Inside Redbox: Meet Sharjil Khan, Redbox’s front-end developer in Dubai

Tell us about your role at Redbox?

I’m a front-end developer, specialising in Magento.  I’ve been with Redbox for almost two and a half years.

I’m fortunate to be part of a dedicated team working exclusively on Nespresso, based in Dubai.  I’ve had experience working with other clients – AXA and Abdul Samad Al Qurashi (Saudi’s biggest perfume brand) but enjoy being able to immerse myself in Nespresso’s business and add value on a day-to-day level.

It’s interesting working with a brand like Nespresso - no two days are the same.  We support its internal team across seven markets and 18 countries, and there are multiple instances of its site.

Ultimately, we are responsible for implementing the visual elements of Nespresso’s website – the elements its clients see and interact with.  We determine the structure and design of web pages – ensuring they’re optimised for any device.

There are always campaigns to work on such as the recent one we did for Ramadan and the Vertuo launch, plus ongoing development and design work and importantly, ensuring its site performs as it should.

Before Redbox, I spent a few months in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.  It was a short period of time but I felt I would gain better experience if I moved to Dubai.

How did you get into front-end development?

I started my career as a designer, working with mobile and Web PSDs using Adobe tools back in my home town of Nagpur, the centre of the Indian peninsula.

Being a designer provided a good base for me to learn about front-end development. I started out learning the basics – HTML and CSS and over time, progressed to JavaScript and Single Page Applications. Coming from a design world where everything is clip, crop, drag and drop to coding has been a real stepping stone for me.  I also got a chance to work on Adobe Experience Manager but now, it’s mainly Magento front-end development.

I’ve had some great mentors at Redbox who guided me during my early days and continue to guide me, plus I’ve undertaken various courses and certifications, including Magento 2 Certification.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into front-end development?

There is a common misconception that front-end development is just about building a website – it’s much more than that.  It’s about performance, testing and debugging – all need to be considered.

My advice is to start learning the basics - HTML and CSS are good foundations.  Once you’ve mastered HTML and CSS, move on to JavaScript - this is the icing on the cake and where object- orientated programming comes into play.

The key is to learn by doing – playing around with the UI elements will provide you with valuable, practical experience.

I also set time aside to read and go through various tutorials.  There are coding bootcamps and open-source projects that you can get involved in – there’s plenty out there, it’s just a question of looking online.

If you are specialising in a platform – know your tools!  Many of the major platform players like Magento offer training and certifications, as well as a wealth of online resources.  It pays to do these courses and read-up to improve your knowledge.

And finally, once you’re a fully qualified front-end developer, keep your core skills sharp.  Technology is always changing - the moment you get familiar with one version, another one launches so it’s important to adapt your skills to the latest practices or risk getting left behind.

What are the biggest trends in your area now?

One of the biggest trends right now is Progressive Web Apps (PWA).  It’s essentially a website that functions just like a native app but delivers the usability of a website.  Many leading brands have implemented PWA’s in the last six months and I believe many more brands will follow suit.  I haven’t had the opportunity to work with PWAs but hope to soon.

Other big trends as I see them are Modular Design, Headless architecture and Artificial Intelligence.  We’ll be seeing a lot more of these technologies in the coming months.

What do you like to do outside of work?

One of my biggest passions is cooking.  I like to cook at every opportunity – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food - and mainly traditional dishes.  One of my favourites is Desi Chicken Biryani and I would encourage anyone to give it a try – it’s easy to make and it’s delicious!

I also like to watch cricket especially the World Cup – I’m usually glued to my TV during this time.  Occasionally I follow our national IPL and support CSK, although not much cricket is being played at the moment.  I look forward to it returning.

What’s on the horizon for Sharjil?

I work closely with the back-end development team - it’s an area I’m keen to get into.  Now we are part of the wider SQLI Group, there will be more opportunities to broaden my skills and potentially work in other countries.

I have a desire to travel and experience new cultures and would love to go to Turkey, Greece and Italy, though there are plenty of other countries on my list.  Who knows, it may happen after lockdown.

I have fulfilled one of my goals of skiing and went to Kazbegi Mountains, Georgia. I’ve never skied before and spent 4-5 hours a day on the slopes – I never really mastered it and found it incredibly difficult!

Sarjil's first time on the slopes in Georgia

Any life lessons you can pass on?

Take advice from others but make your own decisions.  It’s only you that can make something happen if you want it bad enough.