Confessions of a web design purist

Table of Contents

Elementor code snippets

Synopsis

Do you enjoy being hunched over a keyboard for days at a time? Hate people? Love pizza? Adore hunting-down and eliminating stray semicolons and single quotes? If you can answer yes to at least one of those, Elementor Page Builder is not for you, move on and try to stay out of the daylight, ok? If however you love to create great looking websites with the minimum of fuss but still retain a great deal of control over the design process and get as techie as you like, when you like then you really need to take a look at Elementor …

So much nonsense is spouted by so-called ‘web developers’ in an attempt to convince the world that the only ‘proper’ website is one which is hand-coded from the ground up.  Let me tell you, that is absolute poppycock (nice word eh?).

Elementor is, for me, another step on the journey. Let me explain. There’s lots of chat on here about the rights & wrongs of using tools like Elementor and I’m sure that a lot of folk feel its use is like “selling out”. It definitely was for me. I’ve been around the web since long before it was called “the web” and I cut my teeth on SGML while working with the US Department of Defense so, when I got my hands on HTML in late ’89 (?) it all made some sort of sense and I started making websites and that grew into a business, albeit at that time, a part-time one. I used to take great pride in hand-coding my sites (I still have site out there that’s 18 years old now!) and had a huge library of code snippets, bootstraps and all sorts of stuff I could call in, adapt and use. When WordPress came along, I looked down my nose at it and disregarded it as cheating. I still laboured away, hunched over a keyboard trying to track-down errant semicolons and unwanted single quote marks into the early hours and, frankly and in retrospect, the websites I was producing were pretty dire but they did a job.

Sometime in 2008 I had a eureka moment. I suddenly realised that I was doing very little truly original coding; I was mostly grabbing code snippets which I then adapted (or not). I was storing whole hand-coded page templates which included all the basic stuff I needed and frequently used and stringing them together as a website. It occured to me (late I know) that what I’d actually done was re-invent WordPress – just a very untidy and buggy version of it. I remember installing my first instance of WordPress and the astonishment of having a fully functional website in about an hour – albeit one without much content. There was no going back. More importantly, I was now able to compete price-wise and make great (ish) websites in a fraction of the time it used to; that meant being more profitable. I learned that the client and the end users have no interest in what’s under the bonnet (hood), they only see what they see and it makes no odds to them how it was done.

So for me now, I’m a fully sold-out member of the web dev community. I have sold my soul to WordPress and now Elementor. I rarely need to touch CSS (but I take comfort in being able to if I need to) and I would have to consult a reference to build-out an HTML page from scratch these days. Bottom line – I’m more profitable, I make better websites and my clients are delighted. Do they care I’ve sold out? Nope. Do they care what’s powering their website? Nope. Do they care that I now offer better, more functional websites for less money? You bet!

As a footnote to this far-too-long post – my son is also a web developer and he works for one of the world’s largest digital media agencies. They make truly awesome and very slick websites and won’t get out of bed for less than a million dollars. We were catching up the other days and I said “How’s business?” He replied “Yeah, pretty good but we know we’re losing work cos we’re too expensive and we’re looking at some sort of CMS so we can make sites cheaper and in less time, you use WordPress don’t you …..?”

My message is, use Elementor, enjoy it, sell-out and enjoy the journey. Stop worrying about the fact that you’re not sure now if you’re a web developer or web designer – your client’s don’t care!

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