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Icon Fonts – I Wants Them…

Having worn both developer and designer hats, there’s one key difference between the two roles that becomes apparent – developers are lazy creatures! We rely on pre-existing code libraries, api’s, reusable resources; I know designers do this too, but developers moreso. I’ve started coding websites with reserved widget areas in place of things that I used to hardcode into themes, just so that they can be as flexible as possible.

One of the constant nags I have with sites is the use of icons; I’m a stickler for using as few graphics as possible in the core site theme and icons on buttons and the like tend to push the boundaries of that.

So, I was quite intrigued when I found out (just now) about using fonts as icons: I’ve started dabbling with custom web fonts, specifically from the open source Google Web Fonts library, with some very interesting results. A simple change to a non-standard font can make a site pop and, from a designers point of view, can allow them more flexibility outside of the existing “safe” font library.

So, basically wingdings for web, but customisable and with all the font related CSS3 goodness that comes in tow, I’m really interested in playing with Icon Fonts. I’ve even found what looks to be quite a cost effective resource!

WordPress, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

wordpress_logo copy

I do a lot of stuff with WordPress. It’s a relationship which started nearly two years ago when I decided I could add some value and functionality to our website by creating subsections using WP, theming them up to look like our website and taking advantage of all the things that come with them like commenting, RSS and easy customization.

This has kind of spiralled over those years and, as the platform has developed to become even more nuanced, WordPress is now my CMS of choice. Sure, I’ve wrangled with Drupal and Joomla, but I always come back to WordPress. I thought I’d share the top 5 reasons for this here.

  1. 5 minute install. You want a blog? You got it! Seriously, the single best thing about WP is the speed with which you can have a blog up and running. The whole “5 minute install” thing is not hyperbole – it really does take that long to get things going.
  2. Flexible. It is VERY flexible. From a simple blog, to a larger site, to something even more out there like an ePetition system, WordPress can be molded and manipulated to do pretty much anything.
  3. Child Themes. Child themes were something of an epiphany for me. Where in the past I have found the actual process of coding a theme somewhat laborious, Child Themes take most of the hard work away. Taking the structure and functionality of a given theme as a starting point, Child Themes allow developers (like me!) to rapidly build up their theme over these bones, providing an already sturdy framework.
  4. It’s easy. Yes it is. Adding new code and functions to themes does require a little bit of reading up but once you’ve grasped the basics it is shockingly easy to extrapolate from there.
  5. Buddypress. This is a plugin rather than a native system, but it is incredibly popular and allows developers to easily convert sites into interaction rich social platforms.
So there you have it. There’s many more reasons why WP is wonderful, but these are my top ones. I love working with the framework, so get in touch if you need WordPress support on any projects.

City of Lincoln Council ePetitions Site

Developed using customisation of WordPress

Makes use of WordPress categories to allow for easy browsing of petitions

Theme utilises comments as signatures for petitions

Uses the plugins TDO MiniForms, Comment Timeout, Comment Email Verification and a custom plugin to disable the RSS feed for comments

Clear "badge" system to show live and closed petitions

The live system can be accessed here:; the screenshot above is from the test system as, at the time of writing, the live system does not have any petitions

City of Lincoln Council website redesign

In development from February 2010, following customer focus group

Layout developed through consultation and designed by the author

HTML and CSS developed by the author

Author worked to manage overall project at City of Lincoln Council to fit in with ongoing Customer Access Strategy

Author worked with developers at A Recipe for Success to implement HTML and CSS into live website

Linking Lincoln

This post brought to you from Posterous! Cross posting works then, I see…

Right, let me elaborate slightly from the posting on my portfolio. Linking Lincoln is a project I’ve been working on for some time now which I am so glad I can finally put out and show to you all!

I designed and developed the layout in WordPress, taking influence from a logo created by Optima Design to promote devbelopment in the City. The site takes its primary colour scheme from this logo and was intended to feel more like an information website than a blog, hence the news area being less prominent. The design usses some subtle CSS3 features to add depth, predominently text shadows and gradients.

The site is intended to mesh with printed media used to advertise Linking Lincoln projects with QR codes visible on posters; mobile users can scan these to visit pages on Linking Lincoln relevant to the project.

All in all I’m very pleased with this design; it’s simple and functional and has given me, again, more chance to experiment with the WordPress framework and CSS3 techniques!

Click here to visit the Linking Lincoln website.