How to Amend a Git Commit

Posted in Tutorial, tagged with git 22/10/2012 2:17 pm

Git's speed and simplicity encourages regular, small commits. Commiting more often makes for smaller and easier to understand code changes, but does make it more likely that you will make a mistake in your commits. Fortunatly Git has the --amend commit option, which can be called like this:

git commit --amend

This commit is like any other; only changes staged for commit will be commited. With the amend option, however, the changes made in the current working tree will be added to the changes in the previous commit, and will not create a new commit.

Lets run thought a simple example, starting with creating a directory and initialising a git repo (you will need to have git installed to follow this tutorial).

mkdir amend-test; cd amend-test # Make a new directory and change to it
git init # Initialise an empty git repo
echo 'This is a test file that we will amend.' > test.txt # Echo some text into a new file in our repo
git status # Get the status of our new repo

You should then see something like this from Git.

# On branch master
# Initial commit
# Untracked files:
#   (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)
# test.txt

Add the file in the normal way and do our erroneous commit.

git add test.txt
git commit -m 'We added some text'

You will get a message from Git saying one file changed and one insertions. But oh, crap! We forgot to sign off! Quick Batman, add your name!

echo 'Yours, Nick' >> test.txt

We now need to add the files to be included in our next commit, just like a normal commit.

git add test.txt

And now here is the magic...

git commit --amend

Your default Git text editor will now pop up and give you a chance to amend the commit message as well, so practice editing that too. I changed mine to "We added some text, and our name".

(If Vi/Vim pops up are you are not sure what to do, edit the message, press escape, type :x and hit enter).

And that's it! No more commits about forgetting to update a timestamp or adding that all important new script - we have just one commit and our git history is clean. Don't believe me? Run git log and find out for yourself.

A Word of Warning

If you are using remotes with your repositories, you may encounter an error when pushing a branch to a remote repository. If you have already pushed the repo before you apply the amend, and then try to push again, you may get this error:

error: failed to push some refs to ''
To prevent you from losing history, non-fast-forward updates were rejected
Merge the remote changes (e.g. 'git pull') before pushing again.  See the
'Note about fast-forwards' section of 'git push --help' for details.

This is because git can't merge the changes between the two commits during a push. You have two options to resolve this problem. The first option is to do what the help message says, go a pull:

git pull origin master

Now you may need to resolve any conflicts git has found. If there are conflicts, sort them out, commit the changes (without the --amend keyword this time), and push the result. If there are no commits, you are good to push straight away.

git push origin master 

The second option is to force the commit. This is risky as you may loose changes to your repo, but is acceptable if you are sure noone else has access to the repo.

git push origin master --force

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

HTML5 Embedded Goodness from Sketchfab

Posted in Link, tagged with html5 16/10/2012 9:03 pm

We've seen some great examples of HTML5 animation, but I've just come across a service that allows you to embed your own 3D models using HTML5, just like the one below (you'll need to click it to begin).

Sketchfab is a service to publish your 3D content online. As well as being able to upload your models from tons of 3D formats, the site uses HTML5 to render the models in the brower, without the need of any proprietary plug-ins.

This is easily one of the best HTML5 services I've seen. Off the top of my head, it might actually be the first HTML5 based service I've seen at all...

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

New business, new job, new place, new site

Posted in News, tagged with careers 11/10/2012 3:23 pm

It's been a while! Almost a year since I've posted to my blog. But I've got excuses...

New Business

I am now the (co-)director of my very own start-up! Sixth Domain is working hard to create a pastoral management system for schools called Reward System. Reward System is a web based behavioural management system for schools, built on the LAMP technologies with which I'm familiar.

We already have a proven product and clients, and while there is still plenty of work to do (when isn't there?), the future is bright for our little start-up. I'll post more on Sixth Domain soon, and we hope to get a blog live there in the coming weeks.

Find out more about my business partner, John Roberts, on Twitter.

New Job

As we're bootstraping our start-up, I started a new, part-time job working for edapt, the support & protection service for teachers, (it helped that I know the CEO, a certain John Roberts). edapt is a great young company, starting a business the like of which has never been seen in this county.

I'm the Web Developmenet Manager at edapt, so got to choose the great, open-source technologes with which the site is built and maintained - most notably PyroCMS and Git VCS.

