Web design & the other dude’s code….

As a corporate designer part of what I do occasionally is wade through other peoples code and fix it. Not that this is my favorite thing to do mind you, but we buy 3rd party solutions as bolt-ons from time-to-time, and that means those solutions get to be molded into the corporate brand, transforming it from middle-ware to an integrated piece of the corporate web puzzle.

I mention this only because, it seems, as a general rule the coding of these things just sucks. There is hardly ever any thought put into the architecture of the application, resulting in a bunch of disparate pages that are a pain in the arse to maintain and modify. What I’m getting at, is it really cheaper and easier to write crappy code? I mean, if someone is building a site based on templates, is it really easier to build the site with the menu hard coded into every page than it would be to drop in a couple of includes for the header, menu, footer, etc? How is it that nearly every piece of web software that I have had the opportunity to work with is poorly designed and developed? This is all software that has been paid for, I’m not talking about Open Source applications.

In fact, the Open Source apps have all been better than the stuff we have paid for, which you would think that would jump out and say “Hey! Quit frickin’ buying the crap, and use OS apps then! Duh!” If only. I think to most IT “professionals” Open-Source is the Devil, PHP is a demon and Linux must be their henchman.

My latest pain is an auction application, which by itself isn’t as bad as the last one we are upgrading from, but still…. really, WTF? The mark-up is really just nonsensical, and could have been so much more. It is probably the most non-semantic swath of code I have ever seen. No h tags at all. Everything is a div, tables, and span tags, and when I say everything, I mean it. No p tags, no h tags, I’m not even sure that there are any b or strong tags either – everything is a div. I guess it’s a good thing we don’t care if the site is even remotely SEO, right? Dude, really? If the guys who wrote this junk were that lazy, then why not go with the correct tags? An h1 tag has fewer characters than a div, so a p tag – it’s almost like they are intentionally making junk. I bet they’re even thinking, “You know if we write this as crappy as we can, we can get more support money out of it.”

There really isn’t a moral to this story, just that every time we pay for some web application, we get the short end of the stick. Someone is making a truckload of money off of these poorly written hunks of web based poo, and unfortunately it isn’t me.