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Cover image for From Good to Great: The Power of Empathy in Programming
Bruno Noriller
Bruno Noriller

Posted on • Originally published at Medium


From Good to Great: The Power of Empathy in Programming

Tired of creating software that falls short of its potential? Want to elevate your coding game to new heights? Then it's time to tap into the power of empathy. By putting yourself in the shoes of both the user and your fellow programmers, you'll create software that not only works but exceeds everyone's expectations.

Empathy for the User: Don't Just Give 'Em What They Want

As a programmer, it's tempting to simply give the user what they ask for. But by taking the time to understand the user's needs and struggles, you'll create software that truly makes their life easier. Ask yourself: what are the user's pain points? What will make their life easier, not just what they think they want?

A classic example of this is when someone who works with spreadsheets is asked what they want in software. They'll probably say they want a spreadsheet, but faster and on the web.

Trust me on that one! I’ve been working in an internal department for years and the main problem is that the users don’t even know what is possible. They got used to their workflow using spreadsheets so it makes sense they would think that’s what they need.

Because of this, I’m always of the opinion that it doesn’t matter that you don’t know about the industry you work with. Unless you’re working with software to be used only by experts, you’re bound to make something that will be used by people of all knowledge levels.

If you don’t know anything, then you can make sure any beginner will find it easier to use. From there, making tools to improve the workflow for experts is a lot easier than simplifying the process for a beginner to be able to use your software.

Empathy for Your Fellow Programmers: Make the Code Last

It's easy to get caught up in delivering features as quickly as possible, but the long-term consequences of cutting corners can be significant. Code that's difficult to modify and maintain can lead to endless hours of frustration, wasted time, and lost productivity. By taking the time to make your code easy to understand and modify, you'll make life easier for both yourself and your fellow programmers.

Sure, the managers might want as many features as quickly as possible, but if you keep having to circle back and fix what you're doing, you'll never go anywhere. And let's be real, you probably don't even remember that feature you wrote last week. So what happens when you have to read code written by someone who might not even be a colleague anymore? By caring for the code, you'll ensure that future changes and additions can be made with ease.

Incorporating empathy into your coding practices will not only make you a better programmer, but also a better team player. When you care about making the code last (yours and your colleagues), it shows that you respect them and the time they'll spend working with the code (remember: most of the time we are reading code!). And that's a team-friendly attitude that will be appreciated by everyone… Even if you make them angry during the code reviews…

The Empathetic Programmer: A Force to Be Reckoned With

Incorporating empathy into your programming practices can make you not only a better coder but also a better collaborator and problem solver.

So let's raise a glass to the empathetic programmer. Cheers!

Cover Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

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Yanis Renaud


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