Dave Redfern is a digital designer at iWeb, an agency based in Staffordshire specialising in the design and development of responsive Magento eCommerce and WordPress websites. His role at iWeb over the past seven years has included front end development, WordPress development and more recently, design.
Mr. Redfern is the co-founder of Staffs Web Meetup. Staffs Web Meetup is a monthly event held in an independent coffee shop in Stafford. With an average attendance of 50 people, each event is free to attend and includes food and a drink! We get together for friendly chit-chat, lightning talks and have recently been attracting guest speakers from further afield. 34SP.com asked Mr. Redfern about his experience with WordPress, his expertise in iconography and what he will be covering during his talk at WordCamp London 2015.
How did you first get interested in WordPress and the speaking role at WordCamp?
I built my first WordPress website in 2007 when the company I work for began a transition from bespoke content management systems to open source solutions. At this time my role was as a front end website developer.
Over the following years my role became much more WordPress focused. The complexity of projects increased and we began to investigate the use of custom post types, which at the time were not part of WordPress core.
The WordPress community has always been very supportive. The philosophy of sharing, educating and contributing is at the heart of WordPress. I attended my first WordCamp in 2012 in Edinburgh. Everyone was so supportive and welcoming.
Jenny Wong, who is helping to organise WordCamp London, spoke at January’s Staffs Web Meetup. Her talk on sharing knowledge encouraged me to investigate opportunities to speak publicly. A WordCamp felt like a perfect fit and a great introduction to speaking publicly at conferences. Jenny helped me secure a speaking slot at this years WordCamp London, something I will be forever grateful for.
You are speaking about iconography. For those who aren’t familiar – what exactly is iconography? What in your background contributed to your expertise in iconography?
Over the last four years my role has focused heavily on design and front end development of websites. Using style guides and pattern libraries to build responsive websites for medium to large businesses and eCommerce websites.
Icons play an increasingly important role in the usability and navigation of websites, especially on smaller screens. Many websites make use of icons, ranging from a few social icons up to full icon packs.
Often, little thought goes into which icons are used. How many times have you seen Bootstrap or FontAwesome icons on a website? While a stock icon pack is often good enough to accomplish a task, there are times when a specific icon is required and is not available as part of the pack.
This was the case on a recent project I worked on. The client sells music licenses and we discovered many of the icons required were unique or obscure. After searching we couldn’t find a stock icon pack that had everything we needed. With a very clean design approach we realised that icons would play a strong role, both aesthetically and functionally for the website. We decided to create a custom set that would complement the brand and fulfil all our needs. My WordCamp talk discusses the process we went through to create a custom set of 50 icons. The difficulties and complexities involved and some tips I learned during the process.
Who will benefit the most from your presentation at WordCamp London 2015?
The WordPress admin is heavily reliant on icons for it’s navigation. Choosing icons that mean something is key to the usability of the admin. My talk focuses on how you go about designing these icons, the different types of icon and what to consider when choosing the right ones.
If you’re interested in user interface design it is definitely worth popping along! It is a talk that is a little bit different. It is an insight into a different part of the industry, particularly one that is rarely considered in any depth.
You are an expert in design, user experience, front-end development and Magento as well – if you had to choose just 3 critical considerations for online businesses – what would those 3 most important front-end items be?
1. Think mobile!
I can’t stress this enough. Only consider building a responsive website. Mobile use is increasing each year. It’s often more popular than desktop computers. Google now prefers responsive websites when considering ranking position.
2. Consider evolving your website before redesigning
Often businesses decide to jump both feet in and have a full redesign. This is sometimes not necessary. Build on what you have and make sure you set time (and money) each month to improve slowly. Leaving your site stagnant of development for a few years will end up costing more in the long run as you fork out for a new one.
Decide what your core functionality is and build that first. Get your site live as soon as possible and spend time each month adding functionality.
3. Don’t break conventions
Sometimes we like to be different, try new things and break trends. Unfortunately this is often at the detriment of the usability. Peoples expectations contribute a lot to the usability of a site. Placing the search in the middle of the header, the basket in the top right and the logo in the top left. Changing these will only confuse a user and possibly leave a sour taste.
Anything else you’d like to add, anything else you’d like to promote?
Time to get my links out.