a busy start to 2015

It's been a very busy start to the year. And I hope that's a sign of things to come, because busy...is good. Busy means that I'm coding, and coding is FUN!

I've completed two websites in the past couple of weeks for two lovely clients.

The first was for LW Osteopathy and the second for Rose Roots Family Tree Tuition

Click the images above to visit the websites. Both Lucy from LW Osteopathy and Jessica from Rose Roots had just started up their businesses. Both had never owned a website before or had any kind of online presence. I guided them through all the steps, and kept them informed during the actual design process, building both sites to their exact requirements.

These were two really enjoyable projects to work on and resulted in two very happy clients.

LABMINDS.CO

MAYDAY MAYDAY... My latest design has just gone live.

The guys at LabMinds approached me looking to create a new single page scrolling site to showcase their super-fantastic solution making machine 'Revo'. Essentially they were looking for an e-brouchure to show off 'Revo' and let everybody know what it is and how it works. Really enjoyed working on this one, it threw up some interesting challenges and forced me to learn and adopt some new css techiques

LabMinds are on the verge of something massive here, and I wish them the best of luck. Please click on the screen-shot above to check out the site and find out all about them....

DAVEDUNLEAVY.COM REDESIGN

During the past week I've been really busy giving davedunleavy.com a complete design overhaul. This was one of my very first site-builds and it was in need of a revamp. The updated site is now finished and live...

I remember being really proud of the original design that I did for Dave, but this new one is proper slick and really shows off his beautiful photos and videos. I found this project really fun, because it meant I could focus purely on the design and layout and not worry about the content so much, because the content already existed and didn't require any editing.



Digital Self Portrait

Self portait of Ben Bowyer, 2014

I've been brushing up on my Adobe Illustrator skills today with this self portrait. I showed a friend and he said 'Haven't you just run a photoshop filter on a photo of yourself?'... Ummm no I haven't thank you very much! This was the result of many hours hand drawing with the pen tool. One top tip I did pick up whilst doing this, what to Ctrl+Click the layers within the layers panel which turns everything into outline mode, very handy for this type of thing.



Site of the Month - The Beatbox Academy

My site of the month for October is an absolute corker...The Beatbox Academy. Yes, an acadamy for Beatboxers (Beatboxers - is that the right name? Who knows).

Probably the cooleset academy in the world so it needed a cool website, and it certainly has one. It's a single page scrolling jobby with floating elements AND a clickable beatbox drum machine (how many websites can boast about having one of those eh?!). These kind of sites look very simple on the face, but the code behind them is very tricky indeed to get right. Click the image above to take a look for yourself.



Shes Electric

This video made me say 'Wow' out loud. Watch it...

Just a pretty standard commercial right? Now watch it again and realise that the Audrey Hepburn look-alike is completely computer generated! Very impressive. Certainly the best example of a true to life CG human I've seen. CGI has come such a long way and I predict that we will start to see long dead film stars resurrected for full feature length productions soon, starring alongside live actors. Cool & Scary. Elvis isn't dead...they were right.



Wordpress, I salute you

I'm building a pretty cool Wordpress Blog site for somebody at the moment. It's all a bit hush-hush for now but more details will follow soon once the site is built and launched.

Wordpress is such a nice tool to work with, both for the web designer, the user and the reader. Once the initial backstage set-up is complete and the base site is designed (that's where i come in) it is ideal for clients who want to be a bit more hands on with their website. It's intuitive UI means that even the most code-shy users can pick it up and begin blogging without ever seeing a single line of HTML code. I recommend Wordpress to clients who want a website that they can interact with and update themselves as the site admin. There’s still room for error of course, but with the handy preview and archiving features built in, it takes a lot of the risk out of live updates.

If you want to start blogging on Wordpress, or perhaps create a news site or a site for your new band then give me a shout. I can hook you up with a domain name, sort out the hosting and configure and build the site for you, leaving you with all the tools you need to run your own website independently.



The World Is Flat

Flat is never a good thing is it? Flat tyres, Flat batteries, Flat pack furniture... not things to get terribly excited about. But flat UI design however, now you're talking.

The flat UI (user-interface) design style is very much in fashion at the moment. It's everywhere. Windows 8 has gone to town with it (perhaps slightly over-board in my opinion). Even Apple are getting in on the act and releasing their new iOS7 with an all-new flat design style. So what is flat design? Well it's a design philosophy, rather than a strict design code of practice. Rather than attempt to explain it myself (I'm not feeling very philosophical at the moment), click on the image below to read a fantastic Gizmodo article on flat UI design.

In essence 'Flat Design' doesn't try to pretend to be anything other than design, and focuses on functionality over style. Skeuomorphic design (the opposite of Flat) tries to replicate real life textures and objects to give the user visual clues to the function of an element. Got that? Good.

I suppose my own website is an example of Flat UI design (he says whilst writing a blog post onto a background designed to look like a piece of paper). But in general it is pretty flat. This wasn't intentional when I designed the site, I suppose I have a natural built in 'flat' style. I don't think one style is better than the other, there are fantastic examples of both Flat UI and Skeuomorphic everywhere. I do think that as a designer, if you go too far with either style then you risk missing the point completely. You can end up creating an overly embellished, texture heavy Skeuomorphic mess, or a sparse, dull, lost-in-space Flat UI. So finding a happy medium between the two is the key.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Apple handle this with iOS7, they're usually bang on the money with their style, but I have a feeling some users might not warm to the new flat way of doing things.



Some advice for IE users

Are you viewing this site using Internet Explorer (IE)? If so then please follow my useful tips listed below which will dramatically improve your online experience forever

Step 1
Open up the control panel on your computer and click 'Programs'
Step 2
Locate the program called 'Internet Explorer' and then click 'Uninstall'.
Step 3
Once the uninstall is complete, delete the desktop icon for IE from your desktop.
Step 4
Start using a Firefox or Chrome as your default browser.
Step 5 (Optional)
Write to Microsoft and tell them that IE is rubbish.

IE really is inferior, both as a web user and a web designer. It's always crashing, it has hundreds of display issues, its clunky, and as a designer you are forever having to write in little bits of code to help fix various IE bugs and glitches. Infuriating sometimes. You can see for yourself, if you have IE installed (providing you haven't deleted it already) then open up my site in IE then open a new instance of my site in a different bowser, Firefox for example. IE strips away all of my nice smooth edges, introducing a vile pixelated effect in places, degrades the typography, flattens shadows...and basically strips away most of the nice little details that I spent hours working on. I could go on forever. Anyway. Rant Over. Just delete it.
Cheers.

WWW.JACKBOWYER.COM

My latest full website design is now live - www.jackbowyer.com, home of Jack Bowyer - 3D Animation and Modelling Specialist.

Jack is a student coming to the end of his Animation degree at Bournemouth University. Jack needed a website to showcase his design portfolio, so that potential employers can view his work and skills.

Luckily for me, Jack had loads of beautiful graphics, images and videos for me to use, which made building the site a lot easier and faster. I'm very happy with the finished site, and more importantly, so is Jack.

Please take a look and see what you think.



Site of the Month - Beansmith.com

This is probably the most over-done thing ever...but I'm going to start doing a 'site of the month' right here on my blog. If I find a web design that I find particularly cool then then I'll let you all know about it.

This month we have...drum roll please...www.beansmith.com. Yes BEANSMITH. They're not an Aerosmith tribute band, but they do make coffee. They also have a nice website.

The site takes a little while to load (which usually puts me off) but in this case it's worth the small wait. I love the layout, the textures and the cool sliding windows.