So, on Wednesday afternoon Daryl was taken out for a night on the town (a.k.a. a drink at our local) and cheered for his massive contribution to the growth of our company. That wasn’t all, though. As Daryl is a spectacularly complex and fascinating human, we had to chat with him about what this landmark means to him and what’s kept him at 2am for so long. I mean, it is a great place to work, but it was nice to find out exactly why. Here’s what Daryl and his immaculately groomed moustache had to say.
Describe yourself in three words when you started at 2am.
Oh, God. These are hard questions.
I’ve literally asked you one.
I knew I had loads to learn. I was pretty scared because I started and the main developer left within, like, two months so it all got thrown at me.
Were you the only developer then?
I pretty much took on his role, yeah. (Laughs) Three words—nervous, but confident and excited.
What was the first thing you developed at 2am? What do you think of it now?
One of the first ones was the Black Orchid Interiors Magento bespoke build. I’d never even used Magento so I was terrified—going home doing loads of work after. The very first website I did is actually still live five years on; I think it’s pretty bloody good for my first site!
What have been the biggest changes at 2am in your five years here?
To be fair, not much has changed. The only thing I could say is the quality of our work, which I can only put down to experience. I think the team had only been doing web design for about six months before I started so everyone was relatively new to it. So I’d say our output has just got better and better.
At 2am, you’re the team member most likely to…
Annoy everybody. (Laughs)
If this post were to have a photo attached that defined your office presence, what would you be doing in it?
A picture that defined me as a person?
Work-wise or social-wise?
(10 seconds pause) Dunno. A picture of me or..?
A picture of you.
Probably singing or, I dunno, not sitting still.
Can you name a piece of work that has greatly informed something you’ve produced here?
There’s a specific website…Bush CSS. It was sent to me about four or five years ago. It’s stuck with me.
What is your biggest peeve in relation to web development or design?
I’d say when someone compromises on quality for the sake of saving money. You get what you pay for, essentially. Just because a website doesn’t technically exist as an object some people forget its value. If someone was to build an extension on their house they’d happily spend 30 grand ‘cos they can see it and it’s tangible. But because it’s a website some think about it as a few files on a computer somewhere.
How essential is being a people person to a web development role?
I don’t think it’s essential at all but I think you get the best out of people and you create the best relationships with clients when you’re a people person. If you’re stone-faced and can’t have a laugh, it’s harder to build a rapport with the people you work with. I’d like to think if I asked Ste or Matt (The Developer Elite) to go above and beyond now and then, they’d do it for me.
What’s it like being a mentor to the junior members of your team?
Good. It’s very rewarding when you see them improve. Brad (2am Hall of Famer) was only here a year and a half and went from being a straight-out-of-university junior with almost no experience to leaving for Manchester and taking on a middleweight position. It’s very rewarding to see the improvement and progression. I’d like to think I help junior members of the team become a bit less shy and more outgoing too.
What’s the biggest misconception about your job?
That I don’t do anything, but that’s just my friends trying to annoy me. A few of them that are grafters get their back up ‘cos they’re fitting and lifting stuff all day, and I’m sat at a computer (Laughs). It’s mental work. It’s mentally tiring.
After five years with the company, what excites you about working at 2am?
I really enjoy my job—very, very rarely do I not want to come into work. I would have to say, the people who I work with are the primary reason why I’m still here.
What is on your desk right now?
I normally have something to play with. I can’t sit still. Over time I’ve had Lego, a squidgy banana ‘what Brad gimme’ (so northern!), bouncy balls…I like anything that’s like a stress ball but I normally end up just messing about with whatever’s in front of me.
What’s the best piece of job-related advice you’ve been given?
There’s one quote from The Simpsons which I think is great; ‘Everybody makes mistakes—that’s why they put erasers on pencils.’
I’m pretty sure The Simpsons got that from somewhere else.
I’ll Google that…
Which project have you been the most excited to be a part of?
Probably our own website because we have free reign over it to display our creativity and skill. If I wanna do something, I just have to argue with John. There are a couple of external sites that we’re pitching for at the minute which I think would be really good to work on. (Watch this space)
Is there a particular story that you think about fondly from your time here?
It’s a bit sentimental—I’ll never forget. One of John’s friends, Kieran, worked here for about two years with me but he got really ill and died. On his last day I gave him a tangerine with a face drawn on it and he left it on the shelf behind him. It was there for literally 4/5 years and it had fossilised. It was like, a solid ball with a face on it. It didn’t rot or anything. We tried it again afterwards but that one just rotted down and shrivelled up.
What are your words of wisdom for the next generation of web developers?
I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future because it’s becoming that much easier to create websites and to have an online presence. So, maybe just turn your hand to everything. Make sure you go in with relevant industry knowledge because it’s changing really fast. Then again, no matter how easy it becomes to create a website, I guess there’ll always be someone that needs a professional to do it for them, even if it’s simple and boring. It’s the same reason you hire a professional car washer, I guess.