A few weeks ago, I’d planned a break from working on my client's site. Something too many of us forget to do. Usually, because we're trying to meet a deadline, or think we haven't yet earned a break.

It seemed I didn't fully prepare for this coming break, as the day I was planning to get back into the site, I quickly found that it... was... gone.

Yep, without a trace. But how? Was it not backed up? It can’t be completely ‘gone’, can it?

Eh, yes and no, it seemed. My MacBook had recently gone in for a repair and was inaccessible for 5 days. 1 backup down.

This lead to my Time Machine backup becoming obsolete, as I only had a Windows PC available during this time. 2 backups down.

A few months back I stopped using iCloud Drive. I didn't like the way it was set up; storing the files locally to allow access without a network connection. This often led to me being unable to run Adobe programs, as my hard drive didn't have enough scratch disk space. So I scraped it. Now I'm 3 backups down.

The dev site I had live for my client to access, was on a hosting service I’d just recently culled to move over to my own server. I also had a ton of backups on that hosting account. Although, they too became obsolete when I removed that service. My 4th (5th, 6th, and 7th) backup was also gone.

Most web developers are no doubt shaking their head about my process, and rightfully so. I’ve always loved building sites, usually for friends or for my own enjoyment. So I'd never considered the need to set up a proper process. I was eager to jump into this site that I’d overlooked so many critical factors.

Where's the positive?

After getting angry at myself for being so oblivious and ignorant, I realised something... It didn’t matter.

I built this site, I knew how it looked and how it worked. I had snippets of JavaScript I’d been sending back and forth to a friend for help. I had rough design mockups. I had all the pieces I’d need to Frankenstein this site back together, but that‘d be a hell of a mess.

Instead, I rebuilt the site. And it’s something you should consider implementing into your workflow. I’m still a young designer and an even newer developer, so my process for writing code was pretty messy. I’d add a piece here, then make a change there, and usually forget to remove irrelevant code. I had no element library in place, leaving the majority of my CSS duplicated. Rarely condensing the number of classes and lines of code.

I don’t think coding fast and on the fly is pointless. In fact, I find it can be a valuable piece of your workflow. Being able to make changes to the site in a couple of seconds, while sitting next to a client, is simply incredible. I now think of fast coding as using inspect editor in a browser. I think it should be used in the early stages of a project. Then building out a cleaner version, which in my experience, turns out better anyway.

Just remember; Your first idea is never your best!

It's a simple design principle taught at most schools, covered extensively across the web, and followed by major corporations. So why limit it to just design? Why not bring that principle into your development work too.