Knowing Your Strengths (and Limitations)

Knowing Your Strengths (and Limitations)
girl develop it Detroit class

photo credit: Girl Develop It Detroit

At Synectics Media we encourage our entire team to learn basic web development skills. Simply put, we are a stronger team because of our common understanding. In keeping with this philosophy, last month Katy Hinz and Leah Yanuszeski attended two Girl Develop It workshops.


It’s the end of day 2 of the HTML and CSS for Beginners Workshop hosted by Girl Develop It Detroit. As someone who works at a digital media agency, it’s imperative that I have some background knowledge of what keeps a website together. Contrary to some beliefs, it’s not duct tape, string, or black magic. Back in the day, I coded a few sites in tables (gasp!), but it’s been ages since I had to get down and dirty with HTML. And, I’ll be honest, my only experience with CSS was hacking away at what Dreamweaver auto-generated for me. So I took this class to brush up.

Here’s why I can be trusted with websites:

  • I understand the principles. I know how all the pieces fit together, how the HTML doc speaks to the CSS doc, and that wonderful CSS box model.
  • I can communicate with my team. I know what a div, a span, and a class are. Instead of asking my programmer to move the “thing-a-ma-jig over a smidge,” I can explain that “I want to add a 10px margin to the left side of this image.”
  • I can troubleshoot. Our homework on day 1 was to open up some websites and inspect their code in Element Inspector. By understanding what all that gobbley-gook of code really means, I’m able to help my programming team troubleshoot site issues, and determine the quickest and best way to resolve them.

I’m pretty confident that I can code a rudimentary website circa 1997, but anything more, I need to call my programmers in for help.

Here’s why I call in a pro:

  • Time is precious: I can do many things, not all of them quickly. In order to provide the best price and outcome for my clients, I tend to shy away from doing the heavy lifting.
  • They’re experts for a reason: While I can communicate and understand the basic principals of the code, my programmers are far more talented. They come with a tool bag of years of learning, making mistakes, and having to learn more to overcome those mistakes. Let’s be realistic, their collective historical knowledge supersedes my weekend website course.
  • I have other priorities: While I may enjoy dabbling in code, it’s not my role in the company to spend too much time there. Being successful means being part of a team of experts that you trust. Delegate tasks and responsibilities. Be clear with what you need, then get out of the way.

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Posted by Katy Hinz

Katy Hinz