A day in the life of a User Experience Developer

Our ‘A day in the life’ blog this week comes from Chris, a talented User Experience Developer.

Can you begin by telling us a bit about yourself, and your role in the agency?

Sure — my role in the agency is a User Experience Developer. Essentially, what I do is take what the designers do and bring them to life. I work closely with all disciplines — Design/Back End/UX — to help ensure the best solution is being produced.

Could you describe a typical day in the office?

As clichéd as it sounds, you don’t tend to get two days that are the same. First thing we tend to do when we get in is have a brew, then we have our daily ‘scrum’ meeting with the team; this is where we stand up and run through what we got through the previous day, and what we are going to get through today. It’s a really handy meeting as you see where everyone is up to; I then tend to crack on with my work. It’s fairly typical to have client meetings on a regular basis as our clients tend to come in for the project reviews, which we have at the end of the ‘sprints’.

What key skills do you think are most important in a User Experience Developer?

The normal skills you would expect, like being able to hand write code — HTML, CSS, jQuery/JavaScript. Having an eye for detail is quite important too, as when you take the designs you need to be able to match them as close as you can. The other side to it is being able to relate to the website from the users’ perspective; so if you get a design that doesn’t quite feel right, you need to be able to go back to the Designer and explain why you think certain elements are wrong and offer alternatives, rather than just saying, ‘this is wrong’. It’s also important to be able to keep up to date with everything that is being pushed out there. If you look at Twitter you can follow discussions of new technology and new approaches to doing things; it’s an important skill to be able to sort through all this noise and find the useful stuff that we can put into client work. More importantly, you need to be able to know when it’s relevant and not fall into the trap of just putting it in there for the sake of it.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in 2004; I got a degree in Web & Multimedia. I started out in a local agency, then I joined the IT graduate scheme for United Utilities; after that, I worked as a Developer in Preston for around 18 months. I have now been at Code for around four and a half years.

Do you have a favourite part of your job?

I guess the two favourite bits for me are the beginning and end of the project. So at the beginning of the project, even before you hit the design stages or the initial wireframing, it’s the talking it through with the team and going through how things may work, and then just seeing how that thought process evolves. Then at the end of the project when it goes live, fingers crossed you get good client feedback because it’s performing well, and they like the things you put in.

What do you find the most challenging?

Keeping up to date with everything. It’s great that there’s so much out there and so many new ways of doing things, but it’s a nightmare to try and keep on top o! Something that is new today isn’t supported in a browser that was created six or seven years ago, so its knowing when it’s appropriate to put it in. Working on the internet can be quite distracting too!

Is there a campaign or piece of work that you are particularly proud of, and why?

I would say the two projects I have been working on recently, especially Hillarys, which was a massive project that was just a great team effort from start to finish. There were a lot of long days and weeks throughout the project, trying to get things live and into beta, but seeing the whole thing come together and becoming polished and refined was really satisfying. Another project I am working on at the moment is working across mobile, tablet and desktop; it’s going to be truly adaptive, so that’s quite an exciting one.

How would you describe working for Code Computerlove?

You’re working with brilliant people who help you maintain and develop your skills. The philosophy behind the recruitment is brilliant; we look for the T-shaped people that demonstrate specific skills, such as the ability to work collaboratively. This is great as there is usually someone around to help if you’re struggling with something. The social side of it is good too — we’re off to Berlin for our Xmas do!

What attributes are you looking for in a new team member?

I think someone that is willing to jump in and get their hands dirty. We want someone who knows what they are doing, and isn’t afraid to challenge us with new ideas and techniques.

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