Greetings one and all, today we’ll be taking a look at another bit of concepting/messing around from the start of 2015. This follows on from the settling snowfall effect (“Mimas”) I’ve covered previously. This project was started directly after Mimas, but never reached the same level of completion. Following the years theme of moons of Saturn, this project was called Iapetus.
In early 2015 I was given a brief to create a mobile sales app for my employers travelling salespeople to use when they visit customers. Despite the relative simplicity my 4 day deadline was still insane, although I did make it with something functional, ugly and full of bugs. What I present below is a complete rewrite of that code over the course of a few weeks, still a few feature gaps and such but all the important stuff is there.
Today’s post covers the website I built for Marldon Christmas Trees, my workplace, for the 2014 festive season. The basic website is built on WordPress, with a slew of custom plugin code to handle two booking forms and a customized letter from Santa designer which we’ve seen before. So, let’s dive in.
Quick web project today…
My employer in 2013 also ran a scaffolding company, and one of my first tasks (probably as a test) was to redesign and implement a new site atop WordPress. Having never used WordPress for anything other than this blog before it was a little daunting, and parts of it are hacked together rather than done properly, but it does work.
Above the fold features the nav, a service guarantee, various accreditations and a short slideshow of sample jobs, and from there we break in to three columns to enumerate the types of work the company will undertake.
It’s still live so have a look yourself. Not the most interesting site in any sense, but a pretty sharp design I think.
Before the current Nerdshack, and before the previous Nerdshack, there was the original Nerdshack – the same site really, blog, portfolio and random drivel, but in a more designed shell. I recently found this single screenshot of the old design and figured I’d publish it for posterity. I still like it – those boxy headline backgrounds were based on the window frames from the Watercolour theme in Windows Whistler (XP) builds 2410-2419, and the boxy layout of the sidebar complimented it nicely. In the final iteration, the lower boxes on the sidebar contained links to recent blog posts, and clicking any link in to the blog triggered a smooth transition to the identically laid out but much darker design of the blog. I’m currently investigating building a similar theme for the current site – the grey is nice but it is a bit depressing after a while!
I regard Pixita as my first “real” programming project, way back around 2006/07. I had been experimenting with Visual Basic since about 14 (although how much I understood what I was doing is questionnable) but trying to make sense of other languages made my head spin; It wasn’t until University started teaching me Java that suddenly everything clicked in to place, and now I can understand most any language thrown at me.
Just a quick one: In re-creating my blog I had to go through one of my least favourite ordeals, choosing a theme. Given time I’d create my own (but, also given time, I’d probably just write my own bare bones CMS) but that’s not an option, so I usually look for simple, clean themes that I can perhaps customize a little bit and be done with. This theme is called Greyville, by the way, it’s rather pretty I think.
I actually set this blog up locally using Xampp first so I could import a few posts, do those theme mods and make sure everything worked before it went live. I was using the Greyville theme for a while, and had gotten used to it, when I realized it didn’t support a proper menu bar. So I decided I’d add one, how hard could it be?
Fairly simple it turns out, if you have the WordPress API imprinted on your mind. I spent most of my time looking up functions and then trying to chase their dependencies around the internet to find out why they weren’t working right. But I got there eventually, and I thought posting this information could help someone else who just wants to add a menu bar, or wonders why none of his custom php works…
In 2008/9 I visited a bar near where I lived called The Indie Lounge frequently. Friendly staff, live music and cheap drinks beckoned me in, but after a while I began work on an altogether more professional project with them – creating a website.
There was some interest in having an online presence which could be customized and styled, unlike the bars most prevalent means of communication at the time, Facebook. So I went and built a design I felt reflected the bar, grungy and dark. From there, things got a little strange…
As a teenager I was very active on technology discussion forums, and became the in-house developer for several. Modifying themes for Invision Power Board (now IP.Board), and tweaks to any external web sites or front pages were my general jobs, although I did make a few skins from scratch way back when.
The largest project I ever undertook was for a large community of over 30,000 members – the site had previously had a web site front end linked to their forum, but lost it during some upgrades. I created a new portal for them which linked in to their forums and displayed the top news posts, as well as most recent posts across the whole board, popular downloads, and a custom poll widget. I also created an extensive admin panel allowing admins to control exactly which forums the top/most recent posts were drawn from and set the poll.