However, if you have a search around the website you will find links to the older parts of the website - and my apologies in advance if it does not totally hold together, but as always, I have only had limited time to work on it - and I have decided it is more important to get something up and running, so I at least have a platform for communicating out new products and progress, rather than spending huge amounts of time ensuring something as robust and professional as one of the big commercial sites - I hope (in the true spirit of an enthuasiast's forum) that you would agree with this philosophy.
10th Anniversary of RacingVincent
Where has the time gone?!
It seems hard to believe, but this summer marks the 10th Anniversary of RacingVincent being first published on the internet. I only realised it myself when I was writing a new article around the Vincent rebuild two weeks ago and came to check the original Homepage website design and the date stamp against it.
I started it originally, as much to just see if I could write a website rather than any grand design to create a motorcycle restoration site.
As I was heavily involved into rebuilding the Vincent at the time, it seemed to me that this was the ideal subject matter. I have worked all my professional life in IT (or 'computer's' as it is less often referred to these days!), but even then, it had been a long time since I had been a programmer, so it was very much a learning experience for me at the time.
What I found most different when I started to produce the first website screen designs - and refreshing - was that it was just as much about visual design and content as it was about learning the skills to use the technical tools, i.e. having to think about what looks reasonable and can engage the audience. . . or at least, something that does not turn everyone away in the first 30 seconds!
Content and Sharing a PassionIt has always helped that I can yacket a lot in the flesh anwyay . . . but I tried to relay this through into the first articles I wrote, by trying to make them as close as I could for the reader as just being sat there with one of your motorcycling mates down the pub, talking about the latest bike project you are engaged in. And like many of us that do this sort of thing, I guess I am quite passionate about motorcycles, so wanted to concentrate on that element of it. One thing I think a lot of us find about restoring the more unusual motorcycles is that there is not always a lot of reference material about 'how to' do particular tasks. Often the original workshop guides (if they were ever available) are scant on good information and pictures are often a 1930's poor quality line drawing. Therefor the key facet I wanted to bring to an article was a step by step account of a particular build, with lots of good quality photographs alongside the text, at the right point
Back in those days the site had no commerical element at all, it was purely a bit of fun. Nowdays, while I still have the same passion for restoration and motorcycles in general, I would concede that where this has changed from the original purpose, is that from it has spawned an offshoot 'Transactional' website, from which we are able to run our mail order business, manufacturing and selling Norton SOHC parts. This leaves me less time for writing new articles than I used to have, but I still have loads of material - I never go into the garage now without a camera, and I still like to share my experiences with others - so I will try and get some of these articles written up and published in the neare future.
in so much that the current website has a (Norton parts) business attached to it, and I have far less time to actually write articles or expirement with new ideas, due to the pressure's of the business - which is a bit of a shame.
Website Design - The Technical Toolkit
Becoming a Technical Nurd . . . Well Learning what HTML is Anyway!
What is interesting ( . . .if of course you are as anal as I am!), is how the technical techniques used in website design have so completely changed in the time since the first version of the website was published back in 2002. I think most people will have heard of 'HTML' even if they do not fully understand what it is. Well this is the programming language that underwrites most websites and I suppose is pretty much universal. However, how that HTML is put together to create a website can vary a great deal.
When I first wrote the Vincent page above, I had to learn everything to do with website design from scratch and 'framesets' were very much in vogue at the time (the Vincent page on the top right consists of a top bar, a left side bar with buttons and a content section on the right- making a frameset in total).
5 years later on, when I did the next big re-design of the Homepage in 2006, Tables with Layout Cells were being used within the HTML code to help position everything - but resulted in lots of redundant code for the cells of the table that were automatically generated but not filled.
There have been lots of other developments in the intervening time, but frankly I am just an enthusiastic amateur and have struggled to keep abreast of any of them, I would like to learn more, but only have time available to learn the bare principles enough to be able to produce pages for publishing the next article or update .
About 6 months ago i realised the RacingVincent website was in need of a facelift and was faced with a dilemna - should I do it myself or admit defeat and pass it over to a professional website design company? Well, I was seriously considering the latter and handing it over to someone else - I am just not getting time to do it . . . but then I realised, just like the bike restoration, this is one of the things I actually enjoy doing . . . so maybe it is worth indulging myself and trying to learn a bit about how websites are currently being written. I also realised that if I handed it over to another company it might even slow the process down, as every time I wanted to publish another article I would need to go through them - probably time consuming, and almost certainly going to cost more than I had available for such things.
New Software RequiredBut time waits for no man, and never has this principle been more true than in the computer software world. When I came to update the website at the end of last year I realised my version of Dreamweaver (the software tool I use to write my website design and HTML) was very outdated. This was Dreamweaver MX, which I had been using since approximately 2007 and I think that particular version was a couple of years old even then.
So having made the decision I was going to try and update my web design skills and knowing HTML5 was the current standard I decided to update my Dreamweaver software to the latest version. It seems that purely by chance, 10 years ago when I chose Dreamweaver amidst all the other editing tools just then emerging, that this tool would evolve to become one of the few De-Facto design tools - and to such an extent that, somewhere in the intervening time since Dreamweaver MX was current, Dreamweaver had been bought by that giant of the software world - Adobe, and had become part of their first line toolset, along with other such industry standard tools as Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash and others. <More to be updated here - article still in progress>
Learning HTML5/CSS3Well it has from November until now (August), doing it in my spare time, to finally get my head around the major webdesign changes that have taken place in the last 5 years, but I quickly found that overall, web design has changed dramatically and what I had previously learnt was not only out of date - but some elements were now positively discouraged - bugger - back to school!
As with rebuilding a motorcycle - first thing to do was to go get a decent toolkit . . . which I already had, in that I was already using Dreamweaver MX and Adobe Photoshop CS3, but Dreamweaver has come a long way since MX was current (2005). What is Dreamweaver? - Dreamweaver is a web designer tool, that has a front end that allows non-teccies (a bit like me!) to buiild a website without having to write actual code. Eventually I found you do get to know the basics of HTML code and can have it in split mode, where you can have a design 'view' on one side and a code 'view' on the other.
When I first started the Vincent site back in 2002 Dreamweaver was just one of many tools available to do this job, and I chose it then by chance. Now 10 years later it seems to have become the de-facto design tool, and has subsequently been bought by that giant of the Software world Adobe (who also own Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash and many other of the definitive professional software tools available). I suppose this lucky for me -