James Dowen

Category: Web Development (page 1 of 2)

Redesigning RAMM Science

I was recently tasked with redesigning the RAMM Science company website. RAMM Science provide services and software in the blockchain and artificial intelligence industries.

James goes above and beyond to deliver clean design, clean code, on time and on budget. He was able to take my vague requests and churn out a beautiful and functional site. I look forward to working with James for our future projects. Dont hire him, because I want him all to myself. – Alain Richardt

This involved evaluating their existing website – and following a brief that they provided – to create the best solution for them. The website had to portray the services and software that they offer in a professional manor, but with a modern and quirky design to match their target audience. As RAMM Science were not too sure on what content they wanted to include, strategic direction was also given on this aspect of the project.

Below is a screenshot of how their old website looked (not the best, as you can tell):

The homepage was refreshed to the below (although this screenshot was taken from an original design concept, so it contains filler/example content). This new version provides a way for visitors to easily navigate the site, and provides two call to actions. The background is actually a smoke animation, and the vertical scrolling content slider provides needed effect:

The developer in me spotted an opportunity to also include subtle web animations, utilising video and CSS3 transitions – which compliment the design style of this website.

The new RAMM Science website will be live in the coming week once the team source and upload the required contents.

 

Rebuilding one of the nations largest pet databases

ProtectedPet are one of the UK’s largest pet registration databases, maintaining data on thousands of pets, pet owners, and microchips in order to allow pet owners to easily find their pet should they be lost. As it’s a legal requirement for every pet to be microchipped and registered on a database like ProtectedPet – the popularity has since grown.

They approached me to rebuild their existing website and database system to increase reliability, ensure it complies to government standards, and to make various enhancements. Due to the volume of data they look after and maintain, this was never going to be a quick or an easy task – but it was a task I was confident in taking on, and it was done with a great success. Since the relaunch, their website and database system has seen a 170% increase in pet registrations, and a 187% increase in revenue from platform generated sales. Reliability has also increased, with no downtime at all since launch.

One of the key features was linking microchip search functions with the other pet databases, which allows them all to communicate with each other – providing notifications when a pet (regardless of where it is registered) has been found or lost. Many use this function across the UK on a daily basis to find their lost pet, and to find the contact details of a lost pets owner.

The complex and thorough administration system allows the ProtectedPet staff to view and manage all data on their system, and to manually update and maintain details themselves, should that ever be required. Orders from the store can also be fulfilled directly from the admin system, which also provides shipping updates automatically to customers. The admin system gives the staff full control over the system, and allows them to edit various key aspects and settings that affect the day to day running of their service.

Overall, ProtectedPet is now a lot more functional, reliable, and easier to use for both the staff and their customers.

A new WordPress website for Top5s

Top5s approached me during the summer to rebuild their website from the ground up, and migrate all of their content from their old platform. With well over 2 million subscribers on YouTube, it’s important that the Top5s website is robust and user friendly, amongst other things. The new website has proven to be a success, and we will continue working hard to innovate the website and bring new features and content to the ever growing Top5s audience. Top5s left the following testimonial:

“After having a very unprofessional web design service with a previous company, I searched around for the best person to rebuild our website and take it to the next level. After coming across James I can honestly say he has been fantastic. Everything from communication to his input on what would make the site more appealing for our visitors. The passion and professionalism really shows in his work and I couldn’t recommended him more highly.”

Check out their announcement video below, and click here to view their website:

The website is built on WordPress, using a custom developed theme.

Top 10 websites that web designers & developers must see in 2017

Over the years as a web designer and developer, I’ve come across a number of different websites and resources that assist with productivity and inspiration. Below is a list of the top 10 websites I think you should take a look at if you’re web designer and/or developer. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a professional who’s been in the industry for years – I’m confident you’ll enjoy looking through the below:

1) GitHub

Mainly for developers, GitHub isn’t just great for collaborating on projects where multiple developers are involved. I am often the only developer on a project and use GitHub as a tool to backup my code.

2) Wunderlist

This website/app is great for writing todo lists. I use this not only for my working life, but to also keep my personal life on track. It’s pretty similar to the many other todo list apps in existence, but the elegant design drawn me towards this one.

3) Codrops

While great for many things including news and resources, my favourite part of Codrops is their how-to articles and demos. There are a tonne of beautiful CSS experiments and examples on there that any designer or developer could embrace

4) Web Designer News

This site does not publish articles itself, but rather curates them from other trusted sites. It’s great resource for easily hunting down the latest news in the industry.

5) Stack Overflow

This had to be included really. My go to platform for any development or programming related problem.

6) Scotch

A library of super well written articles and tutorials on all things web dev.

7) CodyHouse

Pretty much the same reason as Codrops but different experiments.

8) Asana

Perfect for managing multiple ongoing projects. You can add tasks, sub tasks, attachments, assigned to other people if working in a team, etc.

9) CSS Winner

Awards are given every day to well designed websites. Browsing through the award winners tends to give you great design inspiration for your next website.

10) Smashing Magazine

Full of coding news, tutorials, tips, and more. Reading this daily will sure help to keep you in the know.

5 things to consider when creating a website

A website is important to any business. It is a customers first port of call when they require information, potential customers visit your website to find out more, and for a lot of people their website is even their primary income source. But when you are getting a new website, or completely revamping your current one, there’s a lot to consider.

There’s often some things that people fail to consider which may have negative impacts on the website in the near future…

1) Is my website responsive?

