Introducing iCorfu

iCorfu browser windows iCorfu, find and rent Corfu apartments, hotels and villas. A brand new website design created to showcase the accommodation available to book on the island of Corfu, Greece. It also is a guide to the many beautiful resorts available on the second largest of the Ionian Sea islands, Corfu.

Find and Rent Corfu Apartments, Hotels & Villas

Built using the Genesis Framework and powered by WordPress, iCorfu is a responsive website design and very adaptable to many different devices. Using custom post types, taxonomies and categories designed as part of the initial content strategy work means that visitors can quickly browse for their desired accommodation type, such as apartment or hotel and also filter down to accommodation with Free Wi-Fi or near the beach.

The design needed to be easy to use, and adapt to a wide range of accommodation and allow for searching for accommodation as well as by area. Google maps are used to show where the accommodation is in the resort and show other local accommodation. markup was used to categorise the accommodation also. Font Awesome support was built in to help make each facility stand out.

iCorfu is a sister website to iZante, another holiday accommodation guide.

Web design with Dad

Web site creators, makers and builders could learn a thing or too from my dad. He never made a website, but he made lots of other stuff. He made buildings, businesses, relationships and made lots and lots of people laugh.

Sadly I can’t give my dad a father’s day card today. Neither a hug, nor a kiss. But like many others who have lost their father; I can still celebrate, appreciate and learn from my dad’s life. I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of my thoughts about my dad here. I think he would like that. It also will give you an idea of my roots and give you a sense of some of the values we hold as a family business. I think his life story and work as a plumber, builder, chauffeur and entrepreneur contains some important lessons that help guide me and might be of benefit to others not only in the web development business but in all aspects of life.

The Master Builder

[unordered_list style=”star”]


Work hard. Work smart

Most of all I will always remember dad as a working man. A hard working man. I worked for him from an early age. £2 a day. Even then it wasn’t a great deal. But what I learnt from him and my grandad, more than made up for anything lacking in my pay packet. Later he would go on to build extensions, new houses, restaurants and even Mosques. Often he would take too much work on though. He didn’t like to say no to people. If someone asked him if he could do something. He wouldn’t hesitate, look them in the eye and say yes. But he would always get the job done and do it right. My dad would often have left for work before I got up and return home after I had gone to sleep again. For years he did this seven days a week.

Not sure if he got the work/life balance right. But we’d appreciate us all being together for a month in the summer holidays. Some of the happiest days of my life.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

A phrase I know that came from at least as far back as my dad’s dad. He used to repeat it all the time. This rubbed off on my dad, and onto me. If you ever need to cut wood, or measure something before cutting. Do it again. Double check that measurement, before you cut. Which might stop you having to cut again or even worse buy more material. So how does this apply to web design & development? Well, it means think about the size of layouts, break points, image sizes, page weight etc before you start creating.

How many times have you exported a bunch of images to a certain size, to find that actually they are slightly too small, or too big? I have lost count.

Plan to succeed

Dad was more of a lover than a fighter. Yet he instinctively knew about the 7 Ps. I remember carrying sheets and sheets of plasterboard up flights of stairs. Stacking them in the centre of the room so, we could still work on the walls. Being pretty pleased with my self. My dad would walk in and tell me to re-stack them. The problem? They were not perfectly aligned. I thought he was just being picky, but he was right of course. Plasterboard, or any other sheet material keeps much better when stacked properly. The sheets will last better, be less prone to damage and are less likely to cause an accident. He would also make sure I had swept the room first. Today I can tell just how good a builder is by the tidiness of their building site. Also by working out exactly how many sheets of plasterboard we need. Means not having to take the sheets backdown the stairs again and then dispose or store them. It also means we don’t eat into our profit or client’s budget.

Your websites will not build themselves. You need proper planning and preparation to make something perform well.

Build on strong foundations

Never cut corners with your foundations. I remember my heart sinking after working hard digging out foundations by hand. Thinking this has got to be deep enough but then my dad would come along to inspect what I had done;
“Have you reached the gravel yet?”
Me: “Erm, no Dad.”
Dad: “Keep going mate.”

