Monthly Web Development Update 92019: Embracing Basic And Why Simple Is Hard

About The Author

Anselm is a freelance front-end developer who cares about sustainable front-end experiences and ethical choices in life. He writes the WDRL, and is co-founder … More about Anselm ↬

Email Newsletter

Weekly tips on front-end & UX.
Trusted by 200,000+ folks.

What happened in the web dev world in the past four weeks? In his final monthly reading list, Anselm summarized everything you need to know to stay on top of things.

Editor’s note: Please note that this is the last Monthly Web Development Update in the series. You can still follow the Web Development Reading List on Anselm’s site at Watch out for a new roundup post format next month here on Smashing Magazine. A big thank-you to Anselm for sharing his findings and his thoughts with us during the past four years.

Do we make our lives too complex, too busy, and too rich? More and more people working with digital technology realize over time that a simple craft and nature are very valuable. The constant hunt to do more and get more productive, with even leisure activities that are meant to help us refuel our energy turning into a competition, doesn’t seem to be a good idea, yet currently, this is a trend in our modern world. After work, we feel we need to do two hours of yoga and be able to master the most complex of poses, we need a hobby, binge-watch series on Netflix, and a lot more. That’s why this week I want to encourage you to embrace a basic lifestyle.

“To live a life in which one purely subsists on the airy cream puffs of ideas seems enviably privileged: the ability to make a living merely off of one’s thoughts, rather than manual or skilled labor.”

Nadia Eghbal in “Basic”

What does basic stand for? Keep it real, don’t constantly do extra hours, don’t try to pack your workday with even more tasks or find more techniques to make it more efficient. Don’t try to hack your productivity, your sleep, let alone your meditation, yoga, or other wellness and sports activities. Do what you need to do and enjoy the silence and doing nothing when you’re finished. Living a basic life is a virtue, and it becomes more relevant again as we have more money to spend on unnecessary goods and more technology that intercept our human, basic thoughts on things.



  • Chris Coyier asks the question if a website should work without JavaScript in 2019. It breaks down to a couple of thoughts that mainly conclude with progressive enhancement being more important than making a website work for users who actively turned off JavaScript.



  • In our modern world, it’s easy to junk things up. We’re quick to add more questions to research surveys, more buttons to a digital interface, more burdens to people. Simple is hard.

Web Performance

  • So many users these days use the Internet with a battery-driven device. The WebKit team shares how web content can affect power usage and how to improve the performance of your web application and save battery.
Visualization of high impact on the battery when scrolling a page with complex rendering and video playback.
Scrolling a page with complex rendering and video playback has a significant impact on battery life. But how can you make your pages more power efficient? (Image credit)



  • There’s a new tool in town if you want to have a status page for your web service: The great people from Oh Dear now also provide status pages.
  • Bastian Allgeier shares his thoughts on simplicity on the web, where we started, and where we are now. Call it nostalgic or not, the times when we simply uploaded a file via FTP and it was live on servers were easy days. Now with all the CI/CD tooling around, we have gotten many advantages in terms of security, version management, and testability. However, a simple solution looks different.


  • Adrian Roselli shares why we shouldn’t under-engineer text form fields and why the default CSS that comes with the browser usually isn’t enough. A pretty good summary of what’s possible, what’s necessary, and how to make forms better for everyone visiting our websites. It even includes high-contrast mode, dark mode, print styles, and internationalization.

Work & Life

Going Beyond…


Smashing Editorial (cm)