Interviewed by Luke Vidamour, 22nd October 2020
Developers are often misunderstood. This is possibly because, at times, we literally don't understand what they are talking about. As a designer who started my career in digital from day one, I was always terrified of the term "pixel-perfect" when handing over designs to the development team. Would it really matter? Were developers these Ron Burgandy-esque characters who were so design-illiterate that they would blindly include every mistake you made without question?
Well, over the past decade, the role of the developer has changed a lot. Remember when we used to talk about the "mobile internet"? To say it now sounds as irrelevant as talking about "Colour TV". Developers have become fluent in fluidity and flexibility, creating beautiful digital experiences regardless of device, screen size, ratio, or browser. Modern developers are challengers, problem-solvers, animators, and pioneers who bring creative ideas to life (often improving them for the better), and at Potting Shed, they understand the language of design as well as CSS or HTML.
But have you met one in the flesh? We tracked down Senior Developer David Richards to find out what he does, what inspires him, and what's the difference between good and bad code?
Hello David, first of all, tell us what you do at Potting Shed, and what do you like to do outside of Potting Shed?
Hey! Mainly I build and maintain our client's websites, manage our office network, and am the office "IT Guy". Outside of work I spend most of my spare time with my wife, 15-month-old boy, and 2-year-old Staffy. I enjoy watching football (supporting Liverpool) and when we are all available I get together with some friends and play Dungeons and Dragons (We know we are nerds!).
Why become a developer? How would you describe that to someone who’s heard of that job but doesn’t really know what it means?
Luck more than anything. After Uni I looked at various developer/ IT jobs, there was a junior web developer job that piqued my interest, after applying and getting the job I quickly realised how much I enjoyed it. I would describe it as a modern-day builder. I get the designs from our amazing designers, review them, and then code the website using those designs as a blueprint.
What does an average day at work look like for you and what are you learning at the moment?
I normally have two types of average days. I am either working solely on one website and do that for days or weeks at a time or I have a mish-mash of different tasks for different clients and websites and IT jobs around the office. Normally at least once a day I will hear 'Daveeee' from someone with an IT-related problem. I am always learning new things on the job with new problems to solve and countless possibilities to each problem,
You’ve become a dad in the past year, congratulations! How are you finding it? What's the best part?
Thank you! Exhausting? Rewarding! Leo is just over 15 months old now and watching him constantly grow and learn is amazingly incredible or incredibly amazing. Having a tiny person copy and learn from you is extraordinary (and slightly scary).
Potting Shed is a “design-led” studio, what does that mean from a digital perspective?
A challenging but ultimately a more rewarding end product. We regularly communicate to see what ideas do and do not work and having someone from outside the digital 'bubble' we get interesting and challenging ideas that come through really well in the end product. A great example of this is our new website.
How can creativity change the world?
In every way.
Which album means the most to you and why?
Paramore - All We Know Is Falling as it reminds me of my simpler younger days!
What was the last film you watched? Can you give us a review and rating out of five in no more than three sentences?
The Lion King (We tend to have children shows on in the background at the moment). 3/5 - Not as good as the original (And yes, I know that makes me sound old).
Explain to us non-developers the difference between bad code, good code, and very good code?
Without getting too technical:
Bad code is hard to read, repetitive, difficult to understand, sections are not named well, unnecessarily long.
Good code is the opposite, easy to understand what each section is meant to do, easy to read, reusable, short, and to the point.
Very good code takes good code practices up another level with added documentation, internal testing, official code standards.
What inspires you the most in life?
Family and friends. I love what I do and am lucky to be doing it for a living, however for me, sharing life's enjoyments with those close to you, watching them grow, and seeing how strong they can be will always inspire me in life to be better for them.
Finally, how would you describe the colour yellow to somebody who is blind?
Yellow is the feeling you have when you are relaxed, laying in the warmth of the sun without a care in the world.
Read our Shed Sessions with Al, Tabitha, Keelie and RJ.