From a Programmer’s Perspective
Our life is pretty much surrounded by digital products; we use applications and platforms to wake up in the morning, plan our meals, do business, raise kids, build and maintain relationships, travel, have fun, learn…well, pretty much everything. As we interact with our favorite technology, we tend to forget that there are real people behind it. Not the persons with whom we interact, but the ones who built those digital products that are part of our everyday lives: programmers, designers, strategists.
Here, at ThinkOut, we rely very much on our development team; they are the reason we can offer a digital product in the first place. While there is much talk about how entrepreneurs think their strategies, how marketers manage to position and sell the products, how communicators and designers “wrap” them, there isn’t as much talk about how programmers relate the product development.
So we tried to get a sneak peak behind the scenes (the user interface) and understand how the world looks like in between coding lines. Our colleague, Maria, was so kind to share her thoughts:
When you first start building a product, what thoughts come to your mind?
Maria: New beginnings tend to trigger thoughts of enthusiasm and mental-visualizing of the upcoming success.
After those initial thrills, reality strikes and I try to make a plan of how to approach the project logically and incrementally, and what technology stack it fits better.
Do you ever imagine yourself using what you need to build?
Maria: I believe that as programmers we should always have in mind the question “what will the user say?”, to paraphrase a well-known quote. I specifically said ”will say” instead of ”would say” because I believe the mindset is not necessarily to imagine the user’s suggestions, but it aims to anticipate his immediate conclusions and feelings about the project. The emotions triggered by the use of the product and the user’s final conclusions are the key to a profitable project or a failure.
So, the answer to this question is definitely yes.
How much of yourself is in the final product?
Maria: At ThinkOut we are building the product together (contrary to the majority of the companies where the client dictates the visual form) so there were times when I could also get involved in the “looks” of the project. Also, since we worked quite modular, I won’t lie if I say that I feel some “affection” and tend to be over-protective with my work.
Have you ever wanted to talk to someone who uses what you’ve built?
Maria: Yes… if it’s a happy customer (laughing). I think it might be one of the best ways to find motivation.
Knowing that someone is really using something that I built is a great feeling but it also comes with responsibilities. The most important of them is to keep the customer content and to deliver quality code.
How much of your work involves creation?
Maria: Even if from the outside, a programmer work might look quite straightforward, mathematical and dull, it actually implies a lot of creativity. There are many solutions for the same problem and how you choose to implement it relies on your knowledge and background. Even if the implementation itself (lines of code) won’t be noticed outside the programmer’s world, this behind the scenes process will speak to the outside world through its results. Usually “quality code” generates ease-of-use, performance, and happiness to its users.
What was the greatest challenge that you faced?
Maria: The biggest challenges were the uncertainty and the constant changing of the specifications, but this comes naturally as part of adapting to what the users seek in the product. We learn a lot as we go and the key is to keep an open mind, stay flexible and adapt.
What about the greatest satisfaction?
Maria: Overcoming the challenges gave me a great satisfactory feeling. Another great moment was when people started using ThinkOut; it gave me a warm feeling of work recognition.
How do you relate to the ThinkOut platform?
Maria: It is the most important and complex project I was involved in and the one that taught me the most. That’s why I am very happy and grateful that I was part of it and, of course, that after one year of implementing the core functionalities I hope that at least a part of the bold scenario that we imagined, in the beginning, becomes reality.