Web Design

I have been designing commercial websites since the 90s, and have since produced over one hundred sites for various different customers. Many of them were sales letters and squeeze pages used by internet marketers, but I have also worked on a variety of other sites.

I started off using tables and images slicing, but quickly moved on to CSS once I had managed to get my head around it. I’ve produced a lot of Flash content over the years, but have now moved over to using jQuery and HTML5 video for most of the thing I once did with it. Although I understand some people's hatred of Flash, I am a little saddened to see its demise as I still quite like the drawing tools and the way you can produce vector artwork with bitmap like tools.

I started using Flash and Dreamweaver when they were made by Macromedia and was quite pleased when Adobe bought them as all the programs I had been using suddenly became part of the same suite. I do a lot of hand coding of HTML5 and CSS3, but I still like to use the tools in Dreamweaver, even if some of my friends who only use text editors might laugh at me!

I have mainly produced static HTML sites, but I am familiar with various CMS systems and have made customised themes for WordPress, Shopify, SMF and some smaller bespoke systems. I wouldn’t class myself as a programmer, but I’ve worked with Pearl, PHP, ActionScript and JavaScript, and can usually mash bits of code together to get things running.

The Crafty Beggar

The Crafty BeggarWhen I was approached by a friend to build an ecommerce website for her beads and crafts business, I wasn’t sure how successful it would be, so I put together a site very cheaply using WordPress with a free theme modified to their needs and the free version on the WP e-Commerce plugin. The site was hosted on a shared hosting account I already had, so the only thing we had to buy to get going was the domain name.

The site actually started generating business quite quickly, mainly through their presence on Facebook, which I integrated into the site. I also introduced them to using Twitter, which helped to drive a bit more traffic to them. Having proven there was a viable business, we upgraded to the premium version of WP e-Commerce and bought a rather nice theme from Storefront Themes.

Once they really started promoting themselves, we were quickly getting too much traffic for my shared hosting account to handle, so I migrated the site to its own VPS. The site also contained about 700 different SKUs and we started to realise that whilst using WordPress and WP e-Commerce would be fine for a low traffic site selling a few product, once you have that many products and are regularly getting in excess of 7,000 page views a day, the system really starts straining under the load.

I looked around for alternative systems and decided to move the site over to Shopify. The site was generating enough business to justify the extra cost and The Crafty Beggars remarked it was like moving from a clapped out old banger of a car to a Rolls Royce! After I had migrated the products and customised the theme, the site now runs with very little input from me, which is nice as keeping the VPS and WordPress installation up and running was beginning to take up quite a lot of my time!

You can visit the site here: thecraftybeggar.co.uk