As a web developer, I feel like most of us spend most of our time coding and writing more for robots than people. That requires a specific skill and talent because robots and people are different. Robots only respond and execute instructions if they are written exactly. People however, are able to understand something even if it is written in so many different ways. There is no exact way to express a meaning or thought. This means that we need to write differently for humans than robots. So this is why web developers should blog because it gives us a chance to express our ideas by writing something else besides code for a change.
Developers Need to Know to Communicate More
There is a common line of thinking that developers only know how to code and that we need someone else to translate our coding algorithm to humans. This is why many companies sometimes have a systems analyst who sits between the developer and the company as the liaison. The systems analyst or some similar intermediary position will often take all of the technical stuff that a developer writes and convert it to a format that a layman can understand.
Do We Need Intermediaries to Talk for Us?
Perhaps this is necessary because the developer’s time is dedicated mainly to coding. However, a developer who can communicate well is much more valuable and can perform the duties of the intermediary along with his own. For some reason, many think that developers are shy, timid and introverted. So they feel like we do not talk much and just want to hide behind a computer screen. That is the subject of the next topic.
The Introvert Assumption
I am not sure if this is cultural or if it really is the majority of developers. There is or maybe was some kind of assumption about the personalities of developers that they are mostly introverted. I have always found this interesting. We have to realize that in actuality, someone’s personality is composed of so many things in our lives. Our profession is just one part of our lives. This is how we make our livelihood. All of us have interests outside what we do for a living and many of these activities are not entirely introverted. Obviously, this is a person by person basis. Some developers are introverted, some are extroverted. Blogging can surely help those developers who need some help expressing their ideas to people instead of robots.
Developers Create Very Complicated Applications With a Lot of Technical Jargon
A lot of the assumptions being made about developers being introverted is because we write some pretty complex and intricate algorithms in our applications. Being very precise and exact with every line of code that we write is just how we are wired. As developers, we do not think of a particular action like opening a door or walking as a single step. Rather, the most basic of motor skills are considered as several steps. Let me show you an example.
How Does a Developer Think When Opening a Door?
- Take out the correct key
- Insert the key into the lock
- Turn the key either counter/clockwise
- Hear the lock unlock
- Grab the door handle with your hand
- Turn your hand to open the door
- Push/pull the door open
This is a very basic example and you can dissect this even further with more steps than just these. A normal person would just say, “You just use the key and open the door”. As you can see, a normal person has the main steps and does not bring up all of the little tiny steps in-between. Since we are developers, we consider every single step, and I mean every single step. Since we get so bogged down with details, we have trouble sometimes seeing the bigger picture.
What is the Bigger Picture that Developers Sometimes Miss?
I feel like as a developer, many companies only want us to know about the application only and nothing about what happens before and what happens after. What I mean by before and after is all of the stuff before someone uses your application and what happens afterward. This really depends on how large a department or team you are on. Larger teams means that you are siloed into coding and that is all that you know. Smaller teams or flying solo means that you have a higher chance of seeing the bigger picture. As developers, as we grow we need to make sure that we see the big picture because we need to know the role that our applications play in the grand scheme of things. This is why we do not want to be known as just a coder. We are meant for so much more than that.
What Do You Mean What Happens Before and After Your Application?
We need to know everything that happens before our part and what happens after. Only then will we know the big picture. What I am referring to is how your application fits into the bigger picture of a company’s goals. For example, let me talk about what happens before people use your application. Things that can happen beforehand would be things like, how do people get to your application? How do they use your application? Why do they need to use your application? What are the goals and purpose of your application? These are questions that are usually handled via a sales and marketing department and usually do not concern you. Just having some idea of how things happen before people get to your application is what I mean as seeing the bigger picture. Now let us talk about what happens after your application.
Things that can happen after using your applications are things like, are you collecting user data? Are you satisfying your user’s goals? What do you do with the user’s collected data? Do you conduct a post-application user survey? Again, more sales and marketing stuff. These departments will likely use the user data that your application collects and perform user outreach campaigns that will try to attract more users. These are just some questions that would be asked when knowing what happens after your application is used. So this is why I mentioned that knowing what happens before and after your application is used is important for seeing the bigger picture. You now know what goes into your application and what comes out of it as part of the business workflow.
