Sep 10, 2016

Raising the Bar

I have a reputation of paying attention to detail. I’m not sure when it started. I think I have always thought about this stuff. I have already blogged about tiny details that bother me.

Some things are a matter of preference, like how text is rendered. I like mine rendered a certain way, especially when hinting is concerned. The things that aren’t a matter of preference are, for example, typos, grammar mistakes, weird formatting, etc. Those things tend to stand out to me.

I see those problems all the time at work. They stand out the most on the website. I’ve always noticed these problems, but lately I’ve started to actually point them out so they can get fixed. Something I tend to forget is that things that seem obvious to me are not always obvious to others. People tend to be focused on their actual tasks, anyway. For the longest time I just waited for things to get fixed, but it rarely happened. I’ve started to dedicate a part of my time at work to navigate through things and make sure things look good. If I see problems, I assume users will too.

We use a marketing platform at work, and it’s also where we also host our website. It uses a WYSIWYG editor. The bad thing about WYSIWYG HTML editors is that people use them. Those editors tend to produce horrible HTML; like this:


WYSIWYG editors also produce inline styling. This is really difficult to maintain. If you decide to change the CSS for the site, you won’t be updating several elements that use inline styling, and you’re left with inconsistencies. Those build up.

One of the problems is that the people editing the website usually aren’t technical, so they use a WYSIWYG editor. It’s probably the most productive way to produce content, but quality tends to take a hit. Developers produce the best code, but their time isn’t well-spent putting content up on a website. So, who’s responsible for raising the bar?

I decided to start fixing stuff myself. It was inefficient for me to find a problem, let someone else know about it, and have them fix it. This is especially the case when problems are as trivial as a typo or a missing space. Others can use the time that they saved to work on stuff that no one else can. I also don’t have to wait for these things to get fixed.

Who should be responsible for raising the bar? I’m not sure how other companies do this. Is it a part of the culture? Does a single person take responsibility? I think it would be best to make something like this a part of company culture. I guess it conflicts a little bit with the whole startup culture of MVPs, shipping constantly, moving fast and breaking things, etc?

When I was running a business, I made sure that whatever the user saw and experienced was high quality. I had no idea how to make a good landing page. I had never head of the term “landing page” either. At one point I was redesigning the thing every couple of weeks, and that went on for a few months. Eventually I got it to a point where I thought it looked really good. In my experience, people don’t really tell you if your site looks bad. Maybe you’ll hear something if it looks good. I got lucky enough to get some nice feedback. As an 18-year-old with absolutely no design confidence, that felt pretty good!

Personal Improvement

Raising the bar is important to me especially outside of work. That’s probably where it matters the most. I’ve been focusing on personal improvement since I started college. I decided to do that early on, and I’ve kept it going.

I think people tend to accept too many of their flaws. A few flaws I can think of are not being smart enough, not having the patience, or not having the time.

You don’t find the time. You make the time.

You can get smarter. You can become more patient. You can change yourself. If you have flaws, you can work on improving them. I think it’s a good habit to make sure you’re constantly improving yourself.

Keep raising the bar.

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