New Place

I'm now based in London for my freelance web development work. Moving from Manchester was a big decision, but I've lived in London before and it is hard to beat for opportunity and vivacity.

New Site

My last site was build on a custom PHP framework I came up with (maybe more on this soon), but as some of you might know, while it's tempting using something brand new for every project, more blogging is going to get done with something stable.

The site is powered by PyroCMS; the theme is based on my Normal theme, which utilises normalize.css and HTML5; the font is called Roboto and is being served by Google fonts; and the design is based on a colour I liked on the Kickstarter site. I designed most of the site in the browser by playing around in Google Chrome's web inspector, and the images were created with GIMP.

I'm hoping to blog more frequently about web development, my tech start-up and the web in general, so please come back soon.

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

Fluid Fader: A jQuery Plugin to Create a Fluid Image Carousel

Posted in Tutorial, tagged with jquery 30/10/2011 10:21 am

View the demo and fork on GitHub.

Fluid websites are a great method to create a responsive website. CSS can be used to create both fluid images and videos, but what about other web design elements? I was recently involved with a project that was using media queries to deliver the site over multiple platforms, and needed an image slider that was fluid. Google didn't deliver, so I made one myself!

Create Your Own Image Gallery

The code is available on GitHub, as was created as a plugin for jQuery. Once you have jQuery in your page, create your HTML and CSS as described on the demo page, and then call Fluid Fader like so to create your image gallery.


Browser Warfare

Fluid Fader work well across all browsers (yeah, including skanky old IE6), but because it needs quite a lot of CSS to make it work, I would suggest thorough testing.


Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

Media Queries Above 980 Pixels

Posted in Tutorial, tagged with css, html, media queries 25/08/2011 7:19 am

View the demo.

CSS3 media queries are a useful tool to change the layout of a web page depending on the screen size of the device viewing it. There are plenty of examples of how to create a site suitable for mobile or tablet devices using media queries (including this post on my blog), but what about screen sizes larger than the standard desktop layout width of 980 pixels?

Media queries are usually applied to a standard layout. For devices that do support media queries, the layout will be realigned to suit the device, but for those devices that don't support media queries (such as a PC using IE6), the standard desktop layout will be used.

What's the problem?

A website using the technique described so far may be viewed by a device which supports media queries (such as a PC using Firefox 6) but has a screen size much larger than 980 pixels (devices with screen sizes over 2,500 pixels in width are quite common), yet will still be viewing a site at 980 pixels wide.

Why optimize a layout for screen sizes of the average layout width and below, but not above the average?

The answer to this question is two fold. Firstly, we still want to deliver the average layout width to devices that don't support media queries (which means we must build the original layout to 980 pixels in width), and secondly, we will still want to set an upper limit to the width of our design.

We would wish to do this for usability and design decisions, such as keeping the line length of text to the optimum of 60 - 80 characters, and keeping images from being stretched too much and being distorted.

The solution

You have probably seen many layouts using the max-width media feature, but you can also target CSS to devices above a certain width using min-width. Using these two features, we can write media queries that will fit screen sizes from a top limit (in this case it is 1150 pixels, but you can set the top limit to whatever you like), down to a mobile device width of around 320 pixels, but also, as the original design (the CSS before the media queries are applied) is created to 980 pixels, users without media queries will be served the average layout size.

I have created a demo to highlight this process in action. The demo includes a button to toggle media queries on and off (as long as your browser supports JavaScript).

The media queries we need

Here is the CSS.

@media screen and (min-width: 1150px) {

    .media-queries .row .center
        width: 1116px;


@media screen and (max-width: 1149px) {

    .media-queries .row .center
        width: 96%;
        padding-left: 0;
        padding-right: 0;


@media screen and (max-width: 480px) {
    .media-queries .row .center
        padding: 0;
    .media-queries .row .center div
        float: none;
        width: 100%;
        margin: 17px 0;

As you can see, we are creating two queries with only 1 pixel in difference, the first to target screens with width of 1150 pixels and everything above (the width of 1116 pixels is due to the padding on the sides of the central div, and the .media-queries class is for toggling the effect in the demo), and the second to devices 1 pixel smaller, at 1149 pixels.

