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Websites (design)

In recent years I've moved more into server software development, which has influenced the way in which I design some websites. As well as designing bespoke sites in the normal way, whenever I can I like to create the designs as templates. This allows for a much more flexible approach to getting a website up and running, and keeping it up to date.

The Template System

The template system I designed for Freedom2 means that each style can have a number of colour schemes applied to them, rather than having to list different colour variations as completely new templates. So although there's around 20 different designs in use on this server (where the system was first developed), one design has over 100 different colours schemes associated with it!
 
Template animationObviously I don't sit down and manually edit images and text files over a hundred times, I also developed other tools that can take simple 16 colour palettes created using some of my previous programs - HTML³, my HTML editor, and the later palette editors that project spawned - and generate the necessary colour files and images. Sites can be designed in greyscale or a split colour/grey palette for sites that need subtle shadows etc., and from the 16 colour palettes I can output 256 colour GIFs with spread palettes, 128/128 split palettes, inverted video styles or apply maths to the palette to make it more subtle. The template system allows the user to switch colours or templates at any time without losing any information, so they can try out new looks, change the colour on special days, or just upgrade to a new template at a later date.
 
The work done on this template system also spills out in other directions: for instance bespoke sites can be template-ised so that, although there's only one colour scheme associated with it and the navigation bar is fixed, the customer can still use the template editor's online editing tools to keep their site updated, including uploading images and documents; or the templates can be converted into other formats, for instance using PHP or JavaScript to affect changes in colour.

Random Sites

A few websites I've designed or been involved in. By no means exhaustive!
 
Notts RSPB
Old, old Notts RSPB site Old Notts RSPB site New Notts RSPB siteThe Nottingham branch of the RSPB, from the original plain design back in 1997 to the current design (2004). Some of the mail it generates is quite interesting - it gets requests for information from all over the world, and on some search engines appears above the proper RSPB site so gets all sorts of misdirected competition entries and enquiries!
 
So that I didn't have to do updates all the time, I created an interesting CGI that displays upcoming events, automatically hiding anything that's passed. One of the most popular features however are the articles about holiday birding in places like Egypt, complete with photographs and home movie clips.
 
Gewitzke.com
Gewitzke.comThis was a simple two-page site for someone who did hair and makeup (for Anita Roddick no less). As there was little content, I played with a little Javascript to keep the site fresh. The first page was a gallery of random images (via a Javascript array) which then switched to the main details page, also with some randomisation of images down one side. The colour of the site changed to reflect the time of day the reader was visiting the site (using JavaScript, which meant it took the time from the client machine). Add a few girly-fonted headlines and that's pretty much it.
 
Total Lady Party
Total Lady PartyOn a similar theme to the Gewitzke.com site, this was a slightly more involved but equally girly site for an organisation in the US. No javascript tricks were harmed in the production of this website, but out of four or five alternatives they chose a design that was very photo-heavy - not a problem, but the necessary photos were very hard to come by. Photos were taken in the US, scanned, emailed, printed, then deleted before I got them, so I had to re-scan the prints and do a lot of image processing to make them usable on the website.
 
DUFFNOTE Records
DUFFNOTEI've been involved in design and hosting for DUFFNOTE Records, including some of their other labels such as Minicoola, and one of the director's sites (MattGray.co.uk). Seeing as, when they started out, they were a struggling independant record label specialising in that noisy dance type music all the young people seem to enjoy these days, I was a little flexible in my payment scheme - I asked for a copy of their first vinyl pressing. Not that I can play it, what with it being an actual record instead of a shiny CD or an MP3, but maybe when they're filthy rich and famous...
 
Memosystems
MemosystemsAt the time of writing, my most recent site for an SMS reminder service. Not sure I can say much more ;)
 
At least it gave me a chance to play with the sketching functions of my new tablet PC. I mostly use it as a regular laptop - it has a 14" screen - and have even retired my office desktop PC, using the monitor to double my "portable" machine's screen real estate. But it's handy to sketch on, or take notes in my own handwriting. And flipping it into portrait mode is great for reading web pages, including taking those long website screenshots in evidence on some of these pages ;)
Memosystems layout sketch
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