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Like all jobs, web development has its dark side - the side where things aren't so pleasant but are a stark reality for the developers that work in the field. In today's episode, Matt and Mike explore that dark side of web development discussing things like if developers should show pride in their work - even if it's for a client, slogging through slow or outdated software, and dealing with thankless customers despite putting forth your best effort.
Engineering, developing, and deploying can often times become less about making new exciting things and more about fixing and maintaining what exists
a lot of developers get excited over building new things for themselves, or for their clients
The vision is often that they’ll be involved with new and exciting products, creating new experiences and maybe innovating older less tech-savvy fields, bringing them into the 21st century
Sadly, this utopian vision can often be disrupted or completely squashed by the reality of how projects are made and maintained
Smaller companies are often not able to have their own support team and so the responsibility falls upon the most related department, leaving many technical support requests at the feet of the development team
Large projects and especially old code bases are often more about keeping the old stuff alive rather than making new features and improving UX. Often these projects have a bad or outdated UX that makes even simple tasks difficult for users - causing more support requests then expected and going against a lot of what you expect to be doing as a developer, making new exciting experiences for users that work well
If you’re not making your own product, chances are you’re making products for other people (your customers)
When you work for customers in this way your vision is almost always not going to be the same as theirs
This leads to many decisions that you have to implement, but disagree with. You may not agree with the navbar having 100 links but if the customer wants it then you’re responsible for putting those 100 links in place
Even your consult may be ignored. You may know with near certainty that those 100 navbar links is just way too much, you bring this up to the customer and they don’t care - they want it implemented anyway. So you implement the 100 links, push it to production and the feedback from users is abysmal. So then the customer contacts you and wants you to reduce the 100 navbar links that you just put in there.
This situation happens all the time and can even be blamed on you, or angrily be reacted to by the customer due to the poor user feedback.
Enough situations like this can kill a developers drive, making them simply a cog in the machine with no opinion past what work order they’re working on.
Disclaimer: this segment largely deals with the toxic workplace elements. Recently there has been some serious allegations regarding sexual misconduct and more within development studios. This section is not addressing those concerns.
more recently some gaming developer studios have been getting into hot water with the public for their treatment of developers, specifically crunch time and long hours, alongside other toxic work conditions
These same conditions can infect a web development agency rather easily pushing web developers into long hours, minimal days off, and sometimes an endless crunch cycle
While many people will argue that you should just leave your job if this happens, or fight for a better workplace where you are - this is certainly easily said than done. It can be especially painful if you’re invested in the work you’re doing, maybe you agree with their cause or they’re working on a web app that coincides with your out-of-work-time passion
This can also affect people who do not work in agencies
Freelancers and solo contract workers can be subject to much of the same treatment even if they work at home solo
Customers can be very overbearing, only contacting you when there are problems, constricting you to a small budget (low pay) and demanding your time whenever they need it.
At the end of the day many of these situations end up being thankless.
Fix this now, from a customer has you jumping to your feet, panicking and rushing through a fix. You get it working, messaging the angry client that you’re triumphant, only to have no response. Until the next time they have trouble.
Unrealistic deadlines that you fight against forcing you to crunch for hours and hours, only to be met with complaints and disdain at some features being rushed, or the project being dismantled altogether before even being pushed to production
Dealing with support requests from users. You’re dealing with people that are having issues, are probably already angry, and only want you to fix the issue now at any cost.
A lot of these situations are thankless. You work yourself to the bone only to be met with no thanks, or even feedback.
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