Hands on Publications: web development for a small comms company

Web development for Hands On Publications

The cobbler’s kids have no shoes. An apt and accurate old saying. Hands On Publications is in the communications business. But they have no time or budget to communicate about themselves. Which is a shame, because they do great work. They mostly let others do the communicating for them. However they needed some web development done. Namely a new site.

So they asked me to put one together for them. Quickly. And with a limited budget. Which I did. An elegant, single page structure with minimal bunf and mobile friendliness. They can maintain it themselves but it doesn’t put them on a content creation treadmill.

The site uses WordPress and an affordable, freemium theme, which had enough options to allow me to make it do what they wanted without looking too much like the digial equivalent of Malvina Reynolds’ Little Boxes.

Being designers — and especially good at print design — they were fairly fussy about how things appeared. But being designers they were also really good at coralling feedback, explaining their concerns and using screen captures, arrows and circles to show what they meant. Also they picked all the images,  sized them and supplied them in the right format. All the things I dream of in a client.

They did that work which meant (a) I didn’t have to, so their costs were lower and (b) they let me do what I do, rather than calling for prescriptive solutions that turn me into an expensive pair of hands on a keyboard.

We have this notion that web development needs to be an expensive, drawn out process. It doesn’t have to be. If you keep the scope under control, and do your homework as a client you can go a long way toward getting the website you want without blowing your budget.

Have a look.

Union Research

Union Research Screen Cap

Union Research Screen CapTwo people I know who do policy research for trade unions were looking for a place to share news, data and analysis on topics of interest to them and their colleagues. They were looking for a simple inexpensive solution that they could maintain off the sides of their desks.

Putting together a site on wordpress.com seemed a cheap, elegant and contemporary solution but the prospect of building the site seemed daunting enough that it was threatening the project as a whole.

So they asked me to help them design, theme and architect the site.

And voilà. The main challenge with this site was using the free version of WordPress on wordpress.com. It puts some pretty serious limitations on what’s available to site builders, so one must be a bit creative to make the application do what the clients want.

Strategic Corporate Research

Front page of strategic corporate research

This site is both university course curriculum and troublemaker’s handbook guide to doing research on corporations.

The WordPress site uses a customized version of Colorway. This is usually a pretty good option – rather than making themes from scratch – if you don’t happen to have the deep pockets of the corporation you’re researching and yet you still want to look good.