At the start of a brand-new project, the especially optimistic developer assumes each task will go off without a hitch. Though a sunny disposition helps you build relationships with clients, unchecked optimism can be dangerous to your work. Murphy’s Law dictates things rarely go as smoothly as you’d hope for. Each job is unpredictable in the ways it can de-rail from the plan, so you need to be realistic about these odds. The good news is you can increase your chances of sticking to the plan when you make a habit of following these five best practices.
1. Start with a basic plan
All this talk of plans, yet it’s still one of the most frequently overlooked strategies. Don’t underestimate the importance of starting at the beginning. Many developers love to jump right into the meat of a project and start coding, but this spontaneous approach rarely works in your favor. It’s all too easy to work yourself in circles when you aren’t following a clear plan. Your first step should be to consider the overall goal of the project, so you can prioritize tasks appropriately without being distracted by the details of the job.
2. Project a sense of calm
Client meetings can be a stressful element of your job because of how much rides on them, but you shouldn’t feel like James Comey under oath. Whether it’s your first meet up or one of several throughout the project, these appointments are an opportunity for your client to determine your worth as a developer. You can’t come across as aloof, disorganized, or — the worst yet — incompetent, so prepare thoroughly for the meeting and the client. Do your research. Structure your pitch like you would a story to make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end.
Part of your challenge will be to look the part of a successful developer. Consider your choice of clothes very carefully, right down to the last detail, including your gear. You need to look professional, so don’t let something like a beat-up MacBook or iPhone be your undoing. Dress your tech in the custom iPhone 8 skins and MacBook decals to camouflage damage and project a sense of professionalism to your clients. When you know where to shop, it’s easy to get a unique iPhone 8 without breaking the bank.
3. Don’t be afraid of paper
Once you have an idea of where the project is going, sketch out initial mock-ups for your clients before you do anything else. They’ll inevitably ask for adjustments. When these are major modifications, it’s easy to accommodate the changes on paper than after you’ve invested hours in programming.
4. Provide small deliverables
You may want to wait until you can produce the final product to your clients, but this method will only add work to your plate. Web development relies on incremental updates as you work out bugs and glitches and accommodate your client’s feedback. It’s easier if you share small updates as you work to make sure everything’s on track, so make sure you provide deliverables steadily throughout the project.
5. Strike a balance between practical and innovative
The rate at which trends change in the industry means many of the projects you work on today will be outdated — or even obsolete — years down the line. Sometimes, it takes even less time. It’s a good idea to appreciate the fact that your work isn’t eternal. It forces you to consider how to develop the backend so you have a way to update your work as things evolve.
Don’t, however, let this be an excuse to fixate on an unknowable problem and spend too much time solving for something that doesn’t exist yet. Rely on existing framework to give yourself a break. Recall the project’s intention from step number one’s plan, and tweak the balance by identifying what you’re optimizing for, whether it’s performance, readability, or something else entirely.
Ultimately, a certain level of experience helps you face significant changes with composure. Though it’s a tired expression, practice does really make perfect. Keep trying to improve and learn from past mistakes. And don’t forget to mold your work habits around these web development best practices, so you can better roll with the punches.