Pixel perfection is not good enough anymore
...and hasn't been for over a decade.
It randomly dawned on me this morning that in today's day and age of professional software product development at a start-up, being able to code up the frontend UI of your product to near-pixel-perfection is just not valued that much anymore. We're not making webpages anymore. We're making a product.
I struggled with this realization a few years ago when I joined my first start-up.
When start developing a site, I instinctually think that users will make their initial impressions on your product based on the UI first, so I have to make it look good first and foremost. (Obviously the product and its UX also have to be good in order to be deemed a good product, but that takes a bit more time for the user to realize after the initial visual impression.)
I come from the school of taking pride in being able to use
<table>s to build a pixel perfect page back in the day. Yes yes, boo on
<table>s, they're so 20 years ago!, but I'm still proud of being able to swiftly make my pages pixel perfect and responsive with all sorts of magical markup and scripts and CSS, while adding my own intuitive touches to fill in any missing parts of the design.
I'm aware that this practice of spending too much time to make pages look good (in addition to making it function properly, of course) is just not practical for a company that prefers an iterative development approach. I suspect many other companies operate this way as well. I understand. We need to be moving faster, get feedback sooner and keep iterating until the UX is more perfect in improving user engagement or reducing churn. I totally get it. I just have some bad habits.
I've let go a lot, not trying to get the UI/UX perfect before putting it up for review in front of other people's eyes. I need to hide the pain whenever I hear feedback that "X is off", "X doesn't look right". Yeah I know! I was gonna fix it, but that's not the point of this review cycle right now!
But it also pains me to see that some parts of the UI of our product on our consumer platforms has some ..off-ness. Seeing weirdly positioned or proportioned objects on our apps that are in our customers hands tickles my OCD to no end.
I've also been trying to come to terms with accepting that perhaps most users don't actually care that the pixels are off! 😩 That must be it! Because customer feedback and reviews never say that component sizes are wrong or a page is ugly. It's the functionality that affects them 💯 . And it's always been this way.
If I don't have any pixel perfect pages to delight users and to take pride in anymore, what do I have left to offer at this job?!
Worry thee not, I do have lots of other things to offer at my job, especially experience. I just get a little sentimental sometimes, reminiscing the ..simpler days of web development. Plus there are still opportunities here and there for me to tinker on less time-sensitive things and make them pixel perfect. 😊