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Neil Cresswell's Web Developer Portfolio

The following examples are just some of the many web sites Neil has worked on:


Primarily I’m more focused as a fully rounded web developer, as opposed to just a graphics-oriented web designer. I design underlying databases, research and suggest content and SEO choices, code pages, and embed db driven content, write mid-tier scalable components, if needed, create front-end XHTML and CSS, as well as manage other developers and support staff, if I’m not the sole resource on a project. My strength is my ability to undertake every aspect of web site design and development, from brainstorming and inception with a client, through to final product release and beyond. Many web designers have graphics skills but, sadly, a weak understanding of user interface design, user experience, or user behaviour. This is critical if you want to convert visitors into customers, so a great deal of my work is often aimed at resolving these types of issues, to maximize a business’s return.

My work can include acting as a web designer too, picking the most appropriate look, feel and branding, as much as dealing with UI and UX issues. However, since my role encompasses all aspects of web work and focuses on development, I typically do not spend weeks tinkering with Photoshop, or creating new graphics and unique themes from scratch. Instead I often either work with a dedicated web designer, whose sole task is to come up with Photoshop comps, for bigger clients with their own branding, or, research the most appropriate templates or ideas to use as a starting point for smaller clients, to save them time and money. There are exceptions, such as YES! Magazine’s new online store, where I was the sole graphic designer and web site developer, and where we started from scratch, without adapting any pre-existing template. When adapting an off-the-shelf template, I don’t usually use any provided HTML or CSS but start over and come up with my own (much cleaner) and take just the Photoshop graphics, adjusting and slicing images as needed. I then expand the color palette and introduce other elements and graphics for a more elegant result.

Neil Cresswell.

YES! Magazine’s Online Store

YES! Magazine’s Online Store - click to zoom in.

Fully standards-compliant XHTML UI built on a LAMP stack. (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP.) With the exception of just the logo, Neil created the entire graphic design for this site, starting from scratch. Within hours of launching, customers were writing in to YES!, stating how easy the new site was to navigate, and how user-friendly it was, with YES!’s staff also commenting about how beautiful and slick the new site was too.

As well as nice touches such as the ability to optionally drag products onto the cart and rich AJAX interactions, one unique security feature Neil introduced involved the use of easy-to-read, colorful CAPTCHAs, displaying positive, site-themed messages. Overnight, the new site caused a 20% drop in bounce rates, a 25% improvement in page views per visit, and a 25% increase in length of visit, with a higher quantity of orders being placed.

Neil Cresswell’s Personal Site

Neil Cresswell’s Personal Site - click to zoom in.

Fully standards-compliant XHTML UI with a Microsoft SQL Server back-end. The chess theme is from a public domain single page template carefully researched and selected by Neil to represent thoughtful intelligence, professionalism and the ability to produce tasteful and elegant solutions while retaining warm colors for a friendlier personal feel, as opposed to a sterile corporate presentation.

Substantial modifications include a total rewrite of the XHTML/CSS for cleanliness, re-usability and simplicity, to scale properly at different sizes, standards compliancy and cross-browser compatibility. The color palette was greatly expanded and graphics edited as appropriate in Photoshop. Elements such as shadows on tables and images, quote boxes, the site icon and tick boxes were introduced to maintain a consistent quality of presentation throughout the site.

Donna Moore’s Publishings Site

Donna Moore’s Publishings Site - click to zoom in.

This site is a great example of a small (16 page) web site taken from inception through to release with less than a week’s effort. Donna knew she wanted a web site to feature her latest novel and list some of her other works but had no idea as to the content or layout.

Neil worked with Donna to get an idea of her taste regarding presentation and to obtain a background on her written works. Northwest nature colors green and gray were selected and Donna expressed an interest in a simple, not too rich layout. A shortlist of suitable templates was researched and the final template chosen was substantially adapted. Photographs donated by a local photographer were modified by Neil using Photoshop and Neil provided the content structure and all of the copy, excluding the book excepts.

The Dead Puppies Society

The Dead Puppies Society - click to zoom in.

The Dead Puppies Society web site is indicative of a dozen or so web sites Neil has put together for small communities such as online gaming clubs, religious organizations and regional groups. All feature community aspects such as forums with custom coded additions by Neil and have a Microsoft SQL Server back-end.

Using the example of the Dead Puppies Society, the template chosen by Neil as a starting point is dark colored, which is popular with gaming groups but differs to typical white background commercial sites. Modifications include minor editing of a small Flash header, complimentary font and table color schemes, adding a new multi-level membership system and custom pages tied to forum accounts, as well as improving the forum system by adding additional database tables and code to facilitate a database-driven questionnaire for new applicants wishing to join.

eVenues.com

eVenues.com - click to zoom in.

eVenues is written in C# (ASP.Net) with a MS SQL Server back-end.