Communication is the Key to Opening New Doors of Opportunities
This is why we should write more so that we can express our ideas in a way that makes us better communicators. Communication is a valuable skill that developers sometimes do not have because of the detailed nature of their position. From the example about opening a door, you can see how all of those steps can translate into code for robots. However, when you try to explain all of that to people, it might be too much detail for them. So this is why we need to learn when to summarize and just give enough to satisfy laymen and go into details when necessary. Blogging is good for developers as they can look back at their applications and learn how to explain their complex algorithm into normal terms that anyone can understand. When we impress people with our ability to not only write applications but explain them to anyone, then we become more valuable. This means that we will have more doors open for us that will grant us new opportunities. Newer opportunities broaden your view and scope of your profession and will allow you to see the bigger picture of a company’s plan.
Writing Helps Developer Explain Their Work In Simpler Terms
Writing helps developers express their work in not only simpler terms, but with a personality behind it also. Eventually, I feel that many developers will move toward this direction where they started just coding and that is all. As we get deeper into our careers, we learn how the corporate world works and all of the different positions out there to make a business work. This makes us see how many different kinds of people are needed to run an organization. We naturally want to grow, become better and learn new skills. So writing is great for us because many people think that we can only code and that is it. We are so much more than that. I would like to show how blogging can benefit bloggers.
The Benefits of Blogging
Blogging is good for developers because it gives them a way to do something that they normally do not. I think that we all benefit from doing something different with our lives. Then we take our new skills and relate it to our professions.
Expressing Ideas for Not Just Yourself But an Audience
When developers write code, they just write it for a robot according to a set of requirements and specifications. As I mentioned earlier, everything is already predetermined. You do not stray from what is already set in stone. So there is not much self-expression here. This lack of self-expression is why I can see how people think developers are so introverted. Now you can write articles on a blog and give a voice to yourself that is not bound to some requirements document. The great part about being free from a document that tells you how to do something is that you can express yourself not only to yourself but to an audience also. This is great as you can become more comfortable and relaxed. If you have long hair, then as the saying goes, “let your hair down”. I think that this is a great exercise for developers to think outside the box. Or in this case, out the specifications. Developers are people too. We do not just sit there and talk to robots all day.
Learning New Skills Outside Your Field
Blogging will be a new skill for some developers who only code. This is great as learning any new skills is beneficial to developers. Developers who blog will show their personalities and people will find them more interesting. You can learn a lot from people based on how they write. No one can read our code but they can certainly read what we write. So this is why developers should blog. Just the fact that people will see us as humans and not just people who spend their time with robots. Not that there is anything wrong with robots. We have a skill that a lot of people find difficult to learn. Really, programming is just a lot of math, that is all. We are math wizards but not the best communicators. So take your math skills and get into writing and become a math wizard who can communicate.
Blogging is great fun for developers to get into when they are not coding. You can write about whatever you want on your blog. The goal here is to show your personality and reassess the whole introversion assumption that people seem to think that we have. Companies often have someone in an intermediary role because either we need to focus on the programming or we cannot communicate our code well. I guess that there is this line of thought that since we build such complicated software that we would not be able to translate how it works to laymen. Then again, I do see how our skills are so specific and required that coding is really what we should spend our time on. Regardless of why there are intermediary personnel, we should still become better communicators.
Becoming better communicators with blogging means opening new doors of opportunities. The reason why is because some people just communicate and that is all. Imagine being able to communicate and write code. Blogging not only will make you a better communicator but also allow you to express yourself. This will help shed some layers of introversion off you. Introversion is good when you know when to use it. You need some extroversion too because people will like you if you are more approachable, out-going and interesting. This is the other part of blogging that you will learn.
So fellow developers, start blogging and see where it takes you. I am sure enjoying writing these articles on this blog. I hope that this article can not only be for fellow developers but anyone who does something really technical and needs something that can help them in their profession.