Teapot’s web apprentice, Alex AKA ‘Tonks’, has recently completed designing and building a website for The Sugar Cube, our little art gallery here at Teapot Towers. We thought we’d ask him a few questions to see how it all went.

Although web savvy and IT trained when he started his apprenticeship at Teapot 6 months ago, football mad Tonks only had limited web design experience when he came to us to complete his apprenticeship in partnership with Strode College. His brief with this project was to create a stylish yet simple ‘on brand’ site to promote the gallery and the work of the artists. I was confident that he’d get on well and like with everything our man Tonks turns his hand to, he’s done it with minimum fuss and maximum results. The site looks spot on. Good man. A thoroughly professional job.

Read on for the interview itself and if you’d like to visit the Sugar Cube Gallery website then just click here – www.sugarcubegallery.co.uk.

Sugar Cube Gallery website - screenshot

IS THIS THE FIRST WEBSITE YOU’VE BUILT?

Yes, this is the first site that I have fully built by myself, minus input from Lizzie and Felix. I have helped out the web team here at Teapot on other sites such as SaffronCYM and Hestercombe but never before have I built a site single-handedly.

Positive feedback

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE THE SITE LIVE?

It feels great knowing that my first creation is out there for the world to see. I previously thought that once the site went live then that would be it on the development for a while, but that appears not to be the case! A few bugs and corrections have come up which is a learning curve because I’ll now expect this in future projects and websites.

WHAT WAS YOUR BRIEF FOR THIS PROJECT?

Believe it or not I didn’t have too much of a brief for constructing the Sugar Cube Gallery. As it was my first site, it was seen as a test of my ability at this point in my apprenticeship so I was given total control over the site. The brief was to create a simple but elegant looking site in a set period of time with my colleague Lizzie supplying me with the graphics and my colleague Felix providing the written content.

DID YOU USE A WEBSITE CREATION TOOL OR DID YOU BUILD THE SITE FROM SCRATCH?

I used WordPress to create the site, mainly because it is the software that I’ve been learning to use over the past few months and am getting comfortable with.

WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE?

I faced more challenges than I expected to to be honest. The main one would be dealing with the Gallery section which, as you can expect for a site like this, is kind of important! The Gallery plug-in that I used caused a lot of problems such as not loading all of the images properly, not displaying images, etc. These took a bit of time to overcome but as said before it’s all been a great learning curve!

Sugar cubeANYTHING YOU’LL DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?

I intend to approach all websites differently due to each project standing alone from the others as each website is unique no matter how similar looking it is to another one. I’ll be using a variety of themes and plug-ins all depending on how the site needs to be laid out. Another thing I will do is to check with fellow developers when installing plug-ins because I encountered a few problems with a lot of them.

THE SUGAR CUBE SITE IS IMAGE RICH. HOW DID YOU FIND MANAGING THIS ASPECT OF THE PROJECT?

I found it both challenging and enjoyable. It was challenging in the plug-in side of things, finding the perfect plug-in to bring out the best in the main focus of the website and it was enjoyable because I had the choice of which images went where the size and shape of the images.

THE CLIENT IN THIS PROJECT WAS TEAPOT. ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING WITH A PAYING CLIENT ON YOUR NEXT PROJECT?

In my 5 months of being here as the web apprentice I have been involved in a few projects with paying clients. It would only be helping out a developer with a page of content but that didn’t mean I could stray outside the project guidelines. I am very much looking forward to working with a paying client and helping to bring their vision to life as it will give a different feel than creating a website for your own company.

Question mark - stock imageWAS THE PROJECT A ROLLER COASTER RIDE OR A SMOOTH JOURNEY?

It was a bit of both to be honest! There were parts of the project that went very smoothly such as designing the pages and getting the content, however some parts following that were a tad bumpy. Getting all of the artists’ information and photographs would be an example of this because without it we couldn’t go live.

NOW IT’S DONE AND DUSTED, HAND ON HEART HAVE YOU ENJOYED THE EXPERIENCE?

In truth I have really enjoyed the whole experience and hope to incorporate what I have learned into future projects. Working more with my colleagues has given me a better knowledge of who specifies in which area of the company so I know who to ask in the future if I’m stuck with anything!

WHAT’S NEXT?

I’m not 100% sure what’s next! I hope to be involved in more projects and over time gain a better knowledge of all of the software we use. Over the next few months I’m hoping for my reliability to start increasing alongside my experience.

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