Websites: where words, pixels and code converge

websites are words, pixels and code

I have long been making the case that freelance software and website work straddles a multi-disciplinary intersection of converging skills. A one-man band plays all instruments — and will occasionally reach out to a soloist who can play a particular part better.

An interweaving rhythm taps out the need for getting detail right — nerdy pedantry, take a bow, please — and my inner quality-controller signs the project off just before it’s plain to everyone that further polishing might smudge the design — or trash the project’s budget. Freelancers and project managers know that this is how words, pixels and code eventually come together. With luck, these convergences also break new ground, generate fresh ideas and pose further questions. This website has become a vehicle for expressing some of that.

Diverging interests

a continuing journey of diverging interests

The site has broadened and gained bulk as this journey has runs its course and I am surprised by and grateful to those who have encountered my various posts and made contact. I welcome visitors to this site and hope you find some long reads here that chime with your interests.

The focus is on web design and technology but other topics receive treatment in a less convergent manner — books, art, buildings and our precarious natural world — using photographs where appropriate.

I’m an English designer and developer of websites for individuals and businesses in the UK, France and beyond. I’m on England’s south-coast, having moved back here from a profoundly enjoyable 18-year stint in rural south-west France. I specialise in using the Drupal and Backdrop content-management systems.

I liken a website to an iceberg: there’s much below the surface that doesn’t meet the eye. Getting both parts — the visible and the hidden — absolutely right is crucial for the success of any activity on the web.

That iceberg analogy applies first to pages and the way in which they are coded, scripted and crafted, but it also applies to whole sites, including this one. The menus dotted about this site should lead you into collections of posts arranged by type. A site map experimentally blurts everything out on a single page. A handful of choice posts appears below. If you get lost, I hope that it will be in thought not in orientation.

(Any factual errors or typos are mine; all photographs are copyrighted to me, unless otherwise stated.)

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Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf

Reader, Come Home - the Reading Brain in a Digital World

November 12, 2018

Maryanne Wolf’s recently-published Reader, Come Home would have had less authority for me had I not read her ...

Uig Sands Chessmen, Isle of Lewis and the British Museum

The Uig Sands Chessmen

October 2, 2018

The oldest rocks in Britain are found in the Outer Hebrides. These are twisted Lewisian gneisses which were formed up to 3,000 million years ago, two-thirds of the known age of our planet. Essentially, they...

Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf

Proust and the Squid - the Story and Science of the Reading Brain

September 26, 2018

It is over twenty-two years since I had the privilege of sitting amongst youngsters to help them combat their dyslexia and more than that since I have fully read a densely-referenced book on the subject, but I wanted...

Shorelands Summer Diary by C.F. Tunnicliffe

Shorelands Summer Diary

September 4, 2018

Michael McCarthy in his Moth Snowstorm cited Charles Tunnicliffe as being, in his opinion, “the pre-eminent British bird...

Field can contain HTML

Field can contain HTML

August 30, 2018

For those for whom web standards matter, the devil is always in the detail. The content-management system Drupal throws this at us by the bucket load. No doubt other CMSs do the same. Fortunately, Drupal (both 7 and...

Flexible Typesetting

Flexible Typesetting

July 27, 2018

Who better to guide us through the complexities of website typography than the head of typography at Adobe, Tim Brown? This concise guide does just that. There have been several books on web typography recently but this book approaches the topic...

Reader View

Reader View

July 12, 2018

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s dictum that “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” can be re-deployed most helpfully when discussing Reader...

The Hill House

The Hill House

July 4, 2018

Try for a moment to imagine the noisy industrial clamour of Glasgow at the very start of the twentieth century, when shipyards and their associated engineering works made the Upper Clyde the ship-building centre of...

Kew Gardens and the Temperate House

Kew Gardens and the Temperate House

June 26, 2018

Kew Gardens, June, first sunny day for a while, first visit and one is weak-kneed and pea-brained at the scale and splendour of the place. We were drawn in by the re-opening of the Temperate House after its hugely...

The Kintyre shoreline

The Kintyre shoreline

June 20, 2018

Kintyre, not too unlike a finger of home-made shortbread on the map, leaves Argyll behind by bending a knuckle at Tarbert and then pointing nearly due south towards the shores of Northern Ireland, leaving at its tip...