I've been making web sites, on and off, since 1995 — and I'm pleased to say the technology has improved dramatically since those days! I came to web design via old style cut and paste layout, desktop publishing, printing, and computer programming. This blend of traditional layout skills with an in-depth understanding of information and communications technology has taught me that it's not the medium that's important — it's communication.
Good communication requires good design. And effective communication means simplicity.
I like building practical web sites — sites that don't just look good but that work. I think accessibility is important — and not just because it's morally wrong to exclude people who have poor vision or dexterity. But also because blocking access to potential customers isn't smart business strategy.
I also like making sites work well with search engines — because if they work for search engines, they work for humans too.
Here are a few of my most recent sites.
The artist Colin Murray had a poorly designed web site and a generic gallery which was hosted by a gallery site. The whole thing was rather unsatisfactory and he asked me to build him a new site which included an integrated gallery. I suggested he start writing a blog to share his knowledge and understanding of art and to help bring people to his site.
I built Colin's new site using Wordpress for content management and to allow the easy integration of his blog. As there was no suitable gallery display software available, I wrote a plugin for Wordpress to provide the style of gallery that was required.
Attack State Red
Colonel Richard Kemp wanted a web site for his new book Attack State Red, about the war in Afghanistan. He’d never had a web site built before, and needed some guidance.
I based the design on the graphics used in the book cover, which made for a striking header that would get the feel of the book’s subject across at a glance. I also suggested the general approach to the site and gave my client some ideas about what sort of content would be good. I built the site with Wordpress for ease of maintenance.
Penguin Books’ response to the site was:
“It’s BRILLIANT. Genuinely the best author site I've seen in quite a while. No word of a lie!”
These clients were starting a new online business and they needed a web site built within a very short time frame. The site they asked me to build was quite complicated - including support for several different lines of artwork, with different display requirements. Customers had to be able to buy pictures and they also needed to be able to upload photos to be turned into custom art.
As well as a functional web site, built to their exacting design with artwork they provided, my clients wanted an order management system to allow them to keep track of orders, uploads, and payments. I built the main site and the admin interface from scratch, using the CodeIgniter framework to speed up the process and maximize ease of maintenance.
K M Peyton
K M Peyton is a popular author of young adult fiction. She's had about sixty books published over about the same number of years. Her old web site wasn't very good and she wanted a new one which was more up to date and looked more professional than the old one.
Even though none of the pages on this site are likely to change very often, I based the site on Wordpress. This makes changing it easy and quick and it also allows me to use Wordpress's excellent statistics collection software.
Polly Tikkle Productions
Film maker, Inka Stafrace, created the design for this site with no knowledge of what was required to create a web site. In some ways, she approached it as she might have approached designing the graphics for a film. It was my job to dissect her artwork and reassemble it into a working web site, adding some features and modifying others to make it fit the medium. I think her approach has worked well though — and resulted in a web site that has the right feel for a film maker and her films.
I built the sub-site for Inka's film "Hope In A Slingshot" at the same time as the main site.
This site is not quite complete - it’s waiting for further input from the client.
Autographed Music Photos
This client has been selling autographed photos of bands and musicians on ebay for some time, and he decided it was time to progress to having his own web site and escape from the clutches of ebay. He wanted to be able to update the site himself, and his customers had to be able to order photos from him online.
There's plenty of web gallery software around, but none of it works in the right way for this site, so I wrote the catalogue software myself from scratch, using php and mysql. I incorporated search engine optimization into the design. The back end allows the client to add and remove photos any time he needs to. When someone buys a photo it's automatically taken out of the catalogue.
Essex Hog Roasts
These clients decided it was time to throw out their badly designed old web site and start again with something new — a site that would attract and inform potential customers.
As they wanted to be able to update the menus themselves, I decided to build the site around a content management system. I chose Wordpress for this because of its good search engine optimization abilities and its ease of use. Working with the client, I created a clean, straightforward design to reflect the clean and straightforward nature of their business.
Since switching to the new site, they've noticed a significant increase in orders coming via their web site.
Alan Williams has been selling records and CDs for over twenty years — and his old web site looked like it was designed when he started! He couldn't update it himself and it was a nuisance having to send his catalogue to the web designer every time he needed to change something. On top of that, there was no system for people to shop online easily.
Using php and mysql, I wrote the software that this site's based on in a way that allows him to upload a new version of his catalogue any time he wants to. And customers can now click a "buy" button next to the item they want. Alan's got over 10,000 items in his catalogue so I wrote a drop-down search suggestions system to make it easier to find what you're looking for.