In our business we sometimes come across situations where projects and relationships can become strained. These generally come down to simple misunderstandings which balloon out of control and can ruin many a good business relationship. We have all heard of the ‘geek speak’ phrases, or woes of my designer this, or my designer that.

Here are RedKiteIT we’d like to share with you how designers think and how to handle these possibly troublesome issues so you can better progress your business.

First, let’s meet our participants and really scope out the playing field. The customer, the developer, and the computer.

The customer needs a solution. The developer must understand and provide this solution. The computer is the playing field on which the solution must be presented.

To fully grasp the divide, Einstein once quoted “Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.” The customer might say, “RedKiteIT” but the computer only understands this as “01010010 01100101 01100100 01001011 01101001 01110100 01100101 01001001 01010100”. While we, as developers, don’t work in binary, we’re not that far removed.

Let’s further explore how we, as developers, must think of things, which can build the stereotype that we are geeks. The customer description might be “a plank of wood”. Easy. But is it? The developer must describe this to a computer as text (“Wood”) and a selection of dimensions (height, width, depth). However, in simplifying this we could also consider the fact that the customer might want to expand on this later. This plank of wood might have types of wood, moisture content, shades, number of knots, etc.

This thought process is akin to the famous Star Trek transporter. The developer must deconstruct the plank of wood into all its elements and molecules and reconstruct it at the other end.

Never view developers as arrogant, unintelligible geeks but rather as confused individuals abstractly deconstructing models into basic elements of text, numbers and true/false statements in their minds and asking; “Does that look like plank of wood to you?”

Using languages such as PHP, Java, or Pascal, developers turn your ideas into simpler models and construct your complex solutions from these models. It can be a complex subject. Schools and books only go so far. Books probably don’t exist for your particular solution.

Hopefully this over-simplification gives you a little insight of the gap to bridge. So where does this put you?

Thankfully, you neither need to understand the world of the developer, or the terminology, as the developer works in basic models which can be explained. The breakdown of most developer relationships is down to humility in that people don’t ask questions for fear of ‘looking bad’ (not knowing some abstract acronym), or a perceived intelligence level. So, let us address that elephant in the room…

No developer was born with their skillset. For the most part it was hard earned over many years. Our knowledge had its seeds sown well before the WWW and before books even existed about computers.

Knowledge back then can be viewed like a tree. We are all on the same tree just at different levels and branches. Developers like ourselves progressed up the tree with the help of others. We asked and people helped us grow and learn, as others had helped them. This moral obligation to help those lower down the tree is written into our DNA due to the help afforded us.

So, the next time you have a difficult-to-ask question, consider the above and remember any good developer owes it to you to help you, as others have helped them. Once upon a time we didn’t know what CSV, or CSS meant, or how to zip a file. The list is endless but every perceived silly question you will ever ask we have already asked it. You are talking to fellow silly question askers.

An important finalisation of this would be the answer. Fear and humility can also come into play here. An answer does not always mean you understand something. Only you can decide if this is true and as developers who have already asked this question before (probably multiple times) we are fully aware you may need to ask it again and again until the penny drops.

RedKiteIT, as experienced developers, will be here for as long as it takes you to understand any questions you may have. It is how we became so good at what we do. Besides, we can always tell you to Google it 🙂