So you want to be an agency developer.
Welcome to the funnest article I think I’ll ever write.
Agency life is a world in and of itself that brings its own challenges and hurdles every day. Something some know about and those who have never been in the trenches will never understand.
To those developers, hold on to your tears. You’ll need them.
In all seriousness, though agency life is brilliant if you can enjoy the hustle and grind. This article aims to summarise some of the expected hurdles and maybe things you can learn before you approach the den of tears.
3.0 – Care about a clients project as if it were your own.
It will impact the craftsmanship of the project and you’ll be more bothered by problems, effectively releasing a better product in the end.
I’ve seen too many developers not care about a project because it’s not there’s. It’s not their family depending on the business working, they don’t have a board of executives or millions of dollars on the line if they don’t meet the targets. When your a junior / mid you get to hide in the background while someone else handles the meetings/talks to the clients with you.
Guess what though. They cop that and when they do, guess who they’re coming to see. Big o’l smiling happy clueless you. There’s a good saying and I’ll quote it when I can check it out. It generally goes like “Code like the next person to build on the project is a psychopath that knows where you live.”
Care about your clients, live for tomorrows tears.
6.0 – Know a design before you get briefed.
You should have a brief concept of the design before it gets passed to you. Consultation and collaboration should be made between the designer and the developer before anything gets sent to the client. If it doesn’t happen you should push for it and here’s why.
Designers are creative for a reason and some have no concept of how things are constructed more that things just “are”. So what do you care? You can make your 5 days in heaven better by pre-empting whats about to be placed in front of you. Have a casual chat with the designer and notice layouts that could be challenging, notice the small things they’ve done and then start a small plan in your head of how you’re going to tackle that.
There’s a good saying:
“90% of the code takes 90% of the time. The other 10% also takes 90% of the time.”
You can ease that by pre-empting layouts and having snippets / pre-built solutions to the problems. You’ll thank yourself later when that 90% becomes 89.
7.0 – Learn how to explain every aspect of your job as though it were to a 5-year-old.
John whoknows isn’t a developer and doesn’t care that x broke because the browser doesn’t support x properties and you have to implement a polyfill. Why can’t he just understand things don’t take 5 seconds? Not everyone’s a developer and you need to be able to explain solutions and why problems are problems in a way that everyone can understand.
This is and will become one of the most valuable aspects of your career as you grow to be a developer. It takes time and there is an art to it. Sometimes you’ll hit and miss and others you’ll nail it with a sledgehammer. It’s about finding balance and it’s our duty as a software professional to be able to articulate well our development process and how things are going to progress in the lifecycle.
Being able to do this also evolves trust between the client/manager and yourself because they know you understand what’s happening and that you have solutions/plans in place.