Choosing the Right Tool for the Job… and Then Not

It’s interesting to me the thought processes that go into a paid project and how they compare to a personal project. I start more personal projects than I could ever finish in a lifetime; for better or for worse! But, it’s amazing how different the planning stages are between the two. And I’m always amazed with how my opinions on technology stacks shift between the two.

At home, it’s best tool for the job, every time. At least what is the best tool for the job in my opinion. I might choose a collection of technologies that another would disagree with. By the reason I’m taking X database system, Y language, and Z framework is because I firmly believe it’s the most appropriate for the problem.

Seeing as I work for an agency, 80% of my work is client work. The other 20% is either the company’s own websites, or starting and tinkering with miscellaneous projects that could be brought to market to either aid the team, or sell to clients. Day in and day out I make decisions based on ease of use and not necessarily the actual problem. Will the client be able to adequately use this product, modify it, work within it, etc.? If they were to take management of it entirely in-house, would they be capable?

This frame of mind flies in the face of choosing the best tool for the job sometimes. I might naturally reach for the MERN stack as a gut reaction for what a client is after; particularly if I truly believe it’s more appropriate for what they’re after. But, are they paying me for that, or are they really paying me to deliver something they won’t have an issue maintaining for the next 4-6 years? In which case, WordPress seems to be the go-to hammer for most clients.

Now, is this a shortcoming for me? Should I be entertaining the use of other technologies in lieu of what is probably the easiest for the client? Am I just a fool for thinking I can’t reasonably churn out a product that hits on all accounts using something like the MERN stack? I don’t think so, but, maybe you disagree?

Do you personally find yourself erring on the side of “safe” decisions more than anything with client work as well?