10 Habits of a Quality Software Developer

Habits that Define Top Software Developers

Observing the way that software developers work, you’ll notice a trend appear: each have deep routed habits. These habits are at the core of what makes a developer a quality software developer.

1. They Got Over the Fear

You know the fear I’m talking about. The client calls late in the afternoon and their website is down. They’re losing thousands of dollars and need the application running now. They need someone to get in, take a look, and quickly modify code (if necessary) on the production side to get the app back up and running.

The more junior a developer is, the more fear they’ll have: the fear that they’ll make it worse. Sometimes you just have to get in there and fix it. Even if it means breaking it more until you do.

2. Developed Emotional Intelligence

It’s difficult to judge the room sometimes. Not for the quality software developer. They know when to joke and when to dial it back. Connecting with your audience is a skill that most people will never achieve. Understanding the client’s frustrations, being able to empathize with them, and following through with their promises, are characteristics of the top software developers.

It’s not all about the client. Connecting with other developers, and being the individual that others can go to, is a strong indicator of a developer with emotional intelligence. In the remote environment, emotional intelligence plays an even higher role. It’s difficult to foster teamwork even when everyone’s in the office. Having the ability to collaborate effectively remotely requires developers that are emotionally intelligent superstars.

3. Know How to Focus

Working in a software development environment, it’s significantly easier to be distracted than focused. As a junior to mid-level developer, you’ll have plenty of time to focus on your tasks. The more senior you get, the more distracted you’ll become. Everyone is coming to you with questions. If that wasn’t enough, you have your project stand-ups, sometimes client calls, etc. that you have to participate in daily. By the time you turn around, it’s the end of the day.

Quality Software Developers are masters of time management. They know how to block off times through the day so that they can actually write code. During these segments of dedicated coding time, it’s difficult to reach them since they’re focused on the tasks at hand. They work around other’s schedules to make sure that the dedicated times do not interfere with times when they’re most likely to be contacted.

4. They’ve Stopped Experimenting

There’s a temptation that engulfs all developers: to experiment with new technology. While this is great to keep up with skills, and should be done on one’s own time, it’s crippling when they’re implemented into work environments. I’ve worked in environments with multiple JavaScript frameworks on top of a .NET application. When everyone left, completing even the simplest tasks was a nightmare.

Quality Developers know that maintenance is just part of life. The simpler they can make it for themselves, and others, the more successful the application will be. Only when absolutely necessary will new technology be implemented.

5. Balance Work and Personal Life

It’s almost laughable how many times you’ll see this. And yet, there are still people that abuse it. When you hear this statement, people automatically think that the individual is overworked and should take more time to themselves. However, the opposite can be equally as true.

Having a proper balance, where you’re working your required hours, is deeply rooted in the quality developer. They know that work will always be there. If their organization demands that they work constantly outside of the agreed-upon time, they know that it’s time to move on. Just like your work shouldn’t suffer, neither should your family.

Understanding this balance allows the software developer to be more efficient in their daily tasks.

Software Developers, Don’t Forget to Live

6. Accurate Time Estimation

Ask a software developer how many hours a specific task will take and you’ll quickly figure out who is a senior developer and who is junior. It doesn’t mean that the quality developer will spew out numbers on the spot. They will put thought into it and reach back out with a breakdown.

The quality developer knows how to break down tasks into manageable pieces. From their years of experience, they know how long each piece will take. Judging the task, a buffer is normally added to allow for the unexpected. This is the skill that just takes time to develop. The more experience, the more accurate a developer is in their estimation.

7. Comfortable With Change

It’s all fun and games until leadership changes the entire strategy. You’ll see many individuals leave a company because it starts doing something different.

I’ve personally worked for a company where the client scrapped the entire project after a year of development. Some engineers poured their heart and soul into the project and could never recover; they left the organization.

The quality developer knows that change is constant in software development. The client will change their minds multiple times per day. The developer has be mentally capable of dealing with those changes. Learning to go along with the change vs resisting it is a skill for the seasoned quality developer.

8. Know When to MVP

It’s easy to get caught up in making the code perfect. Sometimes the client needs an MVP application that they can release to test. As long as the tolerance is understood, the quality developer knows when to MVP and when to make the code perfect.

The MVP Wont Let Me Be

9. They Know How to Talk to the Business Side

The business side doesn’t speak code, as much as they pretend that they do sometimes. Being able to break down complex topics and make them understandable for the non-technical audience is a skill that must be re-learned. Re-learned because we weren’t technical to begin with. We only developed our technical jargon during our time in software development.

Once the business side can understand you, relaying messages, capacity, priority, etc. becomes a stress-free effort. It helps both the business side and the developer side.

The Developer Career Killer. All Problems, No Solutions.

10. Forever Learner

This is the one that drives a good portion of developers out of the workforce. Technology is a fast-paced field and that includes software-development. How many times have you looked up a YouTube tutorial and skipped over it because it’s a couple of years old? That should tell you everything.

The quality software developer not only knows that they’ll learn new concept for the entirety of their software development career, they actually enjoy the process. It’s not a chore when it becomes enjoyable.


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