Amazon Prime Video and the Lovefilm fiasco

I’ve been a user/renter with LoveFilm for many years using their DVDs by post service. Over the last few years the streaming side of DVD rental has grown and grown and now there are lots of different offerings for watching DVD online. Lovefilm is still the only one doing rentals by post and as much as I try and use iTunes and Lovefilm instant we do still watch DVDs that come in the post.

Sometime last year Amazon bought Lovefilm. Nothing changed. The service still worked, they added more films to the streaming service (I could now watch The walking Dead!), the website was easy to use but not perfect (it was a little tricky to browse and find films) but generally all was good. Then, a few months ago Amazon announced that they would be changing Lovefilm to Amazon prime video. Not the snappiest of titles for a company, I preferred Lovefilm, but kind of an expected move by Amazon. Then one day I went on to the lovefilm website to choose some DVD rentals and I got a huge shock! The old lovefilm website had disappeared completely and was now Amazon prime video which looked just like Amazon’s retail website. In fact it was Amazon’s retail website just with extra bits of navigation for adding titles to your rental list. Trying to find DVDs to rent in amongst all the other crap on the Amazon website was impossible. When I’m buying products on Amazon I don’t really mind being shown other things I might want or suggestions in the search for similar products but when all I want to do is quickly find some new films to rent I really, really do not want to have to wade through a million other navigation links, be pestered with products to buy or be shown so many search options that I’m not sure whether I’m looking at a DVD to rent or one to buy.

I think Amazon have made a huge mistake combining the DVD rental service into the rest of the already huge Amazon website. What was once a focused, simple and quick process is now a confusing mess that’s hard to navigate. When I’m picking a film I want to focus on that task.

Amazon need a dedicated website for loveFilm, sorry Amazon Prime Video (nope, still doesn’t sound like a great name!), like Netflix and other similar services otherwise they WILL be losing a lot of customers. Like me. As a website designer I would never advise a client to do what Amazon have done, its a bad idea on so many levels but it shows that Amazon are just interested in one thing…trying to sell you more stuff!

Optimising WordPress and the server

At kc web design kent we’ve become obsessed with getting WordPress to work at peak performance over the last few months so we thought it would be good to document some of things we’ve been doing to increase WordPress performance and reduce loading times. Not all of these things work on all servers and you may get different millage out of some but they’re all worth a try and a look at the principles behind them. First off, lets look at the server…

Server optimisation

The first thing to look at is the server and with htaccess files enabled there are a few tricks that we can use to speed things up. A great place to look at advanced htaccess rules is the brilliant HTML5 Boilerplate but it can get quite complex. To start with lets just tackle the major ones.

GZIP and Deflate

Compression is very important and can speed up your WordPress site a considerable amount. Check if either of these modules are installed for Apache or just add the code for both into your htaccess file. Here’s an example for deflate. Please note the mod_filter wrapper around this code, if you don’t have the filter module enable in Apache then this won’t work so check its installed or in later versions of Apache just remove these wrapper tags.


<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
<IfModule mod_filter.c>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/atom+xml \
application/javascript \
application/x-javascript \
application/json \
application/rss+xml \
application/ \
application/x-font-ttf \
application/x-web-app-manifest+json \
application/x-httpd-php \
application/xhtml+xml \
application/xml \
font/opentype \
image/svg+xml \
image/x-icon \
text/css \
text/html \
text/javascript \
text/plain \
text/x-component \


Setting the cache expiry means the server won’t be dishing out new files with every page request which will speed things up for the user. Make sure to set the limits at a realistic level and if you site is always changing then set them shorter. If it never changes then set them longer!

<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access 2 days"

Set keep-alive’s

When you run Googles Pagespeed tests – which you really should be doing – it sometimes alerts you to keep alives. This is to do with the server keep connections open while serving all the files and not closing the connection after each file is served. If you’re serving lots of small files then closing and opening new connections each time can slow things down. To keep connections open you can add this to the htaccess file.

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
Header set Connection keep-alive

Memory limits

WordPress can be power hungry at times. We’ve had instances at kc web design kent where a new VPS with only 256 memory was struggling with a basic WordPress site. If you can, go for more memory on your server and then change the default memory allocation for WordPress by adding this in the htaccess file.

php_value memory_limit 128M php_value upload_max_filesize 20M php_value post_max_size 20M

There are many, many more things you can do with a htaccess file but these will make a big difference on the speed and performance of you WordPress site and should be done on all installations.

WordPress optimisations

When using WordPress it’s important to know what it’s limits are and how it works on a server. We’ve already mentioned that it can be quite power hungry so just throwing any old template on it for a professional website isn’t always the best idea.

