More often than not, people ask me, “Hey – what do you do?” I’m never really sure how to answer that question because I’m afraid that the minute I mention the word “programmer” they will zone out and immediately label me as some sort of ultra computer nerd.
Well, they are kind of right. If loving to write code makes me “nerdy” – then I am guilty of that. However, that is just a small part of a much bigger equation. See, I’m multi-talented. In my industry, I’m what you would refer to as a “Full Stack Developer” – that means that not only am I well versed in multiple programming languages, it means I also have an understanding of design, and user interface and user experience and any number of pieces that it takes to make software (or websites) function.
I just assume a large number of people out there just accept that there is a site like Google that spits out your search results, or a site like Amazon where you can type in something and buy practically anything you can imagine – but behind the scenes of these sites, there are people like me who are sitting at a desk day in and day out making sure that the site is up and running and that everything looks, and more importantly functions, the way that it should.
I used to spend most of my time on the design end of things – how a site looks, how you navigate through and what your “experience” on the site was. Believe it or not, a lot of thought goes into how you will use a website. Will you click on a button to get to the next page? Will you use a navigation menu? Will you type something into a box? It’s all part of my job – I’m thinking about you from the very start.
From there, I would start developing the framework of the site. Think of it like building a house. You start with a foundation – in this case – the idea of the site and what you hope to accomplish. From there, you sit down with an architect and go through the floor plans. How many rooms will there be? Do you want wood floors? Where will the light fixtures go? You can’t just buy a bunch of material and build a house – PLANNING is the first step, and the one that I tend to be more involved with these days.
My job is basically to figure out what we need to build that house, what the best way to build it is. Will we use concrete siding or aluminum? Maybe our concern is security – in which case, we might go with brick. The house building / web building metaphor does go nicely together. Why do you think they call them homepages?
So, I take my tools and I build that software, or website, or mobile app, or whatever you can think of that can go on a computer. At the end, you have a finished product. It takes teams of people to build this stuff. While I’m not quite like a foreman, I am a master carpenter, and I will make sure that I build your house with the quality you would expect from someone who has worked in the industry as long as I have.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what I do – it’s how I do it. I’m a problem solver, a creative engineer, someone who comes up with ideas and thinks of new ways to accomplish tasks. At the heart of it all, that’s probably 90% of what I do.
So, yes, while I might be a “developer” – I wear a lot of different hats.
Hopefully that helps. If you REALLY want me to bore you with details – buy me a beer and we’ll sit down and talk.