The third screen query is to align the layout to a mobile screen.

Media queries are a very powerful technique, so if just making a layout wider for larger screens is not enough to create a great design, you could use the positioning or display CSS properties to add, rearrange or reposition new or existing elements.

Using this technique makes targeting layouts to screen sizes of both above and below the average easy, so you can create the best user experience for the most users as possible.

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

Using Media Queries to Create a Responsive Web Design

Posted in Tutorial, tagged with css, html, media queries 30/06/2011 2:14 pm

One of the development priorities when I redesigned my website was to use media queries to create a layout that was responsive to as many screen sizes as possible. With the rise of mobile, we can no longer rely on 980 pixel wide layouts delivering the best experience for the various devices being used to browse the web.

Media queries are part of the CSS3 W3C recommendation and can be used to completely restyle a web page depending on the media type (such as print or screen) and media feature of the device's screen, such as orientation, resolution and colour support. For my site, I shall only be using the media type and width of the screen.

Responsive and Fluid

Many of the sites that use media queries also employ another technique to create a responsive website. Fluid layouts use relative widths (such as percentages) that only fill a portion of the screen width of the device being used, meaning content will fit to all screen sizes. A limitation of fluid layouts is that content cannot be hidden or the layout changed significantly, such as moving entire columns or changing background images.

Media queries used alongside fluid layouts provide the best of both worlds: a design that can fit to a screen size exactly, and a layout that can be realigned depending on that screen size.

Not mobile specific?

Another tactic for creating a device specific website is using device detection and redirecting to a separate dedicated site, usually on a sub-domain such as Device detection is a great method if the content of your current standard desktop site is incredibly complex, contains large file sizes or would generally be difficult to scale down for a mobile's screen.

A lingering problem with device detection is that it is very difficult to predict and detect every single device before it arrives at your site. Granted, most devices can be predicted, and media queries themselves are not supported perfectly in all browsers, but media queries will at least fit all devices that support them perfectly. For both these cases, the worst case scenario is that the user will see the desktop version of the site.

If you do decide to use device detection, what do you do about tablets? You could create another site specifically for tablets, but tablets have a wide range of screen sizes, so it is imperative that you create a fluid design that will fit to all tablet screen sizes. You will now have created three separate websites! This may be the best tactic for your digital marketing strategy, and you could certainly take steps to reuse the content and media, but this may not be within your budget.

If the content on your site is mainly copy with a small amount of images, which could be downloaded easily on a mobile Internet connection, media queries allow you to serve a design specific to the device, without any redirection or creation of multiple websites. This is the case with my blog, and certainly many other blogs and other types of website.

The Beef

Ok let's finally get down to some code. Firstly, the media queries themselves.

@media screen and (max-width: 940px) {

 /* CSS here creates two-column fluid layout */

@media screen and (max-width: 480px) {

 /* CSS here creates single-column fluid layout, realigns header */

As you can see, only the two. These are positioned right at the bottom of my CSS file.

The first query will apply the CSS for screen sizes (for media types of screen) no larger than 940 pixels. This is the width of the main content of my website; the central column of 900 pixels and padding of 20 pixels at each side.

Without media queries, the layout of my site would result in a horizontal scroll-bar for screens smaller than 940 pixels. With media queries, I have applied widths measured in percentages for the two column's containing the main content and aside, and the central column, leaving a small percentage to create a margin at both vertical edges of the page.

I also have a line of CSS to make the images in the page fluid. The image tags themselves do not have any width or height attributes, and the image files are the same width as the column that they are in. With the following line of CSS, they will become fluid and fit to the column.

.col-a article img
 width: 100%;

Devices with screen widths smaller than 940 pixels wide include the iPad tablet and HTC Desire mobile phone in portrait orientation, among many older desktop monitors and laptops.

The second query creates a single column layout. The aside at the right of the page is moved to below the main content and the header is realigned so that the logo and main navigation are on top of each other and both centrally aligned. The styles from the previous media query mentioned are also still applied, so no need to re-declare styles.

Devices with screen widths smaller than 480 pixels include the iPhone (lower than generation 4) in portrait orientation and the Blackberry Curve in the standard landscape mode.

