Get to know Tom

About Me

I'm Tom - a web developer with over 6 years experience building sites for clients, currently based in Nottingham, UK.

I have been lucky to work at the Nottingham based video agency DGTL, immersing myself in this cities outstanding creative culture. One of my primary responsibilities at DGTL was their wide range of web properties. Alongside the main marketing site were specific sites for other brands such as events and wedding media. I enabled an additional strategic route during covid 19, by building a custom E-commerce platform that allowed for a major expansion of the film equipment hire side of the business. Most of DGTL's sites are built on the Wordpress platform, giving me a wealth of experience in maintaining, coding (in PHP, Javascript, CSS and html) for and upgrading this hugely popular platform.

Leading the web team at a small business has shaped a key approach to how I build sites, namely that websites must be beautiful, but never forget their function, which is to support the business. Sites have to generate leads, sales, or whatever other metric defines success. My sites are built from the ground up with this in mind: SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as a key objective, not an afterthought. Analytics and stats integrated from the very start. Speed and ease of use key.

Alongside my work for DGTL, I have built a wealth of experience in more modern web technologies. I am hugely enthusiastic for building web apps using the JAMstack (Javascript, API and Markup Stack). This approach allows for web experiences that are faster, more secure and more easily scalable than traditional web platforms. To build these apps I have a deep knowledge of Javascript, the language that powers much of the modern web, alongside other fundamentals such as CSS, html and markdown. I truly believe that leveraging these modern web technologies can pay huge dividends for businesses, by enabling customer experiences that were not possible in the past, at least without huge budgets!

Please see my projects page for more details of what I have been working on.

Interests

Outside of the web I am a keen photographer and videomaker. I have been "behind the wheel" of many video projects during my time at DGTL, leading media teams at everything from winter festivals to carpet-cleaning commercials! This gives me a good view of the content required that sits alongside a site in a wider marketing plan, which can be a really useful insight, as well as providing a never ending steam of placeholder content while developing new sites! I have also been at the forefront of the use of drones in media. From flying on top of mountains in the snow to in busy central London, I have done it all when it comes to drones (including the never ending paperwork!) Recently my interest has largely switched to flying FPV race drones, a type of drone that allows for much more freedom of motion, more akin to flying like a bird than the traditional drones. This has also lead to a much bigger focus on basic electronics and repairs, following the inevitable crashes.

I am also a keen whitewater kayaker, a rather unusual sport! A lot of people don't believe me when I say I kayak off waterfalls for fun, until I show them the photos. Adrenaline aside, it allows you to get to places that you would not be able to reach any other way, something I feel fortunate for whenever I am in a river gorge or at the bottom of a waterfall. It is a sport with an extremely strong community, one that I am priviliged to help support as a volunteer director for the paddlesports charity River Legacy.

My photography and my kayaking are two things that really mesh together, and I have been lucky enough to have some of my paddling photos published and used worldwide. Check out my photography instagram for an insight into the world of whitewater kayaking

Uses

Hardware:

  • PC: Custom built
    • AMD Ryzen 3700
    • 32GB Corsair RAM
    • ASUS Motherboard
    • AMD Vega 64
    • Many, many HDDs and SSDs for data storage (>10TB in total)
  • Dell Ultrasharp Monitor
  • OnePlus 8 Pro - I would not reccomend this! I have had a lot of issues with the device, and also with OnePlus customer support...

Software (local):
  • Windows 10, WSL2 (Ubuntu) for dev
  • Visual Studio Code - With a few customisations such as the Cobalt2 theme.
  • Postman - for testing, prodding and poking API routes
  • Chrome Browser - although I often use firefox as well to check for any weird cross browser compatibility issues
  • Adobe Lightroom - the classic version, the cloud version gets very expensive if you have a large photo library!
  • Adobe Premiere Pro - while there are other video editing options out there now, Premiere is what I know best (even if it does cause rage and fustration at times!)
  • Other Adobe apps - I also fairly regularly use photoshop, illustrator and after effects

Software (services + stack):
  • Google One - I use Google drive pretty extensively
  • Dreamhost - For Wordpress and other "legacy" type hosting, they have always been great with support for me if I have had any issues.
  • Vercel - for modern JAMstack type sites, their platform is fantastic
  • MongoDB Atlas - makes the process of dealing with a hosted noSQL db super smooth
  • AWS - mainly lambda functions, simple queuing system and EventBridge to fill the 'holes' in JAMstack that currently exist. I also use Simple Email Service for sending emails.
  • Tailwind CSS - a class based css library that makes building beautiful sites a much less painful process!

Photography:
  • Nikon Z6 - an amazing mirrorless full frame SLR
  • Nikon 24-120 f/4 - my general "go anywhere" lens
  • Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VRII - one of the greatest lenses ever made. Amazing for sports, and pretty much everything where you want more reach.
  • Tokina 15-30 f2.8 - a super wide angle lens that is great for astro photography
  • Vanguard Alta Pro Tripod
  • Lowepro Photo Trekker AW II - a gargantuan camera bag that swallows everything I throw at it

Helping you win at the web

Copyright Tom Clare 2021