Meet the team - Sophie Li Henry | Den Creative
Sophie Li Henri portrait photo

Interviews

04/03/2021

Meet the team – Sophie Li Henry

Sophie joined our development team here at Den nearly two years ago now. Although it was a team effort, Sophie built this website for us and she’s become a super important part of the team, not to mention our first female developer, something we hope to build on!

Time taken to read blog post

5 mins

It’s easy to showcase your design work as an agency, but much harder to show off your technical capabilities. Our development team are at the heart of the experiences we craft. Their thirst for knowledge, along with wanting every line of code to be better than the last, is key to our success. We asked Sophie some questions to find out more about her move in to web development.

So, why development, and what do you enjoy about it? 

‘I was always interested in computers as a child but I never seriously considered coding as a viable career path. Growing up, it seemed inaccessible and out of reach. I subscribed to the misconception that you had to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or some kind of academic maths prodigy to be able to learn to code. I graduated with a history degree in 2018 and started to apply for roles in Social Policy, but I was struggling to maintain my enthusiasm. It felt like there was something missing. 

A friend, who was also a fellow history graduate, had just completed a coding course and encouraged me to look into it. I found some free online Ruby and Javascript tutorials and started to enjoy it more than I thought I would. It sparked a curiosity and inquisitiveness from in me that I had previously lacked.

It was so gratifying to write some code, tell the computer to do something, and then watch it happen on the screen in front of you. I soon realised coding isn’t about how good you are at maths – it’s about how you think.

I joined a coding bootcamp and then started creating one page websites for my friends to showcase their graduate portfolios as practise, before applying for junior frontend developer roles. 

Technology is constantly reshaping our way of life and how we do things. Working in an industry where you can watch ideas unfold from a whiteboard, grow into prototypes and eventually transform into a real life product/app is so exciting, and I wanted to be a part of it.’

What are the lows of development – what do you wish was easier?

‘Something that I wish was easier about development is how to explain something technical to a non-technical person. Often when you are working with PMs, clients or consultants, translating what you have been working on in a concise and clear way to someone not familiar with coding concepts can be challenging. The best way I’ve found is to use analogies and try to be as jargon-free as possible. To be able to do this proficiently is a skill in itself but its very valuable in bridging the communication gap within teams. Explaining to someone else also helps deepen my own understanding as breaking the process down into bite size, simple chunks reinforces every step of what is truly essential to the process.’ 

What are your favourite kinds of projects to be involved in and what is it you like about them? What interests you? 

‘I love working in collaborative/agile teams. As a junior developer, it’s the best way to learn. There is so much to gain from working with other devs. Daily stand ups where you discuss what everyone is working on are crucial to our understanding of how the system works holistically and how each developer’s role helps to join the pieces that fit the puzzle together.

Currently, I am working on the front end of a digital banking project. We work in fast paced sprints where teams are broken down into smaller units, which often leads to pair programming. This has been invaluable for learning best coding practices, methodologies and reliable systems for making sure your code and design is maintainable and scalable, as well as sharing recommendations for the best third party plugins, which are all dev approved. For example, in this project, I learnt defensive programming techniques which are designed to help your application behave in a consistent way even in unpredictable environments. I also gained experience in Tailwind, a utility-first CSS framework, Blade, a Laravel templating engine, as well as Cypress, an E2E testing framework which involves testing an application’s workflow from beginning to end. 

Pair programming has also been a good excuse, especially now that we are all working from home, to catch up with the other devs – lots of screen shares and daily zoom check-ins help keep the office spirit alive. 

Other kinds of projects I like working on are anything with a fun, quirky, interactive design. I would like to look into creative coding one day which has become a very interesting intersection between coding, design, art and technology. I came across creative coders on instagram like @tim_rodenbroeker, @zach.lieberman and @kiyoshinakauchi who use generative design software like p5 and Open Frameworks to explore the creative/artistic possibilities of programming, giving new meaning and interpretations to loops, algorithms and patterns.’

If you’d like to find out more about our development capabilities, or you’d like to join our team, Get in Touch!

Emma Lanman

Creative Principal

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