OK, so stop me if you’ve heard this one before… A developer walks into a room full of stakeholders in a project kickoff meeting. The developer listens to two minutes of the “problem” statement and immediately starts spitting out a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo, assuming they know EXACTLY how to solve this issue.
Have you seen this? Have you DONE this?? I sure have.
This scenario is unfortunately all too common in the world of web development. And while it may seem like communication isn’t that important for developers who work primarily alone behind a computer screen, nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, communication skills are just as important for web developers as they are for any other profession. After all, we are often working on projects with tight deadlines and need to be able to communicate effectively with project managers, designers, content strategists, and other developers in order to get the job done.
After years of experience in this space, here’s what I’ve found to be the most important communication skills for web developers:
It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. In order to be an effective communicator, you need to be able to both listen and speak effectively. Listening carefully will help you understand the client’s needs and ensure that you’re on the same page. It will also help you catch any misunderstandings early on before they become bigger problems.
As a web developer, you will be working with clients who may not have the technical expertise to explain all of the features and functions of their website. It is important to be able to listen carefully to what they are saying in order to understand their needs.
Take the time to hear everything they are saying, and ask questions if you need clarification. It is also important to be aware of non-verbal communication cues, such as body language and tone of voice.
Understanding the nuances of what the client is asking for is essential to communication in web development. If you’re not able to explain your ideas clearly or understand the client’s vision, it can lead to problems down the road.
Once you have a clear understanding of the client’s needs, it is time to start communicating your own ideas. Be clear and concise in your explanations, and use layman’s terms when possible. It is also important to be patient and remember that not everyone understands technical jargon.
Use language that everyone can understand, and avoid using acronyms or abbreviations that the client may not be familiar with. Additionally, it is helpful to provide examples of what you’re talking about, as this can make complex concepts easier to understand.
If you find yourself struggling to explain a concept, try using an analogy. Analogies can be a helpful way to explain complex ideas in simple terms.
For example, if you’re trying to explain how a website is built, you could say “It’s like building a house. First, you need to lay the foundation, then you add the walls and roof.”
By using an analogy, you can take a complex concept and break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
It can be difficult to understand technical concepts if you’re not familiar with them, so try to be patient and explain things in a way that everyone can understand.
If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a step back and breathe. It is also helpful to keep in mind that you were once in their position and didn’t know anything about web development.
It’s not the client’s job to know the technical junk, that’s your job. So be patient, explain things clearly, and use analogies when possible.
Now that you know some of the basics of communication, let’s take a look at some common communication pitfalls that web developers often fall into.
- Saying something is “easy” - Just because something is easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. When you’re explaining a concept to someone, try to avoid using the word “easy.”
- Starting to design solutions on the fly - It’s important to take the time to really understand the problem before starting to design a solution. Otherwise, you may end up wasting time on a solution that doesn’t actually solve the problem.
- Interrupting people - This one is pretty self-explanatory! Let people finish their thoughts before jumping in with your own ideas.
- Talking too much - Sometimes, less is more. It’s important to give people the opportunity to ask questions and contribute their own ideas.
- Not listening enough - This is perhaps the most important communication skill for a web developer. You need to be able to listen carefully to understand what people are saying.
- Making assumptions - Never assume that you know what someone is thinking or that they understand what you’re saying. This can lead to miscommunication and frustration on both sides.
One final communication tip for web developers is to think about whether a meeting or an email would be more appropriate for the situation.
There are some things that are better suited for a meeting, such as brainstorming ideas or getting feedback on a design. However, there are also times when an email would be more appropriate, such as sending a detailed explanation of a technical issue.
A basic rule of thumb is that if an email has more than four replies, it should probably be a meeting. This will help to avoid frustration on both sides and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Communication is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. By following the tips in this post, you can become a communication hero in no time!
By being clear, using layman’s terms, and avoiding technical jargon, you can make sure that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, it is important to be patient and remember that not everyone is as familiar with the technical aspects of web development.
So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and start practicing your communication skills today.
By following these tips, you can improve your communication skills and make sure that your next project is a success.