Building websites is sometimes viewed as boring. Developers sit behind their computer screens and clack away until a site is published. We know that’s not true, of course, but the public perception can, at times, sway toward this notion.
And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact people don’t see (or don’t understand) what’s happening on all those developers’ computer screens. They don’t see the feats of superhuman strength it can take to complete a site, under deadline, with a million unknowns and variables up in the air at any given time.
People just don’t see all the hard work because developers are sitting at their desks to do it. So, with that in mind, let’s take some time to venerate the WordPress developers. Let’s give them the respect they deserve.
Since they can pull off some superhuman stunts, we’re going to talk about all that goes into building a site in terms of super powers. While devs may not leap a building in a single bound, the most successful ones are capable of some pretty impressive feats.
1. The Power of Adaptive Thinking
The best developers know how to think on their feet. And that means sometimes changing things up right in the middle of a project. While being committed to the end-goal (building a great website) is good, the best developers know when to change directions. Their super power is one of judgment. Basically, they know precisely when something is no longer working and can troubleshoot on the spot. They don’t waste time pursuing methods that aren’t effective.
They stick to what works and when that stops working, they try something new. That something new varies, of course, whether it’s a new bit of code, a new tool, or even a new plugin. But they’re willing to shift gears on the spot to pursue a path that works better. That can be scary, especially if you’ve sunk a lot of time into a project already.
But these super agile devs know when to adapt for the good of the project.
2. The Power of Master Negotiation
Another super power many of the best devs have is a real knack for the art of negotiation. These developers have a keen way of getting what they want, time and time again, without stomping on people, without causing issues, all while maintaining and even building new relationships. They’ve been able to pinpoint what it takes to complete a project and know when to give and when to take.
I think a lot of this has to do with the open source nature of WordPress. Developers often contribute to core and help out for the good of WP. And when it comes time to work on premium projects, they’re used to working with other people and the challenges that can bring. This goes beyond collaboration (which is it’s own super power) and instead emphasizes the importance of prioritizing personal needs with the needs of the project. Ego sits by the wayside while the project progresses thanks to skillful negotiation and compromise.
3. The Power of Deadline Crunching
Over the years, I’ve been seriously impressed with how efficient developers can be. Working under tight deadlines can be incredibly stressful. Often, there’s a question if you’re going to meet it or not. But more often than not, the best devs approach these seemingly impossible situations with grace and put their nose to the grindstone when need be to get a project done by deadline.
This willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done is both admirable and inspiring. And while there’s always playful complaints about this hard work, the end result is a great-looking site that meets the needs of the client. Sure, it might take a few cups (or pots) of coffee to accomplish but that’s a commonality shared among all creative professionals.
Perhaps that’s the premise of a future scientific study: The Role of Coffee on the Output of WordPress Developers. Yup, I think I’m onto something.
4. The Power of Pixel Commanding
While pixel perfection was a complaint of one of the developers I recently spoke to, the ability to render a PSD file into code is often quite impressive. As difficult as it can sometimes be, developers can take just about any design and adapt it to code. That’s something my writerly brain can’t really fathom. I don’t think in lines of code. But what I do understand is just how difficult translating an image (or at least how that image is rendered) into code. And that’s something worth marveling at.
The super power of commanding pixels means developers can whip a site into shape no matter what the foundational image is.
Of course, the challenge of converting a PSD to HTML varies based on the particular PSD in question, but the best devs know how to make subtle tweaks and modifications to get everything to line up just right.
5. The Power of Engaging Speaking
The image of developers that rests in our society’s collective unconscious is that he sits behind a computer all day, typing furious, clicking madly. He might even be a little bit disheveled. But this is based on pop culture myths and not on reality. In fact, many developers spend a considerable amount of time participating in the WordPress community. And many of these folks, often the very best, go to WordCamps and other meet ups to speak.
At these speaking engagements, developers offer insights and ideas to a room full of fellow WordPress developers and enthusiasts. They share what they’ve learned through working on and with this CMS and provide a unique point of view on the creative possess. Some delve into the inner workings of Core; others talk about plugin and theme development; still others emphasize the business of WordPress or the best practices for marketing on social media.
The power to speak authoritatively, convincingly, and engagingly for an audience is not to be underestimated. And though it’s not a skill typically associated with WordPress developers, it’s a super power of some of the very best in the industry, all the same.