Dad was right though. If you don’t dig down to that solid base. You have just been wasting your time. Everything you do afterwards. No matter how beautifully crafted will be flawed. So how do we apply this to the art and craft of web design? Always build on good semantic code. Make sure it validates. If it doesn’t be happy that this isn’t effecting search engines, spiders or bots reading your code.

Build on solid foundations and you can reach for the sky.

Invest in a beautiful tool kit

Dad always had a great tool kit. He would spend sometimes a great deal more on lets say a new power saw than he could have done. But this expensive power saw is lighter, faster, tougher, more reliable, durable and more pleasurable to use. Similarly, you can buy a really cheap hammer. But if you look after your tools they can last a lifetime. Maybe less so in the web creation industry, but getting the right tools of the trade is essential to what ever you are doing. Doesn’t always mean buying the most expensive, but sometimes it does pay to buy the best.

Of course this means spending time in learning how to use them properly too. So read, buy books, attend workshops. Never stop learning.

Adapt and be flexible

Your web designs are not the only thing that need to be flexible, fluid and responsive. You do too. My father, and his father had lots of changes of direction in their lives.

My grandad worked in the automotive industry, was a carpenter, worked as a mechanic during WWII and once even ran a business taking pictures of tourists with monkeys and donkeys.

Dad had completed an apprenticeship as a Heating and Ventilation Engineer, or a plumber to you and I. Many a Saturday I spent sorting his 1/2 & 3/4 inch copper elbows from their matching sockets; fetching pipe, flux or solder.

My dad has been a plumber, builder, taxi driver, chauffeur and director. Life is like that. You might find that you need to move in a new direction in the future. You might invest everything into design but later move into content strategy and then later who knows?

By all means get good at that “one thing”. But always keep an eye on what is happening in related disciplines.

Be Brave

Sometimes you just have to stand up and be a man (or a woman). Know the client’s proposals are wrong? Tell them! If you don’t, you’re not doing your job. It takes courage sometimes but you can not afford to be chicken. Your client can’t afford that either. She doesn’t pay you for that. She might not like it if you tell her she is wrong. But she will respect you for it.

I watched my dad shout and bawl at more than 30 builders, plasterers and other tradesmen on one of his building sites. Not one of them, no matter how tough talking they were when he was not there would look him in the eye. They just shuffled their feet awkwardly like berated teenagers. while he swore at them for sloppy work, or just the shoddy state they had left the site in. My dad didn’t enjoy it but it had to be done. Another time he stood up to an Albanian giant who threatened to hit him with a shovel. He didn’t back down. He didn’t need to fight him either. He just stood there and looked him straight in the eye. Bravery doesn’t mean you have to fight. However none of this comes anywhere near to the bravery he showed when he was fighting cancer. I got very close to him in this very challenging period of his life. Despite all the pain, suffering he endured he still managed to make the family and nurses laugh.

Sometimes you need to have a brave heart.

Love People

Dad was always a people person. Wherever he went, he knew somebody. It didn’t matter where. Tesco, Harrods, Acton or Mayfair. I thought everyone knew my dad. I was so proud to be his son. I think it was his love of people that made people love him so much. He was always happy to help people out. Even people he didn’t know too well. He always gave them a chance. He didn’t suffer fools gladly though. He normally could sort the good from the bad. He could mix with businessmen, dustmen or superstars.

Love people and people will love you.

Be Flash, Harry

Dad had a bit of a Flash Harry, Arthur Daily or Delboy vibe to him too. Not as fast talking, his rhythm was more honest and genuine. He certainly knew some colourful characters. No gangster for sure, but he might have known a few. He loved the Ealing Comedies. This was right up his street. I am sure many of the characters he could relate too from his experience of life in London. He loved to show off his new Bentley, or show how well he had built something. But this is essential. No matter what industry you are in. You have got to sell. You are always a salesman. Give it a bit of Flash Harry. Sell that sh*t!

People want to be entertained, and enjoy a good salesmen. Be honest, truthful and always fair. They will always be happy to come back for more.

