Mmmmm homemade cookies. M&M cookies. Thick, chewy cookies with lots of M&Ms. Delicious.
This past weekend, I spent three hours at Panera with my kids playing games. We had two new games to learn, so we had to play them each at least twice — once for practice and once for real — and if they are really fun, we play them a third time.
When my son couldn’t decide whether to get a chocolate chip muffin top or an M&M cookie for his game snack, I made the choice easy and offered to make M&M cookies when we got home. (If you didn’t know, they are just chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms used instead.)
But over the years I have had to tweak ALL of my recipes.
Why? I grew up in a family who liked crunchy cookies, and now I have a family who loves soft, chewy cookies. I had to adapt my recipes because over time, things change.
There are A LOT of different recipes for chocolate chip or M&M cookies. Even NPR published a post about the science behind creating your favorite chocolate chip cookie.
Everyone likes cookies, but everyone likes different variations of the same cookies.
Some like my parents, like them crunchy. Others prefer their cookies thick and chewy, or still sort of doughy. Some people like small bite-size cookies and others like big giant cookies. And, while we all may like our cookies made slightly different, the ingredients are very similar from recipe to recipe, and we all end up with a cookie as the final product.
Web design is pretty much the same thing isn’t it?
From project to project, or developer to developer the ingredients and tools may change, but in the end we all end up with a finished, working website. Each and every one of us has our own preferred ingredients we keep stocked in our homes for baking, and brands we prefer. We also have our own tools — measuring cups, spoons, bowls, and baking sheets. We even have our own processes.
Like I had to do with my son, it’s also up to us to empower our clients and educate them. That way they can make smart, confident decisions during the design and development process that they will be happy with both right now and in the future.
When making M&M cookies:
- My first step is to sort all of the M&Ms by color into separate bowls
- I then mix the wet ingredients, add in the dry ingredients (into the same bowl), and mix the brown M&Ms into the batter
- Next, I put the dough balls onto the cookie sheet and place each of the M&Ms on top, one color at a time, making sure they all have equal pieces of each color
- Finally, I add any of the M&Ms that are left to the dough ball in any extra space I can find and put them in the oven.
While I was sorting the M&Ms, Brian came in the kitchen and was bewildered. Why on Earth was I going to all of this effort to separate the M&Ms? Why didn’t I just dump the entire bag into the batter?
Then later, he came in to eat a finished cookie and was confused. Why did I go to the effort of separating the M&Ms to just mix them up again?
Yes, this is just like web design.
I have my way of baking, carried over from my mother, whom I now suspect made up this M&M sorting ritual to give us kids something non-messy to help with when we were little. It’s how I like to do it, how I am comfortable doing it, how I want to keep doing it.
I do things my way, but it’s not the only way, and others may critique or question my way.
Brian wasn’t wrong in suggesting I just mix the entire bag in the batter to save time. After all, the cookies would taste the same, they just wouldn’t be as pretty — and the visual appeal matters to me. I can’t imagine NOT arranging the M&Ms one by one on top of each dough ball!
The visual appeal matters to me in design too. Just like it does when working on websites. The design makes a difference in perception, experience, and conversion.
There are going to be times other people make critiques or suggest you change your recipe, or your design, or your workflow based on their preferences and experiences. Let them! You have the power to ignore it or to take action. Just remember that some feedback will help you improve your product if you’re willing to listen.
Yes, I could have used different ingredients to make my cookies crunchy. But I knew my audience.
My family likes thick chewy cookies, so I used my tools, knowledge, experience, and ingredients to alter my original recipe and make cookies I knew my family would love. Now if I were baking cookies to take to my parents house, I’d make crunchy cookies because that is how they like them.
Again, just like web design and development, every client that hires you to design a website is hiring you for your skills, talents, and expertise. They are hiring you to use your tools, knowledge, experience, and ingredients to build them a website they will love.
The tools and ingredients don’t matter.
Your family doesn’t care which brand of sugar you use.
They don’t care if you use glass or plastic measuring cups. They don’t care if you use real butter or butter-flavored Crisco. They care that they end up with a cookie they love — a delicious cookie that curbs their craving and will be gobbled up by their family with rave reviews.
Likewise, clients don’t care what framework or starter theme you use.
They don’t care if you do your mockups in Photoshop or Illustrator, or what you use to create your wireframes. They don’t care what tools you use design and build the site. What they care about is that they end up with a site they love — a well-built, quality site that meets their needs and will be loved by their clients and audience.
Just Make A Good Cookie!
When everyone else is talking about the cool tools they are using on Twitter, or they are touting their progressive coding practices with the most cutting edge technologies — don’t worry about it.
Don’t get caught up in belief that your cookies will be inferior if you don’t use a specific brand of vanilla.
Focus on your clients, on delivering a high-quality solution that meets their needs, and doing your best with the tools you know and are comfortable with.
Then, when hungry mouths aren’t chomping at the bit, experiment with other ingredients and tools, and if you like the results you create, add them to your pantry to use on your next project.