Why I decided to become a developer

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Why I decided to become a developer

Joshua's photo
·Aug 19, 2022·

5 min read

Let me do something that I haven't done in a while - I'll talk about myself. I hope that this post will inspire some of you who are thinking about becoming developers or already junior developers. I'll talk about why I chose to become a developer.

To summarize, I became a web developer to help my mum sell more but I learnt a lot more than coding in the process.

Time for that backstory no jutsu. My mum is a baker; She bakes cakes, pastries and bread. A few years ago, she wanted to break into the online space to allow her customers order her products from the comfort of their homes. She hired a WordPress developer to build a website for her. Let me just say, I don't know this guy, I haven't seen him in years but I actually want to thank him for inspiring me. The website he built for my mum was so bad it actually drove me to learn how to build sites - just to piss him off. Let me explain :-

My mum sells a lot of things, different kinds of cakes, pastries and all that. She wanted a website that her customers would visit, see pictures of her products and their general price then call her either to negotiate the price or to place an order. So basic stuff, right? Well, when she called the developer, let's call him Caleb.

When she called Caleb and negotiated the price, ( it came down to about ₦150,000 ( ~ $400 ) for a website that did what I described above ). My mum accepted the price, the guy accepted, everything went down well and a deal was made. However, the site had quite a few problems but they all boiled down to one - it was extremely static.

I can say that now because I am a web developer, but at the time I wasn't and neither was my mum (a developer), so she couldn't really describe what she hated but here are the issues she raised -

  • Old product images :- As you know in baking as in life, the more you do it the better you get at it. So as you can imagine after a few months all of the images on the site immediately become subpar. I'll let you know why she didn't just update the images soon.

  • The product prices :- A similar issue as the one above, prices on the site become old pretty quickly. Rising inflation and cost of production material in Nigeria made prices rise almost every month.

I know you are probably thinking, why didn't she just call Caleb and ask him to update the images and prices. Well apparently anytime she called him, he would respond with something similar to this - "As a web developer, my time costs money. To update anything on the site, I'll have to charge you.".

This completely drove my mum insane because -

  • The website got zero traffic :- I remember at one point when I checked the site analytics, it had gotten like seven visitors - in the past year. So the website wasn't making her any money and the guy kept charging her money to do even basic things, and it just frustrated her.

Eventually after three years of working with him my mum was fed and finally called off their agreement. She called him and told him she was no longer interested.

This really upset me because I know she still wanted to go online ( but resources where limited ), and I remember thinking to myself, this website thing can't be that hard. If I can learn it, I'll probably be able to solve my mum's problem - for cheap too.

Looking back, I think that's where my journey started. It took about two years to even get to the point where I could charge people money to do their site. I learnt HTML , CSS then later JavaScript, Vue/Nuxt and Laravel. That is pretty much my stack now (though I dabbled with Python, NodeJS and React).

While learning, I understood just how hard it was to hand code several hundred products into a website, but that's exactly why things like Laravel and Nuxt where created. Don't hard code it just fetch it from a database and then give the client a way to change the products themselves. Isn't that much easier? As the developers, we make things easier not more complex.

I completely understand where Caleb was coming from ( now at least ), you can't charge one fee for unlimited updates. A simply solution is to just build a CMS or create a script that can add like 20% to all the products automatically or something. The customer is always right doesn't mean literally, it just means you should treat them like they are ( I think ).

Anyway, Caleb taught me a valuable lesson that I think every developer should know. "Seek to understand rather than be understood." ~ forgot where I read that. Basically, understand your client before you start coding anything.

He or she may want to make more sales, or drive customers to a physical store or just display products on their site. Know what they want, and do your best to give them that. If you aren't solving people's problems, how can you call yourself a developer?

That's my backstory no jutsu. Hope you enjoyed.

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