You gotta have soul

Dad and mum turned me on to music. What a gift that is to give to someone! Music has always been there for me in good and bad. I still have some of his vinyl. Led Zeppelin’s finest hour; Physical Graffiti, Jimi’s best production; All along the watchtower; Rod Stewart’s; Maggie May and many others. I remember him grooving round our living room to Prince Buster, Detroit Spinners, Van McCoy, Earth Wind and Fire, The Jimmy Castor Bunch and the wonderful Stylistics. Yes, my dad was a soul man too. He oozed it. My brother, sister and I giddy with excitement clapping our hands in time with his lead. The beat booming through his state-of-the-art stereo. The volume was always eclipsed by his smile.

People love soul. My dad was a soul man. I suggest you be one too.

Have fun

Things happen in business. Partnerships may fail and so do economies. He stopped working as a builder and became a driver. The rented mini cab soon became a Mercedes-Benz S Class, soon he would own his own chauffeur business. If cancer had not have cut his life at 63 years of age, he would be flying all over the world now. Staying in his clients’ ranches, holiday homes and mansions. His customers loved him. He would always go above and beyond what they might expect of their chauffeur. He would check their builders were doing their jobs right, advise them on property acquisitions, get them into clubs but above all he was fun to be around. Not a comedian, just warm, friendly and always happy to help.

Why have fun? Because, life is too short. Ask Warwick Davies and my dad. Dad was 63 when he died…

A positive atittude

It is this positive attitude that people resonate with. It is this energy that his clients’ could feel. “Come on over Andy, I insist!”. Dad loved that too. Who wouldn’t? He loved the Bentleys and Rolls-Royces, restaurants and shops. The high life. Yet he always loved nothing more than coming home to his house in the country and spending time with my mum and family. He didn’t buy a sports car, he bought a tractor. I don’t exactly know the roots of his passion for farm machinery. I guess it must have come from when he used to live in a caravan on a farm.

Be positive and people will respond accordingly.

Exceed expectations

I am in many ways very different from my dad. I am much more reserved. I enjoy a drink now and again. Dad was teetotal. Dad would make strangers feel like they have known him all their life. He liked to show off but I’m a little more quiet. Yet when it comes to work and the websites we build for people. We, like my dad, always want to exceed expectations. To make something great, not merely adequate. I work hard too. I don’t do the seven day a week, and late working nights which dad did for many, many years. But when I’m working, I am working hard. Spending time on getting the foundations right. Building something that I can be proud of. Building websites our customers will really benefit from. Doing it right. I learnt that from my dad and my grandad for £2 a day.

I also learnt that if you get it right your customers will love you for it.


Dad was always a Very Important Person in my life. He was a VIP for many others too. The family spent a lot of time thinking about his gravestone. No, we didn’t want shiny granite. We felt that it had to be stone. This reflected more about what he did in life as a builder. It is a proud stone with a classic shape, with simple, large letters. My dad couldn’t stand small type on business cards. You can read his inscription on his gravestone from far away. We used the classic Times font. Like his beloved vintage Ferguson tractor or Rolls-Royce. Timeless. At the bottom of the stone you will read VIP. We thought he would like this simple but bold statement. And he of course was and remains a very important person in our lives. He always made people feel very important too.

Remember relationships are a two way street. Treat your self and your clients as VIPs.


Whenever the sun shines, I think of dad. I love to sit in the garden and feel his warmth and effervescent glow. My ambition now is to build his spirit into every project I work on. It might not be obvious. It might only come from the smiles of my clients when they see their website doing more than they ever thought it could.

Happy father’s day, Dad. xxx

A Family Business

In January Susan and I decided to leave our current employment and go freelancing as iFamily. At around the same time Andy Clarke and Anna Debenham started a new podcast focusing on the business end of web, design and creative industries; Unfinished Business.

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business has been invaluable to us. Even though there are two of us running our Ringwood based web design company it can get a little lonely. It is so refreshing to hear two well respected web professionals share their experience of working freelance. There are of course lots of resources and podcasts on the creative side of web design. I particularly enjoy Jeffrey Zeldman’s, The Big Web Show. But aside from Unfinished Business have found very little else about the business side of web design and development. The problem with this industry is that we are all more than happy to share our techniques and tricks but we are often a little bit more secretive about the pounds and pennies. So I thought I would chime in about some of the points and products discussed on their show, from iFamily’s perspective and also mention some of the ones we use.

