Developing with Quality and Speed: How we Code at SkillPages

I am lucky to be leading a great team of elite coders on the Front-End development team here in SkillPages.  I thought I’d share some insights into how we keep things running at light speed, and how we overcome the obstacles that prevent many teams, and team members, from ever reaching their full potential.

SkillPages FrontEnd Team - Xavier Torregrosa Jorques, John Hannon, Barry Delaney, Darren Mason and Enrico Foschi

1. Our coders understand our overall business

It sounds obvious but spending time talking about our mission and vision is utterly essential to developing great code that meets the needs of our members.  We make sure everyone knows why we’re doing one thing or another.  This keeps everyone on the same course and always knowing our destination.

Learning: Share goals and missions with your team and keep them in the loop.

2. We put users first

We don’t code for ourselves, or because we love the technology.  We code for our users.  We get a kick out of solving problems that real life people have.  Our total and complete focus is on making SkillPages useful for people, and perhaps more so, on making it usable!

Learning: Make sure your team members put themselves in the users’ shoes and don’t accept any compromise in usability.

3. We feel like we’re doing good for people

Coding for coding sake is fun.  But coding to change people’s lives is better.  All the team has been involved in various projects over the years but it’s great to work on something that has, at its core, the objective of unlocking new opportunities for people around the world.

Learning: Your team has to believe in what they do and why they do it. They need to feel part of the project.

4. Knowledge transfer

We always cross code and cross test.  Nobody is ever going to exclusively own a part of the code.  Far from having the traditional process of “we build it, someone else tests it”, we instead choose to work and test each other’s code.  One of the team works on and tests pretty much all my code and I do likewise for someone else.  This enables us to learn an incredible amount from each other and collectively progress the competence of the whole team.

Learning: Developers have to be responsible for their code, but don’t let them own it.

5. We never, ever compromise and we always code for the long term

Okay, so this one is perhaps the hardest to stick to. It slows us down, but not in the long run.  When we were in BETA, we cobbled things together, quickly.  We tested these things with our early users, always knowing we’d have to re-write for scale.  And so, since ending BETA, we started scaling and have had to re-write lots of code.  But now that new features are more certain, feedback is quicker from users and as a result we’ve shifted to taking more time to write scalable quality code.  A stitch in time saves nine!

Learning: Your team can code quick and dirty in the beginning for the sake of shipping fast, but keep in mind that sooner or later, you’ll have to do it the hard and proper way to survive.

6. We embrace the love

We see our community of users using the site, giving us feedback and getting value from what we do.  We might spend all day and night coding but it’s the feedback from users that gives us the boost to make things better.  Like a crowd cheering in a stadium, users talking to us and giving suggestion makes us realize we’re part of something bigger than just our team, and that is what makes things very, very exciting.

Learning: Don’t isolate your team from your users’ feedback.  Whether it’s good or bad, they need to see how their users feel and react to the project.

In conclusion, the most important reason why our team is so successful in SkillPages is because of the vision that goes beyond what we code: we know what we do, we know how we do it, we put ourselves in our users’ shoes and we listen to them in order to keep on improving the platform.

Thanks for being a part of SkillPages.  We hope you enjoy it and thanks for your interest.

About Enrico Foschi

Front End Lead at SkillPages

Posted on January 17, 2012, in SkillPages Insight, Tips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Developing with Quality and Speed: How we Code at SkillPages.

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