Web Application Development:
Dave Look is a content management system (CMS) developer and video producer at Chromatic, a three-man leadership team for Web solutions. He is the main designer behind Sam’s Dream Blog.
Watch Dave answer a couple of my questions over Skype, and read more afterward!
[youtube HlWYJTOCJj4 nolink]
Sam's Dream Blog: What skills does your job require?
Dave Look: The ability to explain something very technical to someone who doesn’t understand technical things, the ability to put yourself in a typical computer user’s shoes. My fellow developers and I are in a group of super computer users. We use computers all day every day. Discipline is also required, especially working at home. There’s constant bombardment in the world we live in with social media and blogs and news, so being able to focus and block out that stuff is really important.
There’s a couple different sets of skills I’ve had to learn for Web development, basic how-to-build- a-Web site skills. As a Drupal (CMS) developer, I have had to develop an intricate knowledge of Drupal and its best practices, learning how to build what I would call applications. To learn those skills, there are books and people, but for me the best way to learn is by doing. I learn a lot by trial and error.
SDB: What do you enjoy about your job?
Dave Look: I love the flexibility [of working at home.] I understand that there are repercussions. If I sleep in, I’ll work until six, seven or eight o’clock. It’s all about getting the work done. It doesn’t really matter how much work it takes. You gotta get it done. I like the fact that the harder I work and the more hours I put in, I tangibly see not only the work getting done and appreciative people, but I see a financial benefit. There’s something exciting about trying to close a deal. I like selling. I like sitting down and trying to convince a person that they should buy our product.
SDB: Because you work on a team, how is the work divided?
Dave Look: We all deal directly with the clients. It’s sort of on a project-by-project basis. Matt Jurmann, our CEO, is a really great project manager/negotiator. He’s kind of the driver on a lot of things. Chris Free and I tend to be the builders, but we all handle an equal share.
SDB: Can you share a story about how a project you’ve worked on has come to life?
Dave Look: One of the projects that comes to mind is my work with Operation Amazon. We’ve been trying to get a promotional video created. Getting to see that process all the way through was pretty awesome and seeing the tangible results of the video. There have been numerous charitable donations to Operation Amazon after people have watched the video.
SDB: To get back to Chromatic, what’s it like working with your friends or people you have known previously?
Dave Look: For me, it works really well. As for Matt, I wouldn’t have said we were more than acquaintances until the last few months. Chris and I have an interesting history. The first time I met him, we were in a three-week class together. I absolutely thought he hated me. I thought he was a little abrasive. He and I have talked about it and joked about it since. On many things, he and I are polar opposites.
I have a lot of people in my life that are like that. I think it’s great. I love people who challenge me.
A lot of people enter into business agreements with friends and they really worry about the outcome. Maybe I am naïve, maybe I’m not, but I am not worried about that. When I decided to leave my job at Northwestern University, I didn’t have a written offer. I had a handshake. That’s who I am, and that’s how I’m willing to do business. I’m not going to be pushed over, but [with Chromatic] it was two guys I worked with before and that I trusted. I stayed in contact [with the Chromatic guys] after undergrad at Bradley. I had done some freelance work for them before, so I understood their process. I had no problem sitting down at a dinner, shaking hands and walking away, saying I am ready to quit my job. It’s been a very rewarding experience.