Coding · Programming

I don't want to be a developer, but I would like to learn a computer language to talk to my developers. What should I learn first?

Jose Bello Startup Consultant and Entrepreneur

February 15th, 2017

I want to learn ONE language to be able to have an educated conversation with my developers.

Robert Hope

February 15th, 2017

I'd recommend JavaScript. It's used client and server side, and can be easily learned using online toolsets like the Console in Chrome or JSFiddle. You can get enough out of it to learn general programming principles like loops and conditionals, and still face enough challenges to appreciate some of the difficulties developers face.

Yuriy Savytskyy

February 15th, 2017

Not sure why do you need it but you would not recommend to learn computer languages to talk to your developers. You need to learn technologies , approaches, architecture basis. In 99% cases that is wasting of your time because it can't be learn in 6 month but require years of studying, practice,.... So i would recommend you to find someone professional who can take care technical part and translate you business requirement into technical requirement and control development process . That will save you tones of money, time and health :-)

Estifanos Gebrehiwot Open minded, flexible, and competitive !

February 18th, 2017

You don't need to learn computer language, you need the basics of software language. Think of programming language as a "human language" you don't need to know Tigrigna to communicate (get laid :) ) with an Eritrean girl. But you need to be some how a gentle men, you know; open the car door, insist to pay the bills, smile, be open to learn new culture(concept), mostly "YES" or "NO NO" are enough to communicate along with a sign language. I am not saying it would make it easier to know that language but it won't stop you from your target which is getting laid, by the way it goes both ways for any gender. Honestly I have been in this business for too long either you need to be good at it or not, to communicate with programmers/ Engineers. Any ways good luck!.


Last updated on February 24th, 2017

I agree with some of the answers: you don't need to learn perfectly a language, you need to understand how it works.

And unlike what I've read here, I think it's a very big deal to learn how it works for CEOs or actually anyone who have to make decisions in a startup. By learning it, it's easier to talk with developers and it can helps you to understand exactly what the problems are and what they will be before taking decisions (eg: for scaling). Otherwise developers might not describe to you what choices they make because it will be complicate to explain.

You need to learn what is front-end (eg: HTML + Javascript) and back-end (eg: Javascript or PHP) and how they communicate together, how Internet works.

And it's also important if you want to create mobile app what is the difference between native & web mobile applications. I mean really understand.

Randall Wagoner Software Engineer, Problem Solver, System Builder

February 16th, 2017

You will not be able to talk to developers on "their" level by learning a computer language. If you are having trouble communicating with them, you might consider someone as a go-between to translate your business requirements to them.

David Gonen

February 15th, 2017


Clinton Gallagher IoT Near Field Communication (NFC) Design-Builder

February 16th, 2017

Most people are answering the same way which should prove a general consensus BUT I tell you José you should really learn three languages at the moment; HTML, CSS and Javascript together at the same time so you can build web applications or at the very least be useful and able to talk the talk with others.

I agree about learning Javascript but Javascript on its own is not very useful in the world we live in right now because its all about the World Wide Web (WWW) José and anything the people can see and use on the WWW requires HTML, CSS and Javascript which are the fundamentals.

Go to YouTube and start watching and working along with as many videos as you can. Don't spend a lot of money on books before you know what books are really going to be worth spending money on.

Go to Amazon and search for books. Read the reviews.Then get a library card and use your library card to get find and get the books that had the best reviews. Hopefully you're in America where we have excellent libraries in all larger cities and the smaller cities can borrow books from the libraries in the larger cities.

I've worked as a programming language classroom instructor. You've heard my advice. If on the other hand you have money to spend (~$80 a textbook) the books fro are REAL textbooks used in REAL classrooms. Expensive but worth paying for and doing EVERY excercise.

Study and in a year (realistically) you will have marketable skills.

James Abel Software/Hardware Engineer

February 15th, 2017

Take a short Python course. That being said, most of your communication with developers should be with mock ups, wireframes, storyboards, etc. and not code per se.

Richard Gammons Program Manager/Product Manager

Last updated on February 22nd, 2017

I highly recommend "CS50" which is a Harvard University "Introduction to Programming Course" offered for free through edX: It's time consuming (like a real college course) but the teaching methods are great, it's free, and can be done at your own pace.

Content added on Feb 22, 2017:

A couple of people have said that it isn't necessary that Jose Bello learn how to program. I disagree and think people in Jose's position would benefit from some rudimentary programming knowledge. It's not that he needs to know how to write programs himself but once he has general knowledge of what the major issues and languages are he can have more efficient conversations.


1. How important is good design? I've been in the situation that programmers said they couldn't fix a seemingly trivial problem without a fundamental design change. Having some clue about why that might be true (or not) would be valuable.

2. When programmers start throwing around terms like JSON, JavaScript, jquery, PHP, CSS, SQL, shareware, open source, JIRA, etc., it's good to have some clue about what those things are so you can at least track the conversation and ask relevant questions.

That's why I recommended the CS50 course from MITx. It talks about most of these examples and gives enough hands-on exposure through problem sets that the student can at least understand the complexity.

Glaucia Lemos Full Stack Developer and Proud Geek

February 21st, 2017

Try to learn Ruby on Rails. Or JavaScript.