The tale of the design rip off

It happens a lot. Someone may browse your website and think “That looks great, I could use that”, then five minutes later there is an exact replica somewhere being passed off as their own work.

It’s finally happened to me. Normally you probably don’t have the privilege to see this blatant ripping of ones own work but today it was brought to my attention. Continue reading The tale of the design rip off

General Election Day, who is the HTML5 of British Government?

Here in the UK a General Election is upon us. The different parties are fighting for your vote and to promote themselves online most of the parties have launched brand new websites. Here is an analysis of the different technologies used to see who is the HTML5 of British Government.

The Labour Party

Notable technologies used:

  • jQuery 1.3.2 + jQuery UI 1.7.2
  • Prototype 1.6.1.0
  • Scriptaculous 1.8.3
  • Tiny MCE
  • CSS3 (or at least what’s possible using 2.1)
  • XHTML 1.0 Transitional

How does it stack up against web standards?

XHTML 1.0 Transitional with 301 Errors, 45 warnings (oh no Labour, thats bad!)

The Labour Party’s website is well laid out with a solid grid system organising content well. It has a great use of colour clearly defining the brand of Labour (Red). Overall a nice design worthy of any Government site. The use of jQuery seems to be a no brainer in modern websites and so it should be, it works so well.

Liberal Democrats

Notable technologies used:

  • jQuery 1.3.2
  • XHTML 1.0 Strict

The Lib Dems don’t really use a lot of next generation technologies. It pushes the boat out with jQuery, and that’s only used for the rotating banner.

How does it stack up against web standards?

XHTML 1.0 Strict with 1 Error (such a shame! It was only a target="_blank" too, never heard of window.open?)

The Lib Dems website is pretty horrible really. It’s untidy, poorly organised and their use of colour is pretty much horiffic. First impressions of the Lib Dems site is “Mothercare”, as they use the old Mothercare green their brand was originally built on.

Conservative Party

Notable technologies used:

  • jQuery 1.2.6 + jQuery UI 1.8
  • jQuery 1.4.2 (yes they really do include two versions, and ones not even Minified :-O )
  • Dreamweaver Flash AC_RunActiveContent.js (why in gods name? swfobject anyone?)

How does it stack up against web standards?

XHTML 1.0 Transitional with a pass! Huzzah! (With 2 warnings)

Well after that win for Tory (pass) their design doesn’t do too badly either. With a great use of colour and clear use of typography and layout the Conservatives website is a joy to look at and play with (Homepage). It’s just a shame this is a front for an actually poor site overall. The design completely changes when visiting alternative pages, which is a shame indeed. But at least it passed validation!

Additional Information

Lets compare their Twitter followers:

Let’s be honest though this is a bit of fun, vote for who you like, not how popular they are online, but I know who I voted for!

My Top Ten Web Designer Resources

If your a seasoned web developer your going to want to follow some great resource sites. I myself have quite a large list of RSS feeds in my Outlook but here are my top ten with plenty of resources, freebies and tips…I will however feature 5 “biggies” and 5 “smallies” if that makes any sense to anyone who speaks the English language…

Here we go with the biggies…

1. SmashingMagazine.com

Smashing Magazine

Packed full of daily web resources from desktop calendars to tips on learning CSS. They have also recently had a redesign massively cleaning up the content (which was pretty bad on my opinion) and also aggregating content from websites such as spyrestudios.com, buildinternet.com and webdesignerwall.com. All of which are also great resources…

2. WebDesignerDepot.com

rss
Not specific in it’s content, Web Designer Depot seems to feature everything from Illustrator spotlights (like the recent one on the amazing Archan Nair) all the way to freebies such as the nice RSS icon set. I do however recommend they remove the horrible “I WAS a fat slob” adverts on the right as it’s pretty dire to see (see screenshot to the right)…

3. Spyrestudios.com

Is very good at eyeing up great web designs and showcasing them on their site. They are a small design agency in Canada but have a great blog. They also recently showcased my website because of it’s use of cufon, the amazing javascript text replacement (towards the bottom of the list).

4. BestWebGallery.com

Not a brilliant resource per se but it does feature some amazing modern designs. Not to be used as a starting point for designs but rather as “subliminal inspiration”.

5. BuildInternet.com

Build Internet is managed by twins Sam and Zach Dunn and is a great place to read more about the business side of website design. It’s packed full of jQuery tutorials, graphic design resources, CSS information and HTML tips. Give it a look.

