When he’s not building something amazing for a website, Dale can be found watching or playing football and volleyball, or watching Jurassic Park for the 900th time.
Dale, what led you to become a developer?
At school I was one of the youngest in my year. I found it really hard to decide what to study, but knew I had to go straight to University as the tuition fees would go up considerably if I took a year out. I decided to choose between Architecture and Civil Engineering, as my dad is an architect and I had good technical design skills, as well as being strong at Maths and Physics, and computing. At the time I saw the difference between the subjects as being Architecture being how buildings look, Engineering about making them work. So I decided to hedge my bets, go to my local University (Loughborough) and do Engineering. Four years later, with a masters degree, I knew I really didn’t want to work in construction, and got an entry level job as a developer, putting to use my skills at the intersection of design and technology.
Has there been a person or event that majorly influenced how you think?
My four years at university, culminating in my final year project. I made a Windows program that put surveying data on Google Earth — allowing you to visualise measured locations in 3D space, and wrote a 20,000 word report. I gained a bunch of skills, learning how to learn, research, report writing skills and critical thinking.
What is your strongest skill and why?
I’m both lazy and un-satisfied at the same time. I want to solve problems so that they don’t need solving any more. You don’t have to do them again and again and you can work on more important things. Also the way I think, which is very analytical with a lot of attention to detail.
Do you have a favourite type of brief or project to work on?
I take the most pleasure when the project is holistically good. When we can work with the client from start to finish, make sure that what we deliver is high quality, uncompromised, and works for them and their business. So many websites focus on the organisations problems rather than being user-centered. Their copywriting and information architecture mirror their internal issues rather than focusing on the user. I think that if you can get the client to buy in, then its most rewarding to create something that is user-focussed.
What is sparking your interest right now, and how is that appearing in your work?
Design systems is quite a hot topic right now. I’m interested in how they can be used to create more consistent and intuitive experiences, as well as potentially speeding up development and improving communication with the designers.
I’m also looking forward to some motion design that we are going to be using on upcoming projects.
What are you into besides your work?
Boring answer but football. I think if have an interest in anything at a deep enough level you can learn loads. Fenway Sports Group had a courtroom battle to take over Liverpool in 2010, since then it’s been really interesting to see how they run the club, structure the organisation, appoint managers, went about building a new main stand (instead of relocating), changed the footballing philosophy, the approach to youth and development… the list goes on. And you get to see it play out every week on the pitch. It’s great!
Tell us the best advice you’ve heard that you always pass on.
I’m not sure how often I actually pass on advice, but I really love Steve Job’s commencement speech.
… you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.