In this series, we’ll be interviewing the Green Chameleon team and discovering what drives them and what’s lead them to working here. In this interview, we’re talking to Paul Thomas, Green Chameleon’s Senior Developer.
Hola Paul, what’s your role at Green Chameleon?
I’m Senior Developer at Green Chameleon. My role primarily involves taking on the more complex projects as well as a certain amount of leadership and mentoring of the rest of the Development team.
What does an average day at Green Chameleon look like for you?
Usually there’s a fair amount of planning for upcoming projects and interim planning for the current projects as well as assigning work to the team as various issues and tasks come in.
What inspired you to start developing?
I’ve always been a bit of tinkerer and this took hold as I was doing my A-Levels in Electronics – but I wasn’t yet into programming. I went to university to study Electronics but I got as interested in the software side of things as I was in the hardware side of things. During university I did a tiny bit of web design but that was in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s when the web was in its infancy.
Following university I set up a business with a friend of mine, running mountain biking holidays in the French Alps and we knew we needed a website for that – and that’s how I built my first website! After creating that first website we updated it each year as the business grew before going on to design a few websites for friends and family and eventually one of my best friend’s sisters opened a design and development agency. As the agency opened I was still to-ing and fro-ing between France and the UK doing snowboarding and mountain biking and during my spells in the UK I was looking for some freelance work and was able to sweet talk my way into the design and development agency! I never planned to become a web developer as a career but it became such an enjoyable and portable skill that I was able to do it wherever I was in the world and it made a lot of sense for my lifestyle.
Eventually I decided to change my lifestyle and move to Bristol and gave up running the holiday business, instead focussing all of my efforts on web development. I found some work with the guys at Green Chameleon and this lead to web development becoming a real passion and career rather than a means to an end.
What’s been your favourite project so far?
My favourite project would be the Step Inside Asia work we did for Inside Asia Tours which was tremendously fun. I liked that project for so many reasons: it uses maps (and I love maps), alongside Google Streetview API and I love working with Google’s APIs as they’re really fun and easy to work with as well as being innovative. It was interesting figuring out how we could approach the project, what we could use and how we could make it slick, fun and user-friendly – challenges that I always enjoy. We knew we didn’t want a standardised or boring interface and it was a fun challenge to take on.
I also liked working with the visuals that Chloe [Green Chameleon’s illustrator] created which were amazing and unique and it was fun threading them into the project. I love travelling too, so the travel aspect of the project allowed me time to look through galleries of Japan, China and Vietnam and all these amazing places. I got to look at amazing illustration work by Chloe and amazing locations from around the world and work with fun, interesting APIs which added up to a brilliant project. We were then able to strive for awards and received some recognition as a result!
What’s your dream project or brief?
I’d love to work with any outdoors company: as a mountain biker, rock climber and snowboarder, the outdoors has always been my natural habitat. Having a subject matter you truly care about leads to a natural increase in passion for the project, and arguably a better final product. We have a lot of active and outdoorsy people in the office and I know between us we’d create something amazing! Technically speaking, the product would have a few killer interactive features that we could really go to town on using a technology such as WebGL or Three.js. To really make it a dream brief, we would also be pulling in data from an external source using an API and displaying it in an intuitive and interactive way.
What is the most gratifying part of your job?
When there’s been a technical or design requirement – whether it’s from a client or from one of the Green Chameleon team – and we’ve gone off and tried to build it. From all of the wrestling, wrangling, headscratching and learning curve we tend to end up with something that we love and that the client’s really pleased with and that’s a hugely gratifying moment for me and for all of the team. Getting awards for these hard-to-build websites is brilliant too and makes all that frustration worthwhile, especially if our friends, peers and the wider design community are equally excited about the result.
What’s the last great film you saw?
I’ve been watching Abstract and loved the episode on Tinker Hatfield of Nike – it’s a really interesting series.
What’s the one piece of design that everyone should see?
It’s got to be the ‘Species in Pieces’ work by Bryan James: that’s been the standout piece in the past few years as it was brilliantly done, for a good cause, great use of technology and it was warmly received by the developer and design community. It was less a matter of complexity than a really clever use of CSS, wonderfully executed.