Now for the smallies, generally sole developers who blog about their industry, not necessarily “small”…

6. Adii Rockstar

Adii Rockstar

Now Adii is quite a little celebrity online. He’s known well for his work on the WooThemes project which sells premium wordpress themes but makes for a very interesting read.

7. Fabio Sasso

He’s the guy behind abduzeedo.com and seems to be in deep in the website design world. He has some great work to check out and is involved in a large number of successful websites packed full of resources and inspiration.

8. Veerle Pieters

A graphic/web designer from Belgium, Veerle has tons of posts from over the years covering stuff from html to illiustrations. It makes for an interesting read if you dig deep into the older content. You’ll also see just how much a great designer knows about their industry when you read Veerle’s blog.

9. Collis

Probably should reside in the biggies list but because we aren’t talking about his amazing success story, Envato, he slots into the smallies. He’s the CEO of one of the largest and greatest design marketplaces on the web. He has his own blog called the Netsetter which covers mainly covers the business side of the design industry. (he also features a lot of guest writers too)

10. Chris Spooner

Because he’s a local boy! Chris was born and raised in Sheffield, UK, and runs his blog over at Spoon Graphics. He posts some great content covering mainly graphic design but it a great source of inspiration.

There are many more people to check out in the web design world, you just have a dig, and when you find them either subscribe to their RSS feed or follow them on Twitter like a stalker. Either way you’ll get great resources and good reads!

Also see @liammckay @kevinrose @shauninman @jasonfried

Developing for multiple browsers *sigh*

I know it’s unfortunately the “taboo” of modern website design, but many developers don’t want to simply leave their IE7 visitors and IE6 visitors in the dark. It’s fine for sites like this one, or for web applications but what about corporation websites? For sites that HAVE to support older/alternative browsers. This came to light ever more when I recently worked on a website which would mean that customers worth millions could possibly be using IE6. There’s 50% of employees there too who still run IE7 so not supporting them wasn’t an option. I needed (and used) a large set of tools to help me accomplish this task, and I’m going to tell you about them.

Every web developer should (and probably does) use these tools on a daily basis. They streamline your development and help speed up little niggles with your site. Continue reading Developing for multiple browsers *sigh*

New Result Group Website Launch

rentalresult

So it’s 4 months in on my new job and I’ve finally just launched the brand new Result Group website. It’s three solid months of development, hundreds and hundreds of tweaks, 1500+ lines of CSS and thousands more of XHTML programming and PHP. It’s built entirely by hand, no cheap CMS systems and no limitations on scalability. It also runs part of the site on WordPress (see the Rental News section).

Result Group develop world leading Rental Management Software and they needed a world class website to go along with that. The site was redesigned from the ground up by myself and there has been a lot of work chucked into a very fast moving three months. We finally went live last week and as of now, all hiccups seem to have been rubbed out.

It also uses GeoIP technology to direct you to the correct regional site (United States visit us.rentalresult.com while UK visit www.rentalresult.com).

It really was a mammoth task and one in which I’m very proud to have built solely.

Go check out Result Groups rentalresult website for their rental software and check out the design and jQuery loveliness.

DRVE

drve

I go on holiday in 5 days and it’s going to be an experience! Theres a group of us going (with about 7 cameras, 4 iPhones, a laptop, a motorhome and 1200 driving miles through Europe) Because there are four creatives on board we decided to build a website documenting our travels.

The outcome is http://drve.co.uk/ so make sure you check it out. You can also follow our tweets @drve09.

University is over! (for a year anyway)

Stamps

So University is done and dusted for 2009. I won’t be returning until September 2010 which makes for a nice break. In the end I got my grades (A,A,B,B,B,C) which I was very happy with. To top all this off I thought I’d showcase some of the work I did to receive these grades.

Visual Design (B Grade)

Plugs
I’ll start with a Module I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this year due to boring briefs, however, I did a little bit of illustration for it which included some postage stamps, posters and even included some Video in After Effects. You can see the video, the illustrations and the posters over at http://turnitoff.info/ (the posters reside in the footer of the page)
The site was built using the latest in Javascript and jQuery technology so check it out, hover over the elements, play with the buttons. Your probably better off using FireFox too, as IE couldn’t really handle it’s superior web modernness. Make sure you check out the video at the bottom of the website too (yes that is me speaking sounding common as muck).