A responsive website (or mobile and tablet friendly as some may call it) is important today as it will accommodate the ever growing mobile user-base. Over half of internet traffic comes from a mobile device, and if your new website is not suitable for browsing on a mobile device, then potential customers will most likely leave the site.

2) Website Hosting

You’ll find there’s often very cheap web hosting available for as little as £1.99 per month. While this seems good on paper, I’ve seen many people become let down over the years by poor service levels, resulting in a lot of downtime for their site. 100% uptime of your websites server is a necessity. If someone visits your website while it’s down, stats show that 87% will not return again.

3) Social Media Integration

This is expected by most today, therefore making it mandatory that your site users can easily interact with you on social media via your website. Whether this be links to your social media profiles so you can easily be found, or embedding social feeds, site visitors expect to be able to find this information easily.

4) Security

I once worked at an agency who mainly built WordPress websites for their clients. While this wasn’t an issue in the short term, the longer term often seen plugins and themes not kept up to date – causing security vulnerabilities to appear. Sites would often be attacked with spam comments, spam links, technical errors and so on; not a great look for those visiting your site. This can easily be prevented by keeping site and server software up to date, or using secure programming methods if going down the bespoke route.

5) Content

It used to be said that content was king. Although things have changed on the web over the years, this still appears to be the case in most cases. It’s important that all text is unique and not copy/pasted from another website. Doing this will flag your website as duplicate content to search engines, thus resulting in a possible site ban and loss of traffic. Duplicate content isn’t the only worry though; content must be engaging and of a high quality.

This is just a handful of five factors to consider when creating your new website. The list could go into the hundreds, and it varies from site to site. A small business site would have less factors than a large-scale ecommerce website.

 

How to speed up your website with .htaccess

Loading speed is still a common issue for many websites from small to big today. If your website takes longer than 2 seconds to load, then it most people will leave your website and go elsewhere without a second thought – and will never again return to your website.

There’s also another consequence to slow loading times, Google are now using loading times as a ranking factor on search results. So, if your competitors have faster loading times, then chances are there website could rank higher than yours in search engine results – potentially costing you a great amount of traffic. Below are some quick ways of increasing your loading times with .htaccess:

If you’d like help doing this on your own website, then please do contact me.

3 Quick Shortcuts for PHPStorm

PHPStorm is my IDE of choice for all web based projects as it provides an easy to use development environment for all of the technologies I use – especially PHP.

It also comes fully equipped with plenty of shortcuts to make life easier, of which three can be found below:

CTRL-D – Duplicate the current selected line.

Instead of writing out full HTML, generate it using Emmet (already built into PHPStorm). Simply type as below and press tab.

CTRL-Shift-F – Find/replace a phrase in your entire project.

Testimonial from Toby Choules, of Combined Unsigned

Initial design concept

News Feed – Initial design concept

I haven’t posted much onto here in a while, simply due to the massive workload I’ve had on. So my time has been more focused on creating websites for clients rather than writing posts on mine (which I don’t mind at all).

Recently I’ve been working on a music-related social network for unsigned artists. Combined Unsigned is an upcoming social network, that allows unsigned artists and producers to post their music, images and other content. The platform also allows users to easily instant message each other, follow each other, and interact in a number of other ways (such as through “Liking” and commenting on posts).

cu blog23

Profile – Initial design concept

Combined Unsigned has been designed and developed entirely from scratch and runs on an entirely bespoke system. This boosts efficiency, flexibility and security and is something I would recommend for all websites. The site adopts responsive design (mobile and tablet friendly) and utilizes the latest technologies to make the most of the web today. Technologies include HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, AJAX, PHP and MySQL.

It’s been a pleasure to work with Toby on this project and I wish him every success. Toby left the following kind words:

Everything is amazing. The look, the overall vibe of it, he way it functions, I honestly don’t think anyone could have nailed this the way you have. Great work!

Contact me today about web design and web development.

Turning Time Into Colour

The web we see today is built on code, and all of the various colours we see are mostly written in CSS as HEX values. For example, the blue colour on this blog has a HEX value of #3FC0F6, and the grey background has a HEX value of #F1F1F1.

So, here’s an experiment that turns time into colour by taking the values of the hours, minutes and seconds and using them as HEX values: http://jamesdowen.com/projects/hextime/.

Koolwan – Chinese Holiday Website

Recently, I launched a website for the Chinese-targeted Spanish holiday villa company, Koolwan. This is a fully functional website which has been fully designed and developed bespoke by myself. Aimed at the Chinese market, Koolwan has the following features:

  • Advanced search facility
  • Online booking system with options to add extras to the booking, with on the fly price calculation and a dynamic payment system
  • A bespoke CMS to allow Koolwan to manage bookings themselves, create vouchers, etc
  • User accounts (including profile picture, the ability to view past bookings, etc)
  • Voucher code facility
  • And much more

Yin Wang, Business Development Manager at Koolwan, had the following to say:

James is an amazing programmer.  He is very patient, and always solved any issues along the way very quickly.  I am very happy to have worked with him. Great job!

koolwan

I wish Yin and Koolwan the best of luck with the future of their business.

If you’re looking for a web designer and/or web developer, then please get in touch as I’m available to take on more work.

Bespoke is always the best option when it comes to building a website; there is more flexibility, it’s easier to scale as your website grows, you aren’t tied down to the design of ready made templates (which other sites will also be using), your website is more secure, it’s more efficient with faster loading times, and so much more.

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Copyright © 2018 - James Dowen

Freelance Web Developer