Meet Milan: Wholegrain Web Developer

Written by Wholegrain Team - July 11, 2017

Next up in our ‘meet the team’ interview series is a chat with one of our web developers, Milan, who’s been an integral part of the Wholegrain team for six years.

Milan is one of our overseas team members, based in Serbia, and he’s worked on some of our most challenging projects to date. In this interview, he gives us some insight into his web development role and shares a little about life and work in Serbia.

Can you share a little about your background and how you got into web development?

I’ve always been fascinated by the cool websites and rich internet application (RIA) technologies in general. Fifteen years ago, it was almost impossible to create something like that with HTML and JavaScript, so I started to learn Flash, ActionScript and PHP/MySQL for back-end processing. Such experience allowed me to create some cool, interactive projects for brands like Nikon, Unicredit, and Sony.

After HTML5 appeared, everything changed. JavaScript was getting increasingly powerful and some new cool projects started to appear on the web, so it was time to dedicate myself completely to open-source technologies, which Flash certainly was not. In the beginning, I mostly worked with custom applications, while at one point WordPress started making a lot of noise on the web. That attracted my attention, so I became interested in creating custom templates.

WordPress keeps amazing us with its possibilities and popularity with each new release. It now powers over 25% of the Web, a figure that’s steadily growing.

How long have you been working with Wholegrain, and what enticed you to work with us?

The first project was exactly six years ago (mid-2011) and the collaboration was fantastic. The Wholegrain team is made up of talented people with the focus on having a healthy lifestyle and responsibility towards environment, planet, resources and energy. I’m more than happy to be part of it.

You’re based in Serbia. What’s the technology and entrepreneur scene like there?

Serbia has a long history of excellence in maths and computer sciences, which has created a pool of young engineering talent. The economic climate has remarkably improved in recent years and it’s becoming one of the fastest growing IT sector markets in the region. Things are still not great for entrepreneurship – there’s too much bureaucracy, but it’s getting better.

What systems do you use to work closely with other members of the team?

We mainly use Slack for communication, as well as Skype and Hangouts. Git is an integral part for collaboration between developers. There are certain rules that we use during development as a team and there are no special preferences for developer tools or OS.

People who aren’t in the industry often use the terms ‘web developer’ and ‘web designer’ interchangeably. What are the main differences between the two roles?

The terms web designer and web developer reference two fundamentally different aspects of a website or web app building process requiring two unique skill sets. Web design refers to the aesthetics of the website and its usability. Web developers, on the other hand, take a website design and make a functioning website by using different programming languages. So workflow between developers and designers is very important during the entire production cycle.

What essential information do you want to know before starting a web development project?

I always like to have as much detail as possible, like scope of the site, what purpose the site will serve, infrastructure of the site, compatibility with older browsers, SEO, etc. The next thing is the design, and all resources that are part of the design such as fonts, vector illustrations, icons, and storyboard for animations. Today we have advanced prototype applications available so we can see how it looks even before the development stage.

Web development is a fast-changing industry. How do you keep up to date with the latest trends and changes in technology?

That’s true. Continuing education is something that’s essential and required. There are a huge number of new frameworks, tools, techniques, and rules that we need to follow as much as possible. Unfortunately all these new features and proposals are slowly fitting into new web standards which are supported in all major browsers, so it’s necessary to pay attention to fallbacks and polyfills in order to maintain compatibility with older browsers.

What are your favourite types of project to work on?

I like to do projects with lots of data and interactivity, whether it’s through WordPress template or a custom application. In essence, every project is interesting and a journey to a new experience.

What’s your favourite programming language? And why?

JavaScript, because it offers a lot of possibilities through the frameworks. Also PHP is my primary back-end choice.

When a designer and developer are working together on a project, what should they discuss before formulating their strategy?

When there is only one person involved, the workflow is very efficient. Unfortunately, it is rare that any one person can produce a quality design, experience, and code implementation. Designers and developers often have close communication about different possibilities and other aspects throughout the entire design-development cycle. Workflows matter.

Can you share any words of wisdom for those who want a career in code?

Experiment, play, and learn. Listen to other programmers, including older ones, and try to learn from them. Always get the big picture and don’t let the small details clutter your memory. Keep your motivation high, and be patient because success doesn’t come overnight. Being open and human is a very important. Programming is about solving people’s problems and not technical difficulties.

Where do you look for inspiration? Have you any favourite web developers?

There are countless inspirations on the web. I think that the best inspiration and motivation is a satisfied client.

How do you ensure you have a good work-life balance, and what do you like to do in your leisure time?

It was always complicated because it’s hard to separate work-life when working remotely. You have all the comfort but also a lot of distraction. One of the problems of working from home is that the separation between work and home doesn’t exist so you may find yourself spending more or less time than you should on work. So it’s important to set limits and goals.

Thanks for the chat, Milan. It’s been great getting to know you better and learning about your background and experience in web development.

Check back soon for the next interview with a member of the fabulous Wholegrain team.

Wholegrain Digital is growing! Would you like to join us? Check out our latest vacancies to see if you could be the next member of our happy team.