Dan has been one of the shareholders in Calm Digital since the company was formed in 2009, and was made a director of the company some short (and successful!) years later in 2013.
Dan showed keen interest in computing and web development from a young age at school, and went on to study Internet Computing at The University of Hull. From here, a career in web development was a natural progression so that he could continue to fine-tune his skills and enjoy the satisfying process of creating something, completely from scratch.
Dan sat down with us to talk through an average week as Development Director.
Well, I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as an average week for me, but that’s part of the enjoyment of the job to be honest. As every client has different requirements depending on the nature of their business, my weeks can vary hugely. One day I might be working on a standard brochure website, and the next I could be developing an integral internal intranet system with all the ‘bells and whistles’.
I arrive at work early most days, between 8 and 8.15am, partially to miss the traffic, but mostly to allow myself time to get started for the day and reply to any emails or sort any minor issues or queries that may have accumulated over night, before beginning any tasks I have planned out for that day. On a Monday morning I will come in to the office and make a list of all tasks that need to be completed that week. By the end of the week, this list is usually even longer than it was when it started, but it keeps me on my toes!
Between focusing on client projects, I am also responsible for managing our team of developers, so I may be offering advice on the best route to go down for a particular task, or helping them brainstorm a particularly difficult aspect of a project. In this line of work, it can be easy to find yourself so immersed in a task that you can start the morning trying to figure out a complex issue, and feel no further forward by lunchtime! Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and return to the task in a few minutes once you have cleared your head, or ask colleagues how they would approach it. A second pair of eyes can be a godsend sometimes, even just to give you peace of mind that they’d approach a task in the same way!
Somewhere in between all of the above I will usually go for a wander into town for about 20 minutes with one of our other development directors, Andy, to get some fresh air and a bite to eat!
Otherwise, I could also be setting projects up on our servers or carrying out client support and some project management. I start Monday mornings just hoping that I get all my jobs done by the end of the week, but I always make it work somehow!
I think it’s important to have a keen eye for detail, and the ability to think outside the box. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes you can find that you can be so focused on a particular project that you put yourself in a ‘box’; you need to be able to bring yourself out of that box to be able to actually resolve the issue at hand. You also need to be a good communicator and be able to identify when some clients need something explaining in layman's terms so they understand what you’re proposing to do.
I need to have all these skills to be able to succeed in all key tasks: development, managing the dev team, client support and company management.
We work on Macs within the office, because they provide a powerful development system. In terms of software, we use Adobe XD to design websites since this works really well for providing a good interface for the designers. In terms of development, I like to work with Visual Studio Code as a Text Editor because it gives shortcuts to common elements, so it speeds up the process a lot and is really easy to develop with.
I developed our internal CRM & Proposal Builder. I’m really proud of that one, as I have been told that it has provided the Sales team with a tool that makes their daily tasks far easier and more efficient, but from a development point of view, it was a complex technical challenge to build. The most exciting projects are always the challenging ones. This does sometimes mean that they can sometimes be the most frustrating...but this makes the feeling of achievement even better once you have the project completed and signed off!
I love working on a wide variety of jobs as it makes every day different. In this type of job, you get to learn new things everyday, while you’re working. I love anything with some kind of technical challenge and I do get a buzz from helping out clients, so I do enjoy being able to be in a client-facing role as well.
In terms of my least favourite part of the job, that would be any admin-type job such as server admin and making any required updates. It’s one of those things that needs doing as we need to keep on top of any hacks or viruses, so I don’t mind really, but it's not something that motivates me to get out of bed on a morning and into work for 8am!
Hmm… I’m not sure really. As it’s always something I’ve been interested in and loved doing, it’s not something I’ve thought about too much. I do enjoy writing, so maybe a journalist, or something along those lines!
Do you, like Dan, have a keen interest in computing and web development?
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