting it wrong more stark. Easier. JavaScript I’m sure there are strong arguments to be made both ways here. The language, perhaps, with all its recent syntactic innovation… perhaps easier. But what JavaScript is being asked to do, and what we’re doing with it, is so astronomically larger that more difficulty comes along for the ride. It’s similar to CSS in that way, but even more pronounced since we’re not just doing what we were before on a new scale; we’re building entire interfaces with the language in a way we just weren’t before. Harder. Domains I mention this one because it’s such a crucial step in any given person’s ability to go from zero to actually having a website. I don’t think buying a domain name is any easier. Domain names are a commodity market, so the companies selling you them are selling you them for some other reason, meaning the incentive is very high for them to push other products on you. For someone entirely green, I can imagine the confusion is either high or they don’t know enough for the confusion to settle in yet. Do I buy it through this page builder thing? Do I have to buy it through this page builder thing? Do I need the WHOIS protection? Oh god, what even is DNS? I guess I do want email, right? Or is that like some weird special hosted email? Ughjakd. I’m gonna call it a wash. Nothing has made this any easier or harder in a decade. Same. Hosting There is so much money in hosting it kind of blows my mind that we don’t see deeper innovation here. I might argue it’s a little easier these days. But commodity low-end hosting isn’t terribly different or being any more or less helpful than it was a decade ago. We’re still largely stringing together our own bespoke build and deployment processes like we were 10 years ago. Large-scale stuff might have seen a lot of innovation, a la AWS, but nobody is going to argue that stuff is anywhere near easy. The most innovation we’ve seen is from companies like Netlify and Zeit who are looking at the developer experience wholistically from helping you run things locally, to testing builds in staging, to immutable deploys. I’d love to see all hosting companies realize that every single one of their customers needs to get their code onto their platforms and they have a massive opportunity to…

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