6. The Power of Idealistic Visions
The very best developers aren’t afraid to dream big. In fact, they dream so big they can sometimes disrupt the whole industry by introducing something no one’s seen before. They take WordPress, this tool we all know and love, and use it to create something wholly new or to create something that sits atop WordPress and extends functionality in exciting and clever ways.
Being a visionary means looking beyond what’s in front of you and what other people have done in the past to create new things that break tradition and break the mold of how we do things. The best developers have done that time and time again by asking “What if?” What if we can integrate e-commerce into WordPress more efficiently? What if we can add drag-and-drop site building tools to the dashboard? What if we can improve upon site accessibility in new ways?
The best developers keep that all-important question “What if?” tucked into their back pockets at all times and aren’t afraid to unleash it whenever the mood strikes.
But vision isn’t enough. It’s the idealism that makes the best developers truly great. They aren’t cynical, they aren’t pessimistic about what can be accomplished. Instead, they ask “What if?” and know they can accomplish whatever phrase completes that sentence.
7. The Power of Creative Invention
Being inventive certainly goes right along with the super power of idealistic visions but it deserves its own space. Being a visionary implies an ability to see beyond what is in front of you; to imagine greater possibilities. The super power of creative invention applies to a developer’s ability to go beyond mere innovation and create brand-new, original things. In this case, these developers are building on top of others’ creations, too—WordPress is the foundation of what they create, after all.
But the very best examine their daily interaction with the CMS, evaluate the market, and pinpoint areas where products don’t exist.They then seek to create game-changing themes and plugins that disrupt how we do things. And that’s a really cool thing to watch. They then seek to create game-changing themes and plugins that disrupt how we do things. And that’s a really cool thing to watch.
Because it’s the creativity that marks the difference here. Anyone with the right skill set can create an add-on feature plugin. And those are certainly great and helpful for those of us who use WordPress on the daily. But the developers that really stand out? They’re the ones that invent new ways to interact with WordPress. They invent new solutions and carve out new spaces to exist. To put it more succinctly, they aren’t creating plugins for existing product categories—they’re inventing new categories.
8. The Power of Laser Focus
Developers by their very nature are detail-oriented. If they weren’t, coding a site would be terribly painful. That’s why one of their super powers is definitely a laser-focused attention to detail. They can zero in on a piece of code and identify problems and inconsistencies, improve formatting, and all around whip it into shape thanks to this impressive skill.
Having this capacity for intense focus comes in handy in other areas of development, too, like when building client relationships. Being detail oriented means you don’t miss deadlines. It means you keep on top of correspondence. And it means you can better prioritize your projects. If only every creative had this super power—we’d take over the world for sure.
9. The Power of Meaningful Collaboration
The most successful developers have a real a knack for working with other developers, designers, and professionals from other specialties to create new things with WordPress. The best leave ego at the door and focus only on the end goal of creating something truly awesome.
And honestly, that’s why I like the WP community so much in general.
By and large, the people involved are helpful, kind, and genuinely want to make WordPress better.
By harnessing the power of meaningful collaboration, developers don’t just work together for appearance’s sake; they work together because it means leveraging one another’s skills to foster a better result.
This just highlights why it’s not about ego. The very best collaborations require an acknowledgment that someone else can bring something to a project you can’t.
By harnessing the power of meaningful collaboration, developers don’t just work together for appearance’s sake; they work together because it means leveraging one another’s skills to foster a better result. This just highlights why it’s not about ego. The very best collaborations require an acknowledgment that someone else can bring something to a project you can’t.
Because of this factor, everyone who contributes then is dedicated to the site, plugin, or what have you.
10. The Power of Passionate Instruction
Many of the best developers don’t just create sites—they teach others how to create sites, too. They could just hang their hats up at the end of the day and be happy with their development work but these folks aren’t. They spend extra time building WordPress resource sites, writing tutorials, teaching classes, and conducting seminars.
I’m thinking of people like Chris Lema, Tom McFarlin, and Bob Dunn. These people care about the WordPress community so much, they just have to share their insights.
Their passion for development, site creation, business, and design oozes out of their every pore. And that’s precisely what makes them such great instructors—they simple have to teach. And really, aren’t those the best kinds of teachers?
What’s Your Super Power?
WordPress developers come in all types. Some are dabblers, some are core committers, some are plugin dominators. But the very best possess the above ten super powers. That I know for certain. To quote a planetary captain from my childhood, ‘With these powers combined…” anything is possible. And the best WP web devs have shown us that time and time again.
Now I want to hear from you. If you were to have a development super power, what would it be? Did I miss any powers you think the best devs possess? Am I off base entirely? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.