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I have been doing a bit of travelling of late. All work related you understand, not me just jaunting off merrily to some far out corner of the globe to drink hybrid concoctions, brewed up by some indigenous tribesmen of…wherever.
I dont know about you, but whilst driving around the country I tend to get hungry. And where better to stop than good old McDonalds™? That’s right I’m admitting it
My name is Christian, and I like McDonalds™
What is it about the golden arches that people don’t like to admit? Speak to anyone and they will always have something bad to say about the place. Ask anyone their opinion of McDonalds™ and you will likely get the same negative response…
But everyone still goes there…and yes, that includes you.
It was while tucking into my served-in-a-box, processed sandwich that I got thinking about an interesting post by Jon Bell where he talks about his unique way of inspiring his co-workers. Jon’s theory is this – if he and his co-workers cant decide where to go for lunch, Jon suggests McDonalds™. This immediately brings other, apparently better, suggestions out of the group. Jon goes on to apply this theory to design – if no one has ideas, suggest something ridiculous to get the ball rolling. This could be a very effective technique to get the creative juices flowing in everyone.
But what happens if after suggesting the unthinkable everyone says “hey, thats a good idea?”. What if we all actually admitted we like McDonalds™? Does that bad idea then become a good idea? How many people have to agree on something before a stinker of a thought becomes the next big thing?
The internet is such an ever changing environment. Every day new technologies are released (or at least, far cleverer people than me work out new and amazing things to do with these existing technologies). How many of these wonderful things that we take for granted such as touch screens, responsive stylesheets and gesture control started as “McDonalds™ ideas”?
Where would the web be if those clever people had been in a room full of people who were scared to admit they wanted to go to McDonalds™ and instead decided to conform by suggesting a more acceptable alternative. A world full of genius’ (or genii?) bursting for a McChicken sandwich, but instead forking a pistachio salad in to their normal sized head which houses their oversized brain. Sipping pomegranate juice to wash down the fresh rocket and plum tomatoes, “ooh you can really taste the freshness of the leaves”.
Now and again, just now and again, why not admit that you like the most ridiculous idea the most. You might find you’re not on your own.
You know those times when you’re just hovering around on the internet, you’re not really sure what you want to find out but with all this information at your fingertips there must be something?
This seems to be a hobby of mine. During the day while Im knee deep in designs and websites, answering phones and generally being an all round nice guy (just in case there are any potential clients reading) I think of a million and one things I want to find out.
“When I get a minute I’m going to read up on the revival of Palladian style architecture in the early 18th Century”
But by the time the clock rolls around and my fingers hover over the keyboard waiting for instructions from my brain, which by now resembles a kind of cabbage soup, theres nothing. Not a thought. Of all the millions of films, songs and answers to lifes questions there are floating around on the internet, there is nowhere in the whole world I can think of to be at that time.
Of course as soon as I climb in bed the damn grey blob in my head switches back on and it begins again.
Well, today I was meandering, taking a virtual stroll if you will, not travelling anyway in particular. When, as I trawled my way through endless pictures of cats, amusing anecdotes of uncles and Aunties (which usually end with a line that reads something like “its not the butchers fault, the fishmonger was was wearing the wrong hat”) I chanced upon an article about WordPress sites.
As I am a WordPress developer myself I took interest in this article entitled “20 Great Examples of WordPress Sites“. I opened the article and read with interest as it did exactly as the title promised and showed some great examples of websites built using WordPress. The fantastic thing about this article is that among all these great sites by some amazing designers that I admire, featured the Obi Media website. And guess what? I designed and built that one.
So thank you Creative Bloq, you made todays virtual stroll a worthwhile and enjoyable one.
Well making ‘Make You Smile’ really made us smile (cue applause… bow and leave stage). But seriously, apart from the rain the whole thing went pretty well.
Patrick and I have a few more projects up our sleeve so fill your Twitter timeline with my jibber jabber and I’ll keep you posted. Follow me @senoir
In the meantime, have a look at how much fun we had making the video…
Well its been a while since we made the video for it now but the eagerly awaited EP, ‘Playing by Numbers’ by Ethan Ash is set to be released on the 1st of October. Its also been produced by a friend of mine, the very talented Lorenzo De Feo who you may have seen standing beside Matt Cardle with a guitar shaped piece of wood in his hand.
If you’re not familiar with Ethan Ash you should check him out. He is an acoustic songwriter from the Cambridgeshire area and has already had some success from touring with the likes of Ed Sheeran and showing his mush on the same billing as Newton Faulkner. I dont think this little chappy is going to be a stranger to your car radio as you drive home from work so get used to him.
