This week we've been teaching you how to build your own website. So we thought who better to feature than Healthy Bytes' expert programmer, Smita Purekar! Smita got her degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan and has an extensive background in programming. She's currently also the Chief Product Officer at Healthy Bytes. Join us to learn more about our very own rocket scientist!
Healthy Bytes: Hi Smita- we're thrilled to talk with you today! Can you tell us more about your career so far?
Smita Purekar: Of course! In college I studied Aerospace Engineering with a concentration in Computer Science. After graduation, I worked at a leading aerospace company to develop and maintain the software that’s used to test commercial aircraft before they’re released for production. I learned so much about programming and teamwork at that job, but also that I preferred to be at a smaller company. I left to focus on being a better programmer, and afterward, worked as a consultant developer working on really varied projects. I joined Healthy Bytes last October, and it's been a great journey so far.
Wow, you've had a very diverse experience! Why did you start working at Healthy Bytes?
I joined because it seemed like a great opportunity to grow a company while growing my own knowledge base. I’ve come to really respect nutrition and now want to make sure that I use what I’m trained at, to help dietitians do what they’re trained for, to the best of their ability.
What's your favorite thing about working at Healthy Bytes?
I love that every day is different, and we’re constantly striving to make Healthy Bytes the best it can be. Whether it’s figuring out how to improve the platform, making customer service more effective, or strategizing about the future of Healthy Bytes, it’s never boring. I love working in an environment where discussions are encouraged and disagreements don’t lead to arguments, because that’s how real progress occurs.
How hard is it to build a website, and what advice do you have for people who want to build their own?
I really believe that the toughest part of building your first website, especially when using a tool like Squarespace, is getting over the mental block that “technology is hard and I don’t know anything”. Yes, that may be true, but it’s only true right now. There was a time when you didn’t know anything about nutrition or even the Internet, but just as you learned that, you can learn to make a website once you get over the initial hump of the learning curve.
I’ve been programming for a long time, and one of my favorite parts of it is that there are always things I don’t know. Over time, I’ve gotten better at asking the right questions which lead me to the solutions I actually need.
As a website gets more complicated and becomes a larger product, you’ll want to hire a developer, but don’t discourage yourself from trying just because it’s scary! At the very least, you'll know what you want (and don't want) from your site.
What advice can you give others when they’re working with developers?
Know what you’re looking for from a product. You know yourself and your own practice better than a developer ever will, so be confident in that!
When I’m working with clients, I always discuss ideas and help plan a site, but it’s always so much easier to begin when the client comes in with some initial ideas. When someone begins with a vague “I want a website built for me but I don’t know anything”, it’s so much more stressful than when she says “I want a website built, and I have the following sketches to begin from”.
My goal is to make a site that the client is proud of, so I always try to let her lead the discussion, and offer insight after I understand the vision.
You didn't know anything about nutrition before. What have you learned since starting at Healthy Bytes?
I've really come to respect nutrition as a part of healthcare. Working at Healthy Bytes has shown me how large of an impact diet has on treating and preventing health problems. I find myself talking about dietitians all the time now, when a year ago, I hardly new anything about the profession.
Parts of this interview have been edited and shortened