I wish I could say that was all you had to do, but there are a few more things we must apply before our responsive site works as we want it to for as many devices as possible. Firstly, you must add a few lines of meta data to each page in the head of the document.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, minimum-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0" />
<meta name="HandheldFriendly" content="true" />
<meta name="MobileOptimized" content="width here" />

The viewport meta data tells mobile browsers that the width of the document should be the same width as the device's screen. Without this present, a device may use the width of a title or image as the maximum width, meaning a user would have to scroll horizontally.

The MobileOptimized is only used by some IE browsers, and stops the browser attempting to fit the layout of your site to the screen itself. You must specify a width for this. I chose 320 pixels, as it is a good baseline for most mobile sites. The HandheldFriendly meta data does a similar job a range of other mobile browsers.

Poly-fill for Internet Explorer

CSS3 is not implemented in IE older than version 9, but there is a great JavaScript poly-fill available on Google code that will parse your CSS and apply media queries to your site, even in IE. It works well, but has the disadvantage that your CSS is downloaded twice for anyone using IE to view your site, adding to your server load. You may to choose not to support older IE versions, as again the worst case scenario is that users will see the non-responsive desktop site.

<!--[if lt IE 9]>
<script src=""></script>

Why You Shouldn't Just Design for the iPhone

As a final point about design, I would suggest not to design for just one device. Apple's iPhone is a great way to browse the web, but the strength of media queries is that they are "device agnostic" - they respond to the device's screen size, rather than the device itself. You should test your design, and decide for which widths you should alter the layout, considering elements of your design such as line length, floats and accessibility of content.

Looking at the analytics for my site, I have had hits from devices based on the mobile operating systems of Android, iOS and SymbianOS in the last month. The mobile web is a real consideration for my site, and this trend is set to continue. Media queries are a great device for creating flexible and responsive web page layouts, and with the tips in the tutorial you should have mobile appropriate content in no time.

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

Ten Things You Don't Need to Become a Web Developer

Posted in Article, tagged with careers 31/05/2011 10:03 am

If you are wondering how to become a web developer, or have just started down the road, chances are that you will have come across several factors that you feel may block your entry into the industry.

You may think you don't have the correct equipment, contacts or know-how to become a web development professional. Have you heard people say things like "you need a Mac to develop website properly" or "you must be passionate about design"?

Well, you won't find any of that here. I've been there and come out of the other side with a career in web development.

Clichés are ripe within the web development industry, and they do more harm than good. In an industry where many people contribute their development time for free to open-source projects, it's much better to try to include a wide variety of people, rather than a select few who, to some, may have the cream of the crop equipment or the contacts that money can't buy.

So here is a run down of the things that are not essential to becoming a web developer, viable alternatives to them, and advice to try to get you closer to your goals.

1. Any Apple products

The ubiquitous Apple Mac haunts the portfolio of almost every digital agency. If they're not right there plastered with the agency's work, they're being waved about by the staff or just sneaking in at the edge of an office shot.

No doubt, Mac's are easy to use and aesthetically pleasing, and do lend an air of creativity to a business, but they are expensive, and are certainly not essential to building a website. The computer you are reading this article on is almost certainly powerful enough to build a web site.

I created this site on a PC, with the free tools Notepad++, FileZilla FTP client and XAMPP development environment (for server side programming languages).

2. Any Adobe products

Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard design package for designing websites, and along with Illustrator and Dreamweaver, Adobe's Creative Suite is a very full featured design package. But again, it's expensive, and no web development job means no web development money.

There are some great, free graphic design packages, that, while they might not pack in as many features as other paid for packages, are well up to the job of creating media for the web. GNOME distribute free software, including image manipulation software GIMP and the vector drawing tool Inkscape, and are well worth checking out.

3. An encyclopedic knowledge of everything web

I strongly believe that part of my job is to keep up with current web technologies and standards. Things change so fast that if keeping up isn't one of your priorities, then quite soon you will be less able to deliver the best project work you can.

The flip-side of this is that if you are interested in becoming a web programmer, you will not have to know every technology, every trick and every application - most web developers still don't. Being positive, adaptable and willing to learn will more than make up for gaps in knowledge.