When creating your won WordPress web design theme for a client try and limit the amount of database calls you use to pull out paths to CSS and JS files and reduce the amount of queries. When using a bought theme check its not one that gives you endless options for this frontage or 3 different shop systems or endless page layouts as these will significantly increase the amount of data pulls on the site even if you’re not using half of what available in the theme. You can trim things down by removing php paths and hard coding things.

Another area to be watchful of is plugins. They can add lots of files and weight to a page that you just don’t know about. If you can do it yourself with code you know in the theme files then thats the way I would go first. If you do need a plugin then try a few out, read reviews and forums and test on a dev platform first before using on a live site.

Be careful of render blocking elements. Google Pagespeed loves this one and its always cropping up, especially on WordPress sites. Render blocking elements are CSS or mainly JS code in the head of a page that prevents the rest of the page loading and working before these files have loaded themselves. Jquery is the main culprit and some WordPress plugins like to stick a lot of code in the head so watch out for those. These days its good practice to put all JS in the footer to avoid this problem. If you have to put scripts in the head you can add this little bit of PHP code just before you body tag to help ease the problem…

<?php flush(); // ?>

And lastly, minify all HTML/CSS/JS and use a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache to speed up serving pages to users. After you change any of these points above check on Google Pagespeed for improvements and keep optimising until you get a good score.

Oh, and one more thing, you could also use a CDN service like Cloudflare to server all you static files. We used it on kc web design kent as a test and saw some big improvements.

What! No screen cloth! iPad Air Review

My ageing original iPad 1 is still going strong but has slowly been relegated from a work device to a kiddies play thing so it was time for a long overdue upgrade. The original iPad isn’t supported in the latest OS’s and so trying to test new iPad apps we’re designing at kc web design kent was proving a little tricky. I’d been reluctant to fork out for a new iPad this year knowing that a new iPad would arrive at the October Apple event so I’ve been waiting and waiting until now.

It was a tough choice between the new iPad Air and the retina iPad mini but having had a Nexus 7 in the office for a while now I decided that the small size was nice but not a practical for working on as the larger screen. The iPad Air seemed a great half way house as its screen is bigger but it’s considerably lighter than any other 10″ iPad.

What! No screen cloth!

As soon as the new iPad Air was available I grabbed one from the Apple store along with a case and it turned up at the kc web design kent studio a few days ago. It’s a lovely piece of kit – as you’d expect from Apple – and its size and weight feels perfect. The lightness makes it easy to hold and use and it really doesn’t feel much heavier in use than the first gen Nexus 7. One thing that was noticeably missing from the box though was a screen cleaning cloth! Every other Apple device I’ve bought has come with a cloth – even my giant 27″ iMac that we use in the kc web design kent studio has a small cloth! – so an iPad without one felt a little harsh, especially when paying a premium price. The stickers were there (I must have about 20 of these now and no idea what to do with them!) but now screen cleaning cloth – that’s a bit mean Apple!

I’ve not been a massive fan of iOS7 but I have got used to it now on my iPhone. There have been reports of it not working to well on the iPad but the iPad Air feels very nice. I think the ultra fast processor helps make iOS7 feel very fluid and tactile and whizzing around between apps using the multitouch gestures makes working very easy.

Having not used the old iPad very much for work over the last year or so at kc web design kent having the new iPad Air around and using it for more work related tasks feels great. It gets me away from the desk a bit more which is always nice! So, all-in-all it’s the perfect iPad – light, fast, slick and a joy to use. Just what everyone expected!


Speeding up your website design with Cloudflare

Recently, while sifting through Google Analytics data, I noticed that page load times on this particular website design were over 10 secs. This is a long time for a page to load and well over the recommended times. Google uses page speed as a metric now and so slow page load times could have an impact on search listings so having a fast website design is important.

After optimising javascript loading and images as much as possible the website design was still loading quite slowly. To begin with it seemed like the issue could be with WordPress but after a few tests it looked like static html pages were loading very quickly but php files were not. Could this be a server issue? I contacted the hosting company but they seemed to think the load times were ok which could have been a symptom of me being in the UK but the website being hosted in the US. The hosting company didn’t seem to think that would be a problem though so I looked at the website design files and tried to optimise some more. There’s only so much you can do with a website design to optimise speed and everything possible had been done including minifying CSS/JS/HTML, optimising script loading and images, reducing plugins in WordPress, etc. One plugin issue I did come across was the WordPress super cache plugin seemed to be increasing the initial load times so I swapped this for the ‘Quick Cache’ plugin which seemed to make a difference. While looking at the load times in detail it was obvious that the biggest lag was the initial ‘time to load’ which is the time it takes for the server to issue its first response back to the browser. Some of these times for this website design were over 4 secs which seemed a long time to me. With no more help from the hosting company it was time to look at other options.

