Inside the Mind of a Female Web Developer

Renee Haas

by Renee Haas

Senior Web Developer

I’m about to blow…your…mind. Have you ever seen the code behind a website? Talked with the web developer(s) who made it happen? Wondered why it takes so long to build? There’s so much going on behind the scenes, and I want to give an insight into the mind of a web developer.

My name is Renee M. Haas, and I’m a Senior Web Developer at Marriner. I’m a proud woman in tech, and I’ve been working on our digital team for six years and counting. I first got interested in computers at the age of 14, back when dial-up Internet was a thing. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in the field of computers—only that I wanted to pursue it as a career in some way, shape or form. After years of high school courses, a college degree in computer information systems and a two-year stint as a software engineer, I found my happy place as a web developer. What I didn’t know at 14 was that I possessed key traits to being successful in this business. Two of the most important, contradictory traits are the abilities to be detail oriented and see the big picture.

When I’m building a website, I’m looking at it from two lenses. First, how does what I’m doing relate to everything else that goes into building the site from a high level? I think about how content, data and design come together. I have to think about how the website works from a technology perspective in bringing together servers; databases; content management systems (CMS); and any other third-party integrations, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Then I get into the details of it all, and I ask myself questions like: Are we optimizing this site for search engines, applying analytics tracking and providing social sharing features? Is how I’m building out the CMS going to be intuitive and easy to use for a nontechnical person? Is how I’m coding this going to be easy for another developer to pick up, and how will it affect how fast the site loads? Not to mention the small details in the design that make all the difference in the quality of the final product and making sure it translates well on desktop, tablet and mobile.

All this takes a lot of time, not only to think it through but also to execute it. The execution part is where the magic happens. I take all the smart planning, creative insights, content strategy and design that my team has been working hard on and finally build it by writing code that looks like complete gibberish to an untrained eye. And boy oh boy does it take a lot of code. And guess what? The code is growing. Websites are growing more and more complex. The design and functionality are getting better. We’re able to do cool new things that we weren’t able to do even two years ago. There was a time before responsive design when I didn’t have to think about how the same website was going to look good on both a giant display monitor as well as a tiny iPhone.

CSS

Take a look at this CSS code. I wrote all 7,467 lines of it, and that’s what it took just to make a moderate-size website look nice. That doesn’t include any HTML, which is the structure of a website; JavaScript, which helps with the functionality and interactions of a website; or my specialty, ASP.NET, which does the work of serving up data and content. Oh, by the way, if just one single character of that code is wrong, it can break the design, functionality, web page or even the entire site.

Building a website takes a lot of thought, from a high level in thinking about how all the pieces come together to the tiny details that can break a website or degrade the quality. It takes a talented developer to operate in both these mind spaces and to have the skills to execute the vision by writing thousands of lines of code with little room for error. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of time, energy and passion. It’s mind-blowing, isn’t it? My 14-year-old self would have thought so.

To speak to a talented grown-up about your website, give the experts at Marriner a call at 410.715.1500.

Animated GIF source: converse.com

view more