So whats my part in all this? Well, I co-directed and co-edited the music video for ‘Make You Smile’ with my good friend and film making partner, Patrick Hurst. Patrick is also an artist and sculptor so while youre browsing the net why not pop over to PatrickVille and cop a load of his work.
‘Make You Smile’ is just one of the tracks from the forthcoming Ethan Ash EP so if this one takes your fancy then put your hand in your pocket and purchase the lot.
I AM THE LAW!! OK, so contrary to Judge Dredd’s self belief, I am not the law. In fact, I know bugger all about the law, other than –
The other tiny thing I know is, a law was passed last year (though it didnt really come into effect until this year) stating that websites must warn visitors if there are cookies lurking. Known as the ‘EU Cookie Directive’, its a ridiculous law but don’t get me started because we’ll be here all day and it will inevitably end up with me upsetting someone and heading towards the nearest octogenarian’s residence in an unconvincing, home-made hat.
The EU cookie directive may not be the most welcome law but, as Voltaire said ‘in order to be free we must all be slaves to the law’. I’m not sure how true that is either, but in any case it has caused me to sit down and write this WordPress plugin to make abiding by the rules that bit easier.
It gives your visitors the option to opt in to any third party applications such as Google Analytics or Ad Sense and doesnt show it until. The Choc Chip Cookie Plugin then leaves a cookie of its own to remember them next time. The cookie willl expire after one year. There are a few options with this little badger to help you comply with the EU cookie directive and also pimp it up to suit your website.
This plugin comes with an opt-in widget for your sidebar. Anything added to the Choc Chip EU Cookie Plugin widget is opt in. So if you insert your Adsense code here it will only show if the visitor has accepted cookies. Cool uh?!
Edit the warning text as shown on the button bar. Try something like ‘Hey you, you are browsing my website so you are having cookies’. OK maybe not qute that but something similar.
Create a page that contains your cookie information such as what cookies are and what you use them for. Select your cookie information page from the list and this will link to the ‘More info’ button on the button bar.
Third party applications such as Google Analytics leave a cookie in order to be able to track your visitors. The EU Cookie Directive wants you to warn people of this and even have them ‘opt in’ so you shouldnt track them unless they agree to it. Any text/code that you enter in the ‘opt in header code’ field will only be activated once the ‘allow’ button has been clicked. Any text/code in this field will be placed just above the
WordPress leaves a cookie when a comment is left (to save the form information so it doesnt have to be filled in next time) so give your visitors a warning and let them whats going down. Try something like ‘By leaving a comment you are agreeing to have a new friend in the same shape as a cookie popped onto your hard drive’.
Select the position for your button bar
Change the background of your button bar by entering the name of the colour or if youre a smarty pants you can enter a hex value.
Change the main text colour on the button bar by entering the name of the colour, now try to be sensible as ‘off white’ aint gonna cut the mustard sonny Jim.
Have a guess what this does? Thats right it changes the accept button text colour. Pop your favourite colour in the box.
Make that button stand out with a smashing background colour.
Thats right you can even change the colour of the border of the button. Your visitors will be sad to see it disappear when they click the button.
We’ve moved on to the next button so make this one just as important as the last one as it points to important information
Make it shine man, make it shine
Come on this is the last colour change so make it count
Now dont forget to press save after you make any changes.
I am not a lawyer nor am I, nor have I ever been a policeman so my knowledge of the law is pretty limited. And to top it all off I once got into trouble for stealing sweets from my local shop, my mum was not happy and I got grounded for quite some time. But I’ve grown both mentally and physically since then. Anyway I digress, if you get into trouble for not abiding by the EU cookie law even after using this plugin, I accept no responsibility. You are welcome to use this plugin but it comes with no guarantees as to its compliance of the law. If you are in any doubt you should seek real legal advice.
If you are happy with all the above nonsense then give this little gem a try – DOWNLOAD
Download the Super Duper Choc Chip EU Cookie Plugin from the WordPress Repository
If you have something to say about this plugin then please do leave me a comment, hey who knows we could be friends. Right?!
