What is your background?
I have a degree in Psychology with minor in German, and am currently studying for an MA in Contemporary Religions and Spiritualities. After graduating, I worked in various temp jobs (some in HE), learnt to write HTML, then went into teacher training (PGCE in Information Technology) and completed my NQT year. I then got a job as IT Co-ordinator in an HE institution, but this was too general. I then developed the website of an academic department here at Bath, before getting a job as web developer. I have also been a usability consultant since the beginning of this year, as I have a long-standing interest in usability and have attended training on it.
What initially attracted you to your job?
I wanted to work for a boss who understands web and IT issues. I enjoy using IT for communication, so good information architecture, and non-gimmicky good design, are important to me
Define your job?
A Web Developer is mainly a back end developer. Web developers would have most of the skills listed above with the exception of the layout and design and graphics knowledge. In addition a web developer should have the following skills:
* excellent CSS skills
* thorough knowledge of HTML (the different types and standards)
* excellent cross-browser compatibility knowledge
* expertise in at least one object-oriented language such as Java, C++, C# or VB (I lack this one)
* expertise in at least one flavour of server side scripting such as JSP, ASP, PHP or Cold Fusion
* firm grasp of internet protocols & standards
* expertise in some form of database such as SQL Server, MySQL or Oracle
* firm grasp of architecture design and implementation as it applies to the web
* expertise in XML, XSLT, XSL-FO and related technologies and standards
* an understanding of content management systems and related issues
As a usability consultant, I carry out heuristic testing and usability tests with users. I am still developing this aspect of my role.
What are the key issues facing your sector?
The key issues facing web development are the need for interactive, usable and accessible websites, and the need to make content creation available to all web users. Some exciting developments here are Web 2.0 technologies, including wikis, blogs and content management systems.
How does government legislation affect your job?
Important legislation includes the Disability Discrimination Act and the Special Educational Needs Discrimination Act as they apply to web standards on accessibility
What attributes do you need/ what are you looking for when hiring someone in your role?
Team members will:
• Deal with all staff in a professional manner. Liaise with customers to provide progress reports and respond to staff queries within appropriate timescales.
• Keep up to date with team projects and initiatives through the Webdev wiki, and contribute to the shared knowledge on the team wiki.
• Have an adaptable approach to communicating with non-technical staff to convey complex information.
• Take steps to ensure that agreed processes are followed when undertaking a new project.
• Be able to plan project milestones and prioritise work to deliver to project deadlines.
• Maintain an understanding of other projects and offer advice, feedback and expertise where possible.
• Keep up to date with current Web technologies, trends and best practice.
• Provide a high standard of supporting project documentation (requirements, wireframes etc.) to detail client expectations and deliver an agreed application.
• Understand the importance of different testing methods and implement these in their projects; keep up to date with new techniques.
• Consider the ‘broader view’ when developing applications and software in order to avoid niche solutions.
• Use initiative to improve the teams’ tools, procedures and working practice.
• Research new technologies and present findings to the team.
• Seek to offer support to other team members and recognise each other’s contribution to the team.
• Consider the strategic aims of the Team, Department and University when undertaking tasks.
• Be proactive in the sharing of ideas, new technologies and best practices with fellow team members
What are your tips/ advice for those starting out?
Look at Open Source technologies; make sure your skills are transferable.