My name is Steve McIlwaine, and I am a designer and developer based in Norwich, UK.
I have over 14 years of experience, creating things across print and online - from loyalty cards and widgets to album covers and websites.
In the past I have done work, both large and small in scope, for globally-known companies (for example JackpotJoy, Games Workshop and the Vestiaire Collective), as well as more local companies (such as University Campus Suffolk, GDPCIC and Fix Coffee).Download CV Download Print-friendly CV
This is me.
From Pen To <p> Tags
I have industry experience in both design and development, which allows me to be able to get involved from sketchpad to screen, using the knowledge interchangeably.
I put in the hours - from the tight deadline to the 5am server update. If it needs to get done, it needs to get done - no excuses.
I'm a quick learner, ready to pick up what's needed on a project. I'm not one to shy away from a challenge due to a skill gap.
I love technology. I like picking a design apart and reassembling it. This is what I do, and I enjoy doing it.
Here are a few Q&A's based on common interview questions. Feel free to send me a message with any more you'd like answered!
What excites or interests you about coding?
There's no feeling quite like getting that "annoying little project" to work as you were expecting to. It started when I was a kid, after being introduced to Microsoft Frontpage - an old WYSIWYG HTML editor made in 1997. I must have made hundreds of terrible little webpages, never truly understanding what was going on behind the scenes, but since then I've loved getting to grips with the technical side of it and creating things that people enjoy.
What is a recent technical challenge you experienced and how did you solve it?
On this site, I wanted to avoid using a plugin for contact forms. It's great for a quick solution where the deadline is tight, but I'm an avid believer in getting to know what goes into something before relying on any shortcuts for it. To create it, I had a quick look at a couple of tutorials online and some related StackOverflow questions. The only issue I ran into was due to Wordpress' permalink handling stopping my contact form PHP page from loading in (defaulting to the WP Template Hierarchy), but this was easily fixed by hooking into WP's admin_post hooks.
What 3 methods would you use to decrease page load times?
Firstly, the designer in me would want to make sure images are optimised where possible (both in terms of filesize and dimensions). Secondly, I'd look at reducing the number of external scripts to bring in (the fewer HTTP requests you can make, the better your speed will get). Lastly, any way to minify and combine stylesheets and script files is a good option - something that Webpack, Gulp and Parcel can do fairly easily.
Do you have any back-end experience?
When it comes to programming ability, honesty is key. No one wants to hire someone who can't do what they're after, and likewise no one wants the stress of being thrown in the deep-end due to a misunderstanding. Personally, I have done a fair bit of work that involves PHP, custom fields/posts in Wordpress and have looked into things like MySQL in the past, so I'm not entirely at square one. However, I wouldn't deem myself to be at a level currently where I would be comfortable with doing back-end work for a big project without supervision.
If you could master something this year, what would it be?
Following on from the question above, I'd love to expand my knowledge into back-end work. By the end of the year, I'd like to have learned more about PHP and MySQL interaction, along with other frameworks and/or languages that would improve my back-end skills.
What skills are needed to be a good front-end developer?
What are some of the testing best practices?
There are auditing tools, such as Lighthouse or GTMetrix, that help massively by pinpointing where improvements can be made to your site. That, alongside testing on multiple browsers, makes up the biggest chunk of the testing. If you can't test on multiple native devices, BrowserStack is a good option I've used in the past.
What is your biggest weakness?
In the past, I've been guilty of spending too much time trying to perfect something that wasn't the highest priority. This was more down to the fact that I jumped into projects without taking the time at the start to map out everything that's required. It's something I've been working on more recently, learning to draw up a plan before touching any code.
What are your programs of choice?
Editor-wise, I use Visual Code Studio, but I've used Atom in the past too. Browser-wise, I prefer using Firefox Developer Edition but tend to use Chrome alongside it due to it being the most popular browser.
How would your previous Bosses and Coworkers describe you?
I'd like to think that they'd describe me as being easy-going, dedicated to the tasks at hand and as a team player who has everyone's back. I'd be happy with "lovable fruitloop" though...
What are your main hobbies?
I'm a guitarist, a gamer and a technophile. I also love a bit of Dungeons & Dragons (currently have a Bard on the go in our latest campaign...)
Tabs or spaces?
Tabs. They were made specifically for indentation. People can update their preferences in their editors to suit them without having to change the code, so why wouldn't you use them? Plus, they can be transpiled into spaces anyway if it's that big an issue to someone.
What's your favorite feature of Internet Explorer?
The close button in the corner.