The Best Web Developers Are Lazy (That’s a Good Thing)

The Origins of My Laziness

I finished my first major website back in 2014. It took three months of nonstop work. These days I build higher-quality, more complex sites in around 40 hours.

My secret? I learned to be lazy.

Now, don’t take that the wrong way. I’m working harder than I ever have, but my productivity as a developer has increased exponentially over time because I implemented a zero-tolerance policy for wastefulness.

In code speak, everything I do now is as “DRY” as possible.

What’s DRY?

I built many of my early sites using pre-made WordPress themes — and although they looked great initially, I quickly discovered how much redundant work was required to “hack” them into a format that fit my clients’ specific needs.

It’s not so bad adding a hundred food menu items until you realize that the layout of these menu items needs to change — and you have to go back and manually edit every… single… one.

This is both financially and mentally untenable for clients and developers, which is why I follow the DRY mantra…

aka: “Don’t Repeat Yourself.”

A Very DRY Example

Custom-coded websites provide excellent opportunities for implementing DRY processes. For example, instead of trying to update 100 menu items, I can create one template that accepts the minimal amount of information from each item (title, price, description).

In the backend of the website, my clients can simply fill out this info and it gets rendered by the template in a consistent, visually appealing format.

If my client asks me to alter the appearance of these menu items, I can make the change once in the template — and voila — it will take effect throughout the entire site, everywhere they display.

Where DRY and Lazy Meet

I think “laziness” gets a bad rap because it’s associated with present-tense laxness — i.e. “I don’t want to do the dishes right now.”

But to keep moving forward as a developer (or as any professional, really) it’s essential to have a lazy attitude toward the future.

Take Molly, for example, a fictional kid in GE’s Inventing commercial who really doesn’t want to take out the trash.

Once is enough, it turns out. She decides her brainpower can be put to better use and creates a pulley line to handle the job for her… which leads to more inventions and eventually a job at GE.

Wrapping Up

It’s weird to say, but I think laziness is probably one of the most important drivers of innovation in the world.

Like Molly, most web developers (and people, in general) don’t want to get stuck doing menial, repetitive tasks.

We’re all lazy—in the best way possible—and that aversion toward monotony is what motivates us to keep creating brilliant, creative solutions to challenges. Because even the smallest amount of extra effort now can pay off a hundred fold down the road.

Small BusinessAndrew Folts