My design of Motorcycle Live 2011

The most complete and successful of my designs to date is the Motorcycle Live 2011 event at the NEC in Birmingham. I made this site working for Miramedia as a Web Designer. The site uses a heafty amount of Miramedia’s events functionality, most of which is custom post type based.

The only assets supplied after the brief were the show logo and the ‘Feel alive’ wording. The sites main focus was the ‘Feel Alive’ text and trying to recreate the sense of anticipation and energy that the words promote. My own feelings on their selection of fonts and colours were that it was far too ‘classy’ and didn’t contain enough energy.

Seeing the final design I’m still a touch disappointed with the lower half of the content pages as the sidebar buttons and content text looks a little bland.

My favourite section of the entire site would be the landing pages. I feel that they do generate the anticipation and excitement in the right way and helped by the different backgrounds for each of the different landing pages there is a sense of individuality in each of the pages, my favourite of which is the Alive page shown in the screenshot.

Overall It wouldn’t be my favourite site design but it works well, the technology is up to date and it’s getting good traffic. After a months design process and a week to build the site I’m happy. I just wish some of my more energetic design features had made it though to the final version.

I’m still trying to figure out if I should like my own designs?

University

I’ve worked across a few different areas of Multimedia. My favourite piece in my portfolio would still be my Final year project at University. This was a 3D animated video made for marketing the 2010 British GP to be hosted at Donington Park. Unfortunately Donington went bust whilst building the track so this video never got to see any form of commercial use.

It’s now flat lined at 99,000 views. I’d really appreciate it if you gave it a look and let me know your thoughts.

Change the ‘Featured image’ text

I’m not entirely sure if this is 100% the right way to do it but I was desperately looking for a way to change the wording on the featured image box and also where it appears on the edit screen for a custom post type.

This was for a client with a looming deadline then I discovered this post on the wordpress forums. The JLeuze had managed to dig this all out while the wordpress community stays quiet.

add_action('do_meta_boxes', 'customposttype_image_box');
function customposttype_image_box() {
remove_meta_box( 'postimagediv', 'customposttype', 'side' );
add_meta_box('postimagediv', __('Custom Image'), 'post_thumbnail_meta_box', 'customposttype', 'normal', 'high');
}

It seems to work really well and has allowed me to change the fairly useless text of ‘featured image’ to something far more user friendly.

The meta_query is key

One of the tags of todays work was using meta_query along with custom post types to ensure that we’re displaying the correct post content.

The brief was to have a custom post type for event speakers but with individual speakers being selected as ‘featured speakers’, in this job it was H.R.H. Prince Turki Bin Nasser Bin Abdulaziz who had to appear above the other speakers in the list for obvious reasons.

The Miramedia speakers system uses a custom post type to build the list.

The simplest way to put this into practice is using the meta_query inside the wp_query statement as follows

$args = array(
'post_type' => 'speakers',
'meta_query' => array(
   array(
     'key' => 'speaker_featured',
     'value' => 'true',
     'compare' => '='
   )
 )
);

$query = new WP_Query( $args );
Run the loop!

This runs a check to look for any posts in the speakers post type to see if a checkbox for ‘speaker_featured’ is checked on or not. If it is then it it will display that speaker. In this case this would be the prince and places him at the top.

Then to run through the other speakers just amend the ” compare => ‘=’ ” to be “compare => ‘!=’ “.

Obviously this is a slightly dummed down version of the query but you get the  gist!

I’ve not sent it live just yet but if you want to check the site out it’s here:  http://www.enviro-infrastructure.com/speakers

The story so far!

My beginnings with web design started back in sixth form.  I owned an eBay shop selling skateboards. With the desire to take on the major online stores but with minimal budget I looked into investing in a new online store made with the help of an ecommerce template bought from Lycos.

The shop was a total flop. The cost of the package far out weighed the money I got in. It was a terrible setup with almost no acknowledgement from Google and a clunky checkout process. One thing it gave me in return was HTML. Much the same as wordpresses html view for the content editor itv allowed me to start at the most basic level of coding.

Through high school I’d been heavily design oriented, my sixth form studies were much the same. Html seemed completely alien to me arc first. But with the determination to work around the difficult ecommerce template I looked more and more to my own abilities make the site a more complete site than was available.

A year later I started university with a course in multimedia, I closed down the shop in the 2nd year of university. My plan was to build a bigger better shop from my own skills once I’d finished.

3 years of university flew by. My course covered everything from web to 3d design to photography and back. Having finished the course my focus had shifted to 3d design and PhotoShop but I always kept good grades in programming.

A one way ticket to New Zealand

After uni I took a one way flight to new Zealand with my girl. We went out there with a pile of savings and no plan. We managed 2 amazing months living a free travelling lifestyle. At the start of the 3rd month we needed to top up some cash and tried to get some local work. This proved impossible. Unemployment in nz was at a record high, there was no hope for us with working holiday visas. We scoured the job listings for a chance to earn some cash, the only glimmer of hope was for a web design role in whangarei. I’d managed to get an interview by bodging together all the scraps of web design I’d  done in the last few years. I was stunned they wanted to see me. It gave me a good boost.

A desperate call to parents to get money resulted in us being able to stay in nz for another month and then spend another month in Australia with relatives. I’d not got the job in nz but the hope was there.

Back in the UK we were unemployed and desperate for work. With the knowledge that my bodgy portfolio could get me interviews I started looking for more web work. I took on freelance contracts when I could and started making sites for friends. With my portfolio gaining a few odd pieces of half decent work I finally managed to get some interviews lined up.

Having almost pleaded with Miramedia to give me a part time job learning the ropes as a web designer, I was in!

He year that followed had a steep learning curve. The guy who was training me left the company a few months in which left me to fill his shoes. It was tough, I had to stay one step ahead of the clients questioning and ahead of my bosses expectations.

Now I’ve been with Miramedia almost 18 months and have worked on every site in the portfolio, done all of the in house design work and built every site. I’m proud of my work and feel I’ve made a good contribution to the company.

I’m still working there each day and always on the look out for the next big WordPress development.

Making a name for myself!

Hi I’m Alex!

I’ve been building websites with WordPress for the past 18 months. It’s been a pretty hectic time and I’ve seen new grey hairs popup at a scary rate in some of the projects gone by.

I’ve built around 100 sites now with the open source WordPress.org setup. It’s been a mixture of small templated sites, corporate sites and big exhibition websites.

I’m now at the point where I want to start pushing for the next step, to make a name for myself. I’ve been beavering away behind the Miramedia banner for long enough and want to start making my name known. Hopefully this blog is the RiseofLex!

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