I cam across an article talking about CDN delivery systems for whole websites which I thought might be worth looking at. CDN’s are well know for serving images and external javascript files but less so for serving whole websites. Cloudflare looked like a very interesting system and with a free account for 1 website it’s easy to test. Essentially, what Cloudflare does is take your DNS and route it through Cloudflare first where it stores cached files of your website. You have full control over all the speed settings and there’s the added bonus of security threat detection as well which they filter out before anything hits your non-cahced pages in your website design. Its a bit scary swapping nameservers and DNS settings but Cloudflare make the process very easy and within 24 hrs my website design was being severed by Cloudflare.

Did it make a difference? Yes, quite a big difference actually. Page load times are now down below 4 secs for the quite large homepage design and much less for the internal pages. For a free service its actually very good and well worth testing out. I’ll keep an eye on my Google stats over the next few weeks to see if average page load times start to come down and hopefully search rankings will go up as well.

Expression Engine plugins – GWcode Categories & Low Seg2Cat

At kc web design kent we’ve spent the last few months building a new website for a well known sealants and glues company (Not Unibond, the other one!). It’s a large project and the final website design will allow users to view a lot of products in a lot of different categories. Products can be listed in multiple categories such as products, brands and applications and be shown on the website in lots of different places. To accommodate the large number of categories kc web design kent needed to build a flexible, intuitive navigation system that was easy to find products and easy for the client to administer from the backend. As we were using Expression Engine for the CMS we knew it could handle this type of layout but what we found was that the structure wasn’t so intuitive for the client and the categories started to get very messy and not easy to code flexible navigation systems.

Expression Engine has a good community and a wealth of plugins so after searching around we came across GWcode Categories. This simple plugin makes it incredibly easy to create complex category navigation systems with Expression Engine and meant that here at kc web design kent we could construct some very flexible templates to deal with products from any number of categories and show relevant nested navigation levels without having to build duplicate templates for each category. The flexibility it gave us has made building this new responsive website much, much easier than using the standard EE tags.

While building the navigation systems we also came across some small issues with using the EE {segment} variable and so after a bit of Googling we came across Low Seg2cat. Again, this simple plugin opened up a world of possibilities and in conjunction with GWcode Categories enabled us to create some very complex templates and category navigation systems.

Finding solutions like the two mentioned above are why here at kc web design kent we love using Expression Engine. Its hugely flexible, has great support, is client friendly and cost effective. If you need a new website built on one of THE best content management systems available then give kc web design kent a call today.

Google Chromecast – Apple TV killer?

Being so busy at kc web design kent doesn’t leave much time for relaxing but when I do I love to watch films. Big screen, big sound, bliss. For a while now I’ve been looking at how to improve my media centre and get a setup that allows me to watch HD movies whenever I want, stream catch-up services and view my own media and music.

There are a LOT of devices out there that try to be full on media centers – small ones, big ones, expensive ones and truly terrible ones! Because of my day job as a designer at kc web design kent any system I buy has to be user friendly with a great UI design which seems to rule out 90% of the list. Why are home media interfaces so bad? All they need to do is connect with the user and make it easy to find things – sounds simple yet most companies get this wrong. Of the few that get this right, their media centers never quite hit the mark, there’s always one component I need missing. Living and working at kc web designer in the uk I want uk catchup tv such as BBC iplayer and 4OD as well watching films from LoveFilm but there are very few systems out there that allow all of this. Most seem to have Netflix but in the uk there offering is pretty dire.

I’m still considering an apple tv but until they allow apps on it then iplayer and lovefilm are a dream. Recently Google released the Chromecast. At first glance it seems to simple to be worth looking at. After looking at how it works and the potential for add-ons then it might become a contender. It’s such a simple idea – and a cheap one looking at the £23 price tag – that it just might work and take the market by storm. Google have had 2 other attempts at this market so time will tell but at the moment it looks interesting and at this price is not going to break the bank to try it. It might also be an interesting way of showing showing a simple stats page in the browser on the TV in the office at kc web design kent. Who knows what interesting third party apps will be created by the community!

I don’t think the perfect media centre is out there just yet but things are changing and google might just push apple into changing the apple tv for the better.

kc web design make hand-crafted websites

“kc web design make hand crafted websites…” – that’s what it says on the new kc web design kent homepage. But what do we really mean by hand crafted website design?

There’s been a lot of talk on twitter recently about the word “craft” with a few top web designers saying it shouldn’t be used in the web design industry but I disagree. Kc web design kent do make hand crafted website designs. The word craft, for me, means time, care and attention to detail and doing that with skill and knowledge built up over many years.

