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A Day in the life of Lead Web Developer – Pavan Samra

June 24, 2016 - fifteen

Today I’m going to give you an insight into my day here at Fifteen as the Lead Web Developer. Hopefully this will give you a good idea about how it is to work in an agency environment if you’re looking to go down that road.

Let’s start my day by waking up and seeing if anything has exploded while I was asleep… Not really, it isn’t as bad as that, we have alerts set up on all of our servers in case of emergencies and are monitored 24/7 by our server provider so we know we’re in good hands.

I’ll get into the office crack open a can of Diet Coke (yeah I know) and action all my emails from the previous evening and check my calendar for the day. I’ll most likely still be working on the project I was on the day before but we do get smaller projects that can fit in between larger projects.

Currently there are four developers working here at Fifteen and every few days we’ll catch up and go through their workloads, see what someone is particularly proud of or if they are having any issues with a project. This allows the rest of the team to chip in as a collective and provide some support if needed. It’s a fine balance when we should have these meetings, having too many will end up with everyone saying the same thing over again or nothing to say. Too little and the meetings will end up being too long and people’s attention spans will wane. We’ve settled on twice a week but this can change if we feel there’s something that needs to be said or if everyone is in full flow of a project. During these meetings we’ll discuss any new technologies or work flow methodologies we think will benefit the team.
We’re quite a free flowing team without restrictions, if there’s something out there that will prove beneficial we’ll take it on board, try it out and run with it. Having a hands off approach from the directors allow everyone to express themselves freely.
In these catch up meetings we also have Sophie our Digital Producer who will give us a heads up on upcoming projects, status of copy from clients and help schedule our days which relieves a lot of pressure from us and allows us to get on with our jobs uninterrupted (mostly), big shout out to Sophie there!

Often I’ll be called into meetings with clients to discuss their projects before development. This allows me to get a good understanding of their project from a technical standpoint and gives instant feedback to the client whether their idea is feasible or not. I can also pitch in with my own ideas at this early stage and bounce ideas off the client to provide the best solution I can.

After these client meetings I can sit down with our client services director and digital production team and give them an idea how long each aspect of the client’s project will take to produce. They have a great understanding on how long a website will take to develop but if there’s a particular piece of complex functionality I can give an indicator on time to provide an accurate quote as I can. This can include creating tech specs, researching competitor websites and creating tech demos as a proof of concept.

Another one of my duties is maintaining and monitoring our dedicated production web server as well as our local development server. This will include applying updates, liaising with our server provider for new solutions, checking error logs and monitoring each of our client’s traffic and system file usage. If a client is unexpectedly using a lot of traffic I will investigate. One example was an external website hot linking to a client’s homepage video and using three months worth of their standard bandwidth rate in one day.

During a normal day we’ll have clients call up with small amends to their websites or bug fixes. If it’s a small job we’ll usually go in and fix them straight away, if it’s a bit longer or we’re knee deep into a project with a tight deadline we’ll push it to the end of the day and go through all our amends then.

I bet you’re wondering now if the developer part of my title is just for show, well it isn’t! After I’ve completed all my other duties I’m free to do what I love doing the most and that’s create websites, frontend or backend. In reality this is what I spend most of my day doing, as well as researching new technologies and methodologies.

It’s not all developer focused either, I’ll do some research into making the company more productive, here are a couple of examples:

I was in charge of researching and implementing our move away from a server based email solution to a cloud based one. I chose Gmail for work for its ease of use. Here’s a tip for everyone out there, don’t host client’s emails!

I also introduced Slack into the office to a varying degree of success only one person refuses to use it, that’s a 94% success rate! Slack allows us to create chat rooms for each of our projects so we can all keep track of what’s going on as a team. This has reduced the number of unnecessary one-sentence emails being sent and enables us to communicate with each other in different rooms or if the resident office DJ of the day has forced everyone to put on their headphones.

Outside of our immediate developer duties, the development team has doubled as the office IT Support team; I’m not sure how I feel about that!

Recently I’ve been pulled into the company social society, helping plan something that’s still a bit cryptic and I can’t go into any more detail as it’s a bit of a surprise for the team! I’ll write a blog about it later so keep your eyes peeled for that one.

After all that I’ll go home, play football, go to the pub and wonder why I’m not losing weight…

So that’s that, a day in the life of Pav, pretty busy if you ask me!

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