theUsefulArts

web design + creative technology

Services Provided

The Useful Arts provide a range of website design services. I provide 'full stack' web development, from research and planning, information architecture, user experience design, data protection, accessibility, visual design, front end development, back end development, hosting, monitoring, backups, and ongoing support. We can also provide domain registration on your behalf, and advise on email and mailinglist hosting.

I am not beholden to using the latest technologies, rather I work with the correct choice for your audience requirements, my goal being able to produce a fast, compact and useful website using the well established tools and best practices - though I am always happy to try something new.

Research and Planning

When The Useful Arts undertake a project I initially enter into a discovery phase where I assess your project objectives and work out the best way to achieve these.

Information Architecture

Based upon my research I work out a pattern to best structure the contents of your website, with a focuse on how your content is organised and accessed to best make sense to your audience.

User Experience Design

I look at specific functional user needs for the website and how these may be best achieved, closely related to the information architecture this also looks at more advanced functional interfaces, for example basket and checkout processes.

Data Protection

This process involves taking a close look at what personal information, if any, you may be looking to gather from your audience and making sure that it is done in a way which is compliant with appropriate legislation, such as the GDPR.

Accessibility

I assess your audiences needs in terms of accessing the site, and make note of specific needs your audience group may have, which I integrate into the visual design. I will advise on how your content is produced to best fit your audiences needs.

I also look at the differing needs of audiences in different context, for instance on mobile vs laptop or desktop.

Visual Design

Rather than starting with how you website looks I develop visual designs as a 'working model' based upon the content and structure of your website, built as a working website, so that as I develop the design I can also make sure that transitions through the site and processes within it make sense, focusing on the content which is the most important part of your site.

Front End Development

I build sites to the latest best practices in Web Development, using Semantic HTML that are optimised for accessibility, with the visual design implemented using CSS, and more advanced features developed using progressive enhancement techniques applied with simple, robust, JavaScript frameworks.

Back End Development

I develop sites on top of a variety of back end frameworks and Content Management Systems, including my own Critter CMS. I currently maintain sites for clients that use Django, Wordpress, Drupal as well as bespoke applications built in JavaScript, PHP, Python, Perl and Java. I am adept at working with and customising existing platforms and integrating with third party APIs.

Source Control

All components of your website, excluding data and passwords etc, are kept in private source control repositories hosted by GitHub. This means I have a history of all changes made to your websites design and functionality whilst I am working with you, and can see what changes have been made when, and why, easily.

Hosting

I provide hosting of our clients websites on on a range of dedicated servers which are leased from a range of providers. Our main hosting provided are Simply Hosting , and I also provision servers from Rapid Switch and Scaleway

As standard I host your site on one of my shared servers, with limited, secure, access to only to me. I can also provide dedicated private servers if projects require them, and can provide maintenance for those. Equally I can install your final application on a third party system.

My servers are optimised to serve your site in the fastest way possible, using the latest protocols and security as necessary.

Monitoring

I provide 24/7 server monitoring, security monitoring, and testing of your website, and as necessary to specific functions of your website. I use this to make sure your site has the highest possibly availability and to deal with issues as quickly as possible if things do go wrong, as well as making sure that the hosting environments are kept up to date. 

As it is just me looking after things I do my best to be pro-active about issues rather than reacting, to make sure I'm not inundated with requests when things go wrong. I probably know your website is down before you do, but it's always worth checking if in doubt.

Backup

All of our managed servers are backed up, nightly, to multiple locations, including snapshots of all databases uses to drive the backend of your website. Backups are stored on secured systems away from the live servers to make sure integrity is kept to a maximum.

Support

I offer a variety of support levels suited to your organisations needs, from ad-hoc through to fixed retainers, helping you keep your site up to date and to add and extend functionality.

Domain Registration

I use Gandi as our preferred domain registration and can register domains on your behalf, or you can delegate us control of your domain, or I can manage your existing domain through your current registrar. I also run my own name servers for when there are more complex domain requirements.

Email Hosting and Mailing Lists

I do not provide email hosting or Mailing List management, instead preferring to use third parties as suited to a projects needs. In house I use Google G-Suite for email hosting, and Mailchimp for mailing list management, and these are used by a wide range of my clients.