HTML, CSS and stuff

Map Maker 2

Map Maker

My Map Maker is a little application that I built to scratch my own itch in 2005. Back then geocoding UK addresses was a royal pain. The Post Office weren't making post code data available and the geocoding services that were publicly available were pretty inaccurate (some still are). So the easy way to make a Google Map of any location has always been to find it on a map and click exactly where you want your marker to appear. And that's what the Map Maker lets you do. Click on the map to set the latitude and longitude, add your marker info and there you go. Instant Google maps.

Map Maker now has over 20,000 registered users and more than 25,000 maps. Which was why it became important to upgrade the membership system from my home rolled PHP admin into something a bit more robust. So In came an ExpressionEngine CMS and now I can do things like send password reminders and email confirmed registration. It's a bit more grown up!

The user interface has also had a big overhaul, all of the JavaScript on the front end is using jQuery now and the layout has been improved too.

It's actually starting to make a bit of money too. So if you'd like to see more upgrades and features, like it on Facebook or click on the banner and I might do some more tweeks soon.

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Categories: Stuff

The myth of the fold

For as long as I can remember people have been arguing about scrolling on websites.

Is it a bad thing? Do users scroll? Do we have to cram everything into the top of the page?

And then there is the ‘myth of the fold’…

Back in the late 90’s scrolling was often considered a bad thing. If your site wouldn’t fit on one screen you were doing something wrong. AOL didn’t allow scrolling at all. Anything that wasn’t immediately visible when a web page loaded might never be seen. The problem with this was that screens were a lot smaller back then fitting your design into 640x480 pixels was a challenge to say the least (remembering to include space for scroll bars). Tiny pixel fonts and complicated navigation ruled. Spreading content over lots of pages was common place too. Go to page 2.

Just kidding. And as the web grew up screens got bigger. We had 800px pixels and then 1024px and everything was good in the world. But the arguments about scrolling never really went away.

So what is the ‘myth of the fold’.

There is a magic line about 300px400px500px from the top of your page that all your important content must appear above. Or puppies die.

Pretty obvious really. But then you can’t fold a screen in half. And even when people read newspapers - from where the myth originates - people still have the intelligence to turn the page over and read the insides too.

So the big question is do users scroll?

Yes. No. It depends. If they can be bothered. But mostly yes.

CX Partners have been asking the same question for 6 years.

So if users know there is some interesting stuff further down the page most people are OK with scrolling to find it. And if we make the scrolling process itself engaging and fun then we get sites like these.

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Categories: Design, HTML

Manor Farm Cottage website

Manor Farm Cottage

I’ve just finished work on a little site for my Mother’s first holiday cottage in Goodmanham. The site features some wonderful photos from Leeds based freelance photographer Rick Harrison, some great copy writing from former colleague Ste Sawyer and a sweet little booking system module from PHP developer Graham Smith. It's built on the ExpressionEngine content management system in HTML5. I nearly always use jQuery for my javascript these days so there's a fair bit of that in use. I've also taken a conscious decision not to support IE6 for now. I think I'll fix that in a while though. I'm also going to be doing a stripped back version for mobiles.

So if you are looking for a great place to stay in the heart of the East Yorkshire Wolds then Manor Farm Cottages are ready to take your bookings now.

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Categories: CSS, Design, ExpressionEngine, HTML, JavaScript

Winter in Goodmanham

Manor Farm fields

I managed to make it home to the family farm a couple of weekends ago and took the opportunity to go for a photography walk with my Dad. We managed to get some really nice shots of the farm and village. This picture is of the fields surrounding our pond where I spent many wet days chasing frogs and tadpoles as a child.

I have posted most of my decent ones to my flickr account.

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Categories: Stuff

First post of the decade

Well we are starting a whole new decade and lots of things have been happening in my life since I last posted I thought it was about time I got around to telling you all about what's been going on.

So what has been happening?

The big things first

I have left AWA, moved to Manchester and returned to the world of freelancing.

I'm currently working for a large agency in Manchester on a website for a well known kitchen company.

Why? Well I'd always said to myself that I would only stay in Leeds for 2 years. 4 years later I was really ready for a change and a new challenge.

And some of the small things

I've recoded this website in HTML5 and jQuery. I've been using jQuery for all my JS development for the past few years now so it was about time I re-factored some of the legacy code around here. I've also taken the opportunity to try some HTML5 development. I still don't know if it's a good idea and I certainly wouldn't use it for a client website just yet.

Little brother Jimmy has still not found a wife. Neither have I.

My youngest cousin Phil has just turned 21. That makes me feel old.

I've started going to the Northern Digitals meetups in Manchester and have bumped into many old faces and met lots of great new web people too.

Now I'm freelancing again I wanted a better way of keeping track of my business finances. A bit of searching led me to the brilliant FreeAgentCentral. It's really made things easy. I'll write a full post/review sometime soon.

Also I'm back in training and once I've got my body back into shape I shall be testing myself by doing something mad like the Sahara Race.

And what's next?

Lots more freelancing :) I'll be available for more work from the end of January.

Writing more stuff for my blog - don't think I can do 52 but will try do one a month at least.

I'm in the process of implementing some alternative CSS styles for this site, and a neat little JS switcher to swap between them. Kind of pointless but fun none-the-less.

I'll also be adding comments functionality to the blog so you can leave me your thoughts and abuse.

And a couple of side projects that I've been planning for a while should see the light of day before too long. One promoting Manor Farm Cottages and another top secret email marketing related 'thing'.

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Categories: Stuff

Farmer wants a wife

Farmer Wants a wife

My little brother James 'Jimmy/Jim' Stephenson (pictured playing with his favourite toy) has been single for quite a while. So when the opportunity arose to enlist the help of the telly box to find himself a wife he jumped at the chance. I'm not sure he really knew what he was getting into. But we did get to meet the lovely Mrs Louise Redknapp so it wasn't all bad.

Most of the filming took place over easter this year and we have been waiting for a long time to see the finished programme. Jim's episode of Farmer Wants a Wife is on Five at 9pm Wednesday 30th October. The show will be available to watch on Demand Five afterwards.

I really hope they don't show the bit's I filmed for the show but maybe next year they can film 'Front-end developer wants a wife'.

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Categories: Stuff