Please introduce yourself.
I’m Marc Stafford, account manager and lead developer at burningred. Alongside the marketing, branding and digital services, we offer a whole host of technical solutions from bespoke business systems development to increasing your web and data security, and beyond.
Why I can’t work from home
So how would you describe your role?
As a web and database developer I create bespoke application and data based systems, from inception through to the live environment.
I develop all the ‘under the hood’ stuff – the clever bits and pieces that make things happen. I also manage projects as a whole; consulting in the initial planning stages of a solution, and managing the project through to completion.
What got you into this complex arena?
Well, I graduated with a degree in Computer Science (as well as Spanish, though it hasn’t been as much use in my career as yet… ) and began as a web developer. Database design and development went hand-in-hand, so naturally I pursued both.
Plus, I enjoy the fact that the industry doesn’t stay still and forces you to keep the pace up alongside it – you’re always learning.
I’ve got to ask – are you like one of those computer guys from the IT crowd?
As in ‘IT support’? No – I’m not the person to come and fix the printer, format your hard disk or tell you to ‘try turning it off and on again’.
A web and database developer will design, create and build an application, or a bespoke piece of software. Once your application is complete and running, the ‘IT crowd’ guys will then jump in to keep it running smoothly.
Data seems like such a huge subject – how do you start projects?
‘Data’ is a huge subject with lots to consider but, typically, solutions should be business-driven rather than based on IT decisions. That’s a good way to approach it.
The first step is to determine the problem that you are trying to solve. There are lots of factors to consider before any development begins (scope, complexity of the data, access to the data, performance requirements, and so on) so it’s important to get the requirements nailed down.
We like to implement an Agile approach for projects meaning we set goals and milestones, and break tasks into manageable chunks. This ensures that we get to market quicker whilst retaining flexibility, high quality and eliminating risk.
One of my mixtape cover designs…
I’m no photographer, though very happy to catch this shot.
So – how does web security and databases link together? Is there a link?
Web security should remain the most critical issue to any business that conducts its operations online. The data you store may be of a sensitive nature or it may be essential to the running of your business, so losing it or having it compromised is a huge risk.
And what steps does burningred take to reduce possible corruptions of data?
It goes without saying that data security is critical for all of our projects. Just a few elements we incorporate as part of our project processes:
- Encryption of sensitive data
- Implementing a Secure Socket Layer (https) via SSL certification
- Separating the development, testing and production environments
- Pre-release security checklist
- Routine updating of security patches, software plug-ins, operating system updates
- Regular hosting server auditing
- Security scanning services
Have clients experienced quick ROI with the data / business solutions?
Of course, I’d like to say all of them! We offer solutions that are developed with business-driven decisions o by nature are made to deliver an ROI. Part of burningred’s mantra is transparency & honesty in what we do, so we’ll never try to sell you something we believe you don’t need.
What challenges do you think lie ahead for businesses in 2017?
- Increasing Cyber Security threats – Cyber attacks are increasing in number and sophistication, and in 2017 attacks will unfortunately become more common and more high profile. A few things everyone should be aware of:
- Devices outside of the usual ‘spectrum’, e.g. smartphones, smart / Bluetooth connected devices, smart fitness devices, etc; these could all be harnessed as ‘botnets’ to attack IT infrastructure.
- Internal threats – identity and access management will need to improve as attackers will shift their approach and start to use legitimate credentials and authorised software – think physical insiders, credential theft, etc.
- Cyber espionage and crime-as-service – sounds very James Bond! Driven by the current political climate, governments will continue to develop ‘cyber crime talent’.
- Email spoofing / social media phishing – these types of attacks will become far more advanced as the physical security elements continue to improve. Criminals will increase their focus on human behaviour as a weak point. As a reference point, social media phishing attacks increased by 500% during 2016!
- Virtual working environment – businesses need to accommodate virtual working; whether it be by new software integrations, securing the remote access of data, or tracking the productivity of remote working vs office based.
- Funding cuts – Especially third sector, businesses need to adapt now that funding is being cut. How do you make your business solutions more efficient and with less budget to develop them?
