I started 3hv way back in 2006.
I was using this new-fangled Ruby on Rails to build web-based software and Web 2.0 was all the rage.
Now, Ruby is still my favourite programming language, but the world around us has changed.
The best way to build a traditional website, at least for most small to medium sized organisations, is WordPress. I’m amazed at how capable WP is, and how it’s grown from a small toy application into a platform for publishing.
The best way to design a website is to do a rough sketch and then build it directly in HTML and CSS. Photoshop and those other Adobe tools are redundant and it’s a massive waste of everyone’s time to build pixel-perfect designs and expect them to work on the web. There are just too many variables nowadays, not least the huge range of DPIs that you need to deal with (from 72 to 450). Photoshop is great for paper, where you know what the target material will be. With the web, you’ve never really known what the target will be, and today’s proliferation of devices just brings that home.
Rails used to be the first choice of the single freelancer or tiny agency (like 3hv) working for a small company. Agile, nimble, get something up and running quickly and keep it well engineered. But now Rails is used in huge organisations (the NHS and Capita being two with whom I’ve recently spoken) and the price of Rails developers is so high it would be irresponsible to recommend it to small organisations. Likewise, building web-sites and converting designs to HTML is priced so low, it’s not possible to make a living in this country without being able scaling to many jobs at once – which in turn means managing a team of developers, account management and a load of stuff I don’t really want to do.
But most of all, the nature of how we access things has changed. Now you pay the gatekeepers, Apple, Google, Amazon, to get things published. Proprietary tools, controlled platforms. The total opposite of how things were eight years ago.
So it’s time to say goodbye to it and close down the company.
Most of the team here (amongst them Nabin, Mahhek, Vadim and Chandra) are in the process of moving on, or have already started elsewhere.
Personally, I’ll still be Ruby programming, building and designing databases and managing servers on a day-to-day basis. I’ll keep any hosting running (part of my new found enjoyment of systems administration) and I’ll always help out my previous clients where I can.
I also know enough about web-sites, user-experience, site structure, landing pages, on-site SEO and WordPress customisation to be able to advise you if you have a new project.
But I’m not interested in converting people’s designs, building web-sites or coding WordPress plugins. It’s not what I enjoy and it’s not what I do a great job at.
It’s been quite the eight years, but there’s no point looking back.