Webdevelopment, what not to do!

By | April 6, 2006

Gotta make this a quick post, since I’ve just come home from work and I have a meeting planned later this evening. So what am I gonna share with you all today. Some of you may know, after visiting my publishing site, that I’m currently developing some website’s. And I can tell you its taking a lot longer then I’d hoped. Let me walk you through the process I went through when developing the website and share with you what not to do. Its so good when my mistakes may help you be better.

Please all note that some of the things I describe are just plain stupid, so don’t repeat them unless you wanna waist a lot of time. I’m doing this project in my free time so no harm when I make a mistake, but don’t do this if your trying to be a professional. I know I don’t!

Stupid planning
So what was the first mistake I made is one lots of developers make. Ah who needs planning, after all this is something I’m doing for fun. Oh boy! I learned this one the hard way with this project. Lets just say I started a semi professional lay-out of the site over half a year ago and it aint even half done yet.

Which also brings me to my second point: don’t take on more then you can do. Logical aint it. But it is hard when you have a good idea and you want so many features. I know I wanted a lot of them, I just had to have statistics, movies, actors, shows and the episodes, characters, automailing, etc…

Documenting
I know that a few posts back I talked about how to approach developing software, and for once I actually stuck with my own advice. I wrote a nice little requirements document with what the website had to do, what it had to contain and how users should interact with it. Score one for me! Not quite, I found that instead of making multiple increments in development I kept adding things on the fly. So right now half of the stuff build isn’t even written up yet. Oops

Guess that’s another you shouldn’t do. When you get a great idea write it down, put it on a list. Do what ever you have to but don’t implement it straight away. If you do the list of things to do will never get done.

Simplify it
Man this article is becoming an embarrassment for me, just hope it helps you all. So on to my next point for the list of what not to do. Again my simple little idea for a movie and show website and again silly little me. I love developing things and I loved my idea, after all I’d been playing with it for the better part of three years now. I had tons of ideas for it, but forgot that every idea made the website more complicated then it had to be. Don’t get me wrong I’m still working out every idea I initially had for the site, but I’ve become a lot more realistic.

I’ll share a simple example with you. I had a pretty good database design (well I have to say something nice about myself every now and then). Then came my idea to add tracking information, I just had to know what pages got the most visitors. Doesn’t sound to difficult right? That’s what I thought as well, just a simple little idea for my supposedly simple little site. I didn’t stop to think that this would mean linking stats to every table in my database which would mean making more tables, more queries, more code, more complexity… Long story short: A lot more work. I should have realized that and simplified my idea.

Rebuilding back-end
So whilst I was working on my beautiful project I something kept nagging at me. I had used tables pretty much everywhere I shouldn’t have. Used them for styling, position and god knows what else. So I made a discussion rebuild the back end, ok no problem. Just a few hours work.

Lets just say I’m never doing that again. Its a nightmare working on the back-end for div structuring instead of tables and also working on adding more features. Never in my live did I encounter so much problems and didn’t knew where they came from. Not to mention I still haven’t solved one, but that can wait for a later post. So please don’t ever do that, I mean it!

What am i talking about
Have I gotten you interested, educated or well who cares at least you read the entire article. For those that are interested in seeing the release of the movie and show site check it out. Its not yet done, but everything there should at least work. Those of you who are interested in my failures visit the development site. But be warned the development site will not always work and might be down from time to time.

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