Wednesday 27 October 2010

Standards and rules on the web

I am still in a webby place where having "designed" and tinkered, more like, with my company's Wordpress (Thesis theme) driven website, I am seriously frustrated by the non-standard way that various browsers (okay IE7 and IE8) interpret my design. I can hear the wall of sound that says "hire a specialist" - and I probably will - but getting out simple, standardised content should be easier than this. Yes, there has been a learning curve. Yes, I've been on a journey. Yes, I still like Wordpress. But why can't the experience be slightly more straightforward?

Stupid question really. Anything good is worth struggling for, so people say. I'm 70% there and will call in expertise to help with tweaking, finishing and error removal.

Please visit when you have a moment:

Video Production services from Xube. We make videos.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday 22 October 2010

Pressing on with Wordpress (and not giving up)

In September 2008 I wrote a blog about my frustrations with Wordpress (PHP, CSS and the rest) and I gave up! Yep, I thought Blogger would do for now. Wordpress (the open source variety) was just too damn fiddly. If you want to blog why not get something that works straight out of the box like Blogger. I didn't see the point of (the hosted service that Blogger is similar to) it was either Blogger the ready-made package or host-it-yourself Wordpress "purity". A rather silly dichotomy that resulted in dumping the pure option rather quickly. Well, something changed and I have had a more successful second go at Wordpress.  Hurrah!

Over the last 2 years I have seen, read and explored many highly-customised, slick and SEO-friendly Wordpress blogs and thought that my company needed to head in that direction. Our new website is still in its infancy but it has been launched.  Please go and take a look: Xube - High Quality Video Production.  It's a first attempt, admittedly, but I'm pleased with how it shows off some of our most recent work and has blogging as a core feature of the site.

It's very early days with the new website but our plans are to use the blog to deepen and enrich the content published there.  If you have a basic knowledge of HTML and are willing to learn a few CSS tricks then Wordpress is worth exploring.  It has now matured into an CMS (Content Management System) which means you publish what you like, when you like and Wordpress will handle the rest (such as archiving).  It has taken the best part of 2 months to get the features working the way I want them too and there will inevitably more changes over the next 2 months.

Any tips?  I have found the Thesis theme a good investment.  The SEO-friendly theme holds your hand around Wordpress and makes customisation slightly less daunting.  This is a paid-for theme but you don't have to go down that route.  You could try free themes, make your own or just adapt what Wordpress gives you.

I am now inspired to learn a little more about PHP, the coding language behind Wordpress, but am going to take one step at a time.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Poster doubletake: Hampton Court Poster part 2

"Welcome to the world of the magnificent Tudors" the not right poster beckons. At first it appears as though the design agency may have left the intern on his own in the office one Friday afternoon and he has subsequently pushed the crazy colours button in Photoshop and sent it to the printers. The red bricks (Wikipedia calls them pink) of Hampton Court Palace are overwrought and shout at you. The Central Casting Henry VIII is ruddy-faced and welcomes you to his gaff with a menacing look in his eye. As your eye is drawn into the centre of the picture (through the Palace's wonderful arches) you notice a young man, coyly smirking, in a doublet and hose who reminds me of the tennis player Andy Murray (it must be the south west London link). And further in the distance is a woman of unknown identity (in posh Tudor garb) who is being looked at by a group of cut-out tourists. Yes, literally cut-out with scissors and stuck on! The visual incongruities that first repelled me now create an air of mystery that make me want to walk into the poster. What initially appeared to be a design faux pas is perhaps a small work of genius. The appeal to explore Hampton Court Palace's rich history is captured not with standard issue beauty shots but with an off-beat visual over-saturation of colour and curious characters.

"Welcome to the world of the magnificently intriguing tourist poster!"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Poster doubletake: Hampton Court Palace part 1

[It's been a while: real world events, micro blogging and social media can take some of the blame...]. There's a poster that has distracted me from my SPDS (Semi-Permanent Distracted State) and it's the one on the London tube for Hampton Court Palace; an advert for a Tudor-themed experience with a buxom princess and H8 himself. There is something not right about this poster! 'Not right' is, I appreciate, a pretty appalling excuse for a critical description, but take a look at the poster and you will, I hope, start to see what I mean. But I have to admit the 'not rightness' of this poster has cast a spell on me. It's got me. I always stop and stare. Perhaps the poster is very right! More detail, and a picture, in my next post.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone