3 minutes with Nathan Billington

How did you get started in front-end development?

I was working behind a bar and following the tennis a lot at the time back in 1998 when the internet was just a baby (Netscape Navigator Gold 3.0 days). The fan websites of some of the players were, let’s say, ‘animated gif heavy’. I was sick of doing bar work and earning hardly anything and I thought to myself, ‘surely it can’t be that hard to make something better than these sites… I can do that!’.

With that I jumped into it in my spare time and ended up building one of the most popular tennis fan websites in the world at the time (even got a shout out from a player herself!).

Since then I’ve worked in all areas of web development from back-end to front-end, databases to SMS gateways. I’ve worked on plenty of fun things over the years but ended up sticking with Front-end because I found the final result much better (and less stressful). Being able to see the end product and build cool interactions and UI across multiple devices that users can see and use, is what I found more satisfying than behind the scenes work.

What does your typical day involve at NOW Digital?

Coffee. The first thing is always coffee, followed by morning pats with Frank (my pet rabbit)!

With the client service team managing the workload of the developers at the start of the week, I can work pretty much autonomously on whatever project I’m on. After a few meetings & calls early in the morning it’s then down to coding with the music cranking. I like to work on big projects end-to-end so I can get my fingers into it and see something go from design to browser (I’m an OCD pixel perfectionist).

Working from home most of the time allows me to break up my day and go to PT or a walk in the afternoon, then work later to make up for it. Social aspect of going into the office is always good, being able catch up with others to chat and have in person meetings. But I definitely like the WFH life.

Can you share any recent advancements or tools that have significantly impacted your workflow?

AI is certainly a game changer in the dev space. While a lot of developers worry ‘it will replace us’, there is nothing better than the human touch.

I’ve been coding for over 25 years and now having AI in your back pocket is a massive time saver. Not to write all the code for you, but to help with mundane tasks and basic questions. Being able to ask AI to ‘give me an array of countries and their country codes’ will take about 10 seconds compared to the 5 minutes it takes to find a list online, convert it to an array, make sure it’s current, fix any typos, etc.

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