The Clarity

I know this place has been quiet lately, but there is good reason for it. For the last month or so I have been putting the finishing touches on my web design and development process. It has been over two years in the making, but I now have a comprehensive method to efficiently and intelligently develop websites. It guides us through everything from the first client call all the way to launch day and beyond.

Getting to the finish line was a long journey. The first major obstacle was the collecting, organizing, and distilling of all the concepts and ideas swirling in my heads. Just getting that all in one place felt like a huge accomplishment. Then, I had to the sift through all the techniques, practices, and tools I had noted, bookmarked, and tabbed over the years. When I first started, I thought I’d be creating the type of process I read about online and in books, and had heard about at conferences. One that would revolutionize and modernize how I worked; it would pull me out of the stone age, so to speak, and transform me into a lean, top-tier web developer.Then reality set in.

The more I got into it the more I realized I had neither the people, long timelines, large budgets, or types of clients to become the next Mule, Clearleft, or Happy Cog. The final process is not exactly what I had initially envisioned, but it is exactly what I needed. Getting there required me to take a hard look at the realities of our situation. In the end the type of clients I work for, my other internal processes, and a host of other factors became what shaped the process, not what stood in the way of it happening.

I named this process Clarity. In part, because its goal is to give my clients a clear lay of the land when tackling a web project. The name is also a nod to what it took to design it. I had to clear my head of those grandiose preconceptions and let the pieces that were already in place reveal the type of process I would develop. I guess that’s lesson number one for anyone else on this same path: Design your process around what you have.

Obviously, I’m pretty proud of Clarity and I think there are a lot of people who can benefit from knowing what Clarity encompasses and how it works. In all my research for this project, I read very little about developing modern development practices without teams of web development specialists already in place. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say there are more of us out there learning as we tackle large projects than effortlessly gliding through another project with our team of highly trained experts.

I do not have the luxury of focusing on just one project, and “Web Developer” is probably just one of many hats I wear. With that in mind, I made the decision to do a series of posts that outline the entire Clarity process in detail. I want to show people like me that establishing, or modernizing your web development process is possible.

In creating Clarity, I’ve learned that the sharing of what I’ve created is as essential as creating it. I have a deep respect for the open web, web standards, and the general spirit of “share what you’ve learned” in the web development community. Jeffrey Zeldman, Eric Meyer, Mike Monteiro, Jeremy Kieth, Brad Frost, Chris Coyier, Karen McGrane, and Ethan Marcotte (just to name a few) have taught me everything I know. I certainly didn’t invent any of the concepts in Clarity. If they had not shared what they had learned, Clarity never would have happened. My hope in sharing what I’ve learned is that more of not in the mainstream of web development can establish our own processes and build better websites.