Keith Devon

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Getting back to blogging

It’s been years since I did any significant work on my own website. All of my attention has been on my WordPress development company.

This site, which used to house all of my work, thoughts, and online identity has been gathering dust and was starting to smell a bit musty.

A few things have conspired to encourage me to update the site, ditch my old theme, and hopefully start using the site for blogging again.

Dusting off the old blog

As I’ve said, it’s been a long time since this site had any love. The design was looking pretty dated, the content was old, and every time I thought about it I felt a bit sad. ūüôĀ

I’m not really using this site professionally any more. All of that happens on my WordPress agency website now. But I’d like to maintain a bit of a personal presence online.

Personal blogging is back

There has been a subtle trend of people moving away from Facebook, Twitter, etc and starting to publish content on their own domains again. This has been led by various ownership, trust, security and privacy issues, as well as the general desire to spend less time on these platforms.

I’ve been inspired by my co-founder, Mark Wilkinson, who maintains his personal blog and updates it with both personal and professional posts. He uses it like a kind of diary, a reference point for his life.

I love this approach, and since leaving Facebook earlier this year (I haven’t deleted my account but haven’t logged in in over 6 months) I’ve missed having somewhere to log significant events, share photos, and write about things that interest me.

Going green

I’ve made some personal changes towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. Things like giving up meat and dairy (mostly!), buying less plastic, etc.

Professionally, I’ve been wondering for a while now about bringing more ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ to what I do. I love building websites, but it’s rare to feel that the work Ido has benefits for the planet.

At the last WordPress London¬†meetup, I listened to a talk, “Why a greener web is good for everyone“, by Tom Greenwood of Wholegrain Digital. He was speaking¬†about sustainable web design, and how the internet is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses. It felt like a turning point for me. Maybe this is my chance to combine the work that I love with a worthy cause.

My first¬†step was a quick¬†chat with Tom today about how to get involved. Immediately after the call, I decided to switch my site to use the Susty theme. It’s a VERY lightweight theme with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint of the website. More on this in a future post!

 

Introducing Highrise Digital

As you might have seen already, 2016 has brought some significant changes to my work life. After six and a half years of being a WordPress freelancer, I’m excited to announce the start of a new business and partnership – Highrise Digital.

I’ve loved freelancing. I’ve loved the freedom that it brings, both in terms of working hours and location, but in also in who I work with.¬†Over the years I’ve managed to build up a reputation in the industry, and a great roster of clients. I’d say that the freelancing journey has been a success.

However, for a long time now, there have been niggling feelings that freelancing wasn’t meeting all of my needs. One of the recurring niggles is that I’d like to be able to focus a bit more on business development. I wanted more time to work ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’.

Another of the niggles was teamwork. I love to work with people. As a freelancer I was working with clients, there wasn’t anyone on my team for the long-haul – someone with shared interests and motivations. As long ago as 2013 I stated that I was looking for a business partner. I wanted someone to bounce ideas off, someone with whom I could¬†share the highs and get through the lows.

In late 2014 I met Mark Wilkinson at a WordPress London meetup event. Mark was giving a talk – on workflow I think – and soon after I needed some help with a large project. I got in touch with Mark, we started working together, and we’ve continued to work on projects together ever since.

A year later, in late 2015, Mark and I were discussing our careers and where we wanted to take things. I mentioned that I’d be interested in joining forces and starting a business together, and we decided to talk about it after the New Year.

So, in January 2016, we got together for two days in London and discussed our potential business. In those two days Highrise Digital was born.

(You can read more about the naming and branding journey here: What’s in a name or a logo?)

What is Highrise Digital

Essentially we’re a WordPress development agency. Our focus is on custom WordPress themes, plugins and support. In that sense not much has changed. So what has?

Broader, deeper expertise

Mark and I, although both WordPress developers, have slightly different areas of expertise. Mark is a master of customising the WordPress admin. He can make WordPress do what it’s supposed to do – i.e. make content management easy. Mark is also more experienced with API integrations and plugin development.

I’ve always been more comfortable in the front-end – primarily custom theme development. I’m also now able to focus more on marketing and sales, two areas that I’m really interested in.

By splitting our roles within the company, we’re able to focus on what we’re good at and go deeper into those skill-sets.

More capacity

It sounds obvious, but we now have twice the capacity. Many projects have tight deadlines, and we’re in a better position to deliver on these as a team.