At kc web design kent we don’t use tools like Dreamweaver that try and do it all for you, we hand code HTML and CSS from scratch in a text editor like Coda. One thing that has always stuck with me in the 15 years I’ve been doing web design is something a wise old (no longer with us sadly) web designer said to be when I was just beginning…”the clue is in the code”. Hand coding using skill and knowledge means you know the code, you know what you’re writing and that makes it easier to debug. Using a web editor that does it all for you but generates unreadable code isn’t much help in the long term. It pays to learn the basics of web design coding inside out as this allows you to craft your code or design.

I’ll admit, it’s not really the same as spending a whole lifetime learning to craft axes from raw metal and hickory, but I do believe there is a craft to learn and to do it right takes time and skill. Building websites and creating pixel perfect website designs takes time and effort and to me that’s a craft.

If you want hand built website, designed and coded with skill, care and attention to detail then call kc web design kent today.

New iMac 27″ fusion drive review

A few months ago at kc web design kent my trusty 2009 27″ iMac started playing up. The screen started flickering in the left bottom corner and over the new few weeks it got progressively worse until one day the screen went black. Gulp! Deadlines. Panic…

Luckily, I managed to get the screen working again, albeit with only one side working effectively. It turns out there are two LED’s in the old iMac screen and the one on the left had blown sending that side of the screen into a grey muted mess. It’s actually very hard trying to design when one side of your screen is white and the other dark grey…very confusing! We’ve been using iMacs’ here at kc web design kent ever since they first came out and for a web designer they are fantastic, especially with the 27″ screen. I also use a second 24″ screen as well which gives a huge amount of screen space.

After a quick scramble in draws for old documents it dawned on me that the poor old iMac was out of Applecare support and destined for the back room. And so a spangly new iMac was purchased.

The new iMacs’ are a thing of beauty. Much thinner than the old ones and they deal with heat a LOT better. The old iMac could BBQ sausages on top some days! This time round I opted for the new fusion drive which is a dual 1TB HD and 128GB SSD and I have to say it is fantastic. The iMac is an i7 stacked full of 32gb of ram with the OS on SSD and it absolutely flies! The start up time is unbelievable, it literally takes less than 10 seconds to start the OS then another few seconds to start a few apps. Compared to my old iMac its a million miles away. The SSD also makes OS tasks ultra fast and frequently saved files also get the SSD treatment as the OS learns what you do most which makes saving those files fast to.

Being a freelance web designer in Kent means every minute of my day has to be well spent and the speed of this new iMac means I’m saving time on every task. They’re not cheap, but when it’s your main business tool it’s worth spending the extra cash.

Ghostlab review

While struggling with Adobe Inspect today at kc web design kent on a new responsive web design project I saw a very timely tweet by Andy Clarke…

Goodbye Edge Inspect, you subscription based son of a bitch. Hello @ghostlabapp, my new best friend.

I’d never heard of Ghostlab before and had no idea what Andy was talking about but the mention of Adobe Inspect got my attention, especially as I was battling with testing a website design in multiple browsers on multiple devices.

After a brief look at the Ghostlab website (which is very well designed and worth a look just for that!) is was obvious that this app would be incredibly useful at kc web design kent. Ghostlab is an alternative to Adobe Inspect that makes testing responsive website designs very easy. Once the Mac app is installed you can open an existing URL or drop a folder onto the interface and create a new testing project. Once you click on the project you get to open it up in the Ghostlab browser which creates a local server to view the site on.

Now that the project is open and viewable on the local server you can view the website in any browser and on any device just by going to the local IP address shown in the UI. Not only is it very easy to view a single site on lots of devices but whatever you do on one device replicates through all the devices and browsers which is brilliant if you want to test clicks and forms and don’t want to have to repeat a set of tasks in every browser.

It might sound a little complicated but it was simple to setup and get using and straight away I had my test site open in lots of browsers and on my iPhone and Nexus. Tweaking CSS and reloading the page was made even easier because as you reload on one browser it does it on all of them! Ghostlab is well worth a try and its now become THE app we use at kc web design kent for testing our responsive website designs.

kc web design kent are experts in responsive website design. If you need a new website that works on all devices then give us a call.

Potable Water Solutions – Hydro voyager 3

We had a very interesting call at kc web design kent last week from Potable Water Solutions. Potable Water Solutions make the Hydro Voyager 3 – a new solution for purifying contaminated water.

At kc web design kent we love helping out with good causes and Potable Water Solutions needed a quick landing page created for their new water purification system. We had very little time to get something designed for them and needed to take complete control of the whole process so that Potable Water Solutions didn’t have to worry about a thing. We quickly designed a responsive website design landing page that would show some basic information on the Hydro Voyager for potentially interested parties and allow them to make contact. A fuller, more detailed website will be coming in the future but for now anyone interested can at least see how wonderful this project is a what a difference it could make to people in situations were water is scarce or not of great quality.