Neil was not involved with the original site design or CSS and XHTML used and instead came onto the project when eVenues were having difficulties with their off-shore development teams and assisted with managing the developers, instigating versioning, QA and release practices, as well as handling some of the more urgent coding needs directly. (C#/ASP.Net, XHTML and CSS plus database schema, SQL and data changes.)

Trails.com

Trails.com - click to zoom in.

Neil has worked on several rewrites and iterations of Trails.com between 2005 and 2009, helping turn the site from a low volume property to the #1 outdoors site (by traffic) with over 2.5 million unique monthly visitors and over 2 million subscribers. Originally Trails was first developed in classic ASP with a Microsoft SQL Server back-end. Over the years it has migrated to a hybrid classic ASP and ASP.Net solution before finally converting to a full ASP.Net site with a new look in 2008.

As Director of Engineering at Demand Media, Neil was responsible for managing the development teams for this web property and was also heavily engaged as a developer, working on database design and coding and the coding of entire sections of the site, as well as proactively implementing the development of some of the libraries used by this site and others in the Demand Media portfolio. Work including design and implementation of a multi-site subscription platform with multiple payment gateways, integration of forums, blogs, photos and other Web 2.0 features and the addition of consolidated automated product feeds from third parties for online stores with an internal review submission system.

GolfLink

GolfLink - click to zoom in.

GolfLink is a sister site to Trails.com and runs on the same platform with the same underlying libraries. Neil helped take GolfLink from an acquired, almost no-traffic PHP site in 2006 to the #1 golfing site (by traffic volume) with over 3 million unique monthly visitors in 2009. Originally redeveloped from scratch in 2006 using classic ASP and MS SQL Server, GolfLink eventually migrated to an ASP.Net solution.

For the 2006 GolfLink rewrite, Neil project managed the entire company (Hillclimb Media) and took on large sections of the coding. The speed at which GolfLink was rewritten in 2006 helped lead to a successful acquisition in turn of Hillclimb Media by Demand Media with Neil being retained as Director of Engineering, managing the GolfLink and Trails development teams.

Garden Guides

Garden Guides - click to zoom in.

Garden Guides is a good example of a rapid turn-around project for maximum ROI. Neil led a small Demand Media development team responsible for converting a small forums-only PHP site into a large-scale, database driven site with thousands of pages of content on plant and garden information within a very short time frame.

The site was redesigned and rewritten in a combination of classic ASP and ASP.Net, with a Microsoft SQL Server back end. As with most of the Demand Media web properties Neil worked on, heavy use of a Google Mini and later on an in-house Google Search Appliance was used to provide the best search experience for the new database driven content. Web 2.0 features such as more interactive forums tied to the site membership, blogs, photo albums and review and commenting systems were also integrated.

Run the Planet

Run the Planet - click to zoom in.

Run the Planet is another ASP site with a MS SQL Server back end that was a quick turn-around project for maximum ROI. Neil lead the development team, designing the database and coding some of the key sections of the site.

Content includes databases of running trails, race calendars and running clubs along with an integrated online store for running equipment with daily updates from multiple third party feeds. Additional tools and calculators for runners were also included.

Run.com

Run.com - click to zoom in.

Run.com was a proof of concept for Demand Media and its technology was later on incorporated into one of Demand’s premier sites, as LiveStrong.com Loops. Neil was responsible for leading the development and was the sole ASP web developer and database developer.

The product customizes a Google Maps overlay so that running routes can be drawn with lines, way-points and custom markers then saved and shared. As well as working with the Google Maps API, the system uses an internal elevation server to provide a graphical elevation cross-section of the entire route. Neil designed the underlying system to be site independent and work for any type of route.

Travels.com

Travels.com - click to zoom in.

Neil was responsible for managing and steering the development team that put Travels.com together in a relatively short time-frame. Travels is ASP.Net based with a Microsoft SQL Server back-end.

My Gizmos

My Gizmos - click to zoom in.

As the sole designer and developer for My Gizmos, Neil came up with this simple, XHTML standards-compliant site design from scratch, as the client was insistent on specific colors and shapes being used to match their branding. (A rather strong blue and yellow scheme.) The site was wrappered using ASP.

Jetstream Servers

Jetstream Servers - click to zoom in.

Jetstream Servers was a business owned and operated by Neil, specializing in providing monthly rental of on-line game and voice servers for a recurring monthly fee. Neil was the sole developer and the site was created using ASP with a Microsoft SQL Server back-end.

Customers using the site could browse the product inventory, place their order for a server rental and pay on-line through an integrated process. Additional features such as automated server monitoring and control were incorporated into the web site.

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Web Portfolio

Some of the many web sites Neil has worked on and managed development teams for.

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