Frivolities

writing, reading, and making things
Opinion Essay

Complexity

I posted this over on my Google Plus profile, but thought I’d copy it here since it’s a typical “tamra musing” type of thing, and this blog is turning into my musing spot.

There are always some clients who say “but it was only a small change, how could it cost that much?” Conceptually small and time to complete the whole task are actually two different things, especially when you’re talking about any task that involves a modern computer.Doesn’t matter what OS you’re using, what webhost, what content management system, what software, or what database — in every project there are times you’re either looking at the interface wondering where the option you want is hidden, or staring at the screen watching a save. You need to bill and account for this time, the same way you need to bill and account for finding old projects that have been archived, tracking down the font that only this one client has ever wanted to use, figuring out if the license agreement on the piece of art/set of icons/website allows you to do what the client wants and has been paid for, and so on.Nobody wants to face it, but there are almost no “just a 15 minute small change” projects in the modern world. Systems and software have both grown too complex for that. When it takes you 15 minutes to figure out where in the interface the item you want is hidden, and another 15 to watch the system process your changes, plus another 15 to double check that your changes actually happened in the document or on the live website, you’re stuck in a world where a simple change takes an hour of billable time.

waiting for the system
Waiting for Godot…er, I mean the Amazon hosted store system to process a change.

Computers, operating systems, and software are all faster than they were…supposedly. But we keep adding layers of complexity that slow things back down again. Nobody wants to create or read an on-grey text-only web page now that we have CSS and screens capable of showing millions of colors, but those pre-1995 sites loaded faster on super slow dial-up than today’s modern sites do on ultra-fast internet connections.

Just a little something to think about for a Thursday.

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