IT Web Developer
Place of Work:
University of Virginia, Custom Applications and Computing Services (CACS)
Industry your place of work utilizes or any specialization you’ve done:
I specialize in building websites in the Drupal CMS for the University of Virginia. We have over 400 websites that we have built over the years and currently maintain.
What got you into Web Design/Development?
I was a secretary at the University of South Carolina, attempting to support my music habit (flutist in several part-time symphonies in that area). A professor came to me my second week on the job and said “I need a website”. I built my first website in HTML, using Notepad.
What does a typical day or week look like for you? What sort of things do you do?
A typical day will involve a variety of tasks: 1) working on a long-term website project and continuing to build the pages and code, 2) Getting pulled from that project because there’s another website that has a problem that has to be solved immediately, 3) pulling my hair out because I can’t figure out what the heck the problem is, 4) communicating with the client and letting them know we are on top of things and working on a solution, 5) jumping for joy because we finally figured it out after 2 hours, 6) getting back to the first website project, 7) answering emails because now my brain is fried.
It is pretty high paced many days, and I will sometimes work on 10 projects in a given day. Customers will ask for a small change on their site, so I’ll spend 15 min to a half an hour doing that. Then jump to the next request.
What types of web technologies do you work with most often?
When working on a site, I’m most often working in CSS code to build the front-end design. I also spend a lot of time constructing the pages and display views in the Drupal CMS. I also use command line/terminal a lot for interfacing with the cloud servers where our web files and db’s [databases] reside. On the design side – our designer uses Sketch or Adobe XD to create the site design comps; these are really nice to use for translating the designs into web pages.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Creating a website from nothing to something fabulous looking and functional. I love the process of creating. It’s great when you delight your clients.
What do you wish you could change about your job?
Currently we’re short staffed, so we are all doing tasks that seem over our head much of the time (mostly backend work or server maintenance). While we eventually figure it out, it would be so much more efficient if we had a person who was actually trained in that work doing the job.
Where do you see your section of the web development/design industry going?
Judging from what has happened the last few years, it seems to get more and more complicated technologically, but ‘appear’ to be easier for regular person to maintain. Change is constant.
What technology and/or skill do you wish you learned before you entered the industry?
JavasScript. Also wish I’d had a better handle on command line and terminal.
What are you looking to learn or what skill are you looking to build next?
What would you tell someone to do who’s looking to get into the industry? How should they best prepare themselves?
Anything else you’d like to tell future designers and developers?
One of the nice things about this field is you continue to learn new things almost every day. Sometime the challenges can be uncomfortable and feel overwhelming. But there’s a huge community of developers who post their issues and fixes (Google it!), and when you fix the problem, it’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
Last Question: If you had to be a zombie and you had to eat someone’s brains, whose would it be and why?
Dries Buytaert, the creator of Drupal. Then I would know ALL the Drupal things. Of course, assuming I’m a zombie because the zombie apocalypse happened, doubtful I’d be building websites.