New websites

Today Directors UK launched their new site. This project has taken up a good portion of my working life over the past 10 months.

It seems to be the first thing that most digital managers attempt to convince everyone is needed when they start at a new organisation but at Directors UK a new site was well overdue and I didn’t have to do too much convincing in order to get the wheels in motion.

This was by no means the first (or hopefully last) new website project that I’ve lead but Directors UK, being a membership organisation, presented a set of requirements that I hadn’t had to deal with directly before. Luckily we enlisted the lovely, very talented (and very bearded) folk at Substrakt as our web agency for the project, a good agency can make or break a complex project like this where you are dealing with numerous existing IT systems, an extremely diverse array of stakeholders and a typical primary user who is very visually literate. Demanding would be an accurate description.

At its best a project like this can help an organisation really interrogate and analyse its purpose and whether things are working as well as they should. It offers space to take a step back and reflect on things, which is always a valuable exercise (incidentally if you want to just undergo this part of the process then I’d thoroughly recommend Chris Unitt who helped us out by running a couple of workshops in which we took a fresh look at our user groups, stakeholders and, as a result, the actual requirements we should have of the website).

Directors UK has, as an organisation, grown considerably in both size and complexity since the old site was developed in 2011. The new site (hopefully!) supports the organisations current needs and ambitions and will also provide a suitably robust platform for them over the next few years.

I always forget just how much blood, sweat and tears are required for a successful relaunch and I’m really proud of the work that we have done on this. Special thanks are due to all the boys at Substrakt (in particular; Max, Mark, Andy and Jim) and my colleague Marc at Directors UK, it quite literally wouldn’t have happened without them.

I’ll do a bit more of a considered reflection on all this once things have bedded in.

Onwards!

Cycling 100 miles

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So that we didn’t feel totally unprepared for the all-of-Wales ride we’re doing in a couple of weeks, the bloke I’m doing that ride with and I decided to get at least 100 miles in the legs with a trip down to Hastings and along the south coast. The weather couldn’t have been better (comedy tanlines all-round) and noone had too horrible-a-time (nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a fistful of jelly babies or a snickers).

The route was absolutely great, bodged together from a few club routes I’d seen and general avoid-all-the-big-roads sensibilities, totally recommended if you’re heading down that way. You’ll want to work out a different way through Hastings as we ended up carrying our bikes up what the map insisted was a cycle path but what was, in reality, about 200 steps…

Cycling across Wales – the plan

Ever since I did John O’Groats to Land’s End I’ve been on the lookout for other long-distance UK rides to do. My favourite part of “JOGLE” was the first section through the Scottish highlands, the scenery was absolutely incredible but what I really enjoyed was the almost total isolation, you could cycle all day and see about 10 other people, it was glorious. Unfortunately the fact is the UK is a relatively small place and that isolation has proven a bit hard to find.

HOWEVER I then stumbled across a blog that mentioned the Lôn Las Cymru (or to give it its slightly more boring official name National Cycle Route 8). This is a 250(ish) mile route from Holyhead to Chepstow (or Cardiff) that basically smashes across the middle of Wales, which is a very empty, mountainous place by all accounts. So, using that existing route as a basis, I plotted a slightly more rural, slightly longer version (which clocks in at about 280 miles) and in a couple of weeks a friend and I will be getting on a train to Holyhead so that we can spend 3 days cycling to Bristol in what will, at least in parts, hopefully be something approaching glorious isolation.

Photos/too many stats/etc to follow. Route(s) below

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

And then, this http://www.northcoast500.com/home.aspx