Somewhere to write about projects, thoughts, odds and ends, code snippets, and anything else that might be of interest...
Earlier this year and in conjunction with Design Room Cornwall we launched a new website for Cornwall-based ArtEye. The brief was quite demanding with requirements for a high end brochure feel appropriate to the market in which ArtEye operates, rich magazine-style layouts, lots of portfolios, a members area with paid subscriptions, premium content, client preferences and access to consultancy services, amongst others. The end result has been very well received and over the few months since the site was launched is growing to be a terrific resource of fine art related material. To achieve the magazine style layouts while still retaining a super intuitive admin user interface I developed a number of 'widgets' for the editors that allow a variety of content wrappers to be inserted into single editor instances that can then be configured and styled to achieve the complex layouts required. It means that essentially the page layouts can be created on the fly inside the editors by an admin user without any need for multiple templates, or complex editor setups. The site uses the mikesimagination.net-developed modular content management system (CMS) and hence is well placed to accommodate updates and changes for years into the future with minimal overheads as the business evolves.
Anyway, the site has stacks of content and some super photography so rather than go on and on about it on here you might as well just go and look... https://www.arteye.co.uk/.
A few screengrabs below too. Do get in touch if you'd like to know more about the work behind the site, the features or any related query.. especially if you're looking for a developer to build something super...
Here's something a little bit different that I was asked to build earlier this year. A fish and chip restaurant in Sweden got in touch and asked me if I could build a digital menu display system for them. There are a number of commercial systems available, some based on a cloud-subscription model and some as standalone systems to purchase, but the prices were found to be eyewatering so the brief was "could I build something affordable that would support an unlimited number of menus and that could be displayed on standard HD TVs". Of course I could....! The restaurant needed a minimum of four screens all displaying different menus and as the menus and catch change between lunch and dinner they had to be easy to edit and schedule. This version is cloud based but could just as easily be hosted on a local system, a laptop with a suitable display adapter would make it terrific for festivals and events as well as fixed installations - I have some ideas in that respect that I'm working on so stay tuned for that. The system is going to be available from me as an "off the shelf" product. Do get in touch if you'd like to know more.
In the meantime the basic feature list looks like:
- Unlimited numbers of menus.
- Use low cost HD TVs.
- Display as many as required at a time, limited only by whatever display driver you have available, or dispense with that altogether and use smart TVs.
- Schedule Menus.
- Menus can be edited "in situ" - i.e editing is done in the final display context so you can always see how the menu is going to look.
- Toggle full-screen display.
- Multiple templates - eg full width, menu with sidebar, complex footer, simple footer etc etc for maximum versatility in advertising, promotions etc.
- Full rich text editing capability - i.e text formatting, insert pictures and so on.
The graphic design for this one was done by the very talented Foxcub Studio.
An example menu with a sidebar and 3 column footer. Note that for the purposes of this blog and my primary readership I created a demo menu in English..
Editor View with floating formatting toolbar visible. Menus can also be edited in full screen mode.
Full width menu template under development. Some sort of mid-North Sea dialect I think..
Another highly rewarding project that launched recently. I've written about it in much more detail in the portfolio here, so for the purposes of this blog post here's a quick summary.
Built for Banshee Bikes New Zealand this instance of the mikesimagination.net custom bicycle builder / web configurator application represents the ultimate evolution of the application. Able to cope with the multiple standards and component compatibility problems that exist within the cycling world - it permits the admin to define relationships between components and categories at multiple levels - within categories, within sets of categories or globally. From the point of view of the end user the path through the configurator is completely unrestricted with all products/components available at once with compatibility being calculated on the fly as the user makes selections.
Completed builds can be saved, shared on social media, printed and financed - a finance calculator is included that permits the user to create their own flexible finance package before being forwarded on to complete their application.
I have quite a backlog of material to post, the last few months have been very busy, so by way of starting to make a dent in that backlog I thought I would take a moment to mention something I was privileged to become involved with this past winter, It is also easy for me to write about as all the hard work like thinking of appropriate words to use has been done for me ready for the launch which happened, to a terrific reception, back in April .. here in Cornwall at the Porthleven Festival.
Elementum is a journal of new writing and visual arts that explores our connection to the natural world. We bring together the scientist’s findings with the artist’s response, the ecologist’s observation with the writer’s reflection, to offer the reader an immersive and insightful publication.
Surrounded by the Atlantic, we draw inspiration from the rocks and ruins, wildlife and flora, sea, sky and folklore of the Cornish peninsula. In seeking the spirit of place we will also look beyond these borders to other stories that link people with nature and landscape.
Guided by a different theme for each edition, Elementum will publish three times a year.
Elementum is based in Cornwall and it was a real privilege to be invited onboard with the project. It’s going to be beautiful and I do genuinely feel lucky to have been asked to build it. Do check out the website (click here) and you can find out more about the site in my portfolio by clicking here. You can also download an issue 1 preview from the ‘In Print‘ page and the online shop for purchasing subscriptions, fine art prints and so on is accepting orders in advance of the first print edition. If you're interested please do sign up for the newsletter via the form in the footer of the site to keep up to date as the launch continues. Having seen some of what’s coming from the writers, photographers and artists already on-board it will be well worth it.
Continuing the somewhat sporadic theme of introducing various talented folk that I'm lucky enough to work with that I started back in October with Design Room.. please allow me to introduce Foxcub Studio.
Foxcub Studio, aka Elly Jahnz is a Falmouth (Cornwall) based graphic designer and illustrator with a rather wonderful, in my opinon, and versatile talent. She has a prestigious professional background with Seasalt Cornwall and recently set out on a new freelance career path. There is not much more for me to write except to include a few screengrabs of her work from the site I built her and then point you there, http://www.foxcubstudio.co.uk, where you can properly enjoy her work. If you are looking for a designer/illustrator then do consider hiring her. You won't regret it.
January... often a depressing time of year.. the festive season has gone, the weather is often at its worst and spring seems a long way off... however I'm really happy to have been asked to work on a couple of rather special development projects for the next few months. Both are an opportunity to work with some really wonderful, talented people to build something beautiful that allows the respective businesses to take their online services to the next level.
Art Eye Creative Consultancy
In their own words "ART EYE is a vibrant creative consultancy, which is entirely devoted to sourcing, commissioning & curating exceptional art schemes for inspired spaces...". Art Eye have been around a few years now and the business is growing rapidly into new markets and providing new services so a new online platform in support of that expansion in both the short and long term future is required. It's going to be a rich, elegant platform offering a variety of premium services.
Another premium project to build something super-elegant to match the print edition. I'm very excited to be asked to work with the Elementum team on this as what they're doing is very much in tune with my world-view.... "Elementum is a journal of new writing and visual arts that explores our connection to the natural world.". It's going to be beautiful.
Stay tuned for news on both of these as they progress and also other ongoing project news. At the time of writing I'm once again working with WorldBlu to define requirements around the next edition, or rather 'evolution' of their Freedom Centered Leadership business learning and badging platform. It's a very complex application with the requirements definition being a key step that is often overlooked or given insufficient focus when a business is considering a new software project... One of my roles as a developer is guiding clients on the path to realising a comprehensive of requirements that adequately describe what they want to do, cater for scenarios and ideas that haven't been considered, and that can form the foundation of both a stable, properly functional build and a baseline against which future changes and updates can be managed properly.
Anyway, enough for now. Interesting times ahead :-)