Hey, it’s Dave Bloom. This is the second post on this site (the first was a running list of perks that I’m keeping to convince myself and others that absolute minimalism in web-publishing is the way to go).
This is a train-of-thought post about the process of actively resisting the urge to curry favor with customers, either real or imagined, by adding feature after feature to a piece of software.
As I put the finishing touches on a version 1.0 of Text-Based, my mind is always buzzing with ideas of ‘what I’ll add next.’ This includes stuff like:
Colors! Backgrounds, foregrounds, accent colors. Maybe a paper-colored site. A snazzy businessy blue site. A pinkish background, like the Financial Times. Maybe green? Orange for Gingers?
Fonts! If it’s all about the text, you gotta give people a choice of a Google Font, right? Maybe I’ll pick a few options, like IBM Plex Sans or Lora or a nice Garamond for the résumé people. Oh, don’t forget Inter, the Helvetica of the new wave of web design. Speaking of Helvetica, maybe I should add that too.
Images! Sure, the site is called Text-Based and doesn’t allow imagery as a matter of principle, but cmon. What if a designer just wanted to show some portfolio-ish images in this tunnel of text? You’re gonna say no to all that business?
That’s what’s in my head right now. And I could stuff all these items into a roadmap and slowly work towards it with the support of my faithful, feature-salivating customers. Just think of the newsletter fodder!
But I’m not going to do that. For a few reasons.
The first reason I’m not going to add colors, fonts, and imagery to Text-Based is because those are decorative pursuits. The name of the game is text. This text that I’m writing now, even. If I had to think about picking the color of this website, I’d get stuck on it. I’d want to change it later. I wouldn’t be satisfied. What colors are available? Is it limited, or can I enter any value? If I can enter any value, how do I ensure appropriate text contrast for accessibility? What happens in dark mode? Do you choose a different color scheme for dark mode? If the color schemes are limited, how many do I offer? Do links stay blue on a blue site, or do they need to be brighter?
The same is true for type. If I offer a single custom typeface, why not offer every free typeface? Or a way to upload your own? Serif or monospace or sans or cursive? Can I offer system fonts?
Imagery too – and there’s just too many time-sucking gotchas with images to list here. Size, quality, cropping, positioning, alt text, performance, mobile uploads and management, filters, responsiveness, and the potential for people to upload butt-ugly stock photos makes Text-Based’s no image policy super compelling.