9 Vital Qualities Every Developer Should Possess

Written by Eleanor Hecks

Source: Unsplash

If you love to work out complex computational problems, then a career as a developer is probably right for you. You’ll get a chance to use your creativity to come up with innovative solutions. Developers often work on the back-end of websites, apps, and software as a service (SaaS) companies.

There are around 174,300 web developers and digital designers in the United States. The industry is growing at about 8% per year, which is faster than average growth across all sectors. Software developers number over 1 million, and the field expands around 22% each year.

Although plenty of jobs are available, competition in the industry is fierce. Pay often depends on your expertise and ability to adapt to new situations. The longer you work as a developer, the more skills you’ll develop as you learn new technology.

Although specific skills might vary depending on your area of specialization, there are some qualities every developer must possess in order to excel. Here are nine soft and hard skills to focus on.

1. Problem-Solving

While much of this skill develops over time, you can also practice exercises to improve your problem-solving abilities. Play games that require strategy and think through role-play scenarios.

No matter what projects you work on, you’ll run into snafus. Knowing how to work through issues and create a viable solution helps you stand apart as a professional in the industry.

2. Basic UX Principles

User experience covers a wide berth of topics. You must understand the contrast between background and content, how people read a web page, and many other factors.

Always keep in mind the people who will use what you create. What features work best for them that will meet their needs?

Developers should learn published guidelines such as the W3C WCAG standards. Use best practices, but be prepared to dig deeper to really understand the psychology behind why some design principles work better than others.

3. Communication Skills

You may also need to speak with people on your team as you work through larger projects. Refine your communication skills by taking online courses and looking into interpersonal and speech classes, such as Dale Carnegie, or through your local community college.

If you aren’t 100% sure what a client wants, ask questions until you fully understand. You’ll save a lot of time and aggravation by understanding expectations before developing websites or software.

4. Back-End Stack

In addition to understanding the equipment, developers must know what elements are most compatible and how to work through issues with software installation or crashes.

What happens if a site you’re working on gets hacked? Do you have a series of steps to recover your client’s website and prevent hackers from coming in through the back-end?

You need to understand the environment well enough to help clients interact with it on the front-end. If you run a web hosting service, part of your job may be solving technical problems, but another aspect could be explaining to customers how to access and use various features on the front-end. The best developers are well-versed in both back- and front-end.

Source: Unsplash

5. Time Management

There are many free online courses to help with time management techniques. Invest in a good planner and come up with a system that works best for you.

Experience may be your best teacher here. Identify methods that work for your development style. Pay attention to what your mentors do to stay on top of things and make the most of their time. Implement what makes the most sense for you.

6. Good Memory

If you don’t have good memory naturally, there are some things you can do to offset the issue. Keep careful notes about past and present work. Have an organized system that allows you to pull up notes easily and scan through them to jog your memory.

7. Work With Others

According to Gallup, teamwork helps improve engagement, which can result in 41% lower absenteeism and 17% higher productivity. Improve your skills with exercises and paying careful attention to each member of your team. Make sure everyone feels valued and their skills are used to their fullest potential.

8. Patience

Make a list of steps to take when starting a new project. If you run into an issue, go back over the steps and make sure you didn’t forget anything. You might also want to create a troubleshooting checklist.

9. Growth Mindset

Technology is ever-changing, so staying on top of your workload is vital in this industry. Pay attention as new things take hold, such as 5G and advances in machine learning.

Add Bonus Qualities

Stay on top of trends, take online courses, and read articles in your field. If you strive to occupy a growth mindset, you’ll be at the top of your game.


Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.

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