For more information on this wonderful project take a look at the Hydro Voyager 3 website created by kc web design kent.

Yohondo iPad app UI design

kc web design kent were contacted by the lovely John and Jane from Yohondo a few months ago about designing the user interface for their new iPad app. Yohondo have spent the last 12 – 18 months designing and building a skeleton app that will completely change the way people learn graded music lessons. A huge amount of research and testing had gone into the app and kc web design kent were offered the task of creating and designing a beautiful user interface for the iPad app that would help bring all that research together into a good looking, usable app.

kc web design kent designed a completely new user interface that uniquely combine the research by Yohondo with an intuitive and user-friendly design. Ease of use was paramount in the design process as well as creating a user interface that compliments the user flow and actions throughout the app. The Yohondo ipad app is aimed at a younger audience, as well as adults, and so small elements of gameification were built into the design to create an experience that kept users coming back and help with progression through the lessons.

The iPad user interface design that kc web design kent have created is unique in this market place and was designed to fully compliment the hard work undertaken by Yohondo in building a world class iPad app. The app will be completed over the coming months and launched in the summer so watch out for it in the app store. Next on the list will be a brand new website for Yohondo design and built by kc web design kent.

Yohondo iPad app UI design

kc web design kent are delighted to be working with the wonderful Yohondo on their brand new iPad app. We’ll be designing the user interface over the next few weeks to create a beautiful UI experience and craft an award winning app.

Yohondo is a new iPad app designed for teaching grade 1,2 and 3 piano in a new and intuitive way. kc web design kent will be working with the Yohondo team to take their working wireframe app and turn it into a visual exciting, beautifully design experience for all levels of users. The app is designed to help children and adults learn graded musical pieces in a new and exiting way and the user interface and overall design will reflect this.

The new Yohondo iPad app will be available later this year along with a brand new website design. A second round of beta testing will be starting soon once the new user interface design is in place so if you’re interested in becoming a beta tester head over to the Yohondo website.

At kc web design kent we specialise in iPad and iPhone user interface design and understand the complexities of designing for touch devices. We also create web apps and responsive website designs that can be used on all types of devices such as phones and tablets. If you have a project that needs a user interface or want a website that taps into the growing mobile marketplace then get in touch with kc web design kent for a chat.

Mailbox iOS app – Was it worth the wait?

Most people in the web design industry are aware of Mailbox – the new email client for iOS that claims to change the way we deal with email – and at kc web design kent we were very excited when it was launched. And most will also be aware of the sign-up system they used. After sign-up the user joined a queue and the app gave a count down to when it would be available. When I signed up I was about 700,000 in the queue and it took a few weeks for the app to become available. Not everyone was very keen on this sign-up process but as a way of rolling out a new app slowly I can see its benefits.

After a long wait I finally got to the use the app and I have to say that it is very nice. Its well exicuted, it looks great and works very well. Does it change the way we deal with email? Maybe. But I can’t help but feel like its just a bunch of folders and actions tagged on to a Gmail account. For people that use their iPhone for dealing with all their email on the go then Mailbox is a great email client. But for the rest of us, such as web designers like us at kc web design kent, then it doesn’t get used that much. A desktop version would be much better and hopefully now that Mailbox has been acquired by Dropbox we might see more development on the desktop version. But again, would the desktop version just feel like a nice interface over a few folders and actions tagged on the Gmail?

There are lots of different ways of dealing with emails and inbox-zero and a lot of them do this with specific folders and actions. At kc web design kent we use a simple method of having a smart folder for incoming unread mail, one for emails flagged as to-do and a few other folders. So could this method be used to attain the same email flow as Mailbox? I think it could be done and even made into some kind of plugin for email clients like Postbox. A few simple folders and actions could mimic what Mailbox does quite easily. If I get time over the next few weeks and client work at kc web design kent doesn’t get in the way too much I might give it a try. If it works I’ll post the results here!

kc web design Kent | Bootstrap vs Foundation

Bootstrap vs Foundation. It’s the age old fight of the frameworks. The two main contenders are still battling it out but here at kc web design kent we’re using both on 2 different projects so thought I’d write a little about how I feel about the two frameworks.

At kc web design kent we’re currently using the Zurb Foundation framework on a website design project and the Twitter Bootstrap framework on an internal project and a big web app design project. So how do they stack up? I’m a big fan of frameworks, anything that saves time on processes that you do again and again is a good thing, and these frameworks do that very well. They give you all the building blocks to create great websites, in fact you can quite easily get a basic website up and running using one of these frameworks within a few hours (it wouldn’t look great though, but would work well as a wireframe or prototype). There is a danger of lots of websites springing up that use these frameworks all looking the same so its important to use them as starting points and to make sure that your unique design is crafted onto the framework. Use them as a starting point and not as a theme.

