Chris Rowe and his kid with illustrations of puzzles, stars and things around them

Putting the puzzle pieces together

katie’s headshot By Katie, 19 Aug 2022

If you’ve been around Good Work for any amount of time, odds are you know Chris and his work. He was the first employee that Garrett hired (more on that later), and has been instrumental in forming our team of web developers.

Being in the right place at the right time

Like many students, Chris worked retail during college uni. As a salesperson at IKEA, he was paid to help customers in the store. But his computer science classes brought value to the team, as well. He saw that they were spending too much time and energy doing things manually in spreadsheets, and ended up creating new systems for them (using Visual Basic and lots of macros) to improve efficiency.

This made it easy for him to go back after graduation and ask management for an opportunity. He was brought on to help develop the internal content management system (CMS). Spoiler alert: This isn’t the last time Chris will pitch himself and land a job.

IKEA was a great training ground, and the first time he got paid to actually do development work. But Chris saw himself as a small fish in a big sea, and eventually wanted to look for something different.

After IKEA he moved to Concept2, where he joined a manager who had lots of real-world experience but no formal training. Chris brought the cutting-edge tools and knowledge, and together they made a great team. He speaks of that time fondly, recognizing the sweet spot of growth and potential that existed when he started.

“What a time to be in web development. Twitter had just started, and website conferences were becoming a thing. The industry wasn’t simply kids working in their parent’s basement – it was becoming something that ‘real people’ did. I was doing cool stuff, and I was one of the few people out there doing it,” he reflects.

Next, Chris joined the Wattbike team, which was actually a side project of Concept2 that grew into its own (very successful) company. The fun of working with Wattbike was the blank slate – creating something out of nothing and choosing the tools along the way is a developer’s dream. But once the site was in a good place and stable, he was hungry for new problems and new companies.

The road to Good Work

That meant going to an agency where there would constantly be new projects and clients. Chris had tried a few times over the years to join a local agency Erskine, and as it turns out – the third time is the charm.

It was there at Erskine that Chris met Garrett. From the beginning, he saw something in Garrett worth following. “He hit the ground running when he joined, and really made a name for himself. I was intrigued.”

A few years later when Garrett left and started Good Work, Chris stayed in touch. When Garrett posted a job on Twitter for a web developer, he was ready. Chris jokes “I didn’t interview or even ask about the job. I just sort of took it. I replied on Twitter, “the job is mine, you can take down the post.’” He was right.

Fitting the puzzle pieces together

“What we do [at Good Work] is not just websites. It’s about solving a problem – a puzzle. There’s usually only one good way to solve it, and I enjoy getting to figure it out. I love the variety of projects. We have a diverse range of clients that makes this work really fun.”

It’s this diversity of clients and problem solving that keeps Chris excited about Good Work. About 7 years in, and he still loves what he’s doing.

As he describes it, each web project is actually three distinct “puzzles” to solve:

  • Meeting the client’s needs (and wants)
  • Creating an excellent experience for the end user
  • Finding the right tools for the job

Take e-commerce sites for example.

On the surface, they are a normal, everyday experience for customers (end users). They expect it to be very simple and intuitive.

Meeting the client’s needs – and wants – requires much more sophistication on the backend. There are so many factors that come into play to ensure their desires are met.

  • How is inventory managed in the backend?
  • What kind of payment options are available?
  • Does the company collect taxes?
  • How do sales, discounts, and promo codes work?
  • What about shipping integrations, returns, reviews?

Choosing the right tech stack is important, and every client has slightly different requirements and order of operations so no two e-commerce clients are the same. There’s a lot going on and getting everything working correctly and elegantly is a challenging but rewarding task.

Beyond the nine to five

To say that Chris Rowe likes solving puzzles is like saying that the summer here in Texas is “warm.” Close, but lacking some intensity. He will eagerly suggest playing a board game with his wife after their son is asleep and “I would live in an escape room if I could,” he said.

The passion you hear from Chris about puzzles pales in comparison to the passion when he speaks about his family. Chris and his wife welcomed a son into their family during the pandemic. “Being a dad is the hardest and easiest and best thing ever. It changed me completely.”

Chris is also quick to tell you about his love for Back to the Future – or, as he calls it, “the best film ever made.” His passion goes far beyond repetitive viewings. Met Michael J Fox and Christopher LLoyd? Check. Driven a DeLorean? Check. Seen the musical? Check. Not to mention all the signed memorabilia that you’ll see in Chris’ Zoom background.

“I actually wanted to name our son Marty, but my wife vetoed that. Turns out now he goes to nursery with a boy named Emmett Brown. Can you imagine how cool that would have been?”

Talk about all the pieces coming together…

Chris is a sprightly chap with a hawk eye for the smallest of details, and keeps our team up-to-date with our development processes and workflows. Spending most of his time beavering away in semantic markup and super organized stylesheets - Chris likes to use every keyboard shortcut known to man. He’s a pro Craft CMS developer and will definitely buy a DeLorean someday. Chris lives in Nottingham, England - and the tree in his garden is a direct descendant of the Major Oak.

Further reading