Wow, what a couple of months it has been… since the summer I have had an explosion of new business – both from new clients and existing ones!

Recently, it has been my pleasure to work with a long-standing client on a large-scale WordPress Mu based website that has been very highly customised to the project needs. WordPress Mu is not too different to normal WordPress, but it certainly has it’s own eccentricities to come to terms with. It gave me a big opportunity to really get under the skin of WordPress Mu and I have developed a number of WordPress plugins for the site that will be released in due-time (once I have seen what is happening with the merge of code between WordPress and WordPress Mu). This culminated in a press launch in London, which I presented at.

Another side-benefit of this project was that I had to update my WP-CMS Post Control plugin to support the latest version of WordPress. After going over the code and beginning to retro-fit it I decided that it would be much better to re-code this from scratch to make it more flexible in the future. Although it currently has no options page, I have succeeded to re-writing this plugin completely, in the course of which I have discovered some much better ways of executing some of the operations in the plugin which make it more secure. When I get a chance I will build a new options page and release this as a beta release, with a view to launching a final release when WordPress 2.9 comes out.

Speaking of personal development projects – I have been working hard with another freelancer (and good friend) on a new theme framework for WordPress. This is really starting to take shape now, but with so little time for anything at the moment this is being worked on sporadically. I have been concentrating on the theme options page and the underlying construction, whilst my colleague has been working on widgets and some of the CSS. It has actually already been used (in beta form) on a live site produced by my colleague – which is a great way to see where the gaps are! We hope to have this finished and launched in beta form by the New Year. When I say it will revolutionize the WordPress theme marketplace, I mean it… this is a framework built for anyone from beginners to full-blown web creatives to enable them to have beautiful blogs and websites and I am VERY excited about it!

Also, I have been producing loads of new creative web design. Creative design is something I really enjoy – and I think the client get’s a-lot more out of web design jobs if they involve me right from the start. It’s a sad state of the industry at the moment that many print designers are being pushed into web creative with very little understanding of navigation and interface design. It sure does make everyones lives easier if I produce the creative, because I know what works – and more importantly what doesn’t, which has been reflected in the quick turn-around time (and lower costs) on recent jobs!

I am also working with an expert SEO consultant (yes, they do exist!) on an undisclosed high profile online gambling website. This has been a very interesting project so far and I am particularly happy with the creative produced. This has been partly due to the in-depth market research and planning that was conducted… I know when I’ve got it right when the only amend is a tweek of colour from the client!

Also, I have been taking a look at my personal websites – which I have to say have been sadly neglected over the last few months. I have been just too busy to develop these further! I am already tired of this design for – but it will have to do for the moment. I need to concentrate on building up the content, particularly the portfolio sections which are sadly lacking at the moment. I have a sketch out of the new design for WP-CMS which REALLY needs a re-design as the theme is just an adapted one and Photoshop Ninja, which also is in desperate need of a refresh.

I do some part-time lecturing at Solihull College in graphic design in my spare time, and although it has been quite a ride I have decided to stop lecturing on a regular basis at the end of this academic year. This has been a tough decision to make, as it is something I have enjoyed doing for a number of years. However, I feel that the attitude of students and their approach to their work is becoming increasingly disappointing to me. I love sharing knowledge and seeing designers develop, but this is outweighed by a growing negative attitude (particularly from first year students) that I feel is not in-line with my personal values. The upshot of this decision is that I will have more time for my clients and personal projects. I still may pop in every now and again to do a master class in Photoshop or InDesign and will continue with the occasional private training session.

Finally – I am starting to get very excited about WordCampUK 2010 – the conference for WordPress users and developers. Bidding for venues/locations is heating up and will soon be decided. I am on the organisation committee and am looking forward to getting my teeth back into this. I just thought I’d mention what a great job WordCamp Ireland have done on their website – very sexy (even if it is based on an adapted theme)… an inspiration to the UK committee I think, they have set the bar high!