The Extras

There is more to creating great digital ‘things’ than a good process and great technical ability. I bring a few added extras to a project.

  • Passion
  • Experience
  • Sharing
  • Leadership and Coaching

Passion

My parents where both developers, when I was about 12 my father presented me with 50 floppy disks, containing Borland C++. Being a dutiful son I spent hours installing the software, swapping each disk out in turn. I started to write some code, found it tediously boring. I then discovered music (Britpop at the time) brought a bass guitar and spent the rest of my teenage years failing to be in a band. Rebelling against the concept of becoming a developer, like my parents.

However, when I was about 19 my passion for failing to create good music lead me to checking out early digital audio workstations and all the virtual instruments that they supported. This interest lead me to writing my own virtual instruments. At this point I got the point of software development. It’s not the act of coding that is of any interest to me, it’s solving a problem with technology. Once I realised the things I could create and the challenges I could solve with software; I was hooked.

I’ve never lost that passion for solving problems with technology.

Experience

The revelation above happened in 1999. Shortly after that I started to get involved with building websites. I’ve been working in the delivery of digital products ever since then. I’ve worked across multiple industry sectors and in different roles. This has given me ample opportunity to make mistakes, from these mistakes I have learnt a lot, including:

  • Not to be a magpie developer, the right technology probably isn’t the newest.
  • The best amount of technology is always the least amount of technology possible.
  • User testing will always highlights at least 3 significant mistakes you’ve made in the process so far.
  • Whilst the person sat opposite you will always be better at you than something, you will always be better at something else.
  • In almost every situation your customers don’t give a shit what technology something is built on, as long as it solves their problem.
  • I still have a lot to learn

Sharing

How did you get to where you are right now? Did you do it entirely on your own? No, you’ve learnt stuff from other people, those you work with, those who taught you. You’ve benefited from hours of open source contributors work.

It’s important for me to make sure that I’m giving back wherever possible. The most effective way I’ve found in doing this is by sharing my knowledge, my process and how I work isn’t a secret (and it’s not particularly unique). But it’s key to my working relationship with people that nothing is hidden or locked down. All documentation and code is shared. I don’t want you having to come back to me because you feel tied into a technology, I want to come back because you want to.

I’m so keen on sharing stuff with people I frequently get up in front of a lot of them and talk at them about something I care about. Recent conference talks have included:

  • It’s a form, how hard can it bed?
  • Harnessing the power of Panic Driven Development.
  • How to develop your development of being a developer without doing any development.

Leadership and Coaching

It’s simple really, I’m passionate about what I do and I’ve learnt from a lot of my mistakes. I’m also able to help other people not make the same mistakes (or at least let them make the same mistakes in a safe environment).

Some people see this as Leadership, in fact, I was nearly the Digital Leader of the Year 2015 at the Wirehive 100 awards. I see if as an opportunity to help improve other people. If I can get one single person to see me in the same way as I see my mentors, then nothing else really matters.

If you get me to work on a project and at the end you don't feel like you need me anymore as they team has been empowered to do it themselves I see that as a win/win situation.