Other than that just fill your timeline with my jibber jabber on Twitter. Follow @senoir
Remember when you were a child and you came up with crazy ideas? Ideas that you never told anyone about just in case they laughed in your face? Ideas that you never followed through because they weren’t realistic or the ‘norm’? Well, at some point in my life, and Im not exactly sure when but at some point I started sharing my crazy and laughable ideas. I started to tell people what I wanted to create and how I thought I could do it. And guess what? People laughed. But as Ive never been the brightest button in the box I just carried on having weird and wonderful ideas and i carried on sharing. Eventually someone listened. This is how I got into film making.
In two weeks time I start to film my first music video for a single being released in September 2012. The artist will be revealed all in good time but what I can say is he is set to be a house-hold name for his brand of melodic, acoustic sing-songery. The song has been produced by local musician and producer, Lorenzo De Feo. I am co-directing with artist, Patrick Hurst, we have done a couple of little film projects before and since we’re both dreamers we seem to work well together.
Today we made a start on story boarding the whole concept and we visited one of the 2 locations to take a few test shots. The whole process got pretty intense before the camera had even made an appearance so Im expecting one of us to actually have a trouser accident on the day.
Keep up to date with this project and others by filling your timeline with my jibber jabber on Twitter @senoir
I was recently lucky enough to be asked to direct a short film to promote an upcoming event for Changing Spaces in Cambridge. Of course i didnt say no.
Changing Spaces is a pioneering initiative developed by Cambridge City Council in partnership with Love Cambridge. The project started in June 2009 and has exhibited over 80 local artists and charity groups in more than 24 different locations since then. Changing Spaces is delivered by professional artists on a voluntary basis.
If you are a Cambridge artist and want to exhibit your work head over to the Changing Spaces website for more details.
This film was made in an afternoon by myself and Patrick Hurst (that’s the back of his head you can see in the film), an artist and film maker from the Cambridge area. You should have a look at his work on his website www.patrickhurst.co.uk.
And hey, what the hell, if you have some spare ‘investment’ cash lying around why not splash on some of his work. It might look good in the hallway.
I was just casually browsing the internet, as you do, when I thought I should check into the Team MIA camp. I thought I should just check in on what was happening for the other teams on the upcoming Rickshaw Run. It was here I learned a frighteneing fact.
FACT: Only 96 days til launch day
And for those of you who dont understand my meaning here, 96 days is not a very long time.
96 days is barely enough time to plan a camping weekend in Bogner and we’re talking about flying to a country we know nothing about to make our way across it on an unsuitable vehicle which, again, we know nothing about.
Just to put things in perspective here are some things that CANNOT be done in 96 days…
Not to be negative all the time, here are some things that CAN be done in 96 days…
The fame of Team MIA is gradually making its way across the information superhighway, we can only hope that we make it across India with as much vigour.
The extra bonus that you get if you take the time to visit Little House in Town is that there are a lot of other articles on there that are worth a read as well.
So head over to Little House in Town at www.littlehouseintown.co.uk and catch up on the Team exploits.
Dont worry you wont learn anything and it might even get you out of watching Corrie.
Keep on tukkin’
There’s an old saying that comes to mind, something about being thrown in at the deep end and coming out smelling of roses? The exact phrase escapes me but when I joined Obi Media recently as Creative Director, one of my first projects was to pimp up the company website; reclaim a bit of that pizazz that had been lost to changing trends and technologies, and increase those elusive conversions. This was me ‘in at the deep end’.
The design of this site is now going to be featured in the amazing .NET magazine in their Makeover section, so we get a double page spread. Awesome!
Read about how and why this was built in .NET magazine.
Obi Media is a creative design agency based in Devon servicing small to medium businesses as well as some high profile clients, including Bil Oddie, Chris Packham, Nick Baker and Classic FM’s John Suchet.
One of my favourite musicians at the moment is the super talented Ben Howard, a singer songwriter from Devon.
If you haven’t already discovered the wonderful music of the ‘Howard’ then I suggest you head over to his website right now and buy the album. Breathtaking.
Anywhoo, Talenthouse have been running a competition to design a cover for a charity CD featuring ‘Black Flies’ from the Ben Howard album ‘Every Kingdom’. I didnt win but I thought I would share my entry nonetheless. Enjoy!
It seems our heroic deeds are finally getting noticed by those that matter. After much Facebooking, tweeting and telling loud stories in the Post office queue, we got the call.
The call came in the form of a friendly voice who introduced himself as David. David is a journalist for The Press newspaper which is one of the more popular local rags and he wanted to do a feature on us, little old us.