While using both frameworks on website design projects at kc web design kent a few points worth noting have come to light. If you want more themes and plug and play components for your framework then choose Twitter Bootstrap – It seems to have far more community generated resources than Zurb Foundation and is very easy to find ready made themes and website templates that you can stick on top of the basic framework. Zurb Foundation on the other hand feels like the more ‘grown-up’ framework. It feels a bit more logical, the documentation and examples are better and the grid feels a bit easier to use. To be fair though, there’s really not much in it and at the end of the day, like it does here at kc web design kent, it’ll all come down to personal preference. Try them both and decide for yourself.

Cheap smartphone market grows

As more and more mobile phone companies are producing cheaper smartphones the more the mobile market grows. For web designers the mobile market has become very important over the last few years and this is set to grow even more rapidly in 2013. For kc web design kent and other freelance web designers and website design studios, responsive web design (RWD) has now become the normal way to create new websites. Almost all clients now want their new websites to work on mobile and tablet devices and responsive web design is the prefect way to achieve this. With new cheap phones coming onto the market – and rumours that Apple with produce a cheaper version of the iPhone – the number of users with access to the internet via a mobile device is set to grow again. This is one of the fastest growing emerging markets and making sure your website works on mobile and tablet devices is a must these days.

Smaller, cheaper devices have processors from two or three years ago, they have small screens with low resolution, and weaker cameras. They can all do email and the web but gaming and browsing is a much better experience on the higher end phones – Ian Fogg, principal analyst at IHS

Responsive web design doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. As long as it’s well thought out and planned and your users goals and your business goals are taken into consideration then you can create a fantastic website that works on all devices. At kc web design kent we try and utilise responsive web design in all of our website builds in the right circumstances and this is especially important on web app projects. Ignoring user that will visit your website on tablets and mobiles could reduce sales and exclude a huge demographic so when thinking about your websites update in 2013 please also consider WHO will be using your website and WHAT they’ll be browsing it on.

kc web design kent are experts at responsive web design so give us a call and we can answer any questions you have. Don’t ignore mobile users, talk to kc web design kent to find out how you can tap into this huge market and improve your current website.

Web design and development in kent

kc web design ltd work on web design and development in kent, Canterbury, the South East, London and the rest of the UK. We also have global clients from all over the world such as the Toll Group and Fujitsu amongst others but for 2013, as a freelance web designer and user interface (UX/UI) specialist, I’d love to do some work with a local web start-up or Apple software company. Working on web design and development in kent is a lovely way to work and the web design and development projects we do here at kc web design kent are very exciting to work on, but, as a new venture for this year I’d love to do more work with a start-up at ground level and work on a long term project outside of kc web design kent at a level where I can really make a difference.

At kc web design kent we have our side projects such as Deltr and our new weather iOS app to keep us busy and especially with Deltr I work on the web design and UI/UX at a senior level but it would be great to help out another company starting in the web/online world to achieve greatness this year. This is a massive stab in the dark but, if you’re a local web start-up in and around Kent and you’re reading this and need some web design and development in kent then give me a call.

Web design and development in kent from kc web design

As a web design studio producing web design and development in kent we excel in what we do here at kc web design kent. We specialise in creating beautiful websites, designed to your own unique specifications and business goals and built on leading industry content management systems such as WordPress and Expression Engine. We create websites of all sizes and complexities and will work closely with you all the way along the project with special attention to the planning stage. So if you need a new website in 2013 or some  web design and development in kent then give kc web design kent a call.

Happy New Year 2013 from kc web design kent

Happy New Year from kc web design kent! 2012 was a great year for kc web design kent and 2013 is going to be even better with some exciting new projects on the horizon!

What’s happening at kc web design kent in 2013?

We have a few projects going live in the next few weeks while we get started on a new web app client project which will last a few months. This web app is going to be very special and utilise HTML5 only technology to create a web app that works offline on mobiles. Very exciting, bleeding-edge development and a cracking web design project to start the new year.

We’ve also been working hard on our own web app project over the last few years and Deltr should be ready to go live in the next 3-6 months. 3 years hard work has gone into this web app and kc web design kent and Progress Technology are very exciting that it will soon be open to the public. Deltr is a new way to write content for websites and blogs and get paid for doing it. It’s simple to use and will be a fantastic revenue stream for anyone that enjoys writing. When the economy is still looking tough in the UK, a web app like this will help thousands of people create a second income on the web very easily with potential for good earnings. Stay tuned over the next few months for more information.

