When talking to some friends over at the coffee shop, one person asked me to take a look at his laptop (like I have sucker across my forehead). His laptop needed drivers since his DVD drive no longer worked. I tried to explain to the group what a driver was and how it interacted with the other pieces involved. This is something as web developers we have to deal with on a daily basis, explaining to others the technical terminology and concepts that are natural to us. What do they need to understand?

To me, technology is a means to accomplishing a desired outcome. In my friend’s case he desired to be able to access CDs and DVDs with his computer. Although he needed a missing driver to accomplish this he really doesn’t need to know much about drivers. He just need to know what file to download from Gateway to accomplish this task. He would appreciate knowing what is wrong with his computer, but not about the internals of the windows operating system that uses drivers to talk to the hardware.

When describing a web application, product, or service. It is important to keep this in mind. I love to strut my stuff and show off my mad technical knowledge, but I have to keep my audience in mind. Show them I know what I am talking about not in terms of the technology, but in terms of the problem they are trying to solve. If they are having trouble getting visitors to their site, saying “you need SEO” isn’t as good as, “what would it look like if I could improve your site so you get more traffic on a daily basis?”

Getting the message across is more important than using the right terms and buzzwords. It is about solving problems and explaining enough about how are going to solve them so that the expectations and desired outcome are clear.