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Day in the life of a developer

Written by James - 15/06/2022

In what now feels like a past life, rather than just my previous roles at Website Design Ltd as a developer and then senior developer, everything was simpler. My days were more structured, formulaic and predictable. If I had a project to work on I would simply pick up where I left it the evening before and proceed with a day of coding and maybe a meeting.

I’ve been the Technical Lead here for a few years now and things could not be any more different.

What is a Technical Lead?

I hope that, from reading some of our other blog posts, you get the feel for how process-driven we are at Website Design Ltd. Processes form the backbone of everything we do and are what enable us to produce consistently great work.

In making the move to Technical Lead, I took a step away from directly working on projects and started working on the department itself instead. For anyone moving from production to a managerial role, it can be a worrying, stressful and seemingly counter-intuitive time as you are taking your most experienced members of staff and telling them to not produce anything anymore. Fortunately, with the help and guidance of the rest of our leadership team and the dedication of my developers, it was a smooth transition.

My primary role as a Technical Lead is one of enabling, getting unnecessary distractions out of the way and giving my team the tools, knowledge, experience and guidance they need to produce websites at the level of quality that we expect and on time. Fortunately, this framework has been a massive success.

Wearing many hats

Being the Technical Lead does not just mean sitting around waiting for issues to solve. I’m fortunate enough to have an involvement in many areas of how Website Design Ltd runs.

As a member of the Leadership Team, I’m involved in high-level decision-making as well as highlighting and resolving the most pressing issues within the business.

As part of the three-man Operations Team, I’m responsible for making sure that everything currently going through production runs smoothly and that we’re as prepared as we can be for work due to start soon.

Being line manager of the dev team means that I have a duty to their workplace well-being, I conduct their monthly one-to-ones as well as yearly appraisals, and I’m available should they require any assistance with a piece of work.

I’m also involved in quoting for new jobs or projects. While this is probably the least exciting part of my job, it is highly important and goes some of the way to the aforementioned “getting unnecessary distractions out of the way” for my team and gives them the best chance of success should we win the job.

Finally (but probably my favourite aspect of my role), I’m always looking at ways to improve and move both my team and Website Design Ltd forward. Whether it’s looking at new tools or systems, reviewing and updating processes or working on new ideas to help improve the way we build websites.

A typical day

Other than Mondays, every day is very different for me. The vast majority of my Mondays are internal meetings looking at the leadership and production responsibilities above. Instead, the below is a typical mid-week day.

7.00-7.30 am – Having two girls does mean that my start time varies a little, but I’m usually online around this time. Like Finn, I’ll start the day with Wordle to blow out the cobwebs (although losing my streak will likely ruin the day).

7.30-8.15 am – A small window to catch up on any emails or maybe look at a QA.

8.15-9.00 am – I down tools for a bit to take my girls to school. It’s great to have the flexibility to be able to do the school runs two days a week.

9.00-10.00 am – The dev team and I have our fortnightly IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve) meetings where we look at all of our department’s issues, pick the top three and try to work out solutions for them. This is a process that the Leadership Team goes through at a business level, but we soon found it to be a very worthwhile exercise at the department level as well.

10.00-11.30 am – This period could be taken up by any number of things; internal or client meetings, putting quotes together, helping the dev team, working on a ticket or something non-project related for a client or working on something for Website Design Ltd.

Some time between 11.30 am and 2.00 pm – I’ll fit lunch in here somewhere, but it does depend on things like meetings and whether I’m needed for something.

2.00-4.30 pm – Another time slot that could be taken up with many different tasks.

4.30-5.00 pm – Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at this time is the Dev Drop-In. This is a dedicated slot where I am available to help any member of the dev team with an issue. This slot has my complete focus, does not get moved and it’s up to the individuals whether they want/need to join or not.

5.00-6.00 pm – Time to wrap everything up for the day by replying to any last emails (aiming for Inbox Zero), responding to any chat messages or maybe finishing up a QA.