4. An obsession with web standards

This is a contentious one. Without web standards the web would be much worse off than it is today, and future advancement would be hampered without a clear road-map. Web standards are here to stay and will continue to help developers deliver cross-browser web applications.

However, if you have validated your mark-up to W3C standards and find that you have some errors that you can't overcome, don't worry. At the time of writing this article, I checked and by the direct input method of the W3C validator and both came back with errors (Amazon had 470!), and people still blog on Tumblr and buy stuff from Amazon.

As an admission, the mark-up of my homepage comes back with one error, due to the tracking code of Google Analytics. If the choice is between obsessing over standards and knowing what's going down on my website, I'll take the latter.

5. A "passion" for design

As a web developer you will no doubt have to do some design at some point, from creating a whole web design to adding a new page following a template, but selling yourself as something you are not is a bad idea, and has the potential to ruin any interview.

Do you really think about design twenty-four hours a day? Or do you have much more specific skills that would be of interest to an employer?

6. Any friends within the industry

When I got my first job as a developer, I didn't know anyone in the industry. I didn't even really know of anyone. I read a few blogs, but I certainly didn't have any contacts.

This is a bad position to be in, but just goes to show that a concerted effort in creating a CV and going through the usual channels of job sites and recruitment consultants pays off (thanks Fiona at Perfect Marketing People!).

7. To be social media genius

I probably had about thirty followers on Twitter at the time of my employment and certainly wasn't going to get a job off any of my mates on Facebook. A social media presence shows that you are digitally inclined and is fully recommended (and come on, it is free), but being a "social media maven" or whatever they call themselves these days certainly isn't necessary.

8. To be top of Google

Again, I don't think my website was anywhere for any good search terms on Google (which has changed recently), but I came number one for my name. Just being findable online is a massive help to any bid getting into a digital career.

9. Expensive hosting

If you are going to take the plunge and create your own, hosted website with your own domain (and I advise you do), you don't need a dedicated server to do it on. You get what you pay for in web hosting, but there are very cheap options for starting out, making it so cheap that you'd be mad not to make your own site.

If you do want a free option, create a blog on Tumblr or and focus on creating great content.

10. A degree (in computer science)

Degrees are great. They are instant proof that you can be committed to a project and can apply yourself, and will more than likely help you get an interview. But they are not essential for a job as a web dev. I have a degree that is almost completely unrelated to web development (Physics and Philosophy - I did a bit off C++), but this didn't stop me entering the profession. The thing that got me my first job was experience.

The digital creative industries are mostly quite new; there are very few people who can boast 10 years of experience as a web developer (although there certainly are a few). Also, most agencies will want someone who can, at least in part, hit the ground running when they start.

This means that someone with relevant experience, who are relatively rare, will more likely be offered a position than someone without experience - degree or no degree. But how are you supposed to get a job with no experience, and experience with no job?

Bonus! Three Things You Will Need!

1. Experience

As I've already mentioned, making your own site is a great way to gain practice, experience and exposure. A blog is a good place to start, and creating helpful content within a certain niche will help with career focus and SEO within your site.

There are so many free resources online that you should start to teach yourself development as soon as possible. It may seem like a daunting task, but you will be able to put what you have learnt into practice very quickly.

What ever you do, make sure you have an about page with some information about your skills, interests in your spare time and that you are looking for employment, and an easy to find email address so people can get in touch.

2. Experience

If you've created yourself a website, why not create one for someone else? There are plenty of charities that will appreciate someone creating them a website. Chances are you will have to take charity gigs for free, but at your stage of career, experience is worth more than money - you can't buy your way into a job.

You should also ask around your friends and family, and their friends and colleagues. Spread the word that you are prepared to help create a website for someone at a reasonable rate, or just help someone maintain a current website. Getting those URLs on your CV is vital.

3. Experience

Noticing a theme here?

If you've created you own site and got some more experience through charities or friends, why not get involved in an open source project? GitHub is a great network full of people who code collaboratively. If you see a project that is of interest to you, why not fork it and add some extra functionality? Or, you could download a project and create a working demo, with blog posts explaining the finer details as you go.

Whatever you do, make sure you get some experience on your CV. You may hit the jackpot and walk straight into a job from college or university, but if you are struggling, or keep getting passed over for people with more experience, it's time to knuckle down and get some serious coding done!

