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 material here that chimes 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 precious and 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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St Botolph's Church, Hardham

St Botolph's Church, Hardham

October 20, 2019

The white-washed St Botolph’s Church in Hardham, West Sussex, was almost certainly built before the Conquest. It is dedicated to a Saxon saint (the 7th century fenland St Botolph) and has a traditional square...

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

October 10, 2019

When the rain of Derbyshire falls on the Peak District, the stones of Haddon Hall are scoured by it and progressively rounded. The castle’s ancient sluice-ways run silver alongside the timeless...

St. Celynin‘s Church at Llangelynnin

St. Celynin‘s Church at Llangelynnin

September 14, 2019

Sloping down to the seashore and pointing towards distant Bardsey Island, which appears as a smudge of shadow shaped like a jockey’s cap on the far horizon, is the medieval St. Celynin‘s Church at Llangelynnin...

Farewell Drupal 8. Hello Backdrop CMS

Farewell Drupal 8. Hello Backdrop CMS

September 14, 2019

I have written before of my love affair with Drupal 7 and, separately, of my anxiety about Drupal 8. Drupal 7’s abandon-ship, event-horizon end-...

Samuel Beckett Watt


September 13, 2019

Having completed Joyce’s Ulysses last week, an experience that began with a lengthy uphill incline, I have followed on with a re-read of Samuel Beckett’s Watt which has been a gentle downhill glide of immense fun....

Free and easy: OCR and file conversion on the web

Free and easy: OCR and file conversion on the web

July 29, 2019

The best things in life are free, as the song has it. In software terms, it’s also when they work faultlessly and with minimal labour. Here are two fine examples that came my way recently and which I recommend...

Parham House and Garden

Parham House

May 25, 2019

Some of this country’s finest houses are perched on a hilltop, others tucked away in woodland, some dominate a landscape with imposing intent, others block uninvited entry with obvious fortification. Aside from...

Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm

Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm

February 12, 2019

You might think that a book about a farm in West Sussex could not be capable of exploring ideas of truly global importance. Equally, you might think that a book that does advance such lofty ideas could not be...

LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media

LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media

January 30, 2019

“Once every village had an idiot. It took the internet to bring them all together”, are the memorable words of U.S. Army colonel turned historian Robert Bateman, quoted by the authors of LikeWar: The...

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...