I'm a Developer, But You Can Call Me Marketer, Problem Solver, Wizard

I’m a level 10 human wizard.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “What?  Based on recent game patches, clearly the best class to use is a dwarf bard.”

Well, in that case, you’re wrong.  Wizards get stuff done.  They use spells to climb walls, summon floating discs, throw fireballs and unlock doors.  There’s a spell for everything!

Nerdy analogies aside before I lose half the audience – I’m a web developer.  But the analogy is beautiful.  I once heard a co-worker say I rolled over to her desk, clicked a couple buttons and solved the problem she was having.  You’d think I have some kind of mystical powers.

And after a fashion… it’s true.  We create entire digital pieces of art using only a text editor and a keyboard. If you ever look at the code of a lengthy web app, you might think it’s gibberish.  If you don’t understand what you’re looking at, then it might as well be mystical runes and incantations.

jQuery(document).ready(function() { alert(‘I cast’ + spellName + ‘at the darkness’); });

Mean anything to you?  If so, congratulations, you know both the jQuery library and an obscure reference to an old Dungeons and Dragons skit.  Doesn’t mean anything?  Awesome!  As far as you know, it could be an ancient recipe for turning straw to gold.

But web development is more than just knowing scripting languages and HTML markup.  Anyone can learn that, given enough time.  The critical component is the willingness to learn.  Web development takes into consideration so many different aspects, it’s impossible to just say “I know it,” because what you need to know changes almost on a monthly basis.  Working at Symmetri, I must know: Photoshop, HTML, XHTML, XML, PHP, HTML for email, linux, apache, security best practices, Mac OS, spam laws, and the list goes on and on.

Why? Because on digital projects, the clients’ needs, the account managers’ requests, the designers, the copywriters, the social media folks, everyone involved in a project ? all funnel down to me.

If I don’t know how to do something, I’m worthless if I’m not willing to figure it out.  That constant need to learn new things reconfigures the brain of a developer to be more in line with the brains of engineers and scientists.  It makes us learn new things.  It makes us view everything as a problem to be solved.

So what’s the advantage here?  Why is it important that I’m talking about web development with you?  You, who are likely employing an agency in one fashion or another and don’t care how the work gets done so long as it gets done?  Why is it important to have an agency with a staff of developers rather than agencies that simply contract digital work out?

Well, to paraphrase my favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson:  Some people, when faced with an impending asteroid hitting the earth, will panic, alert the authorities, pack, and run away.  Engineers and problem solvers, on the other hand, will look up at the asteroid and ask themselves “How do I fix this?”

Stick close to those people.  Whether it’s asteroids, marauding hob-goblins or the everyday trouble of trying to reach an increasingly digital audience, the problem solvers will get you through alive.