Getting the Most From Your Programmer

What we know well is easy for us to understand but the person sitting next to you maybe looking at you like you’re talking a foreign language to them.

Frank Deardurff

I talk to a lot of business owners and something I hear frequently from them is, “How do I get more from my programmer?”

Or “I hired a programmer, and I didn’t get the results I wanted.”

The thing is, it’s not your fault, nor theirs. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ll explain a little bit why I think that and, you’ll likely agree.

We all think differently, and we all have something we do extremely well. What we know well is easy for us to understand but the person sitting next to you maybe looking at you like you’re talking a foreign language to them.

Let’s just think about every day life. When your car starts acting up and you take it into the repairman, he asks, “what’s wrong?” You tell him it’s making this noise and you try to demonstrate the noise. This is followed by the mechanic asking, “what are you doing when you hear this noise” or “where is this noise coming from?”

The issue is not that the mechanic doesn’t know what he is doing but there is a communication break down. You don’t know what to tell him and he has no clue what you are trying to say. The very same thing happens when you hire a programmer.

It’s not that the programmer can’t do what is needed, the case is usually you’re making noises at him/her that doesn’t relate to an actionable item so they TRY to relate your noises into what they feel comes close to what you want.

As marketing webmaster, developer and graphic artist, myself, I’ve been on both sides of this conversation so I’d like to give you a few tips to help you get more from your programmer.

Working WITH Your Programmer

The first thing you need to remember is the programmer will do exactly what you ask them because that’s how they think. They are going to fulfill your request as you ask it, so don’t assume they’re going to know what you are thinking.

The next thing to realize is that programmers are not normally graphic designers nor do they usually design interfaces. With that being said, if you are wanting something to look a certain way, scribble it out on a piece of paper; you don’t have to be an artist but if you have form fields you want in a certain way or buttons and menus in a certain location, draw it out and take a snap shot with your phone or tablet and include it in your project description. Something else that will help you get the results you want is to diagram the process.

white printer paper on white wall

Again if it’s easiest for you to pull out a sheet of notebook paper and scribble it out, do it. Maybe it’s something simple, but don’t assume as they are not mind readers. For example, if you are working on a series that has a form on the main page, put a rectangle representing that page and then draw a line to the page you want it to go to next, like the thank you page. Maybe it doesn’t go to a thank you page but instead a confirmation page followed by a download page or a video page. By clearly outlining, you have a better chance of getting the result you want. Also don’t expect more than you’ve asked for.

Finally, I would suggest making sure your programmer is clear on your target date for completion and make sure that is truly reachable.

Set check points in place that give you reassurance progress is happening. That could be as simple as letting them know you expect a daily/weekly email of progress or schedule a weekly Skype call to talk about progress and challenges.

One additional thought is to talk with someone that understands the process. It may be worth the time and cost of a short consultation to discuss how you ask for the things you need from a programmer. Just having everything in order could save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.

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Frank Deardurff

An early love for graphics brought me online over 20 years ago which lead me to consume a vast knowledge in marketing, conversion, design and various types of web technologies. That information led to becoming a serial entrepreneur, author, coach, trainer and That One Web Guy! www.FrankDeardurff.com

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