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Projects - clients who've gained from my experience

Last revision: 14th September 2012

Tesco

Tesco web site

Four and a half years of contracts for 2008 / 2012, working on the retailing giants online presence. Creating unique hand-coded solutions for the Tesco branded sites, reviewing the accessibility of existing developments, and improving page load times for the highest hit pages.

  • Redesign of the Tesco homepage using modern methodologies. Twice now.
  • Full implementation of Google Analytics and Omniture SiteCatalyst.
  • Coding and implementation of the new Store Locator using Microsoft's Virtual Earth. A heady mix of XML data served by XSLT & JSON called via Ajax. The usual ASP, XHTML, JavaScript and CSS with a splash of jQuery too. And yes there's an Accessible Store Locator too. That stretched my skills nicely.
  • Light-weight accessible, progressively enhanced, JavaScript coding of a multitude of widgets: FAQ section, accessible tabs, global navigation drop downs, banner cross faders, AJAX page updates. A very wide list.
  • Accessible web development in XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript to W3C Web Standards.
  • Producing unique pages for the marketing department while maintaining existing areas to high standards and tight deadlines.
  • Implementing online video and banners utilising HTML5, Flash and JavaScript.
  • XML and XSLT work via the Interwoven CMS.
  • Improved the accessibility of existing pages.

RNIB accessibility award

RNIB Scotland Go! Shop Awards 2010 - Website winner tesco.com Tesco's won an award for accessibility in 2010, not all me obviously, but I did develop the front-end modules (HTML & CSS) for the homepage and favourites. Alongside some of the JavaScript widgets.

Eight Scottish businesses have won prizes in the special award scheme to highlight companies that do most to help blind and partially sighted people.

The Go Shop Awards scheme - launched by the Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland, in partnership with Caledonian Business School with Glasgow Caledonian University - aims to encourage improvements that would make shopping, travel, leisure, banking and even web-surfing more accessible to people with sight loss.

Tesco.com home page optimisations

Optimised the existing homepage. In 2008 it took 3.37 seconds to download. Now a very healthy 0.661 seconds (14/09/2012) (source: Pingdom Tools). Understandably click-through has improved dramatically too.

Pingdom results
Date Bytes In Threads Objects Load Time Description
17/01/08 602 KB 2 41 3.2s Before any changes
27/05/08 492 KB 2 41 3.4s Optimised existing images
21/10/08 331 KB 2 33 0.8s Reduced number of images.
20/12/08 192 KB 2 14 0.5s Redeveloped the homepage from scratch. Optimised images and graphics converted into CSS-Sprites. HTML, CSS and JavaScript combined.
21/10/09 149 KB 2 11 0.45s Homepage slightly redesigned. Converted more images into CSS-Sprites.

At this point Pingdom tools becomes too inaccurate. Switched to Patrick Meenan's page tester. An exemplary service which later became Web Page Test.

Redeveloped the homepage from scratch, and without touching server settings, compression or caching got it down to 0.5 seconds for a 192KB page (source: Pingdom Tools). Reduced DNS look-ups using CSS-sprites and combining HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The total of 41 objects now reduced to 11.

Patrick Meenan results
Date Bytes In Threads Objects Load Time Description
20/08/08 406 KB 2 40 5.1s Optimised existing images
15/10/08 299 KB 2 32 4.6s Reduced number of images.
17/11/08 120 KB 2 16 1.8s Optimised images and reduced DNS look-ups: graphics converted into CSS-Sprites. HTML, CSS and JavaScript combined.
20/12/08 145 KB 2 16 2.1s
Site Performance results
Date (link to full results) Bytes In Threads Objects Load Time Description
21/10/09 149 KB 6 10 97ms Homepage slightly redesigned. Converted more images into CSS-Sprites.

Further improvements would require:

  • Separate server connections to deliver the graphics & images.
  • Permissions to serve compressed data.
  • Adjusting sever and proxy caching.

July 2011 a complete redevelopment

Finally a true update to the third most popular page in the UK.

Briefed to increase the page weight by a massive 600% (1.4Mb) yet make it load as quickly as the current (250Kb) version. Impossible? Certainly not. Details and metric to be supplied shortly.

Actually, I may write an articles on the process and development of this page. It was no easy task and took three months to write the single page.

