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Site History

Take a look at how this site has evolved hasn’t always looked like this

Whenever you go to a designer’s website, they almost always give you a detailed history of themselves, their work, and who their inspirations may or may not be. I’ve noticed that, as you read around their sites, invariably they don’t show you the evolution of their own website designs and functionalities; and I find this quite odd.

I didn’t become a designer overnight. It took years of work, practice, mistakes and more work to get to where I am today – and there’s still more to learn and to teach.

Looking back on DataMouse, the original site was awful! But I vividly remember thinking at the time that it was fantastic and a great way to showcase my talents. How little did I know!

Let me take you for a walk down the memory lane of this site, so you can see how far the DataMouse site has come.

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  • Version 1 - Launched with a fizzle

    V1 – Sep 05

    Can you tell I was just starting to play with Flash?

    What sort of things should a web designer and database developer’s site have? The kind of things that I’d be looking for are:

    • A showcase of previous work
    • Testimonials from customers
    • The site to show that they are capable of creating a great web layout

    Looking back, I don’t think that the first version really tried to convey any of these things to my visitors. And, worse still, the Flash elements were not compressed. So the page loading time was around 16 seconds!

    It was time to change to a new version.

  • Version 2 - An online store and some more features

    V2 – Oct 06

    Adding some functionality now with a download area

    Now this is getting much better- at least functionality-wise. A download area was added to the site using osCommerce as the base source code.

    Also, the Flash header was done away with, and I added a compressed Flash navigation area instead. This allowed me to have more links within the header. Also, there was a forum added to the site.

    Now for the bad bits:

    * The osCommerce download area was unsecured. This meant that hackers were able to get in and wreck my site

    * The forum used a flat-file storage system, rather than a database. This meant that spambots were able to continually link to warez, porn and other inappropriate sites

    * The Flash header was much better – but, if I needed to add a new link, was a pain to alter as it was a fixed file (no XML)

    No doubt this was a vast improvement on version 1; but it still left lots of things lacking and my site was open for attack.

  • Version 3 - May have looked web 2.0, but needed something more under the hood

    V3 – Jan 08

    Now we’re cooking on web 2.0 gas

    In January 2008, I launched version 3 of the website. This was much, much better than the previous two versions and featured some great updates:

    * A blog area powered by WordPress

    * A database-driven forum

    * Security fixes to the blog and download areas

    * Javascript navigation control

    The biggest change (for me, at least) was the moving away from static HTML towards modular PHP. This meant that I could create the common elements, such as footer and header, and store these as individual files. Then, if I needed to update a link, I need only change one piece of code in one file.

    Previously, this would have had to be done on every page – all 2,000 of them!

    The site was still very slow loading though – mainly due to the construction still being based on tables. Tables take (at least) twice as long to load, as web browsers read the table then load it. I needed to move to CSS.

  • Version 4 - Starting to go the right way

    V4 – Apr 09

    CSS and White Space

    Looking back, I find it hard to imagine why I ever started designing without learning CSS. At the time, I thought tables were easy to use and I could create great sites with fixed positions to hold my wonderful graphics in place.

    However, I didn’t realise the pitfalls of tables – mainly their load times. Also, the upkeep the structure of a table-based site is a real pain. If I wanted to make the header area bigger, for example, I would need to recode the table in every page. Version 4 sorted that out.

    Despite the great new look and cool javascript effects, the site felt like it lacked character. It didn’t feel like me.

    In the end, version 4 has been the shortest-lived site style, which made way for the latest version in December 09.

  • Version 5 - jQuery and CSS

    V5 – Nov 09

    Comic Styling with CSS

    Originally, this version was going to be the largest relaunch of the site ever.

    I designed a new mascot character, focused on the green palette for the site’s main colour and had some liberal jQuery effects too.

    However, the site just didn’t seem very “me”. It was too comic, lacked seriousness and was more of a show of what I can do rather than any kind of functionality.

  • Version 6 - Current version with jQuery and CSS

    V6 – Dec 09

    Full CSS and Web 2.0 Styling

    I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a big move from version 1!

    The current design uses CSS, PHP, jQuery effects and is built in modules – making much easier to maintain.

    The blog utilises WordPress and the new store is a completely reworked osCommerce store.

  • Version 7 - The WordPress interface

    V7 – Oct 11

    A completely new direction

    After working with green as the site base colour for 5-years, I decided rebrand DataMouse with a completely new interface, logo design and also the latest technology for the site too.

    The result is the best site yet; not only for the user, but also for me as an administrator – I can edit, create and maintain all content without coding fresh pages each time there’s something new.

    By using heavily modifying WordPress to act as the base for the site content, it allows me to concentrate on creating a great user experience for the site interface.

So there you have it has gone from a poorly designed, poorly thought out hobby site to a fully fledged CSS and jQuery driven project.

And, no doubt, it will continue to evolve. This is not the last release and I’m always looking for advice on what you would like to see on the site.

Drop me a mail using the contact form at the top of the screen and I’ll see what I can add in (or remove) to make even better for you.

Take care.

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