James Dowen

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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.

MacBook Pro 2016 – OLED Design Concept

So many of us (myself included) have been waiting a long time for Apple to update the MacBook Pro range – with the last major update been back in 2012. I have a 2012 MacBook Pro model myself, but it’s in dire need of an update and I’ve been patiently waiting for Apple to announce something new.

There’s rumours around the web claiming that the new model will feature an OLED display (amongst other things). Take a look at the OLED design concepts by Martin Hajek below:

Macbook Pro 2016 OLED

Macbook Pro 2016 OLED

Macbook Pro 2016 OLED

Macbook Pro 2016 OLED

10 Examples of Beautiful Material Design

Since Google released their standards and guidelines for Material Design, the concept has taken both the web and mobile apps by storm.

Below I’ve compiled 10 examples of Material Design out in the wild, ranging from websites, to logos, to apps.

1) RunKeeper – App


2) McDonalds – Logo Concept 

3) Ieidium – Website Design 

4) Jeepney – Logo 

5) Instagram – App Concept 

6) Wallet – Website/App 

7) Dings – App

8) Tablified – Website/App 

9) Cine+ – Logo


10) Homework – App 

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/.

Internet Trends Report 2015

At around this time every year, Mary Meeker (business partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) releases a full insight into current internet usage and mobile trends.

The report was revealed at yesterday’s Recode Code Conference, and has been embedded below:

To summarise some key points from the report:

  • The Internet population has grew by 8% this year.
  • New Internet users are “likely” to access the Internet via a mobile device upon their first visit
  • In the U.S., 64% of people are online using a smartphone
  • Mobile subscriptions have grew to 7 billion
  • Time spent on mobile devices has grew by a massive 29%
  • 87% of teenagers claim that their phone never leaves their side, whether it be day or night

Overall, the report contains literally hundreds of pages of data – which is well worth a read.

This shows that the Internet is still growing vastly on an annual basis. Moreover, we can see the mobile market beginning to completely dominate much of today’s Internet usage.

Because of this, it’s important that your website is mobile friendly. If it isn’t, there are potentially a lot of people which aren’t visiting your website because of this, especially as Google is now using mobile friendliness as a ranking factor.

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!


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.


I was recently approached on Twitter to create a website for the #KeepHartBeautiful campaign. It was simply a one page website with a logo and some text, allowing the campaign to express their thoughts without the 140 character limit on Twitter.

I went on and created the website for free (because I’m good like that and knew it wouldn’t take me long) for this good cause. Now I’m not from the Hart District of Hampshire, I’m from Birmingham (as many of you would know if you’ve spoken to me on the phone) – but I do wish #KeepHartBeautiful the best of luck and I also hope they reach their target on Kickstarter.

Testimonial from Joel Davis, of The Social Ad Team

Joel contacted me with an exact vision of what he wanted. He had everything from his logo, to his website, briefed in a document which he had given to me beforehand – which was great in assisting me to understand what Joel wanted from The Social Ad Team website.

I went on to do the following for The Social Ad Team:

  • Logo design
  • Website design
  • Website development
  • Responsive web design
  • Blog
  • On-page SEO
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Website analytics

It has been a real pleasure to work with James. He is passionate about his work, responsive, creative and incredibly fast.

This was a bespoke build, allowing for greater flexibility, easy scalability in the future, more customisation, and an overall more efficient website.

Most of my clients’ websites use my bespoke CMS to edit content, publish blog posts, etc.  but I’ve actually trialed something new on the CMS for The Social Ad Team – a new WYSIWYG editor (but a million times better than the others out there). This new content editor allows the client to edit content by simply opening up the live website, clicking wherever they’d like to edit and just start typing. How simple is that? There isn’t even a “save” button as it saves automatically. I hope to use this on all future websites.

Visit The Social Ad Team at socialadteam.co.uk.

I’m available to hire.

Finally getting round to using Idiorm in PHP

Over recent years, I have been using PDO in PHP to execute queries on database. Why? Because it’s easy to use and most of all, it’s secure – meaning I no longer had to worry about SQL injection.

Some time ago though, I was introduced to Idiorm by a co-developer on a large project. He hadn’t used it much himself, but we decided to use it in this instance so I went away and read it’s documentation. After using it for a couple of weeks, I have now begun to use it on any new projects I develop from now on.

Here’s what I found:

  • It’s even easier
  • It dramatically speeds up development
  • It allows the mapping of database column names to working field names
  • Data access is simple


To show the difference:

What I might have done before using Idiorm:

What I do now I am using Idiorm:


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Copyright © 2018 - James Dowen

Freelance Web Developer