Often times, as a developer, I’m asked the question we all dread…
Do you have a minute? I have an idea I want to run past you.
<insert generic idea with slight twist here>
How long would that take you?
Be honest, it’s happened once or twice this month, right? Yep, me too. Often times, the first thing I go to, is how long it would actually take me to dev the work. We’re all experts in something that we feel we can do better than everyone else..but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a quick example that proves my point.
Hey dear, I have a question…
I’m sure, that’s a question many of use have heard from our partners at some point in their relationship, so I wasn’t really dreading it, until this was the question:
So there it was, the dreaded, “How long/much does it take to build X.” To lay a little background my wife runs a Co-Op, in which she collects people that want to buy a lot from the same company, gathers their orders, then places one large order to reduce costs. Technically, she’s a wholesaler. Sometimes, when there aren’t quite enough orders to fill the minimums, she’ll front the cost and resell the remainders later. Her previous method was very time consuming and not easy to manage.
As a developer on Easy Digital Downloads, I thought, “This should be EASY. I’ll just get access to the USPS API, build a quick shipping plugin, get a theme setup, and she’ll be off to the races selling her extras online without a care.” So I thought…as I started planning the work, between my job, family time, chores around the house, holidays…yep, this wasn’t going to be quick and would likely take a few iterations to get right.
I traded in my EDD hat for a bit, installed WooCommerce and even bought the WooThemes USPS Shipping plugin. I went to the ‘Dark Side’…and it worked out perfectly. Within hours, my wife was publishing her extras, and within 24 hours, made her first sale. She’s made several since, and minus a small $0.30 issue in shipping, everything has been estimated nearly perfectly. In the end, something I had done, or could do, wasn’t the answer to the question. It existed elsewhere.
You aren’t always the answer
When we’re passionate about building a product, it becomes our hammer, and every question looks like a nail. In this case I’m a developer on an eCommerce platform, that could do what my wife needed with a little help. The truth of the matter is, someone else has one that worked perfectly for her, and I didn’t have to be that hero. In fact, days after we pushed the site live, WooThemes shipped their free ‘Storefront’ theme that’s now powering her store. And with great features that she was amazed by, that again, would have taken me time to build into a theme to integrate with EDD.
Did it hurt to not use something I’m proud to have worked on…you bet it did. In all reality though, this was less about my ego, and more about getting my ‘client’ what they needed, and that’s the real win.
Using the other Hammer
There are a few added benefits to using this platform that ‘competes’ with the one I work on. It’s always a good idea to look at your competition, in fact, it’s encouraged. Most likely though, your research is just setting it up in a test area, using it for a day, and then leaving it behind. You never really give it the ‘daily driver’ attempt. Therefore, you miss a TON of good knowledge. Using WooCommerce for my wife’s site has lead to me seeing a different way to do things, which is NEVER a bad idea. Some things, I feel, Easy Digital Downloads does better. There are other areas though where WooCommerce has us beat, and that means we can improve. If I can get you to take away one thing it’s this:
Never let your pride in your work stop you from admiring and praising the work of others. Click To Tweet
In the end, both Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce are extremely popular and well built pieces of software that the developers can be proud of. I’m just glad I took the opportunity to give the ‘competition’ a shot and see the great work some of my friends have been apart of.