A message from our sponsors

One of the highlights of their podcast for me, is when they share some of the tools of their trade. They find some really great sponsors. I am quite astonished by how much stuff I have bought as a result of listening to their show! Two have become indispensable to me already; FreeAgent and Perch. I know Hammer for Mac will also be adopted by iFamily soon also.


Perch was the first sponsor of Unfinished Business. I had heard good things about this CMS system before. But after hearing the praise that Anna and Andy reaped on it, I tried the demo. I have since bought two licences and created two websites with it. In both cases Perch has been a perfect fit. I could have used WordPress but sometimes Perch does just enough and is wonderfully easy to work with. WordPress although very capable is a behemoth. The learning curve on Perch is a lot less steep and even after a relatively small time I was really enjoying working with it.


We knew we needed to manage our invoicing and finances well. We didn’t want to generate invoices in Pages. Like Perch, I had heard some good things before about FreeAgent, but Anna Debenham was very positive about it in the podcast. I then coincidently picked up a flyer from the Altitude web conference and promptly signed up. It is brilliant. You can hook it up to your bank account and it’ll auto-magically feed into it. Invoices are easy to generate and it also works with timer apps too so you can monitor exactly what you have been doing. Accounting might never be fun, but FreeAgent is invaluably so.

Sign up to FreeAgent and get a 10% discount with referral code: 42v393mf.

Hammer for Mac

Hammer for Mac is another really clever and interesting app that the dynamic duo have introduced to iFamily. To be honest I haven’t bought it yet. (Edit: I have now) I have just been using a demo. But it really is a great new way of working on front end development. So I will probably buy this real soon as it looks like a very useful tool. I have also tried Rock Hammer Andy Clarke’s new mobile first boilerplate, which is beautifully executed and is a great template for any new project. As you might have guessed it plays nicely with Hammer for Mac. I predict a SASS, Hammer for Mac and Rock Hammer learning session will be something I will be doing very shortly.

Home Work

We have been working professionally on the web since 2000 but have only been working freelance for a few months. Susan and I incorporated iFamily Web Design Ltd in March 2013. Leaving a regular pay cheque is never easy. We hadn’t even planned going freelance. So we had to hit the ground running, and fast. The following are some of iFamily’s most valuable and useful tools and resources that may or may not have been featured in Unfinished Business.

Time after time

I wanted to track my time. It is very easy for web workers to procrastinate and get distracted. No, I am not talking about porn. Working in this industry means there is always something new to learn. It is like painting the Forth Bridge. On crack. Nowhere near as dangerous or physically challenging but it is a continual process. As soon as you learn something, some other clever Dick has created a new way, and we start again.


Eon seemed like it might help me keep a close eye on my time. Eon is a simple little desktop app, and you can buy a plugin for it that hooks right into FreeAgent. If you leave your desk on your return it asks if you would like to knock the time back. Which I do religiously. If I start learning something new which will benefit me after the project, then I turn the timer off. If this will only benefit my client’s project I might keep it on.

Doing the time warp

What is totally surprising though is that after you might have been toiling at your desk for 8 or 9 hours a day; I am only totting up 5 or 6 hours of paid work. Maybe the timer is wrong? I don’t think so. I am sure I will find this app more and more useful in future especially when quoting for new projects. I can always look back at how much time I have spent on something and price accordingly.

Show me the money

I was introduced to Cole Henley whilst attending Andy Clarke’s Hardboiled Web Design workshop a couple of years ago. Andy suggested to us that we all follow Cole on Twitter as he is hilarious. Which is an understatement. But Dr Cole has a serious side too and he produces and curates the most excellent Freelance Rates Survey and the great Freelance Rates Calculator. I now use these as yard stick in order to calculate a day rate for our work.

Good company

We decided to register as a limited company and at the same time bought a mailing address from Registered Address. So now our official address is in London. We also use this address to hide any domain name registration addresses from the world. We are only an hour and a half from London so could easily do client work there. But for the most part we are going to try and work a little bit more local than that. We want our local economy to benefit from our expertise too. However it seems getting a registered London address is cheaper than getting one in Ringwood.