Also on the cards this year is our first venture into creating our own iPhone and iPad apps. Our first iOS app will be a weather app with a twist! Cirrus One will be like no other weather app on the market and will give the user a unique feature not seen before in this market place. We hope to have the Cirrus One teaser website up and running soon so stay tuned for more info again.

2013 looks like it’s going to be a great year here at kc web design kent and we all hope your 2013 will be a successful one to. Happy New Year!

A website designer in kent – Meetups & gatherings

When we moved 4 years ago with kc web design kent I thought this area might be a really cool place to work as a freelance website designer in kent. I was expecting lots of meet ups and gatherings and conferences but sadly there hasn’t been much of that at all.

A while ago I did try to help resurrect what looked like a great night called Canterbury Geeks (akin to the Oxford Geek Nights) but sadly this didn’t happen for one reason or another. Another interesting night, similar to Canterbury Geeks is Geekstable – a gathering of geeks in Whitstable. It sounds interesting but has been a bit sporadic this year so I haven’t managed to make it to any. Maybe next year, if it becomes a regular event, I’ll get to go one night. While doing a bit more research on this article I did come across Digibury which looks quite interesting and does seem to be regular with a good turn out. Digibury might be the one to try over the next few months. The guys at DecodeUK have started this year which also looks like a great event so maybe another one to try in 2013. Being a freelance website designer in kent can be a lonely job sometimes so meet-ups like this can be an important part of networking and socialising for the lone web designer.

We need a website design conference in Kent?

As a website designer in kent it would be great to have some conferences that were closer. One of my big resolutions this past year was to get to a conference but I haven’t quite managed it yet. Having a great web design conference, even just a one day event, in Kent would be great. Somewhere you can get to within an hour or so and not have to travel all night to get to a conference for a 9am start. Maybe I’m just a bit lazy, or maybe it would be nice to see the web design community in Kent come together and create something special, in an amazing venue with some great speakers. There are some pretty high profile web design companies in kent so maybe someone will get something together. Maybe I will get something together and put on Kent’s first web design and development conference. Now there’s a thought…

kc web design kent Dribbble PSD freebie button

Here’s another Dribbble PSD freebie from kc web design Kent. It’s just a simple button but free for everyone to use.

You can download the free Dribbble PSD freebie or see the post on Dribbble.

If you’re a professional website designer or just a freelance web designer, Dribbble freebies can help spark that little bit of creativity or give you a push in the right direction if you’re struggling with a web design project. This Dribbble freebie photoshop file is free to use on any of your web design projects, just leave me a comment on Dribbble if you use it somewhere.

At kc web design kent we love a freebie and Dribbble freebies are the highest quality freebies you’ll find. As a web designer or freelance website designer it’s important to get inspiration and collect snippets of designs you like for future reference. There are loads of sites like Pinterest that are great for collections of images but when collecting a library of PSD files for use in your website designs it’s helpful to have an easy way to categorise and store them for later use and at kc web design Kent we use Pixa. It’s perfect for creating folders of graphic files that are easily viewable and has made a huge difference to the way we store and use assets at the studio here at kc web design kent. Pixa has a great smart folder feature so any PSD files you add to a specific folder will automatically show up in the image view window in Pixa which makes it incredibly easy to store and search files. Give Pixa a try today if you have lots of graphic assets or icon sets you need access to when designing websites, it works a treat!

We’ll be doing some more Dribbble freebies at kc web design kent over the next few months so stay tuned for more goodies.

Photoshop CS6 Creative Cloud update

Adobe quietly rolled out an update to Photoshop CS6 yesterday and I almost didn’t notice two amazing new features for web designers. Apart from retina support, an improved crop tool, smart filters for video and a few other small updates there were two big additions that are going to get web designers and everyone at kc web design kent very excited.

Copy CSS

Yes, you read that right! Copy CSS! What, web code in Photoshop you say, it can’t be true! Just right click on a layer and you’ll see the new ‘copy CSS’ command. Click it and it will copy styles associated to that layer that you can paste into your favourite web design editor. It also works on groups of layers to! On simple buttons with gradients and shadows it works a treat and should make life a lot easier when building styles from a PSD file but when you copy CSS on anything complicated you get a lot of positioning styles as well which you may need to take out, still, its a big step in the right direction and will save a lot of time. Another nice feature is the ability to load a colour palette from an existing CSS file so if you need to make some new designs based on an existing website design then you can import the colours from the CSS file and see them in your colour palette. Very handy!

