On Building from Scratch

Needmore has been around for a long time. Ten years is an eternity in the field of web design! For the longest time, I was convinced that it was necessary to build everything from scratch.

At first, I’d even write the content management part from scratch in PHP. Just for that site. I’d come up with my own grid structure and CSS reset. Not just every pixel on the screen, but every aspect of the experience for our customers passed through my Mac.

Thing is, those sites were simple. And they were not easy to update. And we were not very profitable for us!

Over time, the industry as a whole has moved “up the stack,” you might say. We start all our projects from some baseline framework or another. We start with a base layer of code that makes our work more predictable and faster-moving. We can deliver a higher-quality product for less money. We can build things that are much more ambitious, in a similar time frame.

And lately, we find ourselves using commercial tools that we license as part of the product. And at first, I felt a little guilty about that. I felt that same familiar sensation of somehow not having complete control over the end product.

Yet I remembered how the iPod first came about. The small-form-factor hard drive that was required had just come out. The operating system had been built by another vendor. The name was an idea by a copywriter. Numerous other factors came together to make the device possible.

iPod Exploded

Apple, of course, contributed plenty. From driving the industrial design, to the actual user interface, to the marketing required to make the product successful, those aspects were what Apple brought to the table. But they didn’t build the product from scratch. They were building on the work of others.

If that’s what makes our websites special, I’m happy. Thousands of talented individuals have contributed to the pieces that we build upon. But it’s the final steps, bringing it all together and making sure it’s successful, that really sets our work apart. It’s the things you don’t see, like how we manage the project, or help to market the site, or the hundreds of decisions our team makes along the way.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, in order to build something “insanely great.”

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.