Unnecessary Wastage

One of my biggest bugbears as a CEO of a small company like PiggyBank is wastage. Being a start up, we don’t have huge pots of money like a big corporate. So every pound really does count. This means that we are incredibly focused on efficiency, accounting for time and making sure that every minute that we are working is productive, effective and focused.

In house we keep meetings to an absolute minimum, don’t send pointless emails and use productivity and time management tools like Basecamp, Trello and shared documents to help keep collective focus.

So when situations arise, totally out of our control, which cause us to waste time, I get very frustrated. My big frustration at the moment is the lack of uniform display standards around the different browsers.

Why do certain elements of our site look different in Firefox for Windows and in Safari and in Chrome and in Firefox for Mac etc? Why are there not uniform standards across the board?

Although I’m not a techie, I do have a pretty good knowledge of what the technical community as whole is like. Although this will make me a little unpopular both internally and externally, techies can be difficult. They know what they like, they know their methods and they are reluctant to change for anyone. Want to see what I mean, get a .net and a PHP developer in a room with a brief to produce a website, and listen to them debate. Wow…

The only reason I can see for the difference in standards is because of stubbornness; every team thinks their way is the right way.

Below are the latest browser stats for Browser usage in the UK from W3 Schools:

2012 IE Firefox Chrome Safari Opera
July 16.3 % 33.7 % 42.9 % 3.9 % 2.1 %

Here at PiggyBank, we are great believers in the 80/20 principal. Therefore we decided to not support IE 6 or 7, Firefox 11 and below and Chrome 18 and below because of the relatively small usage. And the only reason we are so conscious of Safari performance is because our board all use macs, plus the huge iphone and ipad usage, so it needs to look good.

But even with this decision to only support relatively new browsers, we still encounter cross compatibility and styling issues.

To understand the scale of this problem, we have been measuring the amount of time we have spent fixing cross browser issues over the past 20 working days. We have found that 27 hours of the past 600 collective hours have been spent fixing cross compatibility bugs. This equates to 4.5% of our developer’s and designer’s time.

4.5% on something that is avoidable!! Scary statistics.

And this is just for one tiny tech start up in a small town in Hampshire. What are the wastage stats for the whole of Hampshire? Or the whole of the UK? Or the whole of the World? How much time and money is being wasted on development and design resource to fix these cross browser issues? Think of how much more time could be spend on innovation and pushing digital forward if the top four browsers agreed on uniform standards across the board…

I genuinely believe that what is perceived by designers, devs and marketeers as a mild annoyance, is seriously hampering the future development of the technical industry and must be hampering the speed of growth for online.

Every CEO, business leader and senior manager should be asking ‘why’? Why are we having to spend some much time on this? Why is this avoidable issue costing my business money? Why are my team having to cross browser check when they can be making my site better?

But for some reason, they aren’t asking ‘why’. This wastage is seen as par for the course with web development.

But why is that?!

So Mozilla, Google, Microsoft and Apple, over to you.