Getting started, part one

I thought I’d split this post into two parts, one to look at the technical aspects of making the site, and another to list some things I want to think about tonally and visually. I started doodling some logos and looking at typefaces today, but really only at a glance, so I’m going to take a step back and look at the whole project first.

What’s this all about then?

So, I’ve decided to make a site for my own work! It seems daft, but it’s something I’ve not really done before. I’ve had blogs (and blogged on other sites), Facebook pages, Vimeo pages and I’m on twitter a lot, but I’ve never made my own portfolio site. Developing themes for sites at work has spurred me on to make my own, partly because I think it would be a good idea to have a single starting point to present my work, but also because it is a good space to experiment and try new technical and design ideas. That’s why I’ve chosen to start like this, so the process isn’t simply about an end point, and the end point is just a marker to move develop onwards from.


I’ve decided to start with the basic Twenty Eleven theme that comes ready installed with WordPress. From there, I’ll develop a child theme until eventually I separate it from the original. There are a lot of starter themes available for WordPress, but I think Twenty Eleven is as good a place to start as any. It already has some ready made widget areas made, and built in parameters like the header, so I can use them to build upon. In the theme I am making at work, I have made new widget areas, and widgets, editor shortcodes and buttons and custom galleries using functions php. I’ll introduce some of those techniques here, and document them.

The advantage of using a starter theme makes it simple to work in the browser – even if I am focusing on a particular element of the template, the parent theme will always be delivering content to preview on screen. The category and custom post templates mean I can push ideas around before replacing them with my own, and can even try a number of different post templates within the main theme.

Other things!

There are some other frameworks I’ll be using for my own template design, which include a nice responsive templating framework called Skeleton ( It provides a good starting point, with nicely coded core elements, resets and media queries. I really like the page turning feature in Flipboard, so I’m going to look at introducing some of the functionality into the gallery areas of the site (perhaps for touch devices only). I also want to ¬†use this process as a way to experiment more with LESS and/or SASS/Compass.

Finally, I want to play with the data in the site to make dynamic visualisations, based on visits, keywords, images etc., and output it to screen or cool toys like Arduino.


Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Hi, thanks for visiting my site. I am a web designer and developer based in Nottingham, UK. I work at the National Space Centre in Leicester, as part of NSC Creative, and I also make my own projects for clients or for myself. You can read more about my work over at the ‘Sample Page‘.

I decided to make a new website to show off some of my work, and to start blogging some tutorials, mainly about projects I’ve made with Google Maps, and some other things too like Zoetropes.

Hang on a mo, this is just another WordPress site!

It’s just the ready loaded template, with the sample page and blog post edited a bit. It’s even got the comment from Mr. WordPress on it!

I know, but there’s a reason for that!

At work, we’ve been working on a multisite project with a client, and we are using WordPress, for ease of creating a network of sites and ‘broadcasting’ pages from a main site to the sub-sites (I’ll blog about it down the line). I’ve been making themes and templates for the sites, and wanted to bring some of that into this new site.

I decided it would be interesting to build the site live, and to blog the process as I go, from site-mapping and UI, to content development, branding and imagery. I love looking at beautifully made websites, but I sometimes want to see the working out, the paths taken and not taken. So, this is deliberately a work in progress, and will develop as I make changes. I’ve launched it from almost the point it is installed, so that new design, content and structure are visible, to hopefully shine a light on the process of making the finished site. Eventually, the site will have its own theme, alongside my own content.

I’ll keep the blog posts up once the site is live, and continue to document changes, new things and ideas. Hopefully some of the posts will be useful as tutorials, or just as ways to get some info about the process.

Thanks for visiting,

Gareth x