The role of the noob

Posted on Wed, 04/23/2014 - 10:03

Peter Nixey describes good developers as both technology proficient and hard working in his blog post. His concept of "simplicity" is worth noting. I highly encourage developers to create code that limits complexity. But, there is an even more important aspect of complexity: usability.

Simplicity and excellence are most reliably attained by starting with something, anything, that gets the job done and reworking back from that point.

Enter the noob. Every project should have someone in this role. Technologically detached. Familiar with project goals, but does not look at one line of code. No assumptions whatsoever. This person is well equipped to be a critical observer. And, this should be encouraged.
There is no better way to achieve excellence then to put your work in front of a noob to get a fresh perspective. Put your pride aside, this is the direct line to a better product. Keep in mind, the success of your work is defined externally by a client or by development communities that adopt your effort.
Noobs may be apologetic for not understanding what you have built. It's your role to understand the disconnect between their expectations and the objectives (or user stories). Encourage collaboration, drive towards mutual understanding, and do not get defensive.
Timing is everything. As Nixey noted, rework is key. Expect it, plan for it, allocate budget, and so on. This screams for an iterative, agile process. The sooner a prototype can be produced, the faster the disconnects can be found. In other words, a rapid prototype iterates and converges towards excellence. And, again, the noob becomes invaluable.
The noob should be an active participant in this process, ideally a part of your team. A noob should perform quality assurance long before a client sees a prototype. Not only do you get the feedback you seek, you likely create an ally to address the challenges brought up by the client. Two sets of eyes are better than one. And, if two people familiar with goals can agree on an approach, two people can advocate for the merit of the approach.
Give it a shot! Hop on Google Hangout, do a screen share, and watch the feedback pour in. Be grateful for the noob. He or she just may provide that advantage you need to succeed.
development drupal people