Flat modern illustration of young happy programmer coding a new project using laptop and tablet pc. Computer window with code behind him

7 Things Your Programmer Secretly Wants You to Know

23 Aug 2016 by Amanda Best

Fact: I am not a programmer. No, I am in marketing. And admittedly, we have this knack for driving developers bonkers.

We’ll have an incredible idea for customer engagement that we think is simple to carry out and cost-effective. Yet, our "easy" request is often met with a polite synopsis of 20 reasons why it will not work. Behind the scenes, the programmer is at the edge of their seat, jumping out of their skin, probably making jokes at our expense.

So if I have been the punchline of programmer humor in the past, what gives me the credibility to write on their behalf? Well, not long after learning about the historical disconnect between marketing and IT, I made it my agenda to win them over — admittedly to get them on board with my ideas. I’m not telling you my motives were unselfish, I’m just telling you the genesis of this journey to my seven findings.

What I discovered was, while most of the time it seemed like we were speaking completely different languages, we generally wanted to accomplish the same things. They too wanted to grow the business, with cost effective, agile solutions, with more efficient and secure processes.

I discovered that what I should have been doing was asking questions rather than jumping to requests. I should have been involving them in the “why,” and leaving it to my technologically savvy friends to tell me “how.”

Then, I married a developer. That’s when I gained a whole new respect for those in the trade. There are few people with the intense focus it takes to code well while denying themselves of fresh air, food, daylight and bathroom breaks than those in this profession.

It is important to note that for the purpose of this article, I will be using the titles Programmer and Developer interchangeably. There are however, some recognized nuances, and here is a good article by Skorks.com about the differences between programmers vs. developers.

So in light of National Programmers’ Day, happening on September 13, I want to help the world better understand the commanders of our tech platforms. From a recovering repeat offender, someone who has admittedly learned from experience:

There are 7 Things Your Programmer Secretly Wants You to Know.

  1. They’re not equipped to fix your printer.

    While there’s a high chance they can, it’s not actually in their job description. You see, when you call to tell them your HP LaserJet is out of ink, or about the ghost who is responsible for a perpetual paper jam, they are able to help you, but they likely have other revenue-impacting objectives to accomplish. It is important to recognize who at your organization, or with your contracted service provider, is dedicated to general IT help, versus developing software, websites and applications.

  2. They can’t make your app successful.

    They can build you a phenomenal application, but their skill level does not always determine the success of your technology. Supply and demand will primarily impact whether your product or platform is of value to your intended clientele. You will need to do a serious amount of due diligence prior to development. Once you have story-boarded and are ready to work with your developer, you would serve your business well to adopt a “pretotype” approach to increase the likelihood of engagement. To learn more about this, listen to our podcast with BlueMetal, an Insight company, and Microsoft’s 2016 Internet of Things Partner of the Year.

  3. Building a website does not equal leads.

    Creating a website is one of the first steps you should take when you’re ready to market your business, but the sheer existence of a published website does not mean the floodgates will open with new clients. Major search engines, like Google, are always implementing new criteria for how they rank web searches. Your developer can help ensure your website is mobile-friendly and “crawlable,” but they cannot guarantee your website will appear in the top search results . This will largely rely on whether the content of your website matches what your desired audience is searching for.

  4. They aren’t your password genie.

    I won’t go long into this one. Please incorporate a secure password log into your workflow. This is a practice in professionalism as well as adulting. A password-protected Microsoft Word document will do (just don’t forget that password), or a highly rated, password-keeping application or solution. To best illustrate this point and other valuable myths, two directors of IT sound off in this video.

IT Peer-2-Peer

Corporate IT myths and responses from those who believe them.

  1. Not every programmer is a good programmer.

    You may interview someone whose resume says they can code, and your cousin may have built a website for their online business in a few hours, but not everyone has what it takes to craft a quality solution. A poor programming job can be frustrating for another developer to pick up, especially when there is poor documentation. According to Forbes.com, a quality developer basically has to be a stickler for details; relentless in their pursuit of troubleshooting; skilled in math and science; and have a brain like a library that files information, knowing exactly how one change will impact another. For a more in-depth look at why becoming a good programmer is incredibly difficult and doesn’t happen quickly, read this article. Nonetheless, you can see by the chart below that the profession is in high demand. Forbes argues the need for more qualified candidates.

Statista: Number of software developers employees in the United States in 2010 to 2020 (in 1,000)
  1. Facebook, Google and Microsoft didn’t happen overnight.

    "Could we build [something that mimics Excel functionality] as an online product in a few months’ time?" I stumbled upon this hot topic on a programmer humor forum. While programmers or developers solve complex problems with automation, we often treat them like wizards with a magic wand.

    It’s important that we involve developers in high-level thought processes when considering new technology. There may be existing technology we can leverage, or we may not understand the financial implication behind what we are asking.

  2. Understand the programmer job description.

    Basically, it all boils down to this. Many of the problems with requests we submit relate to confusion about what exactly programmers do. So we’ve taken the time to highlight the main elements in a programmer job description:

    • The title has been used to refer to a software developer, web developer, mobile applications developer, embedded firmware developer, software engineer, computer scientist or software analyst.
    • The term “programmer,” can be considered an oversimplification in title, which has sparked much debate between those who would prefer to be recognized more specifically as analysts, developers or computer scientists.
    • Based on the ambiguity of the term, their role could include:
      • Testing and debugging software
      • Application or system programming
      • Developing software that can be web-based
      • Source code editing
    • In laymen’s terms, programmers know the necessary languages used for writing and fixing software, which look like symbols and typos to most of us. There are many different languages that can look very different but do the same thing.
    • Simply stated, these expert linguists make something difficult and foreign to most of us look very easy.

Cheers to these hardworking professionals, on National Programmers’ Day and every day. As JobTipsforGeeks.com says in their programmer’s anthem, “To those who solve the most complex technical problems in creative and elegant ways, yet are forced to distill their career for most people down to ‘I work with computers.’” Thank you, for all you do.