Blog redesign

Why Not Actually Finish Something You Have Started?I’ve been planning on a blog redesign for at least 6 months now: probably more.

Not much has happened.

A kick up the bum

I got all excited, I made a design, and then I did about a day’s work on the CSS. And then nothing. In order to nag myself into getting more done, I have decided to launch the unfinished theme. This is it. As you can see, its a little rough round the edges.

Shamed into action

The hope is that I will actually want to have a working site, and will thus push on with, well, finishing it.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”

Paul J Meyer

Multiple header sizes…

Are an important part of website design

Even though I never…

…use ones this small!

Things I could do

As you may realise, I’m also using this post to throw a variety of elements into the blog, so I can check I have styling for them all. I also need to display some numbered and bulleted lists, but I can’t think of a relevant list to write. So, instead…

My favourite colours:

  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Golden Yellow
  • Black

Least favourite books ever:

  1. Granddad with Snails
  2. The Go Between
  3. Not really got any others.

The end of the post

Thanks for reading! Keep nagging me to finish this!

New page: MarketPress Grid Plugin

I‘ve been hanging out over at the WPMU-DEV forums quite a lot over the last few months, and I decided to contribute to the community with an update of one of the plugins for MarketPress.

MarketPress is a pretty good, simple e-commerce plugin for WordPress, but it lacks a grid layout option. This plugin adds that feature.

Anyway check out the new page, where you can download version 0.3 of the MarketPress Grid Plugin.

Simple testing on a live site

Ever wanted to make changes to a live site without disrupting it for visitors? Use isset() as a cloak of mystery…

As ever, I’ve been making some changes to my site WhenWillIBeSober.com (roadmap here), and I’ve been wanting to fiddle with things without disrupting the live site.

Normally you have two options on testing:

  1. Set up a duplicate install, make changes on that, then ship them over.
  2. Don’t do that, and hope that no one uses the site in moment when its broken.

Option 1 can be a lot of hassle, and Option 2 can cause your users a lot of hassle, so I implemented a very simple method: Option 3…

Simple add an isset($_GET["test"]) statement to your code, and put all your changes inside it. This way, people visiting the page won’t see your changes, but you can check them out by adding ?test=1 onto the url.

So, the code I’ve used today is:

<?php if (isset($_GET["test"])) {
include 'php/graphs.php';
}
else { ?>
<h3>Watch this space!</strong>.</h3>
<p>Coming soon is an exciting graphs area...</p>
<?php } ?>

And my site changes are only visible to anyone who visits the url with the test variables – as you can see in the screenshot below. Happy testing people!

Image by Richard Anthony Morris. Thanks!

Introducing: What’s The Storey

Just finished building a new site, for the most talented guitarist I know – Dan Storey. Click the screenshot below to actually check out the site…

Had fun designing this, a pretty minimalist portfolio site, lots of lovely big photos of Dan looking awesome/moronic. Heads up to:

  • JPlayer: the HTML5 mp3 player (with Flash fallback).
  • Cicle: the (free) font for the navigation and titles.
  • Andy Colthart: the great photography (shot in my mate Dave‘s flat)

Anyway, check it out at WhatsTheStorey.com, and if you need a guitarist/producer/dad joke teller, give Dan a shout.

Wireframe me up

Just found an fun new webapp called Wirify. Basically, you save it to your bookmarks, load a page you would like to see in wireframe, and click the link. It then gives you a wireframed version of your site.

Sadly, it doesn’t get it quite right for most of my sites. It’s based on jquery, so there are a few issues in how it sees components placed. For example, http://allaboutchris.co.uk:

Still, its an excellent tool for getting a quick idea, and you can always copy it into Fireworks and add the missing bits. Here’s http://saltandlightsolutions.com:

Wireframe of Salt and Light Solutions

So there you go. Wireframes made easy. Check out wirify at Volkside.com/2010/12/introducing-wirify-the-web-as-wireframes/.

MedRevise 4.0 is here!

After a month of live beta testing, the time has come to officially launch the new version of MedRevise.co.uk to the world at large. To find out the full story, read on…

Nearly five years ago, I arrived at medical school. And I realised I needed to make some notes. But I also wanted to use my computer, and so keeping them in order was important.

And then I realised I could use a wiki. For those of you who don’t know, a wiki is “A collaborative website which can be directly edited using only a web browser, often by anyone with access to it“. So I bought a domain, www.medrevise.co.uk, which I started to use for my revision.

As time went on, there were more and more notes online, and soon I met my friend Raj, who found that note making on MedRevise was his ideal revision technique too. Over the years the site has grown, and gets quite a lot of visitors: according to our hosting stats, last month (May) we had more than 13,000 visitors, and 112,000 page views. Needless to say, that makes me feel pretty happy!

MedRevise ScreenshotAnyway, this weekend, MedRevise Version 4.0 is launched, notable changes including:

  • Appearance: A new colourful theme. My first foray into Mediawiki theming, which was a pain in the bum, but worth it in the end.
  • About: A sexy new “About” page, and a few tweaks to the front page.
  • Twitter: A link to our twitter feed.
  • Adverts: For the first time, adverts – hopefully to pay some of the costs of the hosting, time maintaining it, etc.
  • See it now, in the screenshot on the right!

So yes, some exciting changes. Find out more for yourself at http://www.medrevise.co.uk.