For Visual design I also illustrated the stamps shown in the header image. It’s based on Music Technology over the years and I think I captured the best four from the past century or so. You can see them in all their vector glory too.

WebsiteMultimedia Product (C Grade)

This was a complex one, which also means I can’t demonstrate it online. The idea was simple, Unique Bidding auctions.

The site featured a worlds first in online bidding. Live real time bidding in auctions. You could actually watch LIVE bidders placing their respective amounts on the page as it went along. This meant users could bid against each other based on other users’ bids. Clever eh! It was all jQuery and PHP grabbing the data from a database. It was awfully complex and also included a 10,000 word document explaing the process and research behind it. There was also a very fancy presentation which explains the fundementals if anyone wants to watch it. Its the branding, the functionality and the UI all rolled into a short few slides.

It also had it’s own iPhone web application which tied into the whole site shwoing live bids from anywhere in the world at any time.

Web Programming (A grade)

Another interesting one. And one which I actually really enjoyed.

guestAssignment one involved building a file based Guestbook with full admin features, the ability to edit posts and delete them, a swear word filter to stip out those naughty words and a slick simple UI. It also had AJAX editing of comments right in the page. No loading, no navigating, just click and change! I think you can guess what Lady Part and Ping Pongs were supposed to say! It maybe available as a free download if anyone is interested in the future.

Assignment two was a dog database website. Very similar to Battersea dogs homes website. It needed full admin controls and the ability to save dogs as favourites and have the ability to search the dogs too. The brief was very extensive, and I covered everything. Check it out online right now. I ended up building a commercial site based on this for Cliffe Kennels.

Authoring (B Grade)

It was basically Actionscript 3.0 work. For assignment 1 I had to develop an interface which included an animation, using the drawing API and the components within Flash 8. I ended up building a Spirograph kind of application which allowed you to colour it yourself and watch the application build it for you. Very nice! Have a look at it. I also built a flash gallery using XML and class files. But it’s not something I have online at the moment.

Multimedia Design & Production (A Grade)

This is a group project, and something which is a real challenge working with four different creative minds. My University chum Chris Kovalenko was part of our A grade group which created a chairty website and CDROM called the West Yorkshire Autistic Society (completely fake). Check out the site.

Intro to Video (B Grade)

My mate Adam Fisher helped me out with this one as I couldn’t star, edit and film the whole video. He rode the bike, I edited it, The Chemists supplied the music. It actually works quite well for my first every video. So I’m quite happy with it as a 2nd year project.

That’s it! I hope this gives someone some kind of inspiration either for university or for their next project. If it did help you in any way shape or form, drop me a comment!

IE8 Adverts

I LOVE the new IE8 adverts. They feature that guy from The New Adventures of Superman (Dean Cain). It’s a shame I’m a FF3.5 user and IE8 is fourth in my list (behind Safari & Opera) of browsers to use. They are brilliant though.

I have gritting rage!. Download Firefox then you plonk. :D

Additionally I have omitted the “Puke” advert as it wasn’t that funny (and kinda horrible to watch). But you can still watch it anyway.

New design for a new career

Well, the 1st June saw me start my new job as Innovations Web Developer at Result Group in Elland. I decided that to mark the occasion I’d start by going crazy with my on-line development.
It has seen me redesign the Arctic Monkeys Fansite, build a brand new website for Cliffe Kennels, build a Twitter/Twitpic/img.ly/yfrog mashup called TwiPho and then finally redesigning Zero One Hundred (the site your on now). It’s been a hard slog of a month but one of great productivity. Next will be redeveloping Result Groups website to bring it up to modern standards. It’s something I’m really relishing and something which isn’t going to be easy. It involves a full redesign of structure, the actual look of the site and additionally it’s functionality. The aim is to bang out a perfect, intuitive design which will hopefully feature on some of the great web design galleries. That’s the aim, recognition.

Cliffe Kennels

I’ve just launched the brand new Cliffe Kennels & Rescue site for the world to view. Dennise needed a brand new image for their boarding kennels to attract more customers to the business. I built them a full PHP/MySQL site with a fully integrated admin section so they could add and remove the animals on their own website. It adds the animals to the database, generates image thumbnails for them and basically makes life easier. I also did all the photography for the site too.

Check out the brand new design over at http://cliffekennels.co.uk/ and maybe even think about rescuing a dog too!

(If your really interested you can see the old website over here. Blargh!)