I’m not sure when I stumbled on the unfortunate idea that a large portion of the tech-illiterate population thinks that the internet is synonymous with social media. This is especially true if all someone uses their phone for is Twitter (not gonna call it X), Instagram or TikTok. I’m guilty of this myself! But as a web developer, I’m also aware of the vast richness that the web can bring and what a disservice social media is to how people view the internet. The web can do so much more!

Social media platforms merely deliver and distribute the inner-life of their users. In fact, without the user-generated content, these platforms would say nothing at all. Mean nothing at all. Imagine opening up TikTok to a blank video with no likes, comments, or users. What is there to stimulate the mind? Why open the app? The only “value” they provide is reach, since their toolkit for expression is subpar to even a plain HTML file.

The dream of the early web was a place where anyone could create and own their place on the internet — an irrevocable right to exist and be seen by whoever, wherever. At the time, the capabilities of the web platform were rather limited, so developers built tooling to support and simplify the creation of large-scale interactive websites and experiences. First, it was Flash, then JQuery, Angular, React and the whole shebang! We’re at a point where pretty much any user experience that can be implemented elsewhere is also supported by the web.

My gripe is that compared to the 2023 estimate of 4.9 billion social media users, only a percentage of a percentage actively look to the wider web to provide interesting and novel experiences. What you can find on social media is only a fraction of what could be achieved on a standalone website! This is immediately apparent for long threads on Twitter. The comments on any of such threads are spammed by people who want to avoid the horrible user experience of reading through 12 tweets stacked on top of each other, none fully expanding until you tap on them one by one to read.

A collection of tweets asking @threadreaderapp to "unroll this thread"

The point is, this could’ve been avoided by making a damn website, and I guarantee you that whatever was being said in the tweets could have been enhanced with links, captioned and carefully positioned images, a sidebar to navigate, etc. The web is capable of SO MUCH MORE than simply displaying content in such a rigid format, and my passion is to explore what’s possible.

If you’re like me and are driven to create great work — whatever form that takes — I beg you to consider tailoring a website to enhance the whole package of what you’re sharing with the world. Your art deserves to be packaged nicely! Presented as such, not simply as “content”. You can think of it akin to an album cover.

If you want to make a digital interaction touching on every angle to create a cohesive experience, your only choice is to make a website. Because the web can do so much more than social media.