Portfolio

Lifting Hypnosis

Technologies used: OOPHP5, MySQL, Magento CE, HTML5, CSS3, Responsive

Lifting Hypnosis is a website where you can buy and download hypnosis MP3s to aid you in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) losing weight, quitting smoking, boosting self-confidence, and overcoming depression.

This became my very first finished project to use Magento Community Edition (at time of writing, I have another on the go). I'm most familiar with Enterprise, so I was eager to get to grips with Community to see what the differences are. I was happy to see that there weren't too many differences to throw me off and I came to it like a duck to water. I didn't have to go as deep as to make my own extensions for this website, but who knows what the future will bring!

I used a responsive boilerplate to create the theme for the website, which was designed wholly by myself for my friend, who runs it and provides the content. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how to adequately apply responsive changes to a website (which I personally tested with a small variety of iOS and Android devices), which I previously had little experience with. All options are available to the user no matter what device they're using.

An unexpected twist to this project was the graphics. I knew I had to produce a design for the site, but it wasn't until later that I was required to make the images for all the products as well. I went for a bold approach with titles that stood out and best put the message across. I used this to my advantage by adapting some of the images as banners on the home page in order to promote said products, in order to maintain consistency.

Although I'm rather proud with the graphics and responsiveness of the site, I feel the most impressive aspect is it's speed... considering it's kept on shared hosting. Everyone strongly frowns upon using a web application as complicated as Magento on shared hosting, due to the lack of resources and customisation available. However, thanks to a combination of caching and expiration tweaks, as well as turning on the compiler, a page on this site loads in under 2 seconds. Some people struggle to get that even on dedicated servers!

Country Attire

Technologies used: OOPHP5, MySQL, Magento, HTML5, CSS3

Country Attire faced a huge rebranding in Q3/Q4 of 2011, which required the change from their old website to a new one. I joined the team in order to help with the transition and maintain the new website. The reason behind the move was because the old system was way too complicated and limiting. The company is expanding extremely quickly, even given the current financial climate, and the old system simply wasn't going to cut the mustard. The decision to move to the new system and new design was already decided before I joined, but nonetheless I was excited for the opportunity to work with a whole new system for a whole new website, not to mention I'd also be working with a whole new staff in a completely different environment. I had never worked with Magento before but I was ready to stand up to the challenge.

It turned out that the transition was easier than I thought. After just a few weeks, I found that working on this site and with the Country Attire staff would be reminiscent of the times I was working with Digital Umbrella. Everyone's really friendly and approachable, and it's less like a working environment and more like being with a large family. On the programming side of it, although I found Magento's take on the MVC architecture a little unusual, I soon got to grips of it and began to shine. A week didn't go by where I hadn't learnt something new and put it to good effect! The move to the new website was shaky, but that was really more down to hosting issues. Once the new website had found it's ground, it really started to bring in more sales and custom to the company.

Many months passed and over that time I developed a number of different additions and changes for the website. The way products were shown to customers changed over the time, and many changes on the backend that customers didn't even know about took shape. Amongst these, I created a Magento extension that took a load off of our old system and kept all the products up to date on the new Magento site, tying in with our warehouse and dispatch systems. When I first joined I thought that would be beyond my abilities, but once I'd read up on the necessary APIs and such, I soon came to terms with what was expected and I most certainly delivered!

The job of maintaining this website really threw me some curve balls. It seemed that, every month, there was something that would be my biggest and greatest achievements in the programming industry. The biggest ones would be the massively important projects I had to take the lead on, including the huge upgrade from Magento Professional to Enterprise, the upgrades on PHP and MySQL that were required on the servers, and the company's biggest rebranding project in early 2013 which required me to build and launch (but, have to stress, not actually design) the new theme for the site. Since the old one was based on the old version of our system, it meant I could throw a few curve balls of my own and make the new design really pop and fully utilise the extras that the upgrade mentioned just above could really bring! With thanks to my efforts - and the help of the rest of the IT and E-Commerce team - the new design was really well received and gives the company the more global and corporate look that it deserves.

Café World Dishes
Technologies used: PHP5, MySQL, JQuery, XHTML, CSS

Need help deciding what to cook in Café World? This site can help you choose what to put on your stove, to have it ready and waiting for when you're next back on-line playing! You can even order by whatever your current priorities might be; getting as many café points, or café coins, as you can.

