In modern web development we’re always being exposed to the next new tool, framework or shiny thing. As we develop an ever reducing attention span and an ever growing social timeline of new things to discover, we slip into the trap of lacking focus. I do anyway.

The landscape of the web has changed and so has the complexity of the sites we build. As I approach the end of a new site build, I realised this idea of priority has come up again and again. There’s only so much time to get the thing built, to get all the bugs fixed, to get all the code-style consistent, to get everything running as smoothly and quickly as possible. What’s the priority? Certainly in the early stages, I like to hammer out a component library and then attack each page in turn - starting with the most complex and ending with the simplest. Initially, my priority is to get everything done to the most basic standard as quickly as possible, then apply the design polish. The complex stuff gets done first and then I work on the details. This works for me but is just one way to approach things in the beginning.

However, as the project nears it’s final stages and there’s a list of tweaks and fixes to be done, this is where priority really starts to matter. Should I spend time trying to get rounded corners in old browsers? Almost certainly not. Should I make sure all the content is readable and all the forms can be submitted correctly? Definitely. It may sound obvious, but the act of making a list and putting it in order of importance can help keep maintain focus and ensure the most critical things like readability or data capture get addressed first. Interesting design features and clever code may be more fun to work on but are they the priority? Maybe the the issue is one of procrastination instead? Is it just easier to um and er about a 2px border rather than a 1px one? Making lists and tackling things systematically might not get your creative juices flowing, but sometimes, that’s the priority.

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