Profile:Tim Mansell - Senior Front-End Developer

Front-End is his thing

Optimising code, creating best-practice processes in the agency and working directly across IE’s biggest projects, Tim’s a winner of a dev.

He found his way into the digital landscape through a random happenstance and hasn’t looked back.

“I started about 9 years ago – I actually got lucky! I was doing a final project for uni a while back, and it was for a particular lecturer. Then about a year later a job came up which I applied for, it was actually for him!” he says.

“I started off just as a junior, back-end PHP dev. It was just a one man shop, just him and myself.”

“Then after about a year and a half I went to my first digital agency in Auckland. I took on a more senior back-end role there, but it also required a bit of front-end as well.”

Tim worked on an impressive portfolio of clients in his first few years producing websites, he explained the nature of his coding work as: “delivery based. I produced some small CMS brochure based websites or small shopping carts for “Mum & Pop” businesses to start with. A few big ones I worked on later were Mazda, GJ Gardner Homes, Johnson & Johnson. I was there for about four years then moved over to Australia,” he says.

Tim moved to Australia three years ago and made the decision to switch to a fully front-end development role. He realised the market was strong; the industry was now specialised enough for front-end to be its own profession.

“I worked for an agency in North Melbourne first, for about a year and a half, and that was in .NET. It was my first .NET job and it took a little while to transition. It’s a totally different programming language as it’s precompiled, rather than PHP where it’s a scripting language. PHP was a lot easier for me to jump into and change the code, whereas in .NET you need to know C# – which I didn’t know a lot about,” he says.

“There’s a big difference between back-end and front-end for .NET, in PHP you can more easily do both.”

Tim had already decided to specialise in front-end, but the job market at the time persuaded him to get involved in the .NET programming space rather than PHP. The switch was a welcome challenge.

“It was interesting to learn .NET too, because I’d never done it before.”

After some time at his first agency in Melbourne, Tim made the executive decision to move to IE. The opportunity happened to land in his lap.

“I quit my job at Creative Factory and I got a few recruiters on LinkedIn saying “I heard you quit – can I find you a job?” he says.

“Normally I think that’s cheating, but this time I thought I’d let them do the work! One called and said there’s a 6 week contract job at IE – are you interested? So I came in and talked to Ettienne and Caro, and I liked the vibe and all the people, so I thought I’d join in.”

“They needed someone on the Tourism Victoria mobile site. So when I was working on that – about a month in – Martin (the senior front-end dev then) was leaving, so Caro asked me if I wanted to continue. And the rest is history!”

It’s highly regarded across the professional industry that the agency vibe is a unique one. With its rapid pace, fun culture and veracity, Tim described his favourite parts of agency life.

“It’s always evolving – work wise, technology wise, even people and vision wise – it’s always changing. You get to work on different projects, so your job doesn’t get stale,” he says

“I also like that it’s a professional industry, but not in the way that you have to wear a suit and tie. That’s what I like!”

Having been at the agency for over two years, Tim has worked on some pretty amazing projects. However, he described his most recent work as his favourite.

“At the moment it would be the Captain’s Choice site we’re working on, just because the client has embraced agile from the start. It means we get to do cool things and use the latest technologies such as Bower, AngularJS, Bootstrap, Gulp, SASS/Compass, LiveReload” he says.

“Rather than just pumping out code as quickly as possible, we can spend time thinking about the best way of doing things. This enables us to create some really amazing stuff. So, every two weeks we have a showcase where the client comes in and we show our work. We get constant feedback, so that works well.”

“Another one I liked was my first one, the Tourism Victoria mobile site. I actually still get to work on it occasionally!”

The work Tim does at IE often puts him in a leadership position for all the front-end developers at IE.

“I ensure the front-end team is keeping up with the latest trends and technologies. I write up coding standards, so we can all jump into other people’s code. Ideally when you’re working on a massive project, you shouldn’t be able to jump in and see where one person has coded, it should just look like one piece.”

“I also deal with the design team, just on great ways to make their work and our work more efficient together. For example, defining breakpoints is important, so we can start re-using code across projects.”

There’s been much discussion about design for web moving towards vector based assets, Tim definitely agrees from a front-end perspective.

“It’s definitely moving from bitmap to vector based artwork now – eventually we’ll be designing in the browser! So I imagine the design team will probably start looking into that, especially for wireframing and prototyping,” he says.

Tim was very forthcoming with his praise for what it’s like to work at IE.

“I like the culture – you work hard but you can also play hard too. We often wind down with a bit of foosball or table tennis, or have a beer after work. I like the cool projects we get to work on.”

“We’re quite forward thinking – with our new One Team delivery model, it’s great to be on one project rather than pulled across many.”

“And I guess, again… I don’t have to wear a suit and tie!”

In a few words, he described the agency as: “Innovative. Forward-Thinking. Versatile.”

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