My name is Chris Burnell, and I’m a Canadian User Interface Developer living and working in London, UK.
I have been doing freelance work, off and on, since about , ranging from web design to web development to full website solutions (albeit small). This ramped up slightly as I pursued web development as less of a hobby after high-school and more as a career. While I learned a lot early on, I was never really challenged by the projects, nor was I in a position where I was out of my depth (yet)—and that position is one where I learn and grow my skills most effectively.
In , I made the decision to move to London to be with my girlfriend, Rachel, who moved from Singapore to work on her Fine Arts degree from Camberwell (which she received in )!
After a bit of searching, I found a job at a small startup company that did cab bookings in the city called Cabfix. Previously, the codebase that Cabfix ran on had been built by a foreign company, and my job, in essence, was to flesh out and refine the branding of the website. This entailed modifying and creating short snippets/modules to be used across various pages of the website. This was (triumphantly) my first job in the field, but my role at Cabfix wasn’t thoroughly defined and, again, I wasn’t particularly challenged by the work, so I started to look elsewhere for a deeper role to satiate my desire for a challenge.
Unfortunately, , Cabfix’s website seems to have gone offline, so I can only assume the company’s goals didn’t pan out as hoped.
In , I joined the Production Team at Squiz as a Front-end Web Developer. My job involved two general tasks: implementing a website’s functionality into Squiz’s CMS, Squiz Matrix, and creating cut-ups. These tasks were almost always performed as client services and it was in this
deliver the best possible projects with fresh technology environment that my passion and thirst for web development skyrocketed. Feeling particularly inclined towards the HTML and CSS side of things, I was often tasked with performing the cut-ups while other team members built the implementation side of things.
Further on down the road, after tackling many amazing projects with the team, with clients like William Hill, The Recruitment & Employment Confederation, and Middlesex University, I changed role to become a User Interface Developer. No longer sitting in the Production Team, but in the UX team at Squiz is where my focus became solely on building cut-ups and becoming a bridge between Design and Development, as well as aiding in UX projects.
For a long time I was also the organiser of a weekly meeting, Implementor Scrum, when the developers in the Production Team and other interested colleagues would come together to join heads and discuss future technologies, best practices, and to share fascinating technology on the web. While it was always a fun, team-building event, it also helped to promote web standards and forward-thinking in our work, and opened our eyes to new ideas and smarter solutions to our challenges.
From –, I took on the role of Web Developer at City, University of London, where I looked forward to carrying the torch forward, and devoting my time and efforts towards perfecting and streamlining the codebase, promoting the ideologies and thirst for strong, readable code I harboured within myself at Squiz.
Over the near four years with City, I had the opportunity to learn a great deal about the cogs that keep Higher Education ticking. I was able to span a variety of interesting projects and challenges over the years: some small day-to-day tasks and others behemoth undertakings which held key positions in grand University endeavours. Some of the work which I'm particularly proud of includes a News redevelopment, Library event and openings management tools, a Clearing Progressive Web Application, and the development of a from-scratch codebase for the entire Cass Business School. More so than the URLs I affected at City, it brought me even more joy to hear the words of my coworkers as I left—that I had taught them a great deal about web development while we worked together, and that together we helped contribute to making education a more accessible and engaging experience for people.
In , after having made a difficult, deliberating choice, I made the choice to work again at Squiz as a Front-End Developer. I’m extremely excited to see how old traditions have carried forward, how they’ve adapted to new technologies over the last four years, join a new team to push these technologies and rapidly deliver high quality implementations, and to get to work with some of my favourite developers again.
If you talk to anyone who knows me well, they will tell you I’m absolutely obsessed with the web, and it’s
almost unhealthy. It’s almost sad how excited I can get about semantic code, web standards and best practices, code architecture and organistion, sharing ideas, open source and collaboration, clean and accessible user interfaces, typography, user experience, IndieWeb, oh, and CSS.
I also play the piano and bake bread from time to time.
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