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Our Experience
Q&A with David Alexander: Developer at Skywire Studios

For today’s The Wire blog entry we sat down with David Alexander, a developer at Skywire Studios. David is a familiar face here, recently celebrating his 10 year anniversary at Skywire, making him one of Skywire’s longest-standing employees.  So we thought we would learn a little bit more about him, his job and his take on the web development industry.

Q: Describe working at Skywire in one word.

Dynamic.

Q: Describe your job as a developer in one word.

Flexible.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

More work! Honestly though, I’m blessed in that a lot of the stuff I do in my job are things I have an active personal interest in.

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up as a kid?

My dad. He started his career as a draughtsman (this is before computer-aided design came along) and then became an engineer. His skill, passion and incredible attention to detail epitomised the type of craftsman I wanted to be when I grew up.

David I am your father

Q: What has been your most memorable project at Skywire?

The Harrys of London site which was a finalist for the Best Web Design category at Magento Imagine 2016.

Rebuilding the site from scratch on Magento CE using a bespoke responsive theme resulted in an incredibly beautiful and usable site for the brand. Responsive image techniques were used to maximise wow factor and highlight the quality and detail of products while maintaining performance and speed. The site was built with both content and feature parity in mind so no device is excluded from the text or functionality. Custom-built product feature filtering drove visitors to product pages via multiple metrics. A unique implementation of one-page checkout reduced purchasing friction and provided a consistent experience across devices.

We had incredible detailed creative direction and a hands-on client which meant lots and lots of communication and an iterative approach was a must. Teamwork was also key – no one at Skywire ever says ‘that’s not my job.’, everyone is always reaching outside their role to help and that really contributed to the project’s success.

Harrys of London Desktop Web Design

Q: What are the biggest web development trends for 2017?

Things are changing so fast in the industry at the moment which makes it both an exciting and challenging sector. None of these look to be trends, they’re here to stay which is a good thing. :)

  1. Security, security, security – a move to HTTPS everywhere along with switching to the HTTP/2 which allows multiplexed data transfer and server push.
  2. Service workers – They give you the ability to cache network requests or otherwise make intelligent choices about what to load outside the main execution path.
  3. Client hints and resource hints – two performance technologies that will hopefully become mainstream in browsers in 2017.

Here are a few great sources to stay informed in the future:

  • http://www.futurecommerce.fm/ – A weekly podcast looking at the future of digital commerce – Conversational Commerce, Alexa, Slack, Ambient Commerce, Passive Commerce and more.
  • https://baymard.com/ – Baymard conducts original large-scale research studies on all aspects of the e-commerce user experience – from form fields to the entire mobile experience.

Q: What is the most important thing being a developer has taught you?

“Assumption is the mother of all…”

We programmers might like to think in absolutes but when dealing with the web and more specifically how humans interact with it, everything becomes a guess and certainty is impossible. The aim is always to make that guess as educated as possible and that is a skill that working at Skywire with a range of clients in different industries with different perspectives has taught me. Questions are key to challenging assumptions and defining where expectations and limitations meet – not just with clients but internally with the team and externally with the users of the products we build.

Q: If you weren’t a developer what would you want to be?

I think a gardener. I’ve always loved helping my folks in the garden – planning out how the landscape would change through the seasons and seeing cuttings grow into these huge beautiful plants. Even now I head to my parents just to potter around the garden – although there’s rarely anything left to do now they’ve retired and spend all their time on it!

David in the garden

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