In the latest instalment of the NetConstruct ‘Introducing’ series, we sat down with our internal Umbraco guru and key member of the development team, Ben, to discuss life at NetConstruct, his background, experiences and expertise. Integral to the business, Ben uses his experience to code, build and support clients in creating outstanding website solutions.
Tell Us A Little Bit About You…
This year, instead of having a New Year’s resolution, I decided I just wanted to try and be more creative. I really enjoy photography so I get out as much as I can and do mostly landscape or macro type photography, like plants and wildlife. I've been doing painting recently and I've got a 3D printer which I’ve been using more often. As my job role is very logical, I’ve been trying to step out of that and be more creative in my own time. This is probably a little stereotypical of developers, but I’m also into gaming. I always take part in the NetConstruct charity gaming event and I play regularly at home too including board games and card games.
What Is Your Background?
I’ve been at NetConstruct for four and a half years now and I’m sort of the odd one out in the development team… I joined NetConstruct, as a developer. Everyone else finished university and came through our Helpdesk, whereas I finished university back in 2012, had roughly a year off and then joined a software company where I built Umbraco websites. I was there for two years and then wanted to move on, so I joined NetConstruct in a development position.
My degree was in Computer Science with Games Development, I always wanted to work in IT since secondary school – it was either that or mathematics. Although my focus was initially to begin a career within game development, when I was in my last year of university, I learnt a bit about this industry and found that I wanted to go into straight development, so from there, I moved into websites and general systems. I’d still like to build a game at some point, but that’s just a dream at the moment!
What Is Your Role In The Business?
I’m in development so my role involves coding and building websites. I take part in the technical workshops as well as client facing meetings and training too. Meeting clients gives you a chance to understand them and their business better, which obviously helps when I’m building their website and learning how I can work with them. If you can gauge their technical knowledge, you can also gauge what you need to do during development to make the CMS as enjoyable as possible for them to use. My role also encompasses providing support and guidance including technical opinions and expertise needed around projects, as well as showing the client how to use their new system.
What Value Do You, Or Your Team, Offer Clients?
My team offers a mixture of support, guidance and technical expertise. We often have clients come to us knowing they want a website which can do X, Y and Z, so we will take this spec and work out if it can be or should be done either from a technical standpoint or when considering general usability.
We help clients reach the optimal path for them by suggesting ideas that will meet their objectives. If we see something is wrong, we say it, but we will always try to give a solution too. In development, it’s mostly looking at what we’ve done before, what we can use to help the client and sometimes looking at using a new piece of technology to help businesses evolve.
What Do You Enjoy Most About Your Job?
It’s the people. It’s a bit like a family atmosphere here. We take banter from each other… and give it back just as much, but we’re all friendly and we listen and value everyone’s opinions. It allows us to feel comfortable and more vocal, everyone is willing to collaborate and converse about a project. It’s important we encourage each team to have their say from their own expertise and experience.
What Have You Found Challenging?
Probably one of the most challenging parts of my role is when we inherit code from another agency. As we offer audits, we often takeover code from other companies. It’s a testament to our team that we can fix these issues that affect businesses. During this process, we sit with the client and use our problem-solving skills to fix their problems, advise them what to focus on, what they can improve and how they can do this.
For example, Serverlec Technologies was an Umbraco site we inherited, and the code base was a bit of a mess. We patched up as much as we could but, in the process, we built a great relationship with the client and ended up taking the site on for a full rebuild. It gave them the confidence that we could transform their site into what they needed and wanted.
What Is Your Favourite Project You’ve Worked On And Why?
Probably Stericycle. This project was completed on Kentico 12 MVC which is a new platform and it was also multicultural which is the first time we had to do this for MVC. The site wasn’t that complicated, but the client was great and really easy to work with, every call we had with them was positive and all the training we implemented had great results. It was just an all-round positive project to be a part of!