This is a website that I made in my own time, however I have stopped development on it due to my drop in interest in the game. Details of all the features of this site can be found here.

Fil :: Forum for Interlending
Technologies used: OOPHP5, MySQL, Wordpress, XHTML, CSS

This is my very first Wordpress website, launched in May 2011, and built in my final month with ESP Projects. The website was originally going to be built with I-CMS, Digital Umbrella's in-house content management system, but a decision was made to make the switch to an open source system instead, with the consent of the client. The reason for this was firstly to provide the client with more options for the website, and to allow the staff at ESP Projects (as well as myself) to gain proper first-hand experience of this publishing platform. Due to this change, we had also taken the decision to include some of the features inherit to the I-CMS system, which were promised to the client in the original proposal.

The original proposal included an editable panel. To meet this requirement, I designed this site's theme to contain not one but five widgitised areas: Two in the header, one in the strapline bar, one under the menu, and another in the right-hand side column. I made many of the areas outside of the main content editable in order to give the client more options in changing the additional information stored there (e.g. add more unique buttons or change the text), instead of being restricted to just one area.

The website also includes a number of plugins downloaded from the wordpress website, however I modified them specifically for this website in order to make them easier to use. I rewrote the slideshow plugin, used on the right-hand side of the page, to show only images listed under a specific category, as opposed to showing all uploaded images (which the plugin originally intended to do). This was done to provide the client with a slideshow that was promised in the original proposal, but it provided more as it let the client pick and choose the images whenever they wanted.

When bringing the content over from the client's original website, it had come to my attention that they had a vast archive of all their past newsletters dating as far back as 1991. It occurred to me that they will continue to archive their newsletters on the site, so I downloaded a plugin that would list hyperlinks onto any page using a shortcode. I re-wrote it so that it would instead list documents filed under a specific category. This would make adding newsletters to the archive much easier for the client.

Other I-CMS features included in this site are the font resizer (located in the top-right corner of the site), an inline editor (to allow the client to edit pages without needing to go into the dashboard), easy access to a dynamic sitemap, and a simple photo gallery.

Suicide Awareness Partnership Training
Technologies used: ASP/VBScript, I-CMS, Microsoft SQL Server, T-SQL, XHTML, CSS

I was approached to produce a website for a project that specialised in providing training in suicide awareness. They wanted a corporate-yet-approachable look to the website, which mirrored their marketing material, and they also wanted people to be able to leave feedback on the website after they had taken part in a training session.

Thanks to their marketing material, I was able to come up with a suitable design for them. One of the requirements was that they wanted everything to be "contained", hence the border around the edges. The background is a green beacon that continues from one corner of the page to the other, based on their existing logo.

The feedback aspect of the website had thrown me off at first. They wanted to be able to send each person who took part in the training a unique URL to the training form that would determine which training course they were on and who to send it to (because there are multiple different trainers). To answer this, I added an option that would dynamically generate the link they required, so all they had to do was specify the date of the training and the email address of the trainer, and then copy and paste the generated URL into their emails to participants.

Libraries & Information East Midlands
Technologies used: ASP/VBScript, I-CMS, Microsoft SQL Server, T-SQL, XHTML, CSS

Libraries & Information East Midlands (aka LIEM) have been a long-term client of Digital Umbrella. We had made a website for them back in 2008 with a temporary layout in order to get them an internet presence. They planned to have the website redesigned at some point in the future and, 3 years later in April 2011, that honour fell to me.

They wanted a website that was more "modern" to what they had previously. I produced a series of designs using similar techniques used for my redesigns for both the Digital Umbrella and High Peak CVS websites, as I considered them to have a "modern" design and appeal. When they were presented to the client, they didn't agree with some of the ideas I used. In tone with the "customer is always right" saying, I took the designs back to the drawing board and produced a new series of designs. After some further shaving and colour alterations, the current design was chosen.

This design is slightly different from most websites built on the I-CMS platform. The menu was designed so that the submenus, when the user hovers their mouse over the buttons, appear to form part of the button itself. This technique was used previously on the Derbyshire Learning & Development Consortium website (also in this portfolio).

Performing a redesign of the website allowed me to add some extra functionality that was previously missing. A contrast option was added to make reading the content easier for anyone with poor eyesight or with dyslexia.