My spare time over the last 23 years (yes I was an early internet adopter) has been taken up with creating, editing, and managing MANY websites, originally plain HTML written using notepad, and since written in PHP & MySQL, and some using the power of other top class open source packages, such as WordPress and (some time ago now) PHP-Fusion. All the sites are hosted on my own dedicated server. My full-time job these days is mostly creating web client business applications in Java EE and Seam/Hibernate, which are probably less interesting to showcase, even if I was allowed! I’ve been using WooCommerce for a while now to implement eCommerce websites, both for myself and friends, and commercially at work.
My previous role as Lead Developer at News Scientist really helped improve WordPress knowledge, as a site which will receive up to a million daily page views needs to perform, something WordPress isn’t natively good at. So caching (page, widget), and other performance increasing technologies were required (APC cache, CDN, Memcache).
My currently web projects;
Gigs Gigs Gigs
A new hobby project – a UK wide gig listing website, created because of my love of live music, especially the DIY Punk scene which is thriving.
A place for independent music venues, promoters, and bands to list their gigs / shows – across all music genres (with a focus on the many sub genres of ‘punk’), and obviously a place for music fans to find local and not so local live music events.
The website includes some tech to automatically pull events from Facebook, just needing me to tick a few boxes to publish gigs without having to find/cut n paste huge amounts of text.
It even pulls across and saves the posts/images from the Facebook event. All using a WordPress backend and custom theme.
Probably my biggest undertaking (apart from New Scientist’s website!), Mags Direct is a full eCommerce website for Frontline Ltd (my actual full time employers), selling single copies of magazines to the public. It’s fairly unique in the magazine word, selling the single copies (not subscriptions) for the same cover-price as the shops, with free postage – most places charge postage on top. It had to look good and work well, and obviously be secure (I’ve installed and SSL certificate and forced SSL use across the entire site).
It’s also fronted by Cloudflare CDN and security, on top of the security on my server and within WordPress (extra hardening plugin’s used).
Fully responsive, using a 3rd party commercial theme (recently changed to a better theme). I also help run the site as part of my day job, including SEO / Social media marketing (learning Hootesuite to help with that).
Take a look if you like magazines – we ship worldwide!
The Beer Writer
While I was blogging on this site about many things, including beer/pubs/brewing, I thought I’d create a dedicated site to write about the wonderful world of real and craft ales, pubs, breweries, and home brewing.
I’m now a regular judge at the huge Peterborough Beer Festival and am friends with several local craft brewers. I’ve also started travelling a little more to get to more beer festivals and pubs, recent trips include beer festivals in Grantham, Nottingham, London (GBBF, craft beer rising, and Beer Drinkers festivals), and Stamford.
So The Beer Writer is my responsive WordPress site for all things ale. Who knows, I may one day make a living about talking/writing about beer – that would be nice 🙂
UPDATE: I’m getting more content into this site, and it’s starting to attract a bit of attention; I’m off to Craft Beer Rising beer festival Feb 2015 as a ‘blogger’ to the trade and media event, so hopefully it will go the way of my darts writing and publicising.
‘The Crafty Writer’ – Crafting Blogsite
The crafty writer is the website created for my good wife, who in my opinion is a master crafter (or many disciplines, including cross stitch, paper crafting, and knitting).
Nicola (my wife) is also a budding writer and is learning all the time about the fine art of story telling.
This site is her personal blog site, to showcase her craft projects, and to discuss all and sundry.
The galleries on this site are growing every week, as Nicola posts more of her completed craft projects.
UPDATE Feb 2015: The site now has a new look n feel – which Nicola is very happy with 🙂 It’s a 3rd party responsive theme which is very mobile friendly. It’s a real clean ‘image first’ look, and it really helps to show off my wife’s craft pictures.
Scary Clown Presents
After doing a punk rock band, I was contacted by a local punk rock ‘promoter’ (although they prefer DIY Collective). The Scary Clown Presents organise multi-band gigs for alternative/punk bands in the Cambridgeshire area, and needed a better way to sell their virtual tickets using Paypal. I built them an eCommerce site around woo commerce and a 3rd party theme (same theme as Wonkunit.com, but with a slightly different look).
Using W3 Total Cache to keep it running fast as with many of my sites, it did take some ‘tuning’ to get it working correctly with the ajax/dynamic add to cart functions (I found the object cache was causing me issues, so turned that off, page caching being the real speed-up improvement anyway).
London ‘Punk’ Band Wonk Unit
Wonk Unit are a fantastic London Punk Rock band, I’m a fan myself and have already seen them live three times this year. They have a fairly unique sound – a lot of their songs aren’t what you’d expect of ‘punk rock’ – but they are part of a big underground ‘DIY’ scene, bands who aren’t told what to do by large corporate record labels.
Anyway the site is another WordPress based website, with a custom commercial theme, using some very specific plugins and custom post types to create discography, gig, and gallery pages. I’ve also implemented WooCommerce to sell t-shirts and merchandise.
It’s also a fully responsive site, scaling down and looking great on mobile devices as well as the desktop.