Category Archives: websites

A New Name for Website Cookies

Cookies. The kind websites keep telling us about how they store them and what they do.

According to Wikipedia, they are:

small piece(s) of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while a user is browsing a website. When the user browses the same website in the future, the data stored in the cookie can be retrieved by the website to notify the website of the user’s previous activity.

But why call them cookies?

Well, nobody seems to know – at least there is a lot of debate about it.

So if we were tasked with rebranding cookies, so that they had a little more meaning what would the alternatives be?

How about a reference stub or just stub.

The part of a check, receipt, ticket, or other document torn off and kept as a record.

If you were tasked with renaming cookies, what would you call them? Leave a comment, or tweet with the hastag #newnameforcookies

Native app or web app?

The question of whether to have a native app or a web app may not have come up yet, but it seems to be one that a lot of businesses are currently thinking about.

LinkedIn recently launched their new iPad app, and 95% of it has been built in HTML5:

The Financial Times decided to ditch their native app for a web app and have had some promising results:

There are many articles on this: and and: and although twice as many people access mobile sites compared to native apps: the conversion rate between them are interesting (Apple has a higher conversion rate for native apps, Android is about the same, and Blackberry is lower).

Although from the technical point of view, an app can be largely be made to just run in a browser, the question comes down to support, and usage.

It would be really interesting to get your take on the situation. You can leave a comment below or reply to me on Twitter @paulrandall.

Using SVG Icons

With high-PPI devices such as the iPhone 4 and the new iPad, great resolution is changing how we think of the pixel. Increased resolution means that traditional pixel-based icons won’t be able to take advantage of this, so people are looking for vector-based solutions.

Because of this, more people are talking about SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphics. These XML-based images can store vector data, and so can be upscaled. Other options include creating special icon fonts, such as Pictos. I prefer the idea of using SVG over font solutions because the font method is just like using Wingdings; plus it adds non semantic letters to your code, even if you can hide them.

I was aware of SVG back in around 2006 during my college course. I naively thought at the time that was little point in learning about them, as I couldn’t see the advantages. If you want to see my first creation 6 years ago – this was it (if you view the image separately the text should zoom in):

So this weekend I decided to go back to my college work and create some SVG by hand. Luckily, for more complex designs, you can use something like Inkscape but I thought it would be interesting to hand code the icons I wanted to create.

First I started by drawing some very simple shapes on an 8×8 grid:

I then created a very simple XML file, and started adding the paths:

Note: The M stands for move, the L stands for line and the Z closed the point. That is as far as I got, but suffice to say that more complex icons won’t be created in this way. You can see the final version here:

For the next part, I used this post as a tutorial: and the traditional process of displaying a background image. I ended up using an empty span because I found it easier to play around with, but as you can see from David’s tutorial this doesn’t have to be the case.


Seeing the browser support for SVGs, support is varied, but for progressive designs it is worth considering in your next designs. Do have a play, experiment and look into the new ways of constructing sites, because it is an interesting time to create websites.

See the finished article: (and make sure you upscale/downsize it to see the full effect)


Site Redesign

Not wanting to dignify this hack-of-a-theme as a redesign, it it, of sorts.

With a predicted increase in traffic soon-ish the objective to make the content a little more legible (than black-on-red) and to actually display some of my work, which for the meantime means hooking in a Dribbble gallery thing.

But as my sole presence on the way, it by no means reflected myself as a designer (and sometimes developer).

Work has begun on the new site, which you’ll probably see on dribbble in the near future.

Twitter kills productivity

Note: I was sent a link to by Able Parris. The site displays the top 10 URLs dynamically from ad/design/tech tweeters every 15 minutes. This could be the answer to those wanting to keep usage to a minimum, yet not miss out on the good stuff!

Could somebody just make an app to summarise every day what everyone I follow is talking about on Twitter?
Twitter is a passive consumption activity. If someone could condense all the best bits, and remove cat/food pictures, I’d be interested!
As brilliant as it is. Twitter kills productivity. No question. I think I’m going to try a week cold turkey during business hours.
Saying that, we should rename smoke breaks ‘social breaks’. That way we could hop onto Twitter and Facebook every so often during the day.

A couple of recent tweets that got me thinking about how we use Twitter (and Facebook).

Now I am a massive Twitter fan. My account was created over 4 years ago, and I have tweeted nearly 4000 times. I love using, but I do realise that it kills productivity. The issue is that Twitter is so real-time that you end up missing out on the good conversations when you catch up with it later on in the day. The interaction you get and the accessibility with members of the web community is something you just can’t get with email or IM. Everyone is so open and approachable on Twitter. That’s why I love it.

Having said that, sometimes the signal to noise ratio can be pretty high. With Instagram pics of cats, food, old signs and everything you care to name of it can be hard to find the nuggets in the masses of tweets. In the evening I tend to skim read about 200-300 tweets and favourite a fair few to read in more depth in the morning.

I follow some pretty prolific tweeters and I really have no idea how they manage to get any work done! But I guess they say everything in moderation, so I might try a ‘social break’ and pop on it a couple of times a day for 5 minutes.

I’ve never really asked this before, but I’m interested to find out other peoples Twitter habits, and how they manage their usage.

The Merits of WordPress

After talking recently about the pros and cons of building your own CMS with a colleague, and especially the time that goes into building one. Is it really worth it?

Now I must state that as primarily a designer, the developer role doesn’t come as easy to me. The main reason I use WordPress on this blog is that is was so quick and easy to set up.

However with speed being a major factor with mobile web, Google rankings and the complexity of WordPress, I’m pretty sure that a billy-basic CMS would load a lot quicker. But do people really care?

Reality probably means that I’ll stick with WordPress, upgrade to v3 and be able to write blog posts like I am now on my iPhone.

So, have you ever written your own CMS, or wanted to, or do you think that off-the-shelf systems are more than capable?

The Constant Redesigner

This site has, it seems always remained in a state of flux. In it’s current ‘version 3′ guise I have never been 100% happy with it.

The many redesigns are usually due to me getting bored with the site. My skills and design knowledge have improved and a personal brand redesign along the way have changed the look also.

Part of the problem comes with a lack of purpose for the site. Although a designer I don’t have much of a portfolio on the website – mainly because I am currently in full-time employment and do not show any work I do during office hours. The site also isn’t a promotional tool either so it only exists to be a place to blog and host experiments.

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