Business Catalyst needs a hero

I’m applying for the job, If you’ll take me.

This is not self-promotion. I promise. I'm not asking for your business. Just your ears. I want to help make a difference for the BC community. If you walk away from this with nothing more than some food-for-thought, or a desire to hear more of my ideas, I accomplished all my goals.

The truth is, I’m passionate about Business Catalyst, not just as a platform, but as a community of close-knit creatives and marketing professionals who strive to help each other succeed.

Business Catalyst as a platform is nothing to ignore either. It has some of the best tools in the industry to help creatives succeed in the web business. I’ve talked about this in a previous post, so I won’t go into detail.

But there are challenges. I notice them, and because I care, I’m going to talk about them, and try to help out wherever I can. I think that’s what heroes do. They ride in to save the day, sometimes in an unpopular way. I suppose the smart ones wear masks. That way they can still walk around town afterward. I don’t have one, so perhaps I’ll offend a few people. That’s not the intention. My intention is to plead my case for reform. But if in doing that, I do offend a few, then so be it. I value candor.

We have a large group of untrained web professionals.

I’m not accusing anyone, just pointing out a problem. Many Business Catalyst partner recruits are first-time web developers/designers, coming from a graphic design background. They arrive on the promise that they can build websites without writing code.

This isn’t a fair promise. There is absolutely no escaping code in web design, and thinking that you can is simply going to stunt your necessary growth in the field. Coding (speaking of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) is where 90% of web design exists.

I’m sure we have a large majority of BC partners that use, or have used, Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator at a professional level. To those who fit this description, I ask you, have you ever seen someone who got a copy of Photoshop and starting calling themselves a graphics pro? I have, and I’ve never seen so much use of the clone tool! Because you're a pro, you know that there is a hard road to walk, and a lot of tools and theories to learn before they can really call themselves pros. The same applies to web design. We need to really get to know our tools and learn some best practices before we can call ourselves web pros.

So what should we do?

I can’t stress enough that HTML and CSS should be learned thoroughly. They are our friends (not food?). You might argue that you are a designer, not a coder, but you will be missing out. My background is graphic design. I ran a small ad agency, and design was the center of everything we did. I love design. And that is exactly why I love CSS so much. 

CSS is an incredible tool for the designer. It didn’t used to be. A lot of the cooler things have come out in the past 5 years. But now, the sky’s the limit. There are also many great resources for learning it. Here are a few:

As for learning HTML, it’s honestly very easy to learn. It’s also part of the design process. In designing a brochure, have you ever divided your page into thirds to help you achieve the golden section? Or have you drafted boxes onto your page to help with layout composition? HTML is all about two things: layout, and accessibility. Mastering HTML and along with it some web design theory, will go a long way toward making your sites beautiful and effective. It’s also faster to design websites with HTML and CSS than it is with tools like Muse—after you get it down.

Once you have mastered the basics, opportunities begin to open up to you. All of a sudden, you can take on that job that used to scare you. You also find yourself doing more of your work, and only subbing out the really nasty parts. Or, if your goal is to sub out your work, you’ll know enough to help you find other pros, and to check the quality of what is being returned.

Mostly you will find that you are more satisfied with your work. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most, anyway.

Applying for the job.

I mentioned I want to be your hero. If you choose to allow me, I'll fight well on your behalf. Here are a few of my goals:

  • establish standards
  • promote a more educated and skilled partner environment
  • put an end to template addiction (teach the delicate balance of templates vs new)
  • build a BC developer community that is distinct from the design community, helping to inspire focus, invention and collaboration
  • help BC enhance and/or modify the parts of the platform that hinder front-end site framework building

I'm sure some of these ideas will be unpopular at first, but I'll try to persuade you. It's your success I have in mind.

Do you have comments? Questions? A bee in your bonnet? Let me know in the comments below. I'll respond. I'll also respect your point of view.

Adam Cook

Post Date:
Thursday, November 14, 2013

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Blog posts, discounts and updates. Oh my!

Note: If you are not a Business Catalyst partner who wants to build better websites faster, you should reconsider subscribing. Because that's all I do and write about. Otherwise, this is going to rock!

Blog posts, discounts and updates. Oh my!

Note: If you are not a Business Catalyst partner who wants to build better websites faster, you should reconsider subscribing. Because that's all I do and write about. Otherwise, this is going to rock!