Happy Co-existence

“You should get together to make sure there is a happy co-existence.”

That one phrase, I’ve heard twice in as many weeks. It’s referring to events and the running of them.


Let’s give an example of Bob and Sarah who run an event each. Each event is focussed around mobile apps. They’re both in the same city and their events are at different times of the month.

The same  example could be used with some minor adjustments. Bob and Sarah run an event each (large conference) focussed on the web design and development industry. They’re both in the same city but the events are at different times of the year.

A Co-existence

The statement was more of a question than a statement in all fairness, as if, the events would cause some kind of unhappy feelings between two people and have nothing to do with the events themselves, their content and the attendees. I’ve been going to and running events for long enough now that you cannot stop new events from starting.

It’s good to see them starting up, it shows that people have the passion to do something for their industry and niche likes. Why wouldn’t events ‘happily co-exist’? A risk of cannibilisation has been used if the events are meeting up regularly and have the same attendees.

I completely disagree, each event would be different with different content and organisers. That in itself would keep them different enough to make them both last. It doesn’t even matter if they had vaguely the same content – the fact that people are meeting up to share stories, questions and problems is enough to keep meetups healthy.

And everything else negative surrounding it is personal to the organisers. If they feel unhappy about the situation, they’re the ones not having a happy co-existance with the other organisers’ for whatever reason.

The huge increase of events around the UK, both large and small, show that events can run happily together…


The Apps/Services I Pay For…

Subscription payments models are becoming more and more popular for apps and services. I can remember a day when there was no such thing on the web but now, I’m finding that more and more services and apps are introducing subscriptions models for their services. This is something I whole-heartedly agree with as monthly micro-payments (less than £50) are easy to manage. Notice that I didn’t say ‘pay for’, I mean they’re easier to manage as in purchase/cancel or put on hold.

Apps/Services I Currently Pay For

  • Dropbox – I’m not sure I could live without this now
  • Spotify – The most affordable way to listen to music you want all day
  • Hosting
  • Domain Names
  • Google Apps for Business
  • Netflix
  • BufferApp

Apps/Services I used to pay for but cancelled

  • Treehouse – Didn’t get the whole Blue Peter vibe
  • Github – Wasn’t using it, however, I’m on the verge of buying again

Apps/Service I would pay for if they let me

  • Twitter – $5 a month and I’d *easily* do it
  • Codecademy – They’ve taken investment, I think their product is so strong they could have started charging ages ago

How about you?

What are the things that you pay for?

Jessica Hische

A nice little video from Vimeo interviewing Jessica Hische about work/life.

Designing Personal, a WordPress blogging theme.

Having joined Obox in July of 2012 and working through the current roadmap, it was almost inevitable that at some point I’d be designing a WordPress blogging theme.

It’s not my first, I’d already designed a theme called Old Post back in 2010/11 for the guys. That was a blogging theme but it was very very niche. It was designed when tumblogging was a ‘thing’. That quickly passed as most things do in the blogging world.

Over the latter months of 2012 I spent a great deal of time looking at data at Obox and we prepared a product roadmap going forwards by looking at our existing theme library and areas where we wanted to focus on our expand into.

Blogging is still real

Yes, people still blog, if you could call it that. People write and articulate their thoughts on a daily basis. It might have evolved somewhat with things like svbtle, Medium and now Facebook/Quora adding to the blogging mix but in my opinion there’s nothing like a home of your own.

For most, writing your thoughts is still a very personal experience. Hence, where Personal’s name came from. I was also inspired by the Julie and Julia movie and taking a blogging theme back to basics.

Planning the theme

Our Principles blogging theme had previously done really well at Obox, so using it as a base for features was a good place to start. Releasing a theme which just gave the ability to blog would be far too restrictive so adding in a few extra features like Principles’ would make it more appealing.

Blogging Theme

I jumped in to my sketch book and began writing down the page templates which would make up the theme;

  • Blog – Full Width / Left Sidebar / Right Sidebar
  • Full Width Homepage
  • Portfolio
  • Portfolio 2 Column, 3 Column and 4 Column layouts
  • Archive

With the minimum amount of page templates defined it was then easy to start sketching out wireframes in my notebook – nothing can beat a pencil and paper for quick wireframes. I already had an idea in my mind of the basic layout for the homepage. I wanted to utilise a large featured image or video for each post and for it to still look great when it was a simple text title.

I’d sold myself on having the themes homepage full width only, however, after chatting with the guys we realised we couldn’t limit a customers choice that much so I had to swallow my pride and stop being over protective of the design (more on that later).

I went from the quick sketches I had in my notebook to greyscale wire-framing in Photoshop, I’ve shown a few examples of this on dribbble and it enables me to visualize content blocks (text/imagery) without defining the font and images themselves. I believe starting a with a particular font and chosen group of images can move the design in a direction it doesn’t necessarily need or want to go in.

Once I’d completed the homepage and was confident in the greyscale wire-frame, I moved on to doing the same with a single post template. The single post page with no sidebar would follow the full-width look of the homepage. By decreasing the width of the content block, I was able to make the content more readable by having around 11-13 words per line. These two templates would forge the basis of the other templates so it was as good a place as any to get those ‘signed off’.

Fonts and Imagery

Easy reading was the goal of the design with a whimsical lead font for the logo. I jumped over to Lost Type Co. who have an incredible range of unique fonts and saw Lavanderia which was pretty similar to what was in my head. Edmondsans also stood out and using them together was pretty solid. However… as with most things at Obox we have to constantly think about compatibility. Lavanderia and Edmondsands would be too restrictive for our international customers so I moved the fonts over to Rochester for the logo font and PT Serif for the paragraphs, mixing in PT Sans for the titles.

The imagery I can only describe by showing you below, once I’d found the type of imagery it was only a matter of searching more and finding good examples for videos on Vimeo.

Personal Blogging Theme

Portfolio and Portfolio Layouts

I had written down some information in my notebook of the things I’d personally want on my own portfolio including;

  • Image slider
  • Portolio item title
  • Portfolio category
  • Portfolio item description
  • The ability to link to a live piece of work

I gave more space to the portfolio imagery and less space to the portfolio description and a nice little way to cycle through the images in the slider.

WordPress Blogging Theme

The size of the space given to the portfolio imagery lends itself well to both portrait and landscape imagery.

A WordPress Blogging Theme

Working on something as personal as Personal was a great experience, especially when working directly with the team that we have at Obox. Releasing it in to the wild is quite nerve-wrecking. The success criteria of a theme design is sales, so the proof would be in the pudding. So far so good and it’s great to see what people have started doing with it. You can now get personal with your blogging again.