Design is a job

If you are not easily offended, and are not particularly religious you have to follow Mike Monteiro on Twitter. He doesn’t pull any punches. Neither does his book, Design is a Job. This is really great. I particularly like the chapter on “Choosing the right clients”. This suits are philosophy here at iFamily. We don’t want to battle with our clients. So, from the outset we find only the best people or businesses to work for.

Stop! Thief!

In Unfinished Business, Andy Clarke revealed how someone has used his artwork on their website. He has explained how he has tried to politely ask for the content to be removed, but it seems that this is falling on deaf ears. My old employer, iChauffeur used to suffer from this all the time. Pictures of our cars, text copy and more were often pinched. I have even seen people advertising for developers who can clone the entire iChauffeur site! I used to spend a lot of time asking people to take down this content. I used to actually enjoy calling them, asking if I could hire the actual Rolls-Royce shown on their website. Could I have that actual car? They would soon fall to pieces into a stuttering mess when I told them that it was actually my vehicle. One resource I started using, and which gets immediate results is the Removing content from Google tool. You have to be sure you own the copyright, and you have to report each url individually. I often would use the WayBack Machine in conjunction with this to prove that we had published something first. But boy does it get results. I know Google are not the only search engine. But their dominance means you can effectively stop the thief in their tracks. Sure, they can keep publishing your stuff but their pages will be hidden from the Google index.

I had one large competitor call me complaining about what we had done when we reported several of his websites. He even suggested that I call him first before we reported any more sites, just to make sure it wasn’t one of his first! Some of this plagiarism actually worked well for us. They would often link back to us inadvertently, and sometimes we would not take any action against them because of this. But most of the time it is just one more thing to eat into your day.

Useful resources

[unordered_list style=”star”]

  • Contract Killer
  • The Three Wise Monkeys NDA
  • Growing your design business
  • Getting Clients


How to: VirtualBox, Windows and MAMP Pro on a Mac

A brief guide to setting up MAMP Pro, VirtualBox and Windows on a Mac for web designers and developers.

Working locally is always a good thing. Nothing beats designing and developing on your local machine. What I mean by local is not where you live or work. In my case in Ringwood, in the New Forest. Locally in this instance means on your local machine.

Using MAMP Pro it is easy to set up a new server on your Mac. However I often get stumped when trying to test my designs in IE. I use VirtualBox which is fantastic. Running IE8 on a vintage Windows NT install within VirtualBox I can see how my new site design looks and works. BrowserShots and other similar services are good for giving you a static picture of your website running on various flavours of Windows and IE. But to develop quickly you want to be doing this locally.

First things first, create a new server instance using MAMP Pro. I use the standard Apache and MySQL ports so I don’t need to append anything on the end of the local url. My Apache port is 80.

  1. So once you have created a new virtual host in MAMP Pro, let’s call it: mywebsite.local
  2. Load this address in your browser of choice and you should see your website. If so you can then then get this working on your Windows install.
  3. For this you need to open your Terminal app. Gulp.
  4. Open Terminal, then enter the following command: ifconfig

    If you get a command not found message, enter this: export PATH=”/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/X11/bin”

    Then enter ifconfig again.

    You should then see a whole load of stuff appear. Scan through it and you should see an IP address. In my case it is after the “en1:” paragraph. My IP address is:

  5. Then fire up Windows and find your hosts file: C:WINDOWSsystem32driversetchosts
  6. Open it in Notepad. And enter your ip address and the name of your local site at the end of the hosts file:

    ie: mywebsite.local

    Save the file.

  7. Then open IE and type the name of your local site in the browser address bar and BANG! You should see your website.

Now comes the real tricky part getting your design to look great in IE. But that’s another story…

New Forest Hotel

New Forest Hotel

Trawling through the many different types of New Forest based accommodation websites, I decided that there is space for something a little different. New Forest Hotel was designed to offer the visitor some carefully chosen hotels in the New Forest National Park. There are some beautiful hotels in the area including: Chewton Glen, Careys Manor, Rhinefield House and the newly created Lime Wood. is still being developed but the plan is to show only the finest New Forest Hotels.

In terms of construction this is as simple as it gets, html5 with very few bells and whistles, but I think on this occasion this is the right way forward.

Welcome to the iFamily, New Forest Hotel!