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New portfolio work

We have just added a few recent pieces of our work into our portfolio. Including a pair of powerful Concrete5 web sites and a plain old HTML5 site to allow visitors to contact the business and sign up for their newsletter. Head over to our portfolio to see more, and if we can help you with something similar, then contact us any time.

Concrete5 Services

We have just updated our concrete5 services section on our website. More will be coming soon in the form of a case study of a system we have recently finished for a client, so stay tuned.

My Photo Folio

We’ve started working with MyPhotoFolio to develop a custom content management system. This CMS will form the backbone of their business, which plans to allow photographers to create their very own website. It’s early days right now, but we’re very excited to be involved with it.

Bullet proof JavaScript for CMS

A web content management system (CMS) allows editing, styling and publishing of content for a website from a single piece of software. Some common CMS choices include:
  • WordPress
  • Concrete5
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
The main two ways of editing the content in a web based CMS; In page, and off page.

In page, or in-line editing, allows a user to view their changes as they happen in the context of the web site design. Off page editing has a separate section for editing the content so viewing it on page requires the changes to be either previewed, or even saved first.

Each system has its advantages, but where some in page systems really fall down is with regards to JavaScript. JavaScript code executes directly in the web browser to add powerful functionality to a website. The major downside to JavaScript is that it can easily be broken by inexperienced developers and once a single error occurs, the remaining JavaScript fails to execute. 

An example of this happened to us recently when we were adding a third party block to a client’s Concrete5 website. The developer of the block had an intermittent error in their JavaScript code. Once we added the block to a page, we could no longer edit the page to remove the block! The Concrete5 user interface is reliant on JavaScript code, and the error in the third party block was causing the Concrete5 code not to run. Fortunately, we had the know-how to remove the bad block: For those that are stuck on this, you can often revert your pages to an earlier version (that is, a version that doesn’t contain your troublesome block) by accessing the Dashboard > Full Sitemap, clicking on the page in trouble, and selecting Versions.

The really annoying thing, is that this type of problem is incredibly easy to avoid by writing better JavaScript in the first place. Simply detect errors in each code block and deal with them accordingly. This is what we ended up doing with the third party block in this case. 

I want to implore anyone who works with a CMS that allows In Page editing to be more diligent with their JavaScript code and catch and handle exceptions at all times. Just like we do.

WordPress Themes

Working with James Church designs, we are starting to build customisable WordPress themes/templates to provide an entry level package for clients who don’t want the undertake a full design project. These templates will have plenty of options for colours, layout, fonts etc. These options will add up to a huge variety of designs that can be updated as the client sees fit.

If you want to here more about these upcoming designs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Titan Concepts

Manchester based Surveillance & Investigations agency, Titan Concepts, have entered a contract us with to manage their site and perform on going Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to help drive customers to their site.

It is easy to believe that there is a magic bullet fix for SEO, but in reality it is a constantly changing battlefield. Undertaking some SEO work on a site may help drive traffic initially, but unless the work is continued, the long term results will slowly, but surely begin to dwindle.

If you are interested in learning more about how we could help you increase traffic to your site please contact us.

Building a WordPress Theme

WordPress is becoming one of the most popular platforms on the web for all shapes and sizes of business and personal sites. Since version 3 of WordPress was released, creating themes with function as well as look has become much more powerful.

In a new multi-part series, I am going to go through the steps required to build a new bespoke WordPress theme. This is something that we do for our clients as one of our services here in Norwich. This series will be quite heavy on code, rather than design and will give an insight into the type of work that goes on behind the scenes here. Stay tuned for the part 1, in which I will explain the base structure of a WordPress theme and the minimum required files to create one.

Cupakes by Gemma Photo Shoot

We’ve had a great time the last 2 days doing the photo shoot for Cupcakes By Gemma. We teamed up with Fiona Alexander for this shoot and it was a great experience. Trying not to eat the subject of each photo was by far the toughest challenge. We can’t wait to see the end results!

Responsive Web

We’ve recently been working on a couple of web applications that will be used on a huge variety of devices. We’re talking 60inch TV screens, 30inch PCs, laptops, notebooks, tablets and mobile phones. The challenges faced for building a website under such circumstances are significant.

Building a website to work just on a PC is relatively straightforward, building a website to just work on a mobile phone is, again, relatively straight forward. Things get more complicated when you need a site to look great in a multitude of scenarios. With web applications, things get even more complicated. With these current projects, we are providing a secure login area, data capture, diary scheduling, reports and dashboards. Looking great in any given requirement is important, but working correctly is essential.

Embracing modern technologies, such as HTML5 and CSS3, makes life much easier. But what about when the requirements include working with older browsers? Progressive enhancement versus graceful degradation is a question that must be solved in this scenario.

Graceful degradation means designing for the more modern browsers and then making sure older browsers (IE8 anyone?) still have some sort of usable experience. Essentially each modern feature has a “backup plan” of some description.

Progressive enhancement is the opposite: here we begin with old style markup (HTML 4 etc) that older browsers can make sense of, and then extra features are added at run time if the browser can support them.

The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” solution here, but here at Head Energy, we can work with our client to figure out the best approach for each feature, and a combination of these two methods is what we end up with across the whole app.


The Perfect CMS?

What makes the perfect Content Management System (CMS). Here at Head Energy, we’ve worked with several leading open source and off-the-shelf CMS offerings and built a few of our own bespoke ones. What features really make them great though? The answer depends on what you need of course. Not all CMS tools are made equal, and not all of them are perfect for everyone. The answer then is not to invest too heavily in any one system. Sometimes off the shelf is just want is needed, sometimes it needs tweaking and sometimes it needs so much tweaking that you no longer recognise the original offering.

We fully understand that there is no such thing as “The Perfect CMS” and there is no problem with this. In fact, recognising that each site we create has unique requirements, whether great or small, allows us to choose the best tool for the job to cater for those requirements. Be weary of anyone who says that a particular CMS is right for everyone. The only perfect CMS is the one that best fits YOUR requirements, the one that allows YOUR to update and manage YOUR content the way YOU want to, and work in the way that YOU want to. In other words, the question you need to ask yourself, is what is the perfect CMS for YOU. Here at Head Energy, we will help you answer that question openly and honestly and then get to work putting the CMS to work for YOU.