What does a 10x developer really mean? To be a 10x developer, you need to think like one, but sometimes that can be easier said than done. On TV, for example, developers are stereotyped as someone who isolates him or herself, puts on headphones and gets work done. If you watch HBO’s Silicon Valley, they portray this with Richard, AKA, the Mark Zuckerberg type character.
Our VP of Product, James Vidler, here at Agility CMS, has been building software for over ten years now and has re-defined what he thinks a 10x developer is today and how to become one. Follow along below or watch the short video and hear his five steps.
1. Ask the Right Questions
As a developer, asking the right questions shows how much you understand the task but also the concept. If requirements and specifications are unclear, this can lead to assumptions that can make you waste hours of developing time. Not only will you have to readjust your estimates or squeeze in the rework, but it can also be very frustrating having to throw away all the fantastic code you just created. Ask for help and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s ok not to know everything. It's how we learn new things! To start, James explains why asking the right questions is so important.
“They ask the right questions, and I know this because when I first started off developing, I was just used to doing what everyone told me to do. You’re given an assignment, and you do the assignment, and in school, that’s probably okay, but when it comes down to delivering software to people that are going to be using it, you tend to miss the mark. So, asking the right questions is extremely important and not knowing what you’re building but know why. How is that going to be used in the future, etc.? Those are critical questions to ask that can save you time; otherwise, you’re going to end up building something that needs to be re-worked all over again.”
As a developer, having the right tools in your toolkit can be crucial to your productivity. Tools allow you to create, test and debug software. As James explains, “every productive developer out there has a bunch of tools that they use to be able to iterate and get things out the door faster easily. They aren't going to be re-inventing the wheel every single time they build a website."
Below, James suggests that these core tools should be a part of any developer's toolkit.
- A modern IDE (i.e. VS Code)
- A frontend framework (i.e. React, VueJS)
- A CSS framework (i.e. Bulma, Tailwinds, Bootstrap)
- A package manager (i.e. NPM, Nuget)
- Hosting (Netlify, Azure, AWS, Heroku)
3. Work Smarter
Next, think about working smarter, not harder. As you gain experience over the years, the more senior you will become, which means your task list will get longer. Learning how to prioritize your work will pay off in the long run.
“It means that they know how to prioritize. And trust me, if you’re a good developer, your task list is just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger the more senior you get. It’s because everyone wants to give something to you because they trust you and know that you’ll get stuff done. But if you don’t know how to prioritize your work, you’re going to end up toying on things that don’t matter. So, to be a 10x developer is someone who is very productive, they know what to work on and when.”
4. Always Be Learning
A 10x developer is always learning about new trends and technologies. Adapting to the constant shift and changes that are always surrounding you. After all, sharing is caring! When you learn something new, try to help someone else, and go teach it to your colleagues. Share your knowledge at your product scrum meeting at work, make a short presentation to your team, write a blog post or even better, turn it into a presentation and talk about it at a local developer conference in your community! If you’re just beginning your career in web development, take a look at some online tutorials. There are lots of self-learning platforms out there such as Udemy, W3CSchools, and bootcamps too. Passing on what we've learned not only helps those around us grow, but it also helps us perfect and genuinely understand those concepts more deeply.
“They're never stuck in the same textile. They're always curious about other things. They’re usually trying out new frameworks, plugins, technology. Their very curious people.”
5. Give Back
Finally, a 10x developer is always looking for ways to give back. Give back to your community or other developers around you. Whether it be by empowering your co-workers or complimenting them on a project they rolled out. Always try to bring people up and create a positive environment around you.
“This one I think resonated with me the most and makes a big difference. They give back to folks and they impower and lift up others around them and that is the big difference between the Richards from Silicon Valley or probably the Mark Zuckerbergs for that matter. They give back and bring up everyone around them. So, these are the traits that I sort of think make up a highly productive developer that is able to get things done much faster than other developers.”
Your journey to becoming a 10x developer is endless! Keep learning and always be improving until what you know has surpassed the speed of change. By learning the foundation and advanced theories of code, it puts you up as a much more effective and efficient developer. Happy coding!