Professionalism

I’ve also aimed to be highly professional in everything that I do, and Mark is the same. Already though, we’ve started to take every little interaction and process more seriously. I think it’s because we are accountable to each other, that now when something needs to be done, it get’s done the right way, first time. We’re also working hard on processes so that we can deliver a consistently high level of service.

 

That’ll do for now I think. All I really wanted to do was to let you know about the change. What does it mean for you? Hopefully it just means a better WordPress development service.

If you’d like to talk to us, you can find us over at https://highrise.digital.

WordPress London meetup #5

The group continues to go from strength to strength with at least 30 members attending.

This month’s meetup included a talk from BuddyPress developer Paul Gibbs. He talks us through the new release, the epic version 1.5.

Paul’s blog post, with slides, can be found here:¬†http://byotos.com/2011/09/27/buddypress-at-wordpress-london-220911/.

Then Jeff Ghazally shows us how easy it us to sell music online using WordPress and the WP E-commerce plugin.

We also had a great presentation from Shakur about the SOLR search plugin and how it can be used to improve the search performance and capabilities on your WordPress site. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties (an over-heated camera!) we didn’t get this one on video. Sorry Shaksi!

Beginner WordPress Theme Development

Last Thursday (28th July 2011) we held the third London WordPress meetup. The meetup is for WordPress users and professionals in London and aims to provide a networking and learning platform.

I gave a talk on Beginner WordPress Theme Development, which introduced the basic structure of a theme and some key concepts. Here are the presentation ‘slides’ and the video.

New Communications Policy

In a move to increase working efficiency and effectiveness I am changing my communications policy and systems.

My new office number is 02081 330 596. Please save this as my primary contact number.

I am currently checking and responding to email and voicemail twice daily, at 12pm and 4pm. If you require urgent assistance (please ensure that it is urgent) that cannot wait until either 12:00 or 4:00, please contact me on my mobile at 07825 330 150.

Thank you for your understanding. These changes will help me to serve you better.

Daily rate increase

I have decided that it is time to raise my daily rate from £110 to £140 (£17.50/hr). This is the first increase since I started Keith Devon Web Development. This rate applies only to private freelancing jobs. Sub-contract work will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

The increase in rates reflects my improved and expanded skill set. In the year since I started freelancing, I have gained valuable experience in all areas of web design and development. From project management and design theory, to learning new languages and techniques, these new skills allow me to offer an improved product in shorter development times. I intend to push these savings on to my clients.

Any proposals that I have already submitted will be honoured at the old rate, providing the project deposit is paid before 1st Dec 2010.

Keith

Shaun West website now online

I’m pleased to announce the launch of the new Shaun West website.

Shaun contacted me in mid September about designing a new website. He already had a site but wanted a more professional look. He also wanted the site to be managed using WordPress. I set out a proposal and project timetable and we got to work.

The first task was to identify the style that Shaun wanted. His previous site looked good but he wanted to get away from a ‘corporate’ look. Using wireframes and mock-ups I designed and refined the look of the site with Shaun’s feedback. We settled on a style that we both feel strikes the right balance between professional and personal.

Next, I developed a custom WordPress theme so that Shaun could easily manage his site. I broke down the content into ‘Services’, ‘Testimonials’, ‘Posts’ and ‘Pages’. This gives Shaun an easy way to add and edit his content.

I’ve really enjoyed working on Shaun’s website. I’m looking forward to working together in the future, there is already another project in the pipeline!

View Shaun’s new site.

View what Shaun says about working with Keith Devon Web Development.

WordPress site for security specialist

I am pleased to announce that I have secured a contract to build the new website for a security and close protection specialist. The site will be based on WordPress, giving the client an easy way to edit and update content.

I will be incorporating a blog section that will allow my client to write posts on industry subjects, confirming him as an expert in the security community.

The site should be live by mid October, so check back for the results.

Welcome to my new website

Over the last week I’ve been working on the new Keith Devon Web Development site. I felt I needed to bring a more professional look to the site, whilst still being striking and original.

The new website features a blog section where I will be able to write articles about web design and keep clients up to date with any news in the kDev empire. The site is powered by WordPress and I’ve developed a custom theme to suit my needs.

I would love to hear your feedback on the new design. I hope that it is easy to find your way around and that you enjoy the new features.

Keith