Pardon me, I speak Geek

Us web and application developers are an interesting breed. In our heads spin the code for the potential Next Big Thing. Most times, we just need an outlet (and generally a little bit of steering). It’s not unusual for a developer to launch into the nuts and bolts of an interactive project, so passionate about the project and its challenges that he or she forgets who is receiving the communication. Sometimes, most of what is coming out of his or her mouth zings right over the head of the potentially flabbergasted client.

Miscommunication is one of the most frustrating – and fixable — issues with any project. Take the Mars Surveyor ’98 program, for example. Due to miscommunication in the crucial calculation of the orbiter trajectory, a multimillion-dollar piece of precision technology became nothing more than a bug on Mars’ speeding windshield.

Could this have been avoided? Yes. Should it have been avoided? Absolutely, yes. And interactive projects are no different.

To all our non-tech clients, partners, colleagues, vendors and friends: If you are meeting with a developer and your eyes roll back in your head because there appear to be ones and zeros shooting from the developer’s mouth, call a time-out for some clarification.

  • Back the conversation up a bit; get clarification and agreement on the issue or topic
  • Ask the tech folks to describe how the topic or issue affects users and/or business owners (re: your customers and/or your staff)
  • Get options to solve the issue or topic
  • Discuss the pluses and minuses for each option; draw on their expertise; ask for recommendation(s)
  • If needed, have the tech team provide a reference guide or rundown of common technical terms and concepts for the project

There is almost always an easy way to meet at some common ground and move forward with a project, and it should not be a source of embarrassment if you are unsure what is going on. A basic rundown of the common technical concepts and some good old-fashioned give-and-take communication can mean the difference between success, or crashing and burning on the Martian surface.

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