A brief glimpse on 28th April 2012:

Each of these results take into account different factors and may only be compared against tests by the same provider.

  • Pingdom : 563ms, 13 requests, 179 KB
  • Site performance : 1.14s, 44 requests, 1,169,116 B
  • WebPageTest : 1.513s, 4 requests, 197 KB (Formally Patrick Meehan)
  • Firebug : 1.05s, 4 requests, 196.4 KB

Though my server-side ask list wasn't huge, IT struggled with implementation. A few were not resolved so there's still room for improvement.

Status on 14th September 2012:

Note an extra 2 http requests included for Adobe's multi variant testing (MVT), which as yet is unused.

Sprites are being replaced one by one with individual data URI images in preparation for the demise of IEv7 and the birth of IEv10.

Each of these results take into account different factors and may only be compared against tests by the same provider.

  • Pingdom : 661ms, 23 requests, 203.5 KB
  • Site performance : 0.77s, 59 requests, 1,327,694 B
  • WebPageTest :1.942s, 6 requests, 202 KB
  • Firebug : 0.954s, 6 requests, 351.6 KB (without Gzip)

Becta

Becta was the Government's key partner in the strategic development and delivery of its information and communications technology (ICT) and e-learning strategy for the schools and the learning and skills sectors.

Becta was an acronym for "British Educational Communications and Technology Agency". An education agency recently closed by the Government. For all it's failings it's successes should not be forgotten: laptop for every teacher; broadband in every school; IT resource management; To name but a few.

My 6 year role (2002 - 2008) within this organisation was a mixture of web development and standards & accessibility testing. Here are a few examples along with my involvement on each project:

Becta (archived)
About Becta web site archived
Supporting UK education departments in their strategic ICT developments.
Accessible web design in XHTML to W3C Web Standards alongside JavaScript, Ajax.
Next Generation Learning
Next generation learning web site
Next generation learning: The Next Generation Learning campaign is about using technology well to make learning a more exciting, rewarding and successful experience for people of all ages and abilities.
Accessibility testing and repair path formulation.
CAP: Communication Aids Project
CAP
Help and support for pupils who have a significant difficulty in communicating with others.
Becta Schools (archived)
Schools web site archived
Advice, services and tools for those who use, implement and manage ICT in schools.
Accessibility and HTML coding.

Zorbas Dance restaurant

A local Greek restaurant run by an old friend. Here I practice skills that are under used in my daytime employment. The original under performing web site was transformed and dramatically improved the investment return. How much is actually quantifiable, but it's enough to say he did not enjoy a quiet January or February this year.

Zorbas Dance restaurant web site

  • Search engine optimisation techniques. The site now ranks in the top five Google results on any relevant variations.
  • Usability development. Customer needs and expectations were investigated and the changes implemented quadrupled online bookings.
  • Custom made content management system which employs optimisation techniques to deliver content & media fast.
  • Flash video and gallery insets via JavaScript.
  • Accessible (mostly) web development in XHTML to W3C Web Standards. Apologies for the audio which auto-starts, unfortunately not my call.

NGfL: National Grid for Learning

Demised 13th April 2006. The NGfL provided a network of selected links to web sites that offer high quality content and information. Whether you were learning, supporting, teaching or managing, there were many resources available.

Accessibility workshops
Online accessibility workshop
Training for developers in the production of accessible online materials.
Inclusion (archived)
Inclusion web site
Advice and information on special educational needs and inclusion.
Accessibility testing and repair path formulation.
Online testing
Help and support in accessibility and web standards for the NGfL registration process.
Laptops for teachers
Laptops for teachers
A DfES programme providing teachers with laptop computers for use at home and school.
Accessibility testing and repairs.
Practical workshops
Training given to developers producing materials for the NGfL and DfES projects.

Currier limited

A well established web site design company based in Shropshire. Developing sites for a diverse range of clients and organisations.

A mixture of testing, training, accessibility and programming.

Winchester City Council
Winchester City Council web site
Accessibility and cross browser cross platform testing.
NASEN: National Association for Special Educational Needs
NASEN web site
UK organisation which aims to promote the education, training, advancement and development of those with special educational needs.
Accessibility and cross browser cross platform testing.
Mendip District Council
Mendip District Council web site
Accessibility and cross browser cross platform testing.
Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council
Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council web site
Accessibility and cross browser cross platform testing.

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