So if you want to know more about why we are doing this trip across India, who we are supporting and what the heck is this ‘Big Night Out’ thing all about, then get The Press Newspaper on Friday 19th January or check it out on their website – Three men on a rickshaw
You never know you might be treated to a little picture of our handsome selves…
Keep on tukkin’
Imagine the quietest, fastest, safest all-terrain vehicle in the world…Now imagine the opposite. Three wheels, half a horse power and more dangerous than any other vehicle on planet earth, the humble Rickshaw is undoubtedly the ultimate long distance, off-road machine. Despite being designed for short distances on road.
Now imagine the bliss of trying to get this untrusty steed over the Himalayas or across the Rajasthan desert. An unsupported maniac of an adventure which wobbles over thousands of miles of ridiculous terrain. Probably the stupidest and the best thing we will ever do.
Our adventure will see us, 3 grown men (and I use the term ‘men’ quite loosely) making our way across India on a Rickshaw, a 50cc motorbike with 3 wheels that can barely move under its own weight.
A journey across parts of India that you don’t see from the window of the coach trip.
We are raising funds for 2 great charities, Cancer Research and Frank Water so your doing your bit by donating, showing up at our organised events and supporting us.
As we are men of honour and adventure we would hate you to miss out on all the fun so we plan to film the whole thing so you get to watch th mayhem from the comfort of your own home. What nice people we are.
Don’t forget the popcorn!
For those of you who have been living under a rock, .net magazine is the biggest selling magazine of its kind in the world. So imagine my surprise to get the chance to be featured in the ‘website build off’ section in issue 223.
The website build off is a monthly article which gives 3 designers/developers the chance to submit their interpretation of a brief. The theme for my build off?…wedding sites. The brief didnt go into much more detail than that so I decided to create a fictitious site aimed at getting the bride and groom to the church on time, with all the details in place so they can relax and enjoy their big day.
Its a simple concept and an even simpler design but I think there is an idea there that has the potential to grow into something popular and profitable.
The website design includes all of the usual suspects such as social networking and submissions but also has a few cheeky extras thrown in. For the description and to see the other build offs (which are awesome by the way) you will have to buy the mag. Issue 223 is out now.
WordPress is such an awesome tool that it even strips some HTML, such as iframes, as a security measure. Unfortunately sometimes we need to use iframes so Aye Aye Frame gives you back that freedom with the use of a shortcode [ayeframe]. For more information on WordPress short codes check the WordPress Codex
To use Aye Aye Frame simply insert the url or code you would like to appear in your iframe between these shortcode tags
Download the plugin from the WordPress community – Aye Aye Frame
[ayeframe]YOUR URL HERE[/ayeframe]
The code or url you insert between the shortcode tags is the equivalent of the ‘src’ section of the iframe code.
As with normal iframes, extra parameters can be added to customise the size, borders and other elements. Any, all or none of these parametres may be used. A full list of these parameters is available in the Aye Aye Frame menu after plugin installation.
[ayeframe width=500 height=500 frameborder=1 marginheight=5 marginwidth=5 name=myFrameName scrolling=0 id=myFrameID class=myFrameClass title=myFrameTitle]http://www.myframeurl[/ayeframe]
Aye Aye Frame was created just for fun (thats right, FUN!) by Christian Senior at UTC Web Design but if you have any questions or suggestions you are welcome to get in touch using the contact information on the website.
I have recently been working on a few e-commerce websites which required the products to be listed under different categories but also needed to be searchable on both criteria. So to solve this little issue, in walked WordPress and its cool ‘custom taxonomies’.
What are WordPress custom taxonomies?
In short, ‘taxonomy’ means to categorise or group things together. So everytime you create a post in WordPress and put it into a category, thats taxonomy.
You can read more about WordPress taxonomies on the WordPress Codex site
Custom taxonomies are an extra way of categorising your WordPress posts. So you can add extra grouping for your posts. I have found it handy on e-commerce sites where products needed to ‘grouped’ in sizes and ‘colours’ but everytime I wanted to create this extra categorising of products I had to recall the function in the functions.php file and and then add code into the sidebar etc etc etc. So I have created a simple WordPress plugin that does it for you.
Simple-Custo-taxo (Simple Custom Taxonomy) is a simple (as the name suggests) plugin that adds an extra taxonomy option for your posts and can be added to your site by adding the widget to your sidebar.
Simply create categories in the ‘custom categories’ section that will now appear in your Posts main menu and add posts to that category as you normally would. The widget then creates an unordered list of your custom taxonomies. Simple.
Hey if your a WordPress user give it a try, and let me know if it was useful.
