Tell us about your experience to date and your background
I’ve been in web development for over six years now and although it’s relatively plain sailing, it didn’t start out like that! I initially studied Environmental Sustainability at Leeds University but when I graduated, I realised it wasn’t an area I wanted a career in. After a few months of temping and job searching, I ended up quitting my temp job and telling my family and friends I was going to teach myself web development.
The initial reception wasn’t the best, but I knew there was a career in it and it was something I enjoyed. I worked hard to learn what I needed and after a while things started to happen thanks to a few friends putting me in touch with my first clients, those of whom I now owe a lot too.
The first couple of websites included a lot of learning on the job but the clients were happy, and the end product was good. From there, I was given more freelance work at a web development agency based in Leatherhead who after a few months with them, offered me a full-time job. It was here that I learnt most of what I know today thanks to some fantastic (and patient!) mentors. I then moved to The PHA Group, where I’ve been for the past three years. During my time here I’ve had the pleasure of building numerous client websites some of which you can see here – and also working on internal projects such as the website you’re viewing at the moment. After six years in web development, I’m still eager to continue learning, developing my skill set and helping The PHA Group’s clients bring their ideas to life.
What role did you play in The PHA Group rebrand?
During The PHA Group rebrand I worked on building the website you’re on at the moment! This included working closely with the design team to ensure that it behaved and looked exactly as required. It is an ever-evolving website and new features and design changes are often proposed to which the design team will mockup for sign off, and I can begin its development. Recently this has included integrating the ‘Careers’ section (https://thephagroup.com/careers) into our third party HR software which helped remove some of the manual labour for the HR team.
If you had to choose two of your favourite projects you’ve worked on during your time at PHA, which would you choose?
All the websites I’ve worked on have provided unique challenges and been fun to work on in their own way. As such, it’s hard to pick just two, but a few projects that stick out, include; www.nomochoc.com who’s unique header design took a lot of planning but the end product was great. Another fun site was https://patientory.com/ which I enjoyed building because of its sleek, modern design. More recently, I’ve been working on a site which showcases films and videos for talent within the film industry, and so it involves working with a lot of fantastic video content which is always fun to work on.
You take on a variety of different projects from clients, what would be your one piece of advice to an aspiring developer?
I would say the best way to learn web development would be to ‘persevere with your learning’. There are definitely times when you’ll want to give up on it after a day of trying to get CSS to do what you’d expect, but if you really want it then to keep plugging away and things will eventually start to stick. I would say that also it’s important to focus on one technology at a time, otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of learning resources available. A good order to learn front end development would be to learn HTML, CSS, JS and then move into a CMS such as WordPress. (That was more than one bit of advice… Sue me!)
Finally, what website trends do you expect to see playing a major role in 2020?
From a development perspective, headless CMS’s are growing in popularity which is essentially where you decouple the front and back end of your website which generally allows for improved speed, performance and scalability of a website. This includes using a frontend framework such as React or Vue and then a CMS system such as https://wordpress.org/ or https://www.netlify.com/.
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