Oh, and attention to detail is critical. All your hard work may be in vain if you miss a detail as basic as getting a link wrong, so check those URLs on your CV.

And then double check them.

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

How To Use The Div Element in HTML5

Posted in Tutorial, tagged with html5, web standards 29/04/2011 9:10 am

Since the days we broke free from tables to structure our web designs, one HTML element has been the most useful and widely used. The div HTML element is almost guaranteed to appear in the markup of any website that has been built to separate content from design and to current web standards. But standards move on; and the future is not looking rosy for the div.

Take a look at the draft specification for HTML5 and there is our old friend the div. But wait, what does that say below?

"Authors are strongly encouraged to view the div element as an element of last resort, for when no other element is suitable. Use of the div element instead of more appropriate elements leads to poor accessibility for readers and poor maintainability for authors."

That's right; you're being told (more or less) to stop using the div. There are far more semantic elements to choose from when you are marking-up your content. Are you creating a blog post? Use the article element. Are you adding content that is only partially related to your main content? Use the aside tag. The div tag has no meaning at all, which, when authoring a document, is not helpful at all to the reader.

But it's not the end for the div, as it can still be used to group content. For example:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <meta charset="utf-8" />
  <title>Types of Markup Language</title>
  <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="did-you-know.css" />
    <h2>Markup for Authoring Web Pages</h2>
  <p>You're reading a page made in HTML right now!</p>
  <div class="did-you-know">
    <p>HTML was invented by Tim Berners-Lee (among others), who also helped create HTTP and URL's.</p>
    <p>Tim Berners-Lee now leads the W3C, an organisation that helps develop web standards.</p>
    <h2>Markup for Creating Machine Readable Data</h2>
  <p>RSS feeds are an example of commonly used XML.</p>

The div in this example is used to style a part of the document that explains extra facts directly related to the content of the section. (The content is not appropriate for a blockquote, nor is it digressing enough from the section content to use an aside.)

The HTML5 specification goes quite deeply into "sectioning content", or how to hierarchically structure your HTML document. I won't go into it too deeply, but this essentially means a properly sectioned document will break up the document by thematically grouping the content into distinct sections. You can even have more than one h1 element (as many as you need) in one web page.

For properly sectioning content, we can use the section and article elements. If we again look at the HTML5 specification, we find more advice on the div in the section section of the document.

"The section element is not a generic container element. When an element is needed for styling purposes or as a convenience for scripting, authors are encouraged to use the div element instead."

Let's look at another example of how we may use a div. Take the markup below.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <meta charset="utf-8" />
  <title>Types of Markup Language</title>
  <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="border.css" />
<div class="border">
    <p>HTML was invented by Tim Berners-Lee (among others), who also helped create HTTP and URL's.</p>
    <p>RSS feeds are an example of commonly used XML.</p>
    <p>XHTML was created to be more interoperable with other data formats and is more strict in its syntax than HTML.</p>
  <h1>Learn more</h1>
  <p>You can learn more about how to script HTML at <a href=""></a>.</p>

This is a similar example as before, except this time the sections are much shorter. Imagine we want to create a design of the three sections in a single row (probably by floating them to the left and giving them a width) within a border, with an aside in the same row but floated right. The easiest way to achieve this is by wrapping the sections in a div. I would suggest that it would make no sense to a reader if we used another section element, as we just want to style the section of content, rather than group it thematically.

As a general rule, I would suggest to consider using a div element if the section you are wrapping does not have a header (h1, h2 etc.). This is because headers should be used to title thematic groups and introduce a reader to the section of content. If your section of content does not have a sensible header, then it's probably not a thematic group of content.

(As a quick note, the HTML5 specification is still in its draft stage, so some of this may change in the future.)

Authoring HTML is subjective. In most cases there is no single correct answer. Even the examples I have given here could be marked-up differently and still make sense to a reader, but I hope I have shown you that the div element is still a useful part of HTML that can be used in an effective way to achieve your designs.

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

Website Redesign Inspiration

Posted in News, tagged with web design 25/03/2011 1:18 pm

My site has been live for nearly two years now, and so I thought it was time to give it some attention and redesign it. I ply my trade as a web developer, not designer, so was tempted to get someone else to mock up my site, but I like a challenge, and wanted to stamp my own style on my site.


