It’s easy to put developers in a box. When you have a skeptical technical audience, you can feel like you are messaging to deaf ears. However, developers like Oana Mancu have sympathy, even empathy, for companies trying to provide a product — especially if you deliver an entertaining, high-quality ad, a high-functioning product website, and are willing to listen to her feedback.
Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up, where do you live now, what do you do?
I grew up in and still live in Bucharest, Romania. I went to the University of Bucharest for my bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in applied mathematics.
During my studies, I volunteered my time as a math tutor for foster kids, and also I worked with kids in the hospital. I’ve had several internships, including with Unicredit Business Solutions, where I worked on an internal web application that generates reports about eligible loans, improving my Java and DB skills. I also completed an internship with Orange, a telecommunications company (ITE Department, Orange France, and South Africa). During this period of time, I worked along with a mentor using a Java-based tool, sharpening my skills in J2EE, JSF, Jonas, SQL, DB2, JPA, CSS, HTML, database design, and database development — being involved in all stages of the project, from designing the tool to development and implementation.
Currently, I do the programming for my family’s business, and I also work as a freelancer. I mostly work in C# and ASP.NET. Now that I have finished my studies, I continue to explore the wonderful world of IT by not just doing a job, but by being open to new challenges and opportunities like the AI TensorFlow challenge.
In my free time, I like to travel.
Why do you participate in your developer community?
The developer community helped make me the programmer I am today, so I like to give back. For this reason, I like to participate in CodeProject. Besides CodeProject, I participate in the Mathematics Stack Exchange, partly because of the subject, and partly because it’s mainly answering questions. Answering a single question is not as hard as writing a whole article. 😉
What is the newest tech you are using, learning, excited about, or curious about?
I’m excited about 5G communication and machine learning. I love machine learning because it combines math and programming — two things I really like.
Where do you go for info about developer tools?
To learn about developer tools? I read job descriptions for developers. If you see new technologies appear, you should start learning about them. I also look for online courses and tutorials and articles. If I have to choose between two products, I will choose something with the best courses, tutorials and articles available. If I’m choosing something to write about, I choose the opposite — something that doesn’t have much already written about it.
What ads attract you?
Developer ads that attract me get my attention in some way. For example, it could be a promotion of products that fit a need or for something I know nothing about. I also enjoy video ads, but I don’t like them to scare me if they start with the sound. I don’t like pop-up ads on top of what I am trying to read. I like it if they are part of the page. It’s great if they are funny and have a story to tell — like mini-movies with a script, music, and editing. I always appreciate good work. And usually I trust a company more that puts money into great ads.
Because it shows the company put work into it — they are serious. If the company did a good job with the ad, I tend to think their product’s quality is also good. But if they produce a poor-quality ad, then I think their product is poor.
The quality of the product landing page or website is very important. But if I click on an ad, if I go to the product website, I judge by the website. Partly I judge how it looks, but mainly how it works, because I’m a developer and the site should be made by a developer. If the site is not good, then it means you have poor developers.
Do you click on the ad or search the product/advertiser you see in the ad on a separate browser instance?
I click on the ad. First of all, it’s quicker. If I’m interested, then I search the internet for more information. I also click, because I know that the company put the ad there. I think it would be mean to not let the company know that they didn’t put it there in vain.
How do you feel when you visit content or another site you are interested in, that was advertised to you, only to find that you have to give a phone number to get what was offered?
I would search for what I want in another place, unless I see the reason behind having to give my number. For example, if I bought the product, it makes sense. But if I don’t see the reason, I’m not going to give my phone number. Unless they want your phone number for two-step verification — that’s OK. But not for sales.
Same as above — except what about your credit card info?
I never give my credit card information without checking the company first. If I trust the company, I’m OK with giving that information to verify that I’m not just signing up for tons of free trials with different email addresses, though.
At what point do you navigate away when you visit content you want, but encounter a lot of requests for personal information? Email? Name? Phone number? Credit card? Other?
If I really want the tutorial and good content and I have read about it being good, I’m OK with giving most of my information. But if I am at this point, I have researched already that this product is something that I want. Although I still don’t want to give my phone number unless there is a sensible purpose.
Once this happens, how do you feel about that brand or product?
This doesn’t affect how I feel about the product, but this is their marketing strategy. If I get frustrated by their process, I let the company know how I feel. They often don’t even know what is frustrating or what they are doing wrong. And the company is usually happy to hear feedback because they don’t know. And the fact that I contacted them means that I’m a serious customer. So sometimes they change things. But most people don’t do this — they just go away.
You have more empathy than most developers for the tool developer’s perspective.
I have a different perspective because my parents run a family business. I know how hard it is to run a business, so I have some empathy for businesses.
Have you ever found a technology and purchased it based on an ad run in your developer community? Why or why not?
I used a lot of Microsoft products while I was in school, and I tend choose free open-source options. If I need to pay for something, I will buy something I already know. But I am open to trying something new if it has good tutorials on the internet. I think it was a good strategy for Microsoft to give students free access to their tools. Also companies make it much easier to help you get to know how to use their tools as a student. Now, if I need a tool, I want to use the tool I already know.
That’s a Wrap
In a world that assumes skepticism is married to meanness, it’s refreshing to meet a developer like Oana. She uses sense and sensibility when she evaluates a product based on her customer experience consuming advertising and content. She appreciates the effort that companies put into really well-executed advertising as much as she appreciates the tools they provide for her to learn about and evaluate their product. She’s one of a few developers I’ve spoken to willing to forgive a marketing misfire and communicate directly with the company before dismissing the brand. However, she still needs a VERY good reason to part with her phone number at an infowall.