Web creation: an art as well as a tech

I often come across see people say, "I'm too dumb to make a website," or "I wish I were smart enough to code a website". I want to talk a little bit about where this sentiment that building a website is something restricted to techies, nerds or 'very smart highly specialized people' - because it's just not true.

Growing up, I liked computers a lot and learned quickly how to use them. Still, I never considered myself a 'nerd' because I had learned that word related to very technical and specialized knowledge (passion?) about a specific topic. I romanticized the concept of tech nerds, and desperately wanted to be one, but I just didn't have that 'techie' knowledge.

I had friends who were real techies, you know, they spoke the lingo and used the terminal and everything. I never identified as a 'techie' in this sense. I didn't have a deep understanding of technology, but I still thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Most of my real hobbies throughout my life have been art in some way. I never really made much art to show for it, though. I can't really make visual art at all, I'm not good at it and I don't enjoy practicing enough to become good. I do like to write, but rarely creatively. I always had this itching feeling that I couldn't fully, adequately express myself in most mediums.

I realized after building my website that websites can be tools for art and self-expression. Regardless of what your preferred artform is, it's highly likely you can stick it on a website - you can even share it with friends.

How did website creation become so much more technical?

When personal websites were at the height of their popularity in the 90s-00s, the standards and expectations for creating a website were much simpler than they are currently. This is because these standards and expectations rose with the profitability of the tech industry. "Do you have what it takes to build a website?" became "Do you have what it takes to get a job building websites?"

You can still use these methods to create websites, though. In fact many techies applaud the use of "low-tech" static websites and call modern websites unnecessarily bloated and complex.

This is what I mean about 'websites nowadays': here's a flowchart I found of recommended technologies and languages to learn as a front-end developer, like, to get a job - every single item on that list is not required, but look at how agonizingly  overwhelming it is to look at. I have built more websites than I can count, but I've never used any of these tools. I can't get a job in the tech industry but I can build some bangin' websites.

I realize now why it's like this - as a consequence of most websites being highly profitable businesses, the field of web development has become a large, lucrative profession spanning hundreds if not thousands of frameworks, libraries, and other technologies.

This combined with the technological advances of how most websites are created nowadays led to website creation becoming a tech thing. I mean this in the sense that, if you were to search up a social community online that is focused on web development, you would get a very different community than the one, for instance, at the Yesterweb.

I knew there were non-techies out there, like me, who loved building websites but, also like me, stumbled around technology clumsily. I just didn't know where I would find them, what spaces they hung out in online, or how to reach out to them. So the Yesterweb was born.

Obviously, I am speaking here in a lot of generalities. Artists and techies are not mutually exclusive - I personally recently evolved into a hybrid between the two! Plus, lots of technologically skilled people enjoy creating art and using art to express themselves. But because website creation has inherently been 'absorbed' by the greater tech industry, there is a false notion that you need to be a tech hobbyist or developer in order to create and run a website.

How can we make website creation more accessible?

Part of the problem is that there's no widely-used terminology to separate the two. It's too wordy to say "people who are enthusiastic about, motivated by, and have time to tackle technical challenges" and those who are/do not. Much of my emphasis has been on the presence or lack of this specialized knowledge, but it's necessary because that perceived lack of knowledge is a huge deterrent to someone lacking confidence in their ability.

The internet needs more web-building spaces that don't have as much of an emphasis on technology. Some might call this limiting, but I would argue that limits are sometimes a good thing. Some don't have the time/motivation/interest on the tech part of things and just want to focus on the content that they put up, without relying on an exploitative platform.

One of my goals is to find a way to make building websites more accessible to the non-techies, who just hang out online and want a space of their own to cultivate. There are already great resources like straw.page which allow you to build things with no code experience, and even from a mobile device! Other tools out there are mmm.page and hotglue.me.

I've also been adamant about keeping a ton of webmaster tools in hope of helping give others access to resources that helped me the most.

If you're thinking of building a website, keep this in mind: HTML and CSS are much less complex than fully fledged "programming languages". Anyone can do it!

This article was created by Sadness