Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

As a developer, I see designs and decisions that often leave me shaking my head as a user.

I’m sure every developer has felt the same, but we rarely speak out. This is only letting the problem get further and further out of hand.

They are everywhere! Take ‘sharing’ buttons. A recent poll on a favorite site of mine (http://css-tricks.com/), found out that over 60% of the sites users never, ever intend to use these. This is something that can have a slight impact on load times, which I would argue is much more important, to something the majority of your users have no intention of ever using. Amazon did a test, and found that even lowering their page load times by one hundred milliseconds could cost revenue. To me, share buttons are almost no different than ‘hit-counters’ a decade ago. Have YOU ever shared anything from one of these?

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Another that’s close to my heart, as I prefer to use a keyboard to navigate the web, (I use a mouse as little as possible. I work at a computer all day, and no amount of ‘ergonomic’ positioning saves my wrist from hurting if I have a ‘mouse heavy’ day) is what’s known as a ‘vanity request’, like;

* {

outline: none;


If you’re a developer, I’m sure you’ve seen this one. It’s great. Some designers ‘vanity request’ just completely broke the site you’re trying to use. Can’t do jack! But hey those pesky outlines are gone! Don’t worry about those with accessibility needs either! They don’t even use the web!

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

We need some kind of ‘internet police’ that regulate this stuff, because if we as developers actually make a stand, it might cost us our jobs, and I like having food. But these kinds of requests or even worse decisions need to be reined in. No one should be able to remove functionality for an entire group of users because someone thought it looked bad, and that it was a good idea. The list is endless.

Target=”_blank” – who thought this was ever a good idea? Why do I want another window (now tab with modern browsers) opened? Is it some desperate grasp at retaining me on your page? I can right click and ‘open in a new window/tab’ just fine thanks, if that’s what I want to do.

In your next project, please, ask yourself not if you can but if you should.