How To Tell the Difference Between a Good Programmer and a Great One

Are you one of those programmers who aspire to be great but struggle to become that?

If so, you’re not alone. Many programmers strive to be the best in their field. Their curiosity to perform better than before leads them forward, making them sought-after by top software development companies.

Many companies that provide software development services to their clients look for great programmers for their projects to reduce cost and time and to create optimal products.

What does it take to reach this level of success? And how exactly do you attain this new title?

Well, it’s not easy, and it requires a lot of hard work. But if you’re dedicated enough, here are nine ways through which you can transition from being a good programmer to becoming a great programmer.

It’s All in the Approach

An important step toward becoming a great programmer is having the right approach to the challenges you face day-to-day.

An optimistic attitude toward your project, your product, your team, and your capabilities is one of the best approaches you can take. If you see that some of your team members are lacking motivation, cheer them up. Provide them with a fun and creative environment where they feel charged up and contribute 100% to the entire project.

Dividing the entire project into little parts is another approach you can take. This way, you can focus entirely on each section. Since focus is a necessary skill for great programmers, this along with eliminating distractions will help you grow.

Moreover, a great programmer will go to any lengths to get the best product out there, pushing through the more challenging tasks and refusing to back down.

A Great Communicator

Imagine your team members are all doing their own assigned tasks without coordinating with each other. Once the deadline comes, you hand your respective parts to the team lead. What do you expect the outcome will be? More often than not, you’re left with a mismatched end product?

If you want to become a great programmer, you need to make sure there is effective communication between you and your team. You need to identify problems, understand them, come up with solutions, and contribute to discussions whenever necessary. This shows higher ups that you are genuinely invested in the development process and are keen to deliver an excellent product.

Not only this, but you will also have to make sure that all your team members are on the same page as you, or if they are ahead of you, that you need to catch up.

Furthermore, it is your job to appreciate your fellow developers if they have done something commendable. Positive reaffirmation builds trust with your co-workers and helps them grow professionally, leading them to think higher of you.

Stay Productive

Being productive does not only mean finding solutions instantly or churning out ideas all the time, but it also means you are open to new technologies or ideas and are constantly looking out for new skills and learning possibilities. In short, you are always on the go.

You will have to make sure your workplace is distraction-free. If you don’t like clutter around your desk, you can keep organizers, planners, and notes for noting down your ideas, pending tasks, etc.

If you like to have small breaks, maybe you can set yourself up a small library where you can spend time reading about your favorite technology. Or you can simply join a colleague of yours in an interesting discussion around your project. Chances are you might get inspired from the discussion.

A great programmer always makes sure the environment around them is such that they will stay productive and continue forward in their programming journey.

A Team Player

A great programmer is a good team player. If you want to become one, you will need to make sure that all your team members are at ease and no one feels excluded during the entire development phase. It is essential to provide everyone with a safe space where each member can feel comfortable enough to work at their maximum productive capacity. This will reflect positively on the team’s overall performance.

You will also have to support your team members on whatever task they are performing. If they are presenting something, make sure you attend and provide your valuable feedback. If they are stuck in the middle of the task, help them get through it. This will help your team members gain confidence and encourage them to take ownership of whatever task they are doing.

Let’s be honest here, this industry is so highly competitive that you will get a lot of people who only want to criticize your work, but you will find few to support you.

To help in supporting your team, you also need to be a good listener. Try attending events such as a hackathon and other programming-related events. This will help you network with other programmers who might offer something to inspire you. You can also get valuable feedback on your current/upcoming projects from your fellow attendees.

Bonus Tip: You might find a mentor through these events whom you can look up to when you need advice related to coding and/or your career in this field. So, it’s a win-win situation.

Forward-Thinking Product Development

Great programmers develop products by keeping the end-user in mind. They may compromise on deadlines but will make sure to find a viable solution to the problem the project has set out to solve while never compromising on quality.

Since each project has different needs and requirements, a great programmer will understand them very well and will not shy away from testing out new technologies and codes to best fit the needs of the product they are developing.

To do so yourself, you will have to reevaluate your developed product countless times until it fulfills all requirements.

Bonus Tip: You should not leave the customers confused once the product is completed and launched in the market, but instead, provide them with a detailed guide on how to use it.


Another quality that great programmers possess is sharp-mindedness. It is not enough to find a solution to a problem—you have to be smart about it.

With lots of technical experience, a great programmer will be able to point out mistakes and issues during the development process. They will be able to analyze and assess the situation and come up with multiple solutions out of which one will be the best fit.

Sharp-minded also means that you have a knack for self-learning. Try to learn new technologies and codes on your own. You will be able to process complicated bits of information and make it easier for your other team members.

A sharp-minded programmer will be quick to find answers that other programmers might struggle with, which is only possible when you are eager to learn on your own.

Multitask Like a Pro

If you want to achieve greatness in your profession, you often have to juggle many things simultaneously. Hence, a great programmer often tries to multitask during a project. They perform the role of mentor, team player, programmer, designer, and so on.

However, it is necessary to prioritize your tasks so you can juggle everything together successfully and minimize distractions, which will enable you to stay focused and consistent.

For instance, if you are a team lead, you have to assist a coder, assist a UI/UX designer, and update the project manager about your team’s progress all at once. In this case, you need to prioritize your tasks with respect to the urgency and importance.

Once you are a pro at it, you’ll make fewer mistakes and excel more often.

Extensive Technical Experience

Since a great programmer has a knack for self-learning, they will acquire tons of technical experience that will be unmatched by other team members. They will try their best to go through tech blogs, news, podcasts, information, theory, etc., which could benefit them in their professional life. This will broaden their knowledge and give them skills to implement in their work.

This also makes them qualified for more jobs, since they become experts in certain technologies. Their analytical skills also get polished because of working on different projects with different needs and requirements.

A great programmer will follow coding conventions to write efficient code that will be understood by other team members. They will leave notes (in-line comments) where necessary so that when someone takes over, they will be able to understand the thought process behind the already-written code.

Learn From Others

Last but not least, here is a piece of advice based on our own experience that can help you become a great programmer.

A great programmer is very good at receiving feedback provided during the code review session, after developer-level testing, or after the quality assurance review. They will make the most out of the feedback given so that the end developed product is optimal and of exceptional quality.

Moreover, if you are confused about something, you should not shy away from asking an experienced programmer to guide you. Even the greats could use a hand every now and then.

Start Your Journey Now

To become the best in your field, you don’t need extra money or degrees. If you have the will to improve, curiosity to learn, tolerance to receive feedback, and patience to work within a team, you can achieve greatness.

The ways that we have listed above such as having a positive approach, becoming a great communicator, staying productive and multitasking, becoming a team player, thinking about the product and end-user, and acquiring technical experience will make you stand out from the rest.

So what are you waiting for? Greatness is just around the corner! All you have to do is decide you want it.