The Wisdom of Mom
I can remember being a kid and having my Mom impart life lessons upon my sister and me. I like to refer to these little motto-like tidbits of wisdom as “momisms"” and I now find myself and my wife sharing similar, or in some cases the same, pieces of advice with our own kids.
What is a momism? Watch any family-based sitcom and you will find momisms at the center of the plot of many episodes. The Cleavers, the Brady Bunch, the Cosby kids, and more were all raised in 30-minute chunks filled with momisms.
With Mother's Day approaching, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the momisms I remember the most from my childhood to see how they may apply to the world of website design.
Treat others like you want to be treated
I am routinely asked to add items to websites that are annoying, if not downright destructive, to the user experience. Sound loops, over-the-top animation, ridiculously long submission forms or those “helpful” talking website people are all examples of bad ideas I am commonly asked about.
When a client asks me to include one of these items, I simply ask them if they enjoy using websites that have similar features. The answer is always a resounding “no”, which pretty makes my argument for me.
If something annoys you on a site, it likely annoys others too. Treat others like you wanted to be treated as you decide what to add, and what not to add, to a website.
If you make that face, it will freeze that way
I was recently reviewing a client's website as we prepared to begin a redesign project. During this review, I noticed that one of their pages (the “our services” page) was listed as “under development” and that I should “check back soon.” Out of curiosity, I asked how long the page had been that way. The answer was 6 years. Really.
As clients rush to get a new site launched, they often find themselves overwhelmed with the task of content creation. This is why you find newly redesigned sites that launch with old and outdated content taken from the previous version of the site. Or you see the aforementioned “under development” message instead.
As we strive to complete projects and get sites launched, it is tempting to allow clients to use old or placeholder content, but that is a bad idea. Promises to “update it soon” are forgotten as other priorities rise up, meaning that the temporary content quickly becomes permanent content - the site “freezes” that way. A dangerous practice, as you'll see below.
You are what you eat
I remember this momism being said every time I complained about eating vegetables with my dinner. To grow big and strong, I needed to eat right because what I put in my body is what would determine my health and wellbeing.
When it comes to websites, the content we populate the site with determine its health and success.
Think about the websites you visit often. Why do you go there? It's for the content. If a site has quality content, it has the best chance for success. Conversely, if you allow your clients to launch a site with poor content or no content, their website will be unhealthy and their chances for success will not be very good.
Practice makes perfect
I've written in the past about the value of experimentation when it comes to web design and this momism speaks to this concept.
This entire website is a testament to experimentation - from using ExpressionEngine as the CMS for the site, to the concept of art directed articles, to many of the CSS tricks and techniques I use to execute those articles. This site is where I “practice” and the lessons I learn here allow me to be become better at the work I do.
Having a playground to test out new ideas and methods is critical in this industry and I have a momism to thank for teaching me that lesson.
Whether you are talking about lessons in life or lessons in website design, the wisdom of Mom is timeless. You want to learn how to build better websites? Just listen to your mother, she has all the advice you will need.
Happy Mothers Day to moms everywhere.