Where to find inspiration? Most design projects will include some sort of brief or branding guidelines, but when you're working on your own projects, you start with a blank canvas. The inspiration for the colour scheme of the site came from my 60's reissue Fender Stratocaster. It's a Mexican copy of an all time classic, but it still has those great strat looks.

Brown and beige aren't exactly sexy colours, but I thought they would work well in contrast with a bright green. Chris Spooner's blog uses beiges, and I really liked this shot on Dribbble by the Dribbble man himself, Dan Cederhorn.

I decided on orange for the link colour, and to keep the main navigation and links very similar to make it clear where the links are on the page.


The layout of the site is standard for a blog-type site. The most important element to include was the elevator pitch on the home page ("A web developer based in Manchester..." etc.). These are now very common on professionals website's, my last design included one, and they are a great way to communicate what you offer to your visitors. There is a great article from Yoast about summing up your business as succinctly as possible, which explains how an elevator pitch can help your SEO.


I'm a developer so I have to write a bit about the development!

The site is built with HTML5 (I've written a post about how to do that) and a little CSS3. This means that my site will look different in older browsers; the large headers at the top of the pages will not have the text-shadow effect, but I'd rather include the effect for people with up-to-date browsers than use images, or not include the effect at all.

The back end of the site is running on my own PHP framework, and the beginnings of my own CMS. This means that some of the time I could be using writing for the blog ends up being used on actually building it, but its a great learning exercise and interesting to see how much functionality can be included in a CMS.

Now, if I'd got round to building the commenting functionality for blog posts, you'd be able to tell me what you think, but for now you'll have to make do with telling me via Twitter, @npyett.

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett

Four Things You Need to Make a Site (Work) in HTML5

Posted in Tutorial, tagged with css, hmtl5, javascript, web standards 26/02/2011 10:13 am

This site is made with HTML5, but without a few little extras, the styling and layout would break in all except the most up-to-date browsers. For example, in all versions of IE (except IE 9, which is still currently in beta) the CSS applied to new HTML5 tags would not work, and in Firefox 3.6, the layout would not look the same as in Chrome.

Here is a quick list of things you'll need to get around these problems. None of them are hard to apply, and all the really hard work has been done by other people. Bonus!

1. The New Doctype

From the W3C's working draft of HTML5, finally a doctype you can remember! Without the doctype, certain browsers will enter quirks mode (in order to maintain backwards compatibility for pages designed with standards that are not the W3C's) and you have basically no chance of getting you web page to look right.

<!DOCTYPE html>

2. A Tag Reference

Knowledge is power, and so W3Schools HTML5 tag reference is a good place to start. How you interpret which tag is right for which part of your site is more or less up to you, but remember, the tags are to be used to give semantic meaning or context to the information in your page. Some are more obvious to apply than others.

At this point, you site will probably work with Safari, Opera and Chrome. So yeah, none of the big boys. The next two points include code that you can apply to your page, and are included (with loads of other stuff) in the fantastic HTML5 boilerplate, but if you want a simpler solution you can just include them yourself.

3. A CSS Reset

As mentioned before, even Firefox has trouble with HTML5; the new tags are inline elements by default, so applying display: block to them will fix most of the problems. A good CSS reset will do this and more, and is a great base from which to start coding.

4. The HTML5 Shiv

Now you've got your site working in modern browsers, you need to give IE 6-8 a kick up the backside. These versions of IE do not recognise the new tags at all, and will do all sorts of strange things with them (as they would for any other tag they do not recognise). For this site, IE will decide to push all the content out of the header and into the white content section below. Very annoying.

However, if I include Remy Sharp's (and Jon Neal's, with a little help from Sjoerd Visscher) brilliant HTML5 Shiv (or is it shim?), all my troubles are over. What this does is inform your browser that the world has moved on, and that other versions of HTML have come into being. You're basically having to tell a browser how to do its job, and creating the element in the browser's DOM.

<!--[if lt IE 9]>
<script src=""></script>

All done. Now go! Make a site in HTML5! Or HTML. Or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days.

Sloppily typed by Nick Pyett