As we were writing the recently released State of Visual Media report, I sat down with JS developer and content creator James Q Quick to learn more about his work and thoughts on the top challenges and opportunities facing web developers today. He also weighed in on the latest AI tools, including ChatGPT, and where he thinks the world of AI is headed next.
Quick’s passion for teaching and empowering developers has blossomed into a growing Discord “Learn Build Teach” community of developers focused on helping one another succeed. You can join here.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your background and expertise?
Quick is a JS developer, keynote speaker, and content creator whose passion for teaching has impacted hundreds of thousands of developers across the world. With more than 10 years of software development and developer advocacy experience, Quick understands many of the challenges and opportunities today’s developers face. In his spare time, he runs a thriving Discord community called Learn Build Teach, plays co-ed soccer with his wife, and can solve a Rubik’s cube in under a minute.
Consumer demands for fast and flawless digital experiences have changed the way many companies think about digital transformation in recent years. In your experience, what are some of the biggest challenges developers face when trying to create the dynamic experiences consumers love and brands need, while meeting internal expectations for speed and performance?
I think there has always been a constant struggle between “doing it right” and “doing it fast.” As we’ve seen with the evolution of the Agile methodology, I think it’s important for companies to embrace moving quickly and iterating, and developers have to be bought in. I’ve seen organizations go all in on Agile, but without full buy-in from developers and upper management, the promised benefits of Agile were lost. A huge part of being able to do all of this successfully revolves around established CI/CD pipelines and automation.
Can you speak to the importance of images and video on the user experience, and how developers should think about managing visual content more effectively and efficiently?
Personally, I have always responded better to websites that include images and videos. I think this is true for most people as well. From a developer’s perspective, it’s important to think about how to serve those digital experiences in a way that doesn’t detract from the user experience. Users are quick to move on if images/video load too slowly, so it’s important for developers to hyper-focus on how to improve performance to avoid losing customers.
What has your experience been to date with AI tools designed to help developers build faster/better/easier?
My experience has been that AI is definitely changing the way that we, as developers, write code every day. The emergence of tools like Github Copilot and ChatGPT have made it easier than ever for developers to continue to do what we do best: to build! While some people fear that AI tools might replace developer jobs, I actually think the opposite. AI will expand our vision of what we are capable of building and therefore continue to drive innovation.
What role do you think AI will play – and/or should play – in the day-to-day work of a developer in the coming years?
I believe AI will be an essential part of a developer’s workflow going forward. Similar to the impact that Stack Overflow has had for several years now, tools like ChatGPT and Github Copilot will become the defacto tools that developers use to write code. I believe this also will help level the playing field for what is considered to be a “senior” developer. We’ll now see “junior” developers being able to contribute at a higher level than ever before. Lastly, I believe developers who embrace AI tools and learn to work with them efficiently will be the most successful going forward.
What skills should developers consider ‘developing’ to keep pace with the changes in technology and the opportunities it presents?
It’s hard to say. In general, I think maintaining an open and inquisitive mindset is crucial to keeping up in the world of technology that moves so quickly. I think developers who are stagnant will continue to struggle. I also think it is worthwhile for developers to start to invest time into learning to work well with AI tools. We are already seeing jobs pop up titled AI Prompt Engineer, which I think shows the long-term viability of that skill set.
Looking to learn more about the ways in which developers are harnessing the power of AI to manage and deliver flawless visual content faster? Check out this year’s 2023 State of Visual Media report.