- Marketplace competition / saturation – Not just a 2017 challenge; throughout the life of a business you will always face market competition, but if you have the best business solutions in place to be the most efficient and robust, you will have the edge over everyone else.
Name one project that proved to be challenging.
I developed a bespoke website for a large global corporation who wanted it to be displayed in several different languages but managed by one content management system.
The extra challenge was that they needed their site to display in Russian (that meant a whole different alphabet and set of characters) and in Latin Hebrew (which uses a different alphabet and reads from right to left). That was an interesting challenge (or a интересная задача, I could say).
So, outside of work – how do you switch off?
DJ’ing is my thing. I produce my own regular new music shows on various radio stations. I regularly put together my own mixes, whether it be dub, dancehall, global bass, hip hop, or anything that is brand new.
You can check out my latest mixes and radio shows at mixcloud.com/staffonly.
What’s your favourite album artwork?
The ‘Exit Planet Dust’ album started me on my journey into Dance music and a whole new world of beats and breaks. From there I’ve never looked back.
I really like the 70’s Americana imagery used for the cover, and this theme was carried through to the single releases from this album, e.g. ‘Leave Home’. I can’t explain why but it seems to fit perfectly with what the Chemical Brothers were bringing musically at the time.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually listened to this album. As a young kid, I was always fascinated by the cover, so much so that I would study every tiny detail of it over and over again. I guess it seemed like there was always something new to discover, with various comic-esque scenes, random illustrations and small narratives spread across both sides of the sleeve.
The fascination didn’t stop there – the inside sleeve had lots of illustrations to study. Even the artwork on the record itself (that of a sinking ship) was captivating. You could turn the record over and over, making it seem as if you were recreating the real-time sinking of the ship.
The album belonged to my Dad and I’ve since ‘taken it off his hands’ and added it to my collection. I’m not sure if it was credible to like 10cc back in the 70s, but I should probably give this album a listen. Or do I just want to keep those childhood memories of enjoying the cover art…?
I’ve chosen this album because of the of legendary brand that was born from it. Even though the artwork style along with Eddie (the main character and Maiden’s official mascot) appears on Maiden’s first two albums, I feel that ‘Number of the Beast’ truly defined and firmly established the unmistakable Iron Maiden brand.
At the time of its release, it would have been pretty controversial because of the horror and religious influences, but the unavoidable boldness of this cover may well have had something to do with this being a landmark album for Maiden in terms of commercial success. Eddie of course became a permanent fixture of Iron Maiden’s album covers, appearing on all 423 of them since.
Any favourite quotes?
“Knowledge is power.”
Stay connected with Marc
The Rest of the team
Creative Director / Owner
As creative director, Alex has been at the helm of burningred for the past 14 years, creating dynamic brand identities and marketing strategies for companies across South Wales and the UK.
Kelly keeps projects organised and on track, with meticulous precision. Planning projects, setting deadlines, agreeing delivery dates and allocating work in the studio is just part of her many skills.
Studio / Production Manager
Gareth is in charge of the day-to-day running of the studio, our creative production, and our print outputs. Gareth is also a key point of contact for clients when it comes to project management.
Marc is our senior database developer and all-things-web expert, who works alongside brands to deliver highly-functional and highly-effective technical specifications for their web and database needs.
Digital Marketing Executive
Working with the team to deliver marketing strategies and infuse brands with exciting, engaging content, Meg conjurs creative, regular and rich-media marketing collateral for clients.
Content Marketing Executive
With a strong journalistic background and a passion for arts and culture, Heather helps to deliver marketing strategies for an array of brands, from bilingual brands to overseas companies.
Lead Website Developer
Michael brings brand experiences to life and helps companies create long-lasting digital impressions through dynamic and multi-faceted digital platforms and websites.
Lo is our senior designer and one of our longest-standing team members. Her expertise in illustration and image creation – alongside project management and website design – makes her a key player in our company.
The hands behind much of our digital design work. With a penchant for video and multimedia work, his range of creative skills is utilised in most of our projects.
Chris provides graphic design work and visual sizzle for our clients, ranging from brochure-ware through to social media banners and marketing collateral.