The job of the developer is, in many ways, a tireless one. Few could argue the importance of their work, its tangible impact on business initiatives, and how widespread their involvement can be across an organization. Yes, a developer has the potential to do a lot of great things for a company, its staff, and customers – that is, assuming you have a good one.
You need only ask someone who has been involved in development work to know that not all developers are created equal. Which begs the question – what does a great developer look like? Today, I hope to paint you a clearer picture of the ideal developer as I share the 7 essential qualities every developer must-have.
1. They pick the right tools
Much like a carpenter wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail, choosing the right tools matters for developers. This applies to not only what you want as an application’s stack, but what you use to implement the solution and track issues when they arise. Making the right choice, and having sound knowledge of these tools can make a tremendous impact on how a developer performs, and is one of the key skills for a software developer.
Let’s look at a use case. Choosing an inferior debugging tool at the start would result in a developer having to spend an enormous amount of time and effort tracking and debugging issues. Hence, before jumping headfirst into development, take a step back and explore all the tools available to you. Your selection should complement your technology stack, reduce manual efforts, and substantially improve development performance.
2. They keep their code clean
The term “Clean Code” is a familiar one among developers and their peer circles. There are books written on the topic emphasizing the importance of various clean code approaches and illustrating how to bring these methods into practice. In a nutshell, the Clean Code philosophy states that the developers should write code that’s self-explanatory, easy to maintain, and easily understandable. Poorly written code is a nightmare to manage but can even result in total project failure and redo from scratch.
The Clean Code philosophy dictates that code should be as concise as possible. It makes optimizations easier as well as results in smaller executable build size. Therefore, from naming conventions to the right number of code comments, bringing Clean Code principles into practice increases the developer’s productivity, contributing directly to project success. For these reasons, keeping the code clean is one of the best skills for software developers to have.
3. They are problem-solvers, with a can-do attitude
Every developer should possess a good set of problem-solving skills. That’s because it’s commonplace for developers to come across multiple programming problems while building just about any solution (site, app, design).
The software system development cycle faces a wide variety of challenges to keep the system’s performance, design, and user experience up to the required standards. But with the right tools, algorithms, and excellent analytical skills, a developer can come up with innovative solutions for any complication they face. Having excellent problem-solving skills, confidence to achieve, and a can-do attitude toward any challenge are important software developer competencies, which make that developer a valued resource in any organization.
4. They are willing to adapt
5. They are efficient through optimization
Writing optimized code is a rare skill, but not an impossible one. It’s something that usually comes with experience, practice, and exposure. This method has a significant impact on the performance of your application. Therefore, if an application is taking time to load, then the developer likely needs to optimize.
After the performance, things like SQL query optimization, caching, response optimization, SEO, accessibility, user experience, etc., comes into consideration, which also profoundly impacts the success or failure of an application. If a user finds it hard to land on the website or face challenges to navigate what they want to do, it means your business might lose a client or customer. That’s why, while developing a software system, developers must consider optimization parameters and design the application in a way that best serves its users.
6. Aim for success at the start
What sort of a developer do you wish to be? While I can’t answer that accurately, I can say with confidence that it isn’t a bad one. Do you see yourself as reckless but fast, or an individual who believes in planning with proper architecture in place and delivers quality work by being slow and steady?
Sure, from a shallow perspective, immediacy might seem more attractive than a slow approach. But it will result in a product that is buggy and difficult to maintain. Considering the cost, it is a better option to move ahead with a plan in place, follow standards and software development patterns, and develop a sturdy application. Remember that the end goal is to deliver an application that meets the client’s aspirations and serves the purpose to its users.
It is an excellent approach to take some time at the start, plan the things, choose the right architecture and design pattern, set the standards to be followed in the code, and think over your solution and algorithms then implement it.
7. Self-evaluate along the way
Once there was an architect who designed a library that was praised by all for its magnificence. The structure started to crumble because the architect did not consider the books’ weight soon after opening the library. The same is valid with software development, as a developer needs to take into account the most basic details and evaluate the application on all fronts.
A developer needs to test code, discover issues, and fix them with the development of every feature of the software. Self-evaluation of the developed feature results in less technical debt and fewer bugs in the later stages of the development life cycle. Make sure not to release code that is buggy or, in the words of our metaphor, always take into account the weight of books.
By now, I hope you have some clarity on what makes a great developer. And whether you are looking to hire a developer, or are one and find yourself looking to improve your skills, consider what you read today. And just as Rome was not built in a day, one can not bring these habits into practice overnight. Quality takes time, whether you are talking about software development or professional development.