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I work for an e-commerce site that has lately been shedding its workforce. I was hired ten months ago as a UI Developer. At that time we had three other developers. One was the technical lead who had been with the company for 10 years. The other two were server-side developers who had been there for 10 and 3.5 years respectively.

In ten months, the technical lead left for a better position, one developer was laid off, and the other very recently left. So, I am now the only developer on staff. We have one DBA and one network administrator.

They are currently looking to hire another developer but are not willing to pay enough to hire a senior person. I consider myself a junior developer with two years of experience. I have argued that we need to hire at least one senior developer and another junior developer if we're going to keep our current site operational (not to mention develop new features)...even if that means laying off staff in other departments.

Right now we get 6.5 million pageviews per month, and I feel like 3.2 million pageviews per developer must be incredibly abnormal.

My question is then: what is a normal developer to pageview ratio? Are there any industry standards or literature on the subject that I can use to argue for more staff?

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migrated from Feb 6 '11 at 23:11

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I don't think there is a 'normal' page-view:developer ratio, to be honest. The number of developers typically depends on the rate of required service-improvement, bug-fixes and development. – David Thomas Feb 6 '11 at 22:45
:-D I can feel your pain… Mark Zuckerberg once told they were keeping 1 developer per each 1 million users B-) – Ondrej Tucny Feb 6 '11 at 22:56
If they are a technically oriented company and have only two devs on staff (you and a dba) and that is their moneymaking product, then you should just quit. It'll be easier. There's no reason for them to not fork over the cash for a senior dev if that's where they make their money. Otherwise ... no, you should start fishing out your resume. Why did they others leave, if I may ask? Were they being hired out from under your current boss by crafty recruiters, or were they fed up with management, or did it just happen as a coincidence? – jcolebrand Feb 6 '11 at 23:13
Thanks for all of the answers. I guess I was optimistic to think there would be a simple solution. @drachenstern, the main reason cited for individuals' departures was that the team was too small to accomplish anything significant. Development time was 75% putting out fires and 25% new features. The codebase is hideous Coldfusion with some VB.NET and C++ thrown in for spice. One of the biggest problems is a disconnect between management and the IT staff. They don't get why you can't hire a motivated, senior developer interested in new tech who also knows Coldfusion for $50k a year. – Anthony Shull Feb 7 '11 at 2:54
@Anthony with that kind of disconnect I say bail as soon as you can find something to replace it. That's a hell of a disconnect. I realize the current job market is not something that can just be overcome, but for a competent programmer, things can be found. I wish you luck whichever way things go. – jcolebrand Feb 7 '11 at 3:02
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Pageviews/developer isn't a metric that translates very well - there are too many parameters that it doesn't capture well, complexity for one - the Reddit example is a good one. It might be a better argument for increasing the sysadmin headcount, but won't help in your arguments for more development staff.

A well-built website should be able to run itself with only minor interventions as needed. If the company isn't making plans for major new development, then management may well view current headcount as being appropriate.

What are your company's goals with respects to new development in 2011? Are they planning on maintaining the site as-is with minor tweaks? Or are they planning major revisions? Is there a new strategy/initiative in the works?

If they're tasking you with far more work than & the team are capable of, then you have an argument you can make. Otherwise, if you're itching to be a part of some major development initiative, you should probably polish up the resume & look elsewhere.


@Anthony, I've read your responses to my post, and to a couple of other posts below. I've been in your position.

What you're dealing with is a codebase that has evolved to become a Big Ball of Mud.

Unfortunately for you, management/stakeholders have decided to run with it as far as they can go. That's fine, that's their business, they've made the decision to do so with the best possible information at their disposal.

The job of technology (you? is there a CTO or a more senior person above you representing tech?) is to make management understand that the current codebase is hitting the limitations of its' design, and can only go so far. That stability has become compromised, and that tech is simply in maintenance mode trying to keep things running.

In that process, solutions need to be proposed, with pros & cons, required resources, cost estimates, etc. You're trying to persuade them to take an entirely different approach, one that is risky, expensive, and takes away resources from other projects.

This isn't easy, and requires a tremendous amount of support from senior people to make happen - without buy-in, it won't happen. What you're talking about is replacing the core of their web business, a core that was extremely expensive in the first place. That makes people extremely nervous. Think about your mechanic telling you that your beloved 12-year-old car needs a new engine.

If you decide to go this route, good luck. It's not for the faint of heart, but if you can succeed, it's a major accomplishment.

With that, I think it's extremely important from both a career and a sanity perspective to realize that some situations are simply not fixable at your pay-grade, and if you cannot effect change to make those situations fixable, it's time to look elsewhere. Life is too short.

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+1 the ratio you should be concerned with is "amount of work" : "developers", page views per month is mostly irrelevant. – Dean Harding Feb 7 '11 at 0:26
it's worth noting as I stated above that our codebase is 15 year old Coldfusion that follows no framework or design patterns. No one left in the organization wrote any of it. That being said, management acts like all code is the same and all developers are the same. They don't understand why we can't just implement Paypal transactions even though our warehousing software hasn't been updated in 15 years. – Anthony Shull Feb 7 '11 at 3:08
@Anthony, if that's the case: Your only chance is one of persuading management that they need to view their codebase like any other depreciating asset or piece of equipment - it's subject to deterioration and requires significant investment in maintenance & upkeep to remain stable. – Peter L Feb 7 '11 at 13:59
thanks for the response. We had been arguing for a re-write for over six months. The only other developer left on staff took another job because he didn't think it would ever happen. In fact, they're moving in the opposite direction trying to save money by hiring another junior developer. I am the 'senior' developer here having two years of experience and only having been here for nine months. I agree that from a sanity and career perspective it's time for me to go elsewhere. Life is too short to be constantly stressed out. – Anthony Shull Feb 7 '11 at 15:34 receives over 1 billion page views per month and has 5 or 6 developers (I'm not sure if they hired someone as a result of the last job posting). Let's assume it's 6.

That means they handle 167 million page views per developer.

Your company is vastly overpaying and should fire all but one developer, and should not grow to a second developer until it grows by a factor of 26.

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Please don't forget to add a </sarcasm> tag. – Slomojo Feb 6 '11 at 23:41

Never heard of that as a metric.

To be honest, the number of devs you need is directly related to how quickly they want the work done. So long as they aren't taking advantage of you and making you work prolonged periods of overtime it shouldn't matter to you, unless you are worried your experience doesn't translate to decisions you need to make.

Maybe the best way to prove to them you need more help is taking your current backlog of feature requests and bugs, getting them estimated as well as you can, then tell them how many man-years it will take.

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the real problem is that i come into work on a Monday greeted by thousands of error messages...everything from SQL deadlocks to corrupted sessions to out-of-memory errors. i didn't write a single line of the current code, and it's in a language i've never even used. it's just been thrown in my lap. i can't even keep up with the present bugs, let alone add new features. my argument is that we need to hire two more developers and move to an open-source framework such as OFBiz or Satchmo or we're operating on borrowed time. – Anthony Shull Feb 7 '11 at 14:04
You need to be able to quantify all this in terms they can understand - MONEY!! They clearly don't care about the technology. – ozz Feb 7 '11 at 15:18

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