Simple-Custo-taxo (Simple Custom Taxonomy) is a simple (as the name suggests) plugin that adds an extra taxonomy option for your products and can be added to your site by adding the widget to your sidebar.
Simply create categories in the ‘custom categories’ section that will now appear in your Posts main menu and add posts to that category as you normally would. The widget then creates an unordered list of your custom taxonomies. Simple.
First you need to download the plugin from the WordPress plugin repository and extract it from its .zip shell.
To install the plugin manually:
Once activated you will see a new menu option appear in your ‘Posts’ main menu called ‘Custom Categories’. Add custom categories as you normally would.
Go to the ‘widgets’ in the Appearance menu. Add the ‘Simple Custom Taxonomy’ widget to your sidebar. *Please note – your theme must be widget ready to use this plugin.
Enjoy your new plugin
Remember the Yellow Pages? Well believe it or not its still going strong and loads of people spend their time flicking through the big luminous book for useless numbers.
However, it seems that 80% more people are using the internet to find that same number. No wonder Google are rolling in it! But more astounding than the 80% of people scouring the internet for your business information is that 60% of those people are already holding the cash by the time they get on the blower!
So it seems that those businesses without a website dont stand a chance. Im not telling you anything new here, we all know how the internet has taken hold of everybodys lives in one way or another but I think what we can say here is that, if you have been asking yourself the question,
“Can I afford a website for my business?”
the answer is simply, you cant afford NOT to.
Now Im not saying that getting a website is going to make you as rich as Google (although I suppose thats what worked for them…mmmmm) but its a step forward for your business.
So dont be a fool and miss out on all those people that cant wait to spend their hard earned dosh, give me a call and keep me in business.
And when the winter comes and your feeling chilly, reach for the yellow pages…it burns for hours.
So you are having a new website designed and built eh? It’s going to be fancy and do all the things you wanted it to do isn’t it? The web design guy is going to put together this perfect website for you that sings and dances and does all the things you always dreamed of, right?
Well how does the website guy know what you want?
Here are 8 things you should think about before you have your website built
There are of course more things to think about than those I have mentioned above and as usual there are exceptions to the rules but before you go and see your web designer just try to be a little prepared as to what you want from them. They are not mind readers so they need infrmation from you. But more importantly you should think about these things so YOU know what you want from your website.
Contrary to popular belief there a number of things that I know nothing about. Some of the more notable ones are:
I know nothing about these things (and the list could go on for some time), I’m not very good at these things and therefore I dont get involved in these things. You will find that most people are the same. We like to sit in our comfort zone talking about things we like and know about so when average Joe needs a website for his business who does he talk to?
So the conversation goes like this;
Joe – “I need a website please”
Webmaster – “Ok what kind would you like?”
Joe – “What?”
Webmaster – “What kind would you like?”
Joe – “erm…..what kind can I have?”
Webmaster – “Well you can have a CMS based site, or a just a static HTML site, or a Flash site with actionscript functionality. Or you have a fulminator quadrohydranthosyourfatheryourturntogetthedrinksin if you prefer. Or you can have……”
Joe – “I’ve got to go I think I’ve left the oven on”
What may seem simple to you may be a foreign language to other people. I once overheard two truck drivers talking about the best way to get to Gary Baldi Street and I’m convinced they were talking in Chinese. Every business now needs a website, thats a fact, so lets approach the approach. Instead of saying ‘Just go up the 471 and head north‘ lets just say ‘turn left at the end’. Simplicity in design, simplicity in talking about the design.
So if you need a website drop me a line or am I talking Chinese?
It seems that the answer to all our questions is in the statistics. If 85% of people do it, then it must be good. If 15% of people barfed up after eating it, it’s probably not a good buy. But then we have to ask ourselves ‘who carries out these surveys?’ and ‘who benefits from them?’
According to a survey (those famous words), going to Weight Watchers is twice as successful for losing weight as it’s competitors.
This is ground breaking stuff. And the reason they know this is….
Weight watchers did a study. Its difficult to imagine that the results could have been a lot different and Weight Watchers could have been sticking a leaflet through our door saying “Lose half as Much as Weight in Twice the Time”.
Anyway the point is you can use this information to your advantage on your website. Now I’m not saying you should go out and knock on everyones door to ask whether they like their eggs boiled or scrambled but if your product is at the top of one of these ‘surveys’ then tell people.
If your product is as good as one these ‘top’ products for half the price, then tell people.
Be creative with the survey results and increase your sales, after all, 85% of people cant be wrong!