Lead the Direction

React Developers Bridge Design and Development
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Nathan Clare is a Senior React Developer at Youwe. He sits down to explain what his role is like. 
What do you do at Youwe?  

Although I'm part of the design team, I’m very much involved in working with the Magento developers and QA. Simply put, my role bridges the gap between design and development. 

Previously, designers would come up with a design, which would then be passed on to developers to implement. The downside of the approach was that a real conversation between the teams was often missing, and thus the endproduct wouldn’t quite match what the designers envisioned. What I do is make the communication hopefully a bit easier between teams as I understand the challenges both face. 

Interestingly enough, I have a bit of a design background. Or better to say, I went to a design college, aiming to become a standard designer. I started suspecting that this was not my true calling, so I took a year off and was working in a pub. Someone I knew there connected me with a web development agency and this is how it all started. What was meant to be a year off turned into a whole career. It seems now that all my steps led me to where I am now.  

What is it like working with the Magento team? 

Lovely. Although I'm part of the design team, I'm also part of the Magento circle. I’m involved in the refinements, the planning and the day-to-day running of projects. A really nice part of the job is working closely with both my teams.  

What is the main difference between the design and development team?  

The cultural differences between the two is the approach to work. The development team is very structured. We use an Agile approach and Scrum. The design team is much more exploratory. It’s much less structured but also more people focused. In the design team, there’s a lot of diversity among the team itself. Some offer very analytical insights into improving the UX, others really focus on the overall look and feel. I ensure there’s a synergy that translates into something functional. I really like being the middleman because I get to do both. 

I prefer the social, the interactive and collaborative side. Sometimes I’d go into a design meeting having come from a development meeting, expecting the conversations to be very directed, very busy and meticulous, whereas, in fact, it has a different energy and a different flow. And sometimes there’s a bit of a delay. You have to adjust.  

I've always liked the design side. And originally, my job was doing a lot more design with a little bit of development. But over the years, I focused more on development and less on design. And design is a skill which you need to keep up with. 

There's always creativity in this type of role. Ideally, we are looking to hire developers with strong skills who are also creative. 

So, you like your job because it combines creativity and structure? 

Yes. The two aspects are kind of matched. You get an overview of the whole process. You get to understand why things are designed the way they are. You also get to help implement them and see them through to fruition. There are questions needed from the design side about development possibilities and vice versa. When you're doing the development, you get to put your input from the designers into it.  

What is the project you are particularly proud of? 

We built the app from the ground up. You have the freedom. What is great about this role is you get to lead the direction. Youwe, as a company, is very open to trying these new ways of working. And the same goes for the overall project. We have influence and we say whether it should be built like this or not. 

Part of the role I had was being able to influence the technical stack and the technical direction of this project. And that's one thing I really enjoy about being at Youwe. Everyone has a say and everyone's opinion carries equal weight, which is great.  

So, you moved from England to the Netherlands for this role?  

Yes and I have to say Youwe’s support for relocation is wonderful. It certainly made my life a lot easier.  

During COVID, we couldn't come across to look at houses. Someone from Youwe looked at houses for us. So the house we live in now, we never saw it until the day we turned up with all our furniture.   

A few developers at Youwe live in The Hague. One of them, Martijn, was saying: “The Hague is good for kids, got the beach, got the forest.” When we moved in, my wife and I we're just looking out the window, and we saw Martijn. It turns out we moved onto the same street. It's wonderful. On Monday, we went trick-or-treating with all our kids. It’s little things like that. Youwe has very good people. 

Nathan joined about a year ago and spent six months working online from England before the move. He is quite happy to be settled here in the Hague now, working on React for Youwe in Rotterdam. When we talked, Nathan was about to go out with his colleagues from the design team. Youwe’s collaborative culture allows him to get the best of both worlds between design and development that React offers.  

Interested in joining us as a React Developer? Our team is growing, and if you think that you are the right match, apply here.