Swinton Park Online Shop

The new online shop for Swinton Park went live today at shop.swintonpark.com – if you’re looking for a gift voucher or a cookery course in beautiful North Yorkshire take a look.

This online shop is my first use of Shopify for ecommerce. I used to ‘roll my own’ ecommerce solution and that’s still the best option for ultimate customization. However, for most purposes it makes sense to use an ‘off the shelf’ solution so that everything just works. A similar argument applies to using WordPress as a CMS rather than creating your own.

 

Responsive Design

Responsive Design is the buzzword of the moment for websites that scale and degrade gracefully across a range of devices from desktop computers to tablets and smartphones.

My website is now responsive. I can’t claim any great technical credit for it though. I simply upgraded WordPress to the latest version 3.6 and derived a child theme from the new default ‘twentythirteen’ theme.

This seems to work OK and provides a good foundation for making my other websites responsive.

Active Aid updated

Active Aid provides First Aid courses using several different training organisations across the UK but mostly in the north of England.

Their website (www.active-aid.co.uk) has been updated with a new design and also restructured to make it easier for visitors to find the course they are looking for.

I did all the technical stuff, programming, database etc but the new graphic design was by Helen Belshaw of Just H Design.

Malcolm Mitton

The new website for the artist Malcolm Mitton (www.malcolmmitton.co.uk) is live.

This replaces his ColdFusion site which was too complicated and required a lot of clicking to view images. For his new site Malcolm wanted something he could easily manage and that would work as a ‘calling card’ for galleries to quickly view a selection of his works.

The new site is written in PHP and MySQL and has simple administration screens which Malcolm can use to upload images and modify text. The site presents the information on a single page to quickly get the essentials over to hard-pressed gallery owners.

New website for Swinton Park

The new website for Swinton Park is now live.

Swinton Park is a country estate at Masham in Yorkshire and offers a hotel with 31 bedrooms, a cookery school, spa and estate activities.

The graphic design was provided to me and I then built the site using the WordPress content management system.This involved quite a lot of customization of WordPress to create a visual theme for the site and to build plug-ins to make the website behave as required.

Previously the content of the website was managed using Adobe Dreamweaver which meant that it was difficult for staff at the hotel to manage the content, to add new pages and to incorporate them into the menu without calling on me to do that. Using WordPress they now have much greater control over the website.

Barque Press website

The new improved Barque Press website is live – www.barquepress.com.

Publishers of nonconformist poetry, Barque Press was founded by Andrea Brady and Keston Sutherland in 1995. Since then, they have published over 40 chapbooks and six perfect bound books. One of these, 100 Days, was reviewed in The Guardian and recommended as a Book of the Year for 2001 in the New Statesman. Barque has published poets from the UK, US, France and Canada.

The new website has details of their authors and publications, all of which can be purchased online.

Thanks to DesignWorks – http://www.thedesignworks.co.uk/ – for the graphic design on this one.

WordPress Permalinks

I just moved this website from its former location at CrystalTech in the USA onto my dedicated server in the UK.

The move was made for two reasons, firstly it seems a bit silly paying for hosting when I have my own server.

Secondly, the site is built using WordPress and I wanted to turn on permalinks so that my pages have friendly URLs like www.philmeades.co.uk/portfolio instead of www.philmeades.co.uk/?page_id=9.

My server is Windows 2008 running IIS7. Getting permalinks running on a Windows server with an earlier specification is somewhat, er, challenging and I’ve never managed it successfully. With IIS7 it’s dead simple – you just need to make sure you have the ‘URL Rewrite Module’ installed in IIS (it was already installed on my server) and then add a Web.Config file to the root of your website.

It’s all detailed here:
http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks
http://learn.iis.net/page.aspx/460/using-the-url-rewrite-module/

Phil Meades has relocated

After being based in Cumbria, near to Kendal, for 23 years I’ve upped sticks and relocated to Honiton in East Devon.

I’ll miss the hills but I won’t miss the cold and the rain and hope for drier and milder weather here in Devon. Plus there’s some proper seaside down here. Finally, I grew up in Cornwall and still have some family there so this is almost a return home.

I already have clients all across the country from Penrith to London so anyone who already works with me to look after their website can be assured of the same great service as before.

Hopefully, I’ll soon have some new clients here in Devon as well!

The old server is dead! Long live the new server!

I finally switched off my old CrystalTech dedicated server today. It’s now around 5 years old so it had to go.

Everything is now on my new server at Dedipower in the UK. It took around 3 months (as predicted) to gradually transfer everything over.

Next time I think I’ll try to find some faster means of upgrading the server. Maybe just see if it’s possible to clone the whole disk and move it into newer hardware.