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Citrus Theming for Shoppers Online

At the start of 2010 I was having to toil with a rather clunky eCommerce system called Interspire Shopping Cart, I hated it.  It just seemed miles behind everything else that was pushing the envelope on the web.

Also I found the support was terrible, the forums were nothing short of a joke. This being a licensed store, I found it to be lacking in so many elements.

Since I left the company I was working with that used ISC religiously, I have had my eyes opened once more and I fell in love with a superb piece of software from Canadian based web agency/software developers Limewheel Creative. They have developed a wonderful eCommerce platform called LemonStand.

To say that this software was refreshing is an understatement.  I have never really been excited by an eCommerce platform, until now that is.  LemonStand is an absolute pleasure to work with and I found myself enjoying doing what I was doing.

Now earlier this year I was able to really put it through it’s paces with a store for a local trainer, however it never went live and the client paid his bill and then vanished.  Which was a shame because I really worked hard on it and wanted to put it out there for people to see what I could do, and also what LemonStand could do.

(of course I can arrange a private viewing for anyone interested…)

Now LemonStand is incredibly flexible and you can pretty much create any layout you like with as much customisation as you can handle, so I’m about to embark on a journey which will take me through the whole process of theming LemonStand to my own tastes.  I am the client, so it should be easy. 

I will be updating this blog with my thoughts and processes as I undertake this pleasurable task.

Watch this space…

Posted on 5th December 2010

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PaintbrushJS

simplebits:

New from Dave Shea, “…a lightweight, browser-based image processing library that can apply various visual filters to images within a web page.”

I’m salivating just thinking of the possibilities here. Be sure to check out the demo.

Posted on 19th August 2010

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You want my advice? Make a list of what you want and then spend the rest of your life getting it.

Robert De Niro, The Score

Posted on 15th August 2010

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Designing for Ego’s

Recently I decided to return back to working as a freelancer as I really wanted to have more control over what work I did and who I did it for.  I also felt that as a freelancer I would be respected over my opinion and seen as an expert in my field - and not as someone there to just massage egos.

Far too many agencies, designers, so-called bosses of so-called web design agencies, all completely miss the point of what a website is all about and who it is for.  The only person a website is really truly built for is the end user.  The man or woman sitting at their desk using the site, not the designer and certainly not the client.

Browsing around many web agencies across the world, many of them have some kind of document that the prospective client will download and fill in.  This document is usually used to gauge what the client wants, and other information to help the designer.  Now to some extent this is fine and fairly useful - however there is always a single question where I believe it blows a project off course - “The What Site You Like” question.

The Fake

Of course we are all inspired by what we see, what we use and so on.  Clients come to me and say “I like the way such and such have their buttons - can we do that”.  Well my usual response is that I will design the site that matches the expectations of your users as ultimately they are the ones who will judge your site and not yourself.

If a client can’t afford to go through the process of finding out who their customer is and what their likes and dislikes are, then you really have to start questioning your desire to have a website.

Over the years and up to the very recent past I have witnessed clients and agencies completely ignore the end user, and usually against my better judgement - but I can only advise using my expert opinion.  To quote what Nicholas Cage paraphrased from Thomas Jefferson in a guilty pleasure movie of mine National Treasure:

"If there’s something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action."

Now of course bruised ego’s may follow from the client, that is for sure.  It’s their money, there baby, they know what’s best.  Truth is, they don’t.  They don’t know what’s the best way to design a website, because if they did, well they wouldn’t need a web designer to do it for them.

Recently I have took the bull by the horns and dismissed client ideas, told them why, added my own ideas based on what I believe the customer will want, and basically brought them around to my level of thinking.  Which I truly believe in this industry of “Me Too, Me Too” mentality - it really is a triumph.

Superstar Ninja Warrior Rock Star (err, Web Designer)

The more times I read about “Rock Star” web designers, I cringe and I get embarrassed by such outlandish labels.  You are a web designer, unless your up on stage coding live at Glastonbury, you are not a rock star - end of the matter.  It’s just a way to inflate an ego which ultimately can become a blocking factor in design decisions.  

There are far too many designers who post work on sites like Dribbble looking for positive feedback, or as I like to put it - “Fanboy Massages”.  As Ian Brown once sang back in the late 80s - “I Wanna Be Adored”.  We all want that at some point don’t we?  The adulation?  The fame?  The recognition?   The invite to speak at @Media?  Personally I prefer to measure my own success differently.  If I go to bed with a smile on my face because a design I have created has been well received by both client and customer, well then for me that is all the reward I need.  I then move on knowing I have left a little part of me on the web.

Utopian Society

Port Sunlight Houses

It doesn’t exist, it can’t exist because far too many factors get in the way, but I live in what I believe is as close to habitual perfection as what the original architects envisaged.  I live in Port Sunlight, a village created by Lord Lever for his factory workers back in the late 1800s.

Lord Lever hired several architects to each design their own style of house, and if you walk around the village you can see the differences in styles - but all maintaing the same effect of wonderment and desire.

When the architects were done and the houses were built, Lord Lever and his Architects probably sat back and thought, a job well done.  This is exactly what we want, but not for the architects, and certainly not for Lord Lever - they were for the people who live there.  Lord Lever wanted his workforce to be treated, to be happy, to go home smiling and come back to work smiling.  That level of satisfaction, joy and happiness still goes on over a century later.

So leave the ego’s at the door, they just get in the way of creating the perfect site for your customers, or your clients customers.  

Posted on 13th August 2010

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Nick Toye Studios

Fresh Port Sunlight code carved out of pure Helvetican.

Posted on 13th August 2010