Deryk Makgill

Hello, World!

There's not much here.

Just words.

And you're reading them.

We've become obsessed with fancy designs, responsive layouts, and scripts that do magical things.

But the most powerful tool on the web is still words.

I wrote these words, and you're reading them: that's magical.

I'm in a little city in British Columbia; you're probably somewhere else. I wrote this early in the morning, June 20th, 2013; you're reading it at a different time. I wrote this on my laptop; you could be reading this on your phone, a tablet or a desktop.

You and I have been able to connect because I wrote this and you're reading it. That's the web. Despite our different locations, devices, and time-zones we can connect here, on a simple HTML page.

I wrote this in a text editor. It's 6 kB. I didn't need a Content Management System, a graphic designer, or a software developer. There's not much code on this page at all: just simple markup for paragraphs, hierarchy, and emphasis.

I remember teaching my daughter to code HTML when she was 8. The first thing she wrote was a story about a squirrel. She wasn't "writing HTML"; she was sharing something with the world. She couldn't believe that she could write a story on our home computer, and then publish it for the world to see. She didn't care about HTML; she cared about sharing her stories.

You are still reading.

Think about all the things you could communicate with a simple page like this. If you're a businessperson, you could sell something. If you're a teacher, you could teach something. If you're an artist, you could show something you've made. And if your words are good, people will read them.

If you're a web designer, I challenge you to think about the words first. Instead of starting with a style guide or a Photoshop mockup, start with words on a page.

What do you have to say? If you don't know, there's not much use in adding all that other cruft. Just start with one page, with a single focus. Write it and publish it, and then iterate on that. Every time you're about to add something, ask yourself: does this help me communicate better? Will that additional styling, image, or hyperlink give my audience more understanding? If the answer is "no," don't add it.

At its heart, web design should be about words. Words don't come after the design is done. Words are the beginning, the core, the focus.

Start with words.

Cheers,
Justin Jackson
@mijustin

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Translations

Software power

Luckily I’m in the software business. I know how to make simple, useful tools that solve real problems. Great software is like a lever — it helps you get way more done in way less time and with less effort.

I certainly didn’t need another business intelligence dashboard full of stats and graphs. A lack of stats and graphs weren’t the problem. I had a communications problem. A feedback loop problem.

Figuring out the fix

So I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could get to know my company better. What did I need to know? How often? What kind of things? From who? Could other people in the company find this information useful, too? And so on.

From a huge pile of possibilities, four core outcomes leaped out at me:

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The opinions expressed on this website are my own. They do not represent those of my employer.