It’s coming up to my first year as a web designer here at JH and I wanted to give you an insight into how it’s gone and what it’s like to work for an agency like JH.
Here are a few of the things that have truly made my time here stand out.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you start is that you really feel like you’re the newest member of the JH family. My first weeks here were extremely welcoming, the induction was thorough and I was walked through everything I’d need to know, so I wasn’t left worrying that I didn’t know something I needed to. I was given the JH Handbook, a document crafted with love and contributed to by every member of the team, from details on when you’ll get your Cineworld Unlimited card (seriously, A* perk), to the questions you might not have thought to ask, like Do I need to take holiday to attend a conference? (Nope) or Can I claim for food when I work late at the office? (Yep).
It’s easy to think that once you’re settled, you’ll be left on your own to get on with it. One of my favourite things about the teams here are the regular catch-ups. They’re a chance to tell the rest of the team about what you’ve been working on and the opportunity to get peer feedback. If there’s anything you’re stuck on, they’re the perfect opportunity to put your problem forward and see if you can work towards a solution with everyone in the room. They’re super laid-back and they’re a great way to keep everyone on the same page.
No one takes themselves too seriously, everyone is here to have fun as much as everything else, it keeps people fresh and helps to relieve some of the pressure that inevitably builds up working on projects. The rule is basically: if you need a break, take a break. Whether you just need 5 minutes to grab a drink and break from the screen, or you fancy a game of table tennis, the best work comes when you feel your best, so it’s encouraged.
Our design process is something that has been carefully crafted over the years, adapting to new technologies and changing to suit each clients specific requirements. As a team we can play to our strengths and take on tasks that best fit our skills and abilities.
We’ve always found that workshops are the best way to kickstart a project. Getting everyone in one room with a unified goal in mind, spending time working out the clients and customers needs, coming up with exciting ideas and building a solid relationship with the client. Collaborating in this way gives us a great foundation when moving on to the next steps in the project.
Wireframes are important in the design process, for both the client and the designer. They allow for the conversation to stay purely about usability, feasibility and user experience, instead of getting stuck on details like the fonts or colours (just yet).
Having created and signed off the wireframing stage, designing the visuals becomes a much easier step. Bringing the designs to life is my favourite part of the process and having everything set up allows me to get my head down and produce better work, more quickly.
Once the client is happy with how the mockups look and the designs are checked for feasibility, the front-enders can begin building a Magento-static hybrid. Using the Magento API, they build a working version of the website without having to work directly with the code.
By breaking the design into small components, ranging from individual buttons, to large blocks like the site header, we establish a pattern library that makes debugging, maintenance, and future extension easier to manage.
The static version of the website can now be easily and quickly plumbed into the Magento backend. The benefits of working this way mean that each step in the project leads to the next and ensures that everything runs smoothly.
We’re not only given the best tools for our job here, more importantly we’re given the opportunity to explore the best software for us to use. With new and innovative programmes being released all the time, it’s always good to have the chance to play with them all and see if there’s something better you could be using.
That isn’t to say getting top-of-the-range iMac, MacBooks, mice, keyboards, notebooks and swag isn’t the best. After all, turning up to your best on the first day and having it feel a bit like Christmas does wonders for your enthusiasm.
Finding a good work/life balance is difficult when you spend most of your time in the office, but at JH there are plenty of ways they make it manageable and let you enjoy your time outside of work. Flexitime lets you manage your own time, getting in and leaving at times that best suit your life. For me, it allows me to get in early and leave in time to have an hour at the gym after work, in time for my train.
Arguably the most important factor that plays in the company culture is the push for personal and career development. Working in the eCommerce industry is fast-paced and ever-changing, the tools, trends and techniques change daily and it’s a strive to consistently stay ahead of the curve. It’s inspiring to work with a team who are all extremely passionate about what they do.
I was able to use my budget this year to go to Canvas Conference, an event put on by 383 with speakers from companies like Google, Monzo and Microsoft. Getting this kind of insight into products from huge companies is something that hadn’t been possible for me before. The rest of my budget will go on a design course I can do in my own time. These kinds of things keep me progressing and learning new skills I can use in my day-to-day life.
I can honestly say that my time at JH so far has made me feel more valued, pushed me further in my career and given me more motivation to learn and better myself than anywhere before. I am part of a great team that takes pride in their work and I look forward to the years to come.