When I started writing this blog post, I couldn’t imagine anything that’s too embarrassing to ask a developer. I figured everyone had a pretty good idea what developers did on a day-to-day basis. The more I thought about it, the more I hit road blocks in trying to come up with questions that aren’t completely obvious. Then I talked to my wife. She’s been there since day one as I started my career as a developer, and she should have some really insightful questions. Speaking to her, I realized that she only has an abstract idea of what I do. It was an eye-opening conversation, and I realized that there’s a lot about being a developer that isn’t as apparent as I thought it was. With that in mind, here are 10 questions (with help from my wife) that seem too embarrassing to ask a developer outright:
Isn’t being a developer just typing on a computer all day?
We do plenty of typing. Probably more than your average person. To call it the majority of what we do would be a mistake though. We spend a lot of time debugging and triaging existing code while communicating with clients and coworkers about existing needs, as well as typing new code.
Is being a developer boring?
This is a pretty subjective question, and it really depends on your own personal view of things. For me, being a developer is really fun. Every task that is set before me, whether it’s debugging an existing set of code or writing new functionality, is a giant puzzle that I get to figure out. It’s like a bunch of interwoven quizzes that have more than one right answer.
How many programming languages do you need to know? Isn’t everything just HTML on the web?
Can anyone be a developer?
The only thing stopping someone from being a developer is their desire to do so. Anyone can learn to play music, draw, or catch a fish. Being a developer is no different. Whether you enjoy it might be, though.
What’s the difference between frontend and backend?
To put it simply: the frontend happens in your browser. The backend happens on the webserver. Occasionally, the two are used in concert with something like AJAX to pull up real-time information.
Can you design my website?
I probably could, but I wouldn’t really recommend it. Chances are, you would get a fairly simple website that doesn’t have the years of expertise that a full-fledged designer (like the experts we have on staff at Diagram) can put into creating a fully-functional site that provides an ideal user experience. It’s not that I can’t do it; I just think that there are better folks out there for the job.
Can you help me fix my computer?
I know this may come as a shock to some, but we’re often just as lost as you are when our computer or internet stops working. The only difference is that we tend to apply our developer’s mindset to the problem and either search on the internet for answers or try eliminating the obvious issues, like the computer not being plugged in.
Why can’t you just copy/paste everything?
Generally, developers try to abstract or pull out commonly-used pieces of code that can be copied/pasted and include them in a default library which we can use for every site we develop. The real work of development comes in creating functionality that is non-standard, meeting the specific requirements and solving the unique problems of each project we work on.
Are you always on the computer?
Honestly? Not really. Developers have interests across the board. Sure, some of us lean to the fairly geeky side of things, like Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Star Trek. For every one of those interests that we have, I guarantee there’s one that you wouldn’t think of at first. I play recreational softball, spend time with my family, and run amateur track meets in my spare time. Every developer I’ve met has a different set of hobbies that take them away from the computer. It’s only healthy to avoid burnout.
How do I work with you?
It never occurred to me that we would be hard to work with because I’m such a pleasant person! Of course, we’re just like everyone else when it comes to working with us. Communication is the key to success. If we’re not being clear about something, ask questions (just like these). Chances are, if something isn’t clear to you, it also isn’t clear to us, or we don’t have the full picture. The same thing applies to developers; we need to be just as honest when we’re not sure what the client is asking for.
At Diagram, we want to make sure our clients know that there are no stupid questions, so if want to know more about how something works, how we can solve a particular problem, what information we need from you, or anything else you might want to know, we’re always available to help. Do you have any questions for us about how our developers can help your website meet your business goals? Please contact us to speak with a web development expert, or feel free to share any questions in the comments below.