World Cup 2014 wall chart

World Cup 2014 wall chart

This has been a nice little side project over the last couple of weeks; a simple but colourful poster for CBBC fans to print out and follow the action at Brazil 2014. It was great fun to put together, and it’s lovely to know that kids all over the country (and probably some grown-ups) will be able to enjoy it.

The players at the bottom of the poster came from BBC Sport’s World Cup marketing trail. With no budget for images of real players, these were great to have. That was the main challenge I faced on this; trying to make it look amazing without a lot of time or money available.

Hugely grateful to prettywolfie and felipe_grilo on the free image site Pixabay for the photos of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer. Nice one guys!

Wall chart for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
You can print your own copy over on the CBBC website. It's A2 size, split into four A4 sheets.

Shaun’s Game Academy

Shaun’s Game Academy

I heard about this yesterday – it’s a fantastic initiative run by Aardman, a nationwide competition calling for kids to design and build their own games. The beauty of it is that the complicated coding part is made much simpler through ‘Scratch’, a very easy (relatively!) programming platform.

There’s more info in this Guardian article, and the competition itself is based here. The competition site includes some fun, easy-to-follow tutorials – I’d never used Scratch before, but after half an hour of fiddling I was able to make this…:

Click the green flag to start, then press space to keep Shaun afloat!

PS it doesn’t work on mobile devices, sorry.

A screenshot of the Shaun's Game Academy website
Scratch uses a drag-and-drop system, so it doesn't involve typing code out and all the headaches that can create (think typos!)

My epiphany about the nature of homepages

My epiphany about the nature of homepages

Yes, this is one of those strange meta posts that’s about the website in which the post is contained. My apologies.

I’m just about ready to let my new site loose in the real world, and that’s thanks to an epiphany I’ve had in the last few days. For ages I was agonising over one single issue: what should my homepage look like? How should it function? What is it even there for? I didn’t know whether it should house all the content on the site, or be a dump for everything that didn’t fit into my three categories (design, music, media) or just be a static page with a generic ‘hello there, well done for finding my website’ message. Sure, any one of those three options might be a bit boring, but there has to be some sort of meaningful content on that homepage because it’s right there at the front of the nav menu!

The ‘innovation report’ leaked by the New York Times a couple of weeks ago is, if you didn’t know already, a really big deal. It outlines the future of the company in a very honest and self-critical way, highlighting several key areas where it has failed to keep up with changes in technology and changes in media consumption habits. One of the big main points it makes is that the NYT has been putting a whole load of effort into how its homepage looks, and how its main section fronts look, and how its print front cover looks – when actually that’s just not how most people consume media any more. When people discover an article they didn’t already know about, it most likely happens through social media. When people do know an article exists, but don’t have it bookmarked, they’ll most likely google it. The same is true for the CBBC website (which I help run at work) and the same is true for my personal website.

So that’s how I arrived at the revelation that not only could I let go of that pressure to make my homepage something impressive and meaningful, but that I could in fact feel free to remove the ‘home’ link from my nav bar altogether! The homepage still exists, of course – it simply brings in all my latest posts. But by taking it off the nav bar I’m streamlining the user experience and encouraging people to skip straight to the category they’re interested in.

The facade of Hale House in LA.
The facade of Hale House in LA. Why do we put so much effort into homepages, when they've become so unimportant?

Hot Topics for DNN: Definitely Not Newsround

Hot Topics for DNN: Definitely Not Newsround

I’ve recently been editing a series of 13 webisodes to accompany the new series of DNN, a very funny comedy show based on a fictional news channel. Each Hot Topic clip features a different character ranting about a different subject, along the lines of Peter Griffin’s ‘What Grinds My Gears’. I was going to provide an example of WGMG at this point, but couldn’t find one that would be appropriate to link to from a post about CBBC…

ANYWAY. I’m particularly proud of this one, featuring no-nonsense reporter Nellie Osmond, because I had the privilege of writing the script!

Strings Attached

Strings Attached

I’m very proud to be part of this awesome foursome. Strings Attached is the latest addition to the Funk Soul Familya Manchester-based collective of musicians that provides professional-quality music for every occasion.

We’re specifically focused on the more chilled-out side of things, playing a wide range of well-known songs in our own special acoustic style. There’s a sample of our music below, but you can find out more on our website or Facebook page.