Essential web developer skills

Lazy man sitting on a sofa

Lazy Guy photo by David Clark (iStockphoto)

In the next few months we’re going to be gearing up to fill two posts (one replacement and one new post) to join the web team: a developer and an apprentice. So I’ve been thinking about a couple of things:

  1. What skills we are looking for in new team members?
  2. What skills do we already have that we’re maybe not using to their best potential within the team, or which have become a little sloppy and undisciplined that we need to work on.

I liked this comment in an article by Dan Frost on .net; it is point 6:

That search for ‘essential web developer skills’ brings a nice answer from Michael Greer (The Onion’s CTO) on Quora:

Laziness:
Refuses to do anything twice: writes a script or algo[rithim] for it.
Cowardice:
Thinks to test, worries over load and code impact.
Recklessness:
Tries new stuff constantly, launches same-day ideas.
Cowardice is a nice way of phrasing ‘attention to detail’.

“10 things web developers must know to become truly amazing” on .net

I remember a conversation years ago with an architect who said that he valued lazy people, because they showed him how to do things with the least amount of effort. It was from him that I also learned about cowpaths (“look where the paths are already being formed by behaviour and then formalize them”).

I like how Greer put it: refuse to do anything twice. Don’t repeat yourself; the DRY principle. Use frameworks, save snippets of code that you use often (my coding editor allows me to collect code snippets in an in-built library), don’t reinvent the wheel again and again.

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2 thoughts on “Essential web developer skills

    • I suspect that the writer of the original article that I quoted was being a little cheeky when he said laziness. I just looked up a dictionary definition of ‘lazy’ and it offered “characterized by lack of effort or activity”. So in that sense perhaps he was just about right: an unwillingness to do more than you need to do.

      When I was growing up there was an old architect used to go to the same church as me. He once gave me advice that I should watch out for the lazy people, because they often showed you the quickest ways to get from A to B; that was my first introduction to the idea of ‘paving the cow paths’: in other words, don’t fix things in stone straight away but wait for a while to see the paths that people (or cows) actually walk.

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