Web developers are a misunderstood lot. Everyone knows that we need them, but unless you speak the language of code, few people really understand just how demanding their job is. For example, if you go to your developer with problems about your internet connection, then you might need to have a longer conversation about their job description.
While development can be a rewarding career for the right person, it requires thick skin. In addition to being misunderstood, a developer has to be technical, detail-oriented, and cool under pressure. After all, you’re responsible for the performance of the client’s website (no big deal, right?).
To find out how to truly succeed at web development, check out the following tips. Some of them are aimed at freelancers, but they also apply to professionals in any environment, at any stage of their career.
(And for in-depth consultation on development services, read up on what Spinx has to offer).
Great developers are a kind of Zen master. Even in a hurricane of bugs and page-load issues, they stay focused. It’s important to be able to juggle multiple problems at once without becoming too demoralized by any of them. Is this always possible? Of course not! But having the power to persevere when the going gets tough is a necessary skill.
For instance, you will inevitably be hit with a bug at the worst possible time. Let’s say you’re at the precipice of a re-launch after working for months on a client’s new site; or maybe you just started a new job only to find that the prior developer left you impossible-to-decipher code that’s chock-full of errors.
Or the worst possible scenario: you finally fix one bug only to create another.
It’s times like these when developers need to take a deep breath and perhaps more importantly, fight the urge to throw things.
Document your work
While record keeping is one of the more tedious aspects of web development, it’s crucial to fixing errors (and saving your sanity). Always document your work. Just like any other kind of important project, you want to save your revisions along the way. Those bugs that threaten to undermine months of hard work? You can fix them by reverting to older versions of your files.
Using Git workflow software is a great place to start for saving multiple stages of bigger projects. Likewise, it’s a good idea to back up your files in other places as well, just to be safe. Dropbox is easy to use and relatively convenient, while Mac users can put Time Machine to work for them.
Saving may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many developers either don’t want to take the time or just simply forget. However, if you’ve ever experienced a headache-inducing bug, you should consider backing up your work in more than one place as you go.
Some developers prefer to work in a niche. One might just have a knack for the design and technical demands of, say, simple, no-fuss B2B websites. Meanwhile, someone else may gravitate towards the look and feel of a more daring, ecommerce operation. There are no wrong choices when choosing your client (especially given that the end goal is always the same: making money).
However, if you’re a freelancer, you should consider building a diverse portfolio of work. This will round out your skillset and make you a more dynamic candidate for future jobs. While you always want to deliver reliable work that the client is comfortable with, take chances whenever possible. Be original. Establishing a familiar signature for your design and development will help you rise above your competition.
Set expectations early with your clients
Some clients, while well-intentioned, just don’t understand the time demands of web development. A problem that seems minor to a client might actually consume your entire day, which is why you need to clarify your work before you start a project. Make sure they understand not just what you do in general, but what you’ll be doing for them specifically.
Based on their demands, create a contract (either formally or through email) that outlines your work, including time. Don’t forget to address common issues that arise, and how long they may take to fix. Be transparent and thorough so that there are no surprises.
You may even want to use a tracking system to show how long each customer request takes to complete. Additionally, as this article suggests, you should implement a help desk system for long-term projects. Tracking your time for each task as well as the performance of the website over time ensures that your client knows the true value of your services.