8 Things You Should Never Say to a Web Developer

By BrainStation October 9, 2018

Hiring a Web Developer? Working more closely on a digital project? There are a few things you should keep in mind. 

Whether it’s tossing around terminology you don’t really understand or casually undermining the value of their work, there are certain things that will leave a Developer shaking her or his head.

How do you avoid that? Here are eight things you should never say to a Web Developer

“I could do this myself if I had time.”

Perhaps you have some programming experience, or you believe you possess a great eye for web design – regardless, if you’re not a developer, you can’t do a Developer’s job.

This kind of condescending attitude is most common when negotiating. But some Developers have even heard a more insulting variation: “I could get my teenage daughter/son/niece/nephew to do this for half the price.”

“That’s great. Go hire your nephew,” vented Amy Masson, the co-owner of Sumy Designs, LLC.

“We are professionals, and while your nephew may be great,” she added, “don’t compare your Developer to a 15-year-old computer geek.”

“Can’t you just re-use this section?”

If your Developer is suggesting a new approach, there’s probably a good reason (which can involve any number of design or coding issues, both now and for the future).

By asking this kind of question, you’re discounting their creativity and essentially signaling that cost and speed are more important than building a quality digital product. A better approach would be to ask why they’re recommending certain changes.

“Can you take my website and keep it the exact same, but transfer it to a new CMS?”

This strategy – where a website is dragged from one CMS to a new one without any modifications to front-end code – is often called the “lift and shift.” Developers hear this request frequently from clients who believe it will be cheaper and more cost-effective.

In fact, transferring content from one CMS platform to another is a far more complex and potentially problematic process than most realize.

“Migrating content from one CMS platform to another requires the consideration of a vast number of variables,” wrote Adam Trissel, SVP of Technology at HERO.

“First, there is a significant possibility the URL structure of the content will change. Internal relationships defined as hyperlinks must be rewritten. Leveraging the authoring capabilities of the new platform will require refactoring the content. Lastly, you will need to review the CSS and JavaScript to determine if they can be migrated to the new platform without changes.”

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

Given that few of the people asking for a CMS migration actually understand the time-consuming nature of it, another problem tends to arise: totally unrealistic deadlines.

“Just upload it to the cloud.”

It might be tempting to throw around buzzwords (“the cloud”) or programming languages when talking to a Developer,  but it’s easy to look foolish in the process.

As an example, Java and JavaScript are different, and according to the 2018 Stack Overflow Developer Report, JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language among developers – 69.8 percent utilize it – while Java is used by only 45.3 percent.  

Similarly, the uninitiated could quite easily confuse C, C++ and C#.

Another issue is that non-Developers sometimes have a hard time differentiating between different roles. Some struggle with the difference between Front-End Developers and Back-End Developers, and might innocently use a term like “Front-End Designer.” In reality, all Designers are focused on the front-end.

There are many potential pitfalls like this, so your best bet if you want to avoid making your Developer’s eyes roll? Don’t toss around language you don’t understand.

“How about adding an autoplaying video/Flash animation/a pop-up?”

Just going one-by-one through these specific suggestions: videos that autoplay are annoying; Flash is on its deathbed and will be extinct in 2020; and pop-up ads deteriorate your user experience.

But more broadly, it’s just best not to dictate design elements to your developers – unless you’re a Developer yourself. 

Your Developers know best which elements will help your digital product stand out, and which will leave you looking tragically outdated. Trust their experience.

“Can we hide this information in a hamburger menu?”

Hamburger menus can be occasionally effective on mobile devices, but on desktops, they have been found to cut discoverability almost in half, while task time and task difficulty both increase.

In fact, Nielsen Norman Group’s study found that hidden navigation even provides a worse user experience in mobile phones, across any number of UX metrics.

“Can’t you just quickly turn this into a mobile app?”

Of course not. It takes time to develop an app – especially a good one.

App development company NineHertz found that it takes almost 18 weeks on average to develop a mobile app. For more complex, highly multifaceted apps, that number jumped to more than 900 hours.

Implying that your Developer can wave a wand and create an effective app will make you look a little ignorant – or just indifferent to quality.

“I’m locked out of my email. What can I do?”; “Can you fix my printer?”

It shouldn’t have to be said, but your Developer is not there to provide IT support.

The answer to all those questions will be no – or perhaps something a little less polite.

Looking to learn more about web development? Find out more about BrainStation’s Web Development courses.