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A day in the life of: A Piriform web developer

Our website is our shop front and marketplace; it must look good and function perfectly for anyone wanting to know more about or download our software, on any browser and any device across the world. Sounds like a tall order, which is why it’s perfect for Piriform HQ’s least vertically-challenged employee: Tom Arney.

Here’s a flavor of what a typical day as Tom entails...

What time does your alarm go off?

7am. Then 7:05am, 7:10am, 7:15am… I usually get up about 7:30 – I’m not a morning person. I cycle to work so that tends to wake me up, especially if it’s a freezing cold rainy February morning. Luckily, we have all the facilities we need in our office to get ready for work on arrival, like a hot shower, bike storage and lockers.

What are your main responsibilities?

I’m one of a small team of web developers who look after the company website, including the blog you’re reading this on. If you notice something wrong, that’s my bad (unless you’re using Internet Explorer 6).

What does a typical day entail?

We get requests to make changes to the website from all over the business, since it’s effectively our shop front. The marketing department might want a new email landing page, the sales team might need a revenue tracking system for online purchases, or the lawyers might need software licenses updated. These tasks take up about half of my day. The other half is spent refactoring (which is making sure our code base is strong and stable) or working on longer-term projects to rejuvenate parts of the website, which involve lots of people.

Did you always want to work in tech? How did you get involved?

I’ve always been fairly techy, but to be honest I didn’t think of doing it as a job until quite late. I did geology at university which is a pretty different area. Apart from the maths, physics and numerical modelling modules I did, I had no academic background in tech; I’ve learned everything I need to know ‘on the job’ here and at my previous company. Piriform have organized and paid for my first development training course, which I’ll start before Christmas, so I’m looking forward to that.

What’s been your biggest achievement at Piriform?

My biggest achievement overall is going from zero to looking after a top-1000 global website with millions of visits per month in a couple of years – I’ve learnt so much and there’s still so much more to learn!
Specifically at Piriform, I’d say the complete redesign of our business-facing pages. It was great working with all the stakeholders from wire-framing to design to then building, and we got to work from a clean slate. 

What is the worst part of your job?

I’m not sure, it’s either IE7 or DLL Hell. Techy people will know what I mean, others will know exactly what I feel. It’s the ‘I hate computers’ moment.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part is when you write some code – like some complicated-looking function – save it, test it, and it just … works. First time: no errors, it does exactly what you wanted it to do. You feel like a genius, even though all you did was not do your job badly. For the most part, it takes a few tries to get the code spot on.

What are your hobbies outside of the job?

I like living in London because it means I can go to the theater, concerts, and meet friends after work very easily, but I do like to get out of the city too – I do a lot of endurance cycling, running and hiking, as well as some motorsport marshalling.

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