As any developer will tell you, the biggest gap between project/product managers and their team is a literal language barrier. They may be speaking the same language, but they are not speaking the same language. The parlance of the programmer can be an obstacle that most production teams have to navigate around. Kabir Hemrajani, product manager at Tiny Tycoons developer and Cambridge based The Tap Lab, saw this problem and decided to solve it by trying his hand at coding.
Hemrajani recognized that tools such as Codecademy and W3Schools were effective introductions, but the best way to learn code was to jump off the deep end. Find a project that makes you say, “Here is something I would like to build, so why don’t I start here?”
Hemrajani’s adventure into code became a full fledged side project in the form of Reddit in Bed, a different way to view reddit that is optimized for tablets and phones. “I would be looking at reddit on my iPad in bed and giggling to myself and my fiancé would always be asking what was so funny,” explained Hemrajani. Try as he might to get her in on the joke, it wouldn’t take. This is rather common because a lot of people find the layout of reddit inaccessible and thus turn their attention elsewhere.
However, Hemrajani was determined to share his reddit experience with his fiancé so he set to making a tool that would make the self proclaimed ‘front page of the internet’ more user-friendly. “I would lock myself in a room on a Sunday and get a ton [of coding] done” admitted Hemrajani. About a year ago, he introduced Reddit in Bed to his fiancé and, lo and behold, “I could get her to look at reddit.”
What makes Reddit in Bed different? Besides the fact that it is optimized for phones and tablets, the design “unintentionally makes it feel like the Facebook mobile experience.” Hemrajani built a layout that was meant to better capture his fiancé’s attention and, without realizing it, did so with a platform similar to the female dominated social network. A (predominately male) reddit resembling Facebook would, logically, appeal to more women. (Conversely, could this mean a Facebook experience that resembles reddit would be more appealing to men?…. an upvote/downvote system on Facebook? Yes please.)
The website itself is “an experiment” says Hemrajani. He expressed a bit of concern that if Reddit in Bed caught on, he would get a lot of flack from the notoriously unforgiving reddit community (known as ‘redditors’). Though the site lacks polish, it is remarkably smart for a project that was designed simply to practice code and for personal use.
According to Hemrajani, the learning experience was invaluable. Armed with a better understanding of the language, it became easier to comprehend what programmers can sometimes struggle to explain to non-code speakers. This, plus his secret ingredient (tacos) has made his team into a machine; “Tacos go away and code comes out.”