You’ve heard all those rumours of how nerdy looking people in glasses obsess over numbers they call things like “pie” or “eee”. You heard they dress up like aliens and go to big… ehm… seminars, where people sleep in sleeping bags and only eat bad food. Then you have the other side of it, in a couple of years they will have well-paid jobs at some major technological company. They also don’t switch partners easily, if they find someone they like they stick to him/her for, like, forever. You might also be able to hold an intellectual conversation with someone from this group, just try to stay away from tech-talk, you don’t want get hurt. If you are able to get their eyes off the screen, say hello to the programmers.
Typical comment: “Linux is much better than Windows”
On a trendy club in the middle of town you’ll find the next group of people. Some of these also have glasses, but not because they need them, more because it makes them look hip. These people never talk directly with the programmers; a few words could easily ruin their reputation completely. While these people also make a lot of money it’s more spread out over the year. They sometime get a creative period in January and paint images of pink goats that they sell for thousands of dollars, just to get no ideas at all in February and be broke. People from this group should be interesting if you’re in for fame and fortune, passion and flame, but be aware that you might need a couple of partners to switch between depending on their weekly mood. If they get a break in their busy schedule, you should say hello to the designers.
Typical comment: “Did you see those shoes she was wearing? They where teeeeerrible!”
In the third corner, not talking with any of the two groups above, we have a smaller group of people. These started as programmers but didn’t like sitting isolated in basements. They wanted to work more with people and what people wanted. After studying methods for doing that they suddenly stopped thinking about anything else. They quickly made enemies with the designers because of their often pretty creations that made people go “oh, this looks good” instead of using the product right away. People in this group are great at handling people, and are often good company on dates, that is, if you can take their know-it-all attitude. They tend to know everything that matters and love to tell you about it. They get decent salary and tend to stick with partners that stay “useful” (not too pretty) and focus on right things. If you find the most functional way to say hello you should try it with these people, the usability experts.
Typical comment: “Door handles are really quite bad, 60% of users would be better off with something else”
But I’m not here to talk about programmers, designers, or usability experts. I’m here to talk about a fourth group of people. These are the people that all three of the previous actually talk to. Not because they necessarily want to, but because they need it to get things done. These are the people that get frowned upon for being bad programmers, lousy designers, and for knowing too little about usability. Truth is, they still they manage to ship sites that actually work. They tend to be good at coding, but not in the way programmers are used to. While they don’t have the status of designers, they are visible in the same way. They are actually good at explaining their thinking to people around them (often without technical experience), and know who they design for. You’ll have no problems saying hello to the front-end developers.
Typical comment: “Don’t use tables for layout”
So, this fourth group of people have all the good characteristics of the other groups. Just like programmers they are able to have an intellectual conversation with someone. If you like the “nerdyness” that pretty much defines programmers, you’ll sometimes find it with the front-enders too (just try mentioning that you like XHTML). Like designers they do get some of the fame when a site gets successful, since they are the ones pulling the strings and making things work they are quite visible. But unlike designers, these people will not desert you because you used the same t-shirt two days in a row. As a final strike you’ll find that front-enders are good with people, just like the usability experts. They even know about the people that will be using the site and will gladly meet with them if they get the chance.
So front-end developers are simply the best kind of date, so what are you waiting for? Go out there and get one before they run out!