Like Me? Follow Me.
All joking aside it is an important question. We developers are a weird bunch, hanging around in dark damp places such as basements, snooker clubs and under bridges. For most of us this strange mushroom like behaviour leaves with quiet and often self-loathing personalities. This inevitably makes it hard for the project managers and designers we work with to suss out what we actually want. Never fear though, I-COM has the solution...
So, how do you get the best out of this strange creature?!?! Well first you have to understand it. A developer at work is always looking to achieve these few things:
- Scalability - websites which grow with companies.
- Security and robustness - idiot-proof websites that can't be broken by a confused user or a naughty hacker.
- Efficiency - reusable solutions and fast running code
- Elegance - simple well thought out solutions for real problems
- User experience - websites that are easy to navigate and fun to look around and use.
If a developer can have all this, hassle-free, for every project, you'll be looking at some good work, and the developer would be one happy bunny. Unfortunately this is rarely the case.
Points two and four can be done with zero/minimal intervention from another member of the team (PM or Designer). However, the rest of what we do heavily relies on information and assets from other members of the team.
For many software companies, point five is a 'nice to have' in most projects, and as a consequence will be left till last in-case of any problems with delivering on time. This is a shame because it is the bit that people see on a working website, but the website has to be working correctly and securely before it looks nice.
A developer will try and do the above with every project; in order to get the most out of him you need to keep him well oiled with plenty of lovely information and assets. However, unless the software company is a one-man-band, providing plenty of information and assets is going to be a problem. Simply put, no one can expect a PM or Designer to look at a project in the same way that a developer would! The best way to get around this is to provide as much information as possible to your lovely developers. Preferably everything!
It's hard to say what information a developer is going to need for a given project but I can guarantee if you guess at it you'll get it wrong. It never seems like much has gone wrong because developers are very adept at making the best out of what they have (plenty of practice you see). Don't let this detract from the point! If you tell your developer as much as you can, give him half an hour to look over what the project needs, where time-savings can be made, time to cook up some elegant solutions, make sure all the assets are sliced and available... you'll end up with a better product.
I like to sum things up in a nice short metaphor so here it is:
"You can have your cake, you can eat it too. But if want to enjoy it you better get the right ingredients together first!"
Stop messing about; start doing things the I-COM way.