Current Projects Snapshot #1

14 January 2020

One of the things I find the hardest when talking to potential new clients is to articulate the breadth or range of work that I get asked to do, not to mention finding the time to work on keeping content for my own website current. With that in mind then it occurred to me that perhaps an occasional blog post describing the variety of things on my desk at any given moment may prove to be a useful communication tool. This then is post #1 in that series.

In no particular order my current to-do list looks like this, some jobs being no more than a couple of hours, and others being significantly more:

 

1. Cornico Coffee

Shortly to go live is a new, fully-featured e-commerce and portfolio website for Cornico Coffee Ltd. This is a Design Room Cornwall project using the modular e-commerce platform that I have been developing over the past few years. Feedback from both users and developers indicates that it's more versatile, more flexible, more user friendly, and more 'durable' than other commonly used platforms. The project is almost complete and should be live by the end of the month.

 

2. Easy Accessibility

Part of the Easy Group (easyJet, easyHotel etc), Easy Accessibility is a new addition to the brand portfolio. Initially this will be a simple web portfolio for the business to support the marketing effort, with support for future growth as required.

 

3. Life-Work Potential 

Another e-commerce site for a global business. Highly bespoke, this site has been live since 2013 and is very custom with various specialised modules and advanced features for managing the online business. It was also cited by the UK Dept for Trade and Industry as an example of best practice for 'ecommerce for export' in their "Passport to Export" program for businesses looking to grow into export markets. I'm currently working on a module to replace the current Trustpilot implementation. With fees in excess of £5000/year Trustpilot has been judged by the client in this instance to no longer represent value for money. As such I've been tasked with building a replacement module to bring the reviews process in-house.

 

4. Sea Kayaking UK

Sea Kayaking UK are an Anglesey-based manufacturer of sea kayaks. Their primary web presence is in the process of being delivered by a different agency but I've been asked to build a front-end application that will allow customers to 'build' or customise their own kayaks - colours, configuration options and so-on with a real-time display of the kayak as changes are made prior to ordering. It's going to be a self-contained javascript application that can be embedded within the new website, and as such will appear to be a seamless part of the site but being independent of the platform used, server and so on, should last many years through successive website updates. As far as approach goes, the manufacturer supports the full range of RAL colours so the obvious solution of a series of layered photographs of each kayak in each colour won't work. Instead I plan to use SVGs and CSS blend mode to achieve the desired result. It does mean that it won't work in Microsoft IE or Edge unfortunately but those browsers are increasingly in a minority amongst users, globally the last time I looked they represented a combined share of about 12%, sea kayakers tend to be a reasonably tech savvy bunch in my experience, and the analytics bear this out, so a browser warning to switch to an alternative browser shouldn't be too onerous.

 

5. Camtec Photo

Based in Montreal, Canada, Camtec are a high-end photographic dealer. I needed to write a new Drop Box API module, with chunked file uploads, for their site to handle their automated backups. There are various SDKs available for Dropbox but in this case that would have brought a degree of surplus code to their implementation so I wrote a library from scratch. It didn't take long and doing it that way means I get to expand and refresh my knowledge of how the Drop Box API works, as well as being more satisfying.

 

6. Cornish Saddlery

E-commerce again. With both online and bricks and mortar stores the client uses Sage Accounts for managing the large inventory for stock and pricing between the site and ePos terminals. I've been asked to make some changes to the tools for stock import and management from Sage. The feature has been a huge timesaver for the client, and small amounts spent on development have, and continue to do so, translated into significant savings in business admin.

 

7. Isle of Barra Surf Adventures

A few years ago I built a bespoke online booking platform for Outer Hebrides-based Barra Surf Adventures. The nature of the requirements meant the client could not find any suitable commercial platform, so having previously built similar for other outdoors and adventure businesses I was asked to do the job. The business has been very successful and a few new additions are needed to the admin-side of the booking engine for management of the availability of activities and instructors on given dates.

 

8. Elementum Gallery

Elementum Journal launched in 2016 with another instance of my e-commerce platform. The business is successful and growing to the extent that a physical gallery is now open in Sherborne, Dorset. I've been asked to build a new website for that business to run in parallel, and with common inventory links, to the existing Journal website.

 

9. Worldblu Learning Platform Variant

A little while I ago I built a complex, powerful corporate online learning platform for US-based Worldblu (https://www.mikesimagination.net/worldblu-freedom-centered-leader-platform). The growth in the online-learning side of the business means that I've been asked to deliver an updated version of the platform to accommodate new curriculum structure in addition to the three distinct programs currently available through the platform. The modular nature of the platform means that such extensions are easily accommodated with minumum disruption.

 

10. ADi Access

A few years ago I build a back-end cloud-based application that allowed the user to choose and assemble custom MP3 voice files online into a single file ready for download into devices for assisting the blind. That was a new business at the time that has since grown to the extent that the tool for building the MP3 files now needs to accommodate a variety of voice-types and languages.

 

11. Chough Stuff

An e-commerce site for a new Cornwall based business making bags for bicycles. It will be a straightforward site using my own full-featured e-commerce platform such that it is ready for easy and inexpensive growth into the future. The business is due to launch later this spring.