The Six Year Itch

My website has always been a technical playground. It’s been constantly under development for years; updated and tweaked as I come across new ideas and see room for improvement. As it’s been a side project since I started working full-time on web projects in 1999, it’s almost always been a building site too. Because I only work on the site in my spare time, it’s extended piecemeal; often with rushed add-ons and quick adjustments which are removed again some time later.

The last time I revised the site in a big way was in 2006, when I ported the site to the latest version of WordPress. I started the website afresh after a long hiatus, and started blogging again in earnest. Over time, I updated the layout and used the experience of the previous versions to make the layout work well for both the “photo blog” (image-based blog posts) and for the portfolio pages.

With the advent of “Responsive Web Design” techniques in 2010, I wanted to learn how to adapt my website to allow visitors using mobile devices to more easily browse the content. When the iPad came along, I also wanted to take advantage of how much better photos can look on the A4-sized display. But time constraints and a very large project for my erstwhile employer meant that I couldn’t devote the time I needed to the site, and so I used the requirement for a new professional portfolio instead, producing my first “responsive” website. It did its job well and helped me gain a position with my current employer, where I brought the techniques into the team and began developing client sites using the techniques I’d learned.

This summer, six years after the previous complete re-write, I decided to sit down and review the website as a whole; not just a change to the layout, but also the entire technical basis of the site. I developed a new design over the course of several weeks, reviewed a number of different templating techniques, developed a new version of the site on the existing WordPress core, and re-wrote several of my own plugins I have been using over the past few years to take account of advances in technology and my own programming knowledge.

The end result is almost complete and will be online soon, once the all-too-common problems with older versions of Internet Explorer are resolved. I’ll be writing about the individual aspects of the new website, from the design to the more technical decisions and the considerations for devices like the iPad, and hope to be able to share certain code and concept details. The new version will also contain a much-extended image archive, where you will be able to view and download an ever-increasing number of my best photographs.

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