Conditional if statements in actions

Now, this one took me by surprise. Conditional if statements in actions. I almost overlooked this one and then realised what an incredible feature this is and one that will solve a problem that we’ve been searching for the answer to at kc web design kent for many years…intelligent image manipulation in batch processing. At kc web design kent we work with a lot of e-commerce website owners who regularly update their sites with new products and new product images. On some of the older bespoke web design projects we did it’s a process we have to go through here at kc web design kent for our clients. Until now the batch processing of images would have to be broken down into portrait and landscape so that we got the proportions correct but with conditional statements we can now create one action that can tell the difference between portrait and landscape images. Genius!

Dribbble freebies infographic PSD file

Everyone loves a freebie and everyone loves Dribbble freebies so kc web design Kent have given you a little present to use in your own designs. Its a simple infographic that can be used for all sorts of number presentations.

You can download the PSD file from Dribbble or here.

Over the next few months we’ll be doing some more Dribbble freebies and giving back to a great web design community. If you’re a web designer that isn’t on Dribbble yet then do it now! Get some of your best work together and try and get an invite, it will be the best thing you do this year. The Dribbble community is fantastic and the quality of web design work on there is amazing. Dribbble freebies are also a great source to learn from as well as use in your own designs.

As well as the Dribbble freebies and great inspiration from some of the worlds top web designers there’s the job board which is well worth a look. Competition for the jobs is high and you’ll be applying for jobs along with lots of other top designers but the jobs that come through onto the job board are very good. It’s been a great source of freelance jobs for kc web design Kent and one place I keep going back to.

Keep an eye out on kc web design kent for more Dribbble freebies in the future and follow me on Dribbble.


kc web design Kent review – The new iTunes 11

iTunes 11 came out today and the internet has been a flood of praise and criticism for Apples new version of its flagship music player. The top 5 latest features in the new iTunes are the completely redesigned interface, iCloud integration, a new mini player, up next queuing and a much better search as well as being much much faster and integrating a common look for the iTunes store across all Apple devices.

Working at a small web design studio like kc web design kent means working mostly in a room with no other people for the majority of the time. Working like this at kc web design kent has its pro’s and con’s and one of the nicest pro’s is being able to play what ever music I like on my retro hi-fi equipment and 6 speakers! iTunes 11 does feel a lot faster, especially on a large music collection, and after spending the last few years just hitting play and shuffle it did feel nice whizzing around the UI and selecting specific albums and songs again. In fact, I’ve listen to more old music today because of the improved UI than I have done in a long time.

The overall feel of the new version is quite nice but there are a few places where some sloppy UI design has crept in with some unsightly shadows and what looks like fuzzy text. There were some reactions on Twitter stating the new font used was Helvetica instead of the normal Apple Lucida. All in all though, the new version is pretty good. The iCloud integration will make a lot of people happy and the new UI design is sharp and slick and zippy. All I need now is that Apple TV to create the whole house entertainment system and a way to stream movies into the kc web design kent office…must write that letter to Santa.


kc web design kent – Google Nexus 7 review

kc web design kent – Google Nexus 7 review. I talked about the need for hardware testing for responsive web design a few days ago and mentioned the devices we were going to add to our arsenal here at kc web design Kent. One of those was the Google Nexus 7 tablet.

First good thing I have to say about the Nexus 7, and more specifically about Google, was the delivery was super fast! Ordered 1 day, came the next, even though the order stated 2/3 days. Well done Google, have a +1. The Nexus 7 comes in a very well packaged box with the bare minimum of accessories: the tablet, charger and small booklet…no sign of a screen cloth though which I would consider to be an essential accessory for a touch device. After a quick charge the Nexus 7 started up and straight away notified me of an OS update which I agreed to. It then restarted pretty quickly and setup the update which then allowed me to access the device properly. On first look it seems like a really nice small tablet. It’s responsive to touch commands and the Android OS feels quick and fluid once you get used to it (which took a while after using so many Apple devices…I kept going for that home button!). After about 30 mins of using it I got another OS update notification so I agreed and it was installed. And 30 mins later another one, to update to Android 4.2, which is hopefully the last update and the Nexus is now on the latest version.

As the Nexus 7 will be used purely for testing I went straight to the browser and looked at a few responsive web designs we’ve done here at kc web design kent and straight away it showed that no matter how good you think you’re media queries are, there’s always a device where your responsive website design doesn’t look quite right. Because of the screen size of the 7″ Nexus the portrait and landscape sizes fall between some widely used media queries and so a few sites needed some tweaks. This just shows the importance of testing on real devices and is the reason why we’re gathering a suite of devices to test on at kc web design Kent.

After using the Nexus 7 for a day or so I think its pretty good. Once you get used to a different OS and different way of navigating around it becomes fairly intuitive, although I still keep going for that home button. It still makes me think that Apple have got it right but Android aren’t far behind and the Nexus is a good device and a very good price.

If you’d like more information on responsive web design or how your website can be adapted to work on all major mobile devices then give kc web design Kent a call.