Sophie Shepherd

Do it once. Do it right.

Originally posted on Cognition

I am knee-deep in my first home renovation. My latest project was to replace all of the trim—around the doors, floors, and windows—which, while labor intensive, sounded to me like a simple enough project. After ripping out the old stuff, I found that my seemingly well-installed floors were anything but. The floor was inches away from the wall, and none of our doorjambs were actually connected to anything. I thought I had one big job ahead of me, but it turned out I had three. Whoever did the work the first time took the easy route, leaving me with extra work.

Halfway through this painful process, I got to thinking about what I make and how I don’t think far enough into the future about the life of the work I create. One of the wonderful things about web design is that our work lives on long after we are finished with it. This long lifespan brings the strong possibility that someone else will need to edit what we make.

In 2014, I resolve to never take the easy route. I will work with my future self, or any other practitioners, in mind. Specifically, I promise to:

1. Keep my PSDs clean.

I’m not a terrible offender here, but I certainly have room for improvement. Last year, I would spend 30 minutes or so every week labeling and cleaning up the layers of my active files. This year, I won’t need to do so, because I will keep things organized as I work. Ideally, this will speed up my process, because I won’t ever have to search for anything in my files.

2. Do it or give it a deadline.

Oftentimes, when I am working on one thing, another task pops into my mind. It’s usually something small, like needing to make favicons or a 404 page, and I’ll think to myself, “Oh yeah, I should do that at some point.” But, if I don’t do it immediately, then I forget about it, and then I kick myself later for forgetting. This year, if I think of something that needs doing, I will either do it right away, or document it and give it a deadline.

3. Write good code.

Last year, I became comfortable enough in a development environment to know when I am doing something the right way versus just getting it to work. So, this year, I have no excuse not to do it the right way. I will stop myself from repeating lines of code. I will understand the purpose of every line I write or edit.

Overall, I vow to do things once and to do them right. By thinking everything through and putting extra effort in at the beginning of a task, I will save time (and sanity) later. When I do go back to past work, I hope the experience will leave me calm and grateful.

What is your web design resolution?