17 Things Web Developers Can Do That Nobody Else Can


ken-mazaika  by Ken Mazaika       Last updated Mar. 23, 2017

Short intro by Kyle:

Ken is a talented writer and he proved it once again in this article.

He's the founder of Firehose Project, a popular online education platform to help you become a developer.

Without further delay, here's Ken:

You might be wondering why the world seems to treat developers like superheroes.

In many ways, this is because it's true!

If you're a web developer, you have additional skills and abilities that most ordinary people don't have.

Let's talk about the 17 coolest things that developers can do that nobody else can.

1. Control Their Own Fate

Developers have the ability to turn their ideas into reality. This means that they control everything from the ground up.

Developers can build apps, create features, and build technology themselves without relying on anyone else to do the job. If you're a developer, you never have to do any of these things:

  • Find and convince a technical co-founder to build out an idea.
  • Pay contractors outrageous amounts of money to build out basic features.

If you're a developer, your fate is in your hands. If you want something built, you can do it yourself. It's a powerful feeling.

2. Physically Show People What They Do For a Living

When someone asks a web developer what they do at work, they can take out their smartphone and show that person the web application that they are building.

Developers can go through the app and say things like:

"I built that feature."

It's really cool to be able to point out exactly what you worked on and talk about specific features that wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for your work.

3. Play Ping Pong or Foosball at Work

It might sound cliche, but developers do actually play a lot of ping pong and foosball.

When thinking about complex coding problems, it can be super helpful to take a mental break and play around.

This can lead to cool "Ah Ha" moments where you finally understand how to solve a difficult problem.

4. Understand The True Meaning of Commonly Used Words

Programmers often throw around technical terms wouldn't make any sense to non-technical people.

I'm talking about words like:

  • Ruby
  • Python
  • Angular
  • React
  • Sass
  • Mocking
  • Stubbing
  • Test
  • Unicorn
  • Puma
  • FactoryGirl
  • String
  • Class
  • Constant

Programmers say things like:

"Are you using FactoryGirl to set the string to a valid value or do you think mocking or stubbing the class could be more effective?"

It's pretty much like speaking a foreign language, only using English words.

5. Create a GUI Interface in Visual Basic to Track a Killer's IP Address

Developers are the ultimate BS-detectors.

They know when people are throwing together a lot of fancy buzzwords to sound like they know what they're talking about.

For example, check out this amazing clip from CSI that actually doesn't make any sense at all if you know what the buzzwords actually mean:

6. Easily Add Advanced Features to Websites to Make More Money

With tools like Wordpress and Squarespace, it's never been easier to setup a basic website for an idea you have.

Developers can create sites and applications with far more complex functionality than Squarespace or Wordpress could ever offer.

I'm talking about things like:

  • Adding the ability to accept credit card payments
  • Implementing recurring subscription functionality
  • Set up an e-commerce store
  • Doing any other customized thing that isn't built into Squarespace or Wordpress

Developers can add these types of advanced features that are huge money-drivers for businesses all over the world. Nobody else can.

That's part of the reason why it's pretty cool to be a developer right now.

7. Grow an Epic Beard

Most employers judge their developments teams based solely on their programming skills.

As long as you're a productive developer, you can grow a beard as big as you want.


Remember that there is more than one way to land a job as a professional developer.

So if you want to be able to sport an epic beard at your job, you don't need a CS degree to make it a reality.

8. Have The Ability to Know The Answer to Everything

Normal people have two categories of things:

  • Things they know
  • Things they don't know

But developers have a slightly different set of things:

  • Things they know
  • Things they don't know but use Google to figure out

A big part of programming is learning how to effectively use Google to uncover the answers to questions.

This skill translates to all aspects of life, and it makes developers seem like geniuses who know everything when in reality they're just ordinary people who know how to leverage the Internet to figure things out.

9. Take Screenshots of Things That Never Actually Happened

Developers can use Google Chrome's dev tools to bend the truth and use it to play jokes on their friends.

Take this tweet for instance, that Kyle never made:


See how easy it is to play these types of pranks in this video:

10. Drink an Absurd Amount of Caffeine Without Being Judged

Many developers live by an important motto:

"Will code for coffee"

If you're a developer, you're expected to have a high caffeine intake.

It's par for the course.

11. Take an Iterative Approach to Life

Developers learn quickly that they're unlikely to land on a full solution to a complex problem right away.

So developers solve problems in an iterative way. They take small steps towards an ultimate end goal.

This iterative approach can often be an awesome way to approach many of the problems that come up in life.

Because of this, developers tend to be really good at solving problems that have nothing to do with coding.

12. Figure Out Solutions to Problems Other People Don't Even Understand

Ordinary people often have trouble understanding the problems that programmers face.

I'm talking about things like:

"Why did you stay up until 3 AM running regression tests?"

If you ask a developer a question like this, you'll probably get a long-winded explanation of why the work was so important, interesting, and urgent to do.

Most people don't think about all of the minor details that go into every single web application.

Developers understand and appreciate the importance of every single decision, even the small edge cases.

13. Prototype Ideas Quickly

Developers often have a totally different approach to radical questions, like:

"What would happen if we built an app that asked a user to answer a multiple choice question, and depending on their response, showed them a different video?"

Ordinary people can talk about what would happen.

But developers can spend a weekend building out a proof-of-concept and actually find out the answer.

14. Make Puns and Have it Be Socially Acceptable

Some of the best developers in the world make lame puns all the time.

Now let that sink in.


15. Say it How it is

Most developers talk directly about the work they do.

They don't beat around the bush because doing so slows things down.

Code systems can be complex. You need to be able to talk about code frankly and directly in order to get things done faster.

16. Engage in The Open Source Ecosystem

Open source projects are projects that developers work on in which they share the code they use and they allow contributions from anyone in the world.

Developers have the unique ability to jump into open source projects, implement their own feature ideas, and propose them back to the community.

17. Build an Awesome Portfolio Page

Most great developers have built their own personal website. It can be really awesome to create a living resume that communicates your coding skills.

You can showcase things like:

  • Your background and how it relates to coding.
  • Projects/apps you've built.
  • The code you've written.

If you're a new developer, this is a great way to jumpstart your career.

At Firehose, we designed the first part of our free Bootcamp Prep Course to help you build your own portfolio page.

You can get started here.

Conclusion by Kyle:

Thanks for this awesome article Ken! Very helpful and definitely encouraging.

Let Ken and myself know what you thought on social media and which part is your favourite: