My name is... Alex Dawson, I build websites.

Guess What: You can buy my new book Distinctive Design on Amazon![X]

Who is Alex?

I am an award winning 28 year old web professional from England who designs, develops, consults, speaks and writes about building high quality, accessible websites.

Services

  1. Website Design
  2. Website Tune-Up
  3. Accessibility Audits
  4. Usability Tests (UX)
  5. Content Writing
  6. Online Strategy
  7. Project Plans (IA)
  8. Social Marketing

Experience

I am a freelancer and self-taught Web professional with 14 years of experience in the field. And while I work in the web industry, I'm also skilled in software development.

Education

I graduated college with a GNVQ and AVCE in Health and Social care with extra Psychology. Using this unique background I'll improve websites with your clients in mind.

Languages

  1. (x)HTML
  2. XML
  3. CSS
  4. VB.NET
  5. WinHelp
  6. JavaScript
  7. PHP & mySQL
  8. SWiSHMax

Community

As well as helping people on the SitePoint forums, I'm a member of GAWDS, IWA, UPA and the WSG promoting industry best practices and good accessibility on the web.

Hobbies

In my spare time I enjoy watching TV & Movies, playing Tennis and Chess and listening to Podcasts. If you want to know more about me or my business, just let me know.

Resources

Website Design

If you want a brand new website or want to refresh an existing one, I can make you a site that's crafted with care, and meets the highest level of standards you can expect.

Web Portfolio

Print Portfolio

Flash Portfolio

HiTechy Website

This very website has undergone many changes to evolve into what you see today. It therefore makes sense to discuss the design work I've done here on my homepage.

Details

Version 1.0

As HiTechy started as a software development business, I needed a conventional design. Inspired by nature I built an earthy warm two column simple to use layout.

Version 2.0

Turning from software to website design, I decided to experiment and show off with a controversial but fresh layout that made used bleeding edge CSS techniques.

Version 3.0

Finally we have the version you see today. Taking lessons from the old site and making vast usability improvements, a mix of simplicity and accessibility become my goal.

Resources

One Page Layout

When building this website I was inspired to create a beautiful one page design. Using some pastel colors and some powerful pure CSS it gives a multiple page effect!

Features

Resources

Blogging Design

Blogs are one of the most popular websites of choice. I put together a simple and clean blog interface that has a few graphical flourishes on hovering over the navigation.

Features

Resources

AD2K-Ware Studios

Before HiTechy existed, there was AD2K-Ware. This was a non-profit business I launched to hold free software products I wrote. This of course had it's own web design.

Details

Preface

For the various software products I wrote, each release was followed by a fresh web design. I've put a patchwork of highlights of various designs and functions together.

Explained

My coding skills came from these web experiments, as they haven't aged well, I've not provided them publicly. Though in their day they were rather good web designs.

Resources

eBook Template

Working with a previous client, I was asked to produce a template for a potential web design eBook for internal distribution. This was an interesting and fun project.

Details

Explained

Provided as part of the package included a beautiful cover and the copyright info, contents and index pages, intro page, chapter cover, template page... a lot of work!

Resources

Design Sketches

Information architecture is a core service I offer. Each project I take up results in a variety of sketches using my WACOM tablet to get a visualization of the end result.

General

Once sketched or drawn digitally, I save my diagrams as a PDF file. The creative process is important in my job role so these wireframes warrant inclusion in the portfolio.

Disclaimer

Unfortunately I tend to have loads of ideas but not enough time to bring each one through. Luckily these sketches will preserve these concepts for future development.

Resources

Software Help Files

Most applications use HTML for their help files. With knowledge in software development and web design, producing these help files is something I've come to enjoy.

Formats

Documentation I've written has come in many formats like HLP, CHM, MAML, PDF, DOC, RTF and HTML. Using the right format for the job is imperative to my goals.

Work

I've produced several help files for software I've built in the past. And some of my older clients had me create them some help files for their own programming work too.

Resources

KillaNet Promo Video

One of my clients approached me to create a Flash based promotion video for industry contacts to gain an insight into their business. This presentation was a great success.

Contents

Method

Using SWiSHMax and high quality music, the video showcased some projects they had completed in a visually stunning montage much alike an art gallery presentation.

Resources

eXtreme Adventures

Using a blend of real life photos and some Flash, I built a comical cartoon of forum moderators that was sent around privately in a well known MSN Chat community.

Reason

By creating the animation, it gave a face to usernames and increased the emotional bond between the moderators and regulars making visitors more inclined to stay.

Method

The comic strip effect used layered Flash speech bubbles, which were positioned over the characters real life photos to form a storyline based on the forums activities.

Resources

Web Practical Joke

One fun April fools day I decided to treat an IRC chat network I talk in to a flash based practical joke for their website. Upon clicking links, a funny animation triggered.

Why!

This project came mostly out of boredom, however the final effect was very pleasing to the eyes. It also mocked a regular who enjoys getting into trouble occasionally!

What?

Upon clicking any of the fake links it flashed various warnings which were followed by a comical system event resulting in the fake website collapsing, before resetting again!

Resources

App Development

I write software in my spare time. While this may seem an odd hobby I find it rather relaxing! I've written and designed a fair few apps in my time. Just check out the below.

Products

Archive

GUI Design

HiTechy SnipClip

Writing code can get repetitive, so this product aims to solve that issue by managing your snippets in a drag and drop environment that works with your code editor.

Features

Functionality

You simply drag code you want to store into the app, and drag it into the software you use when you need it. It's quick, simple and uses an open source storage format!

Requirements

Details

This product is not free, it's a piece of commercial software and you'll need to pay £7.50 to obtain a full license. A limited demo is available and can be used without paying.

Resources

MSN Chat Utilities

Back in the days when MSN Chat was around, I produced a range of free moderation software for the networks chat rooms. For 6 years I was a leading figure in this field.

Scope

I produced a range of products to improve the user-experience for users of the MSN Client. This was the largest development project I have been involved in to-date.

Community

I collaborated with a wide range of professionals and helped several software developers in their own creations. I also supported several online groups and their networks.

Success

Over the six year period I was featured on several major sites, produced over 30 products and had thousands of active users. I even ran a own web community!

Resources

Illumni Installer

Every product needs an installer, so I wrote my own. It supported most functions you would expect in such a package and considering how old it is, it does the job well!

Details

Functions

The product isn't open source but all elements of the installer can be controlled through an editable INI file. You literally just distribute the executable with the components.

Resources

Learn 4 IT

While at college one of the tasks I had to undertake was a project to aid children's learning ability. One activity undertaken from this task resulted in this small application.

Segments

Overview

This product aims to improve a 5 to 6 year olds literacy, numeracy, association, recognition, motor function and IT skills. It contains 4 activities with 12 levels in total.

Results

Upon testing the application on the target audience, they found the activities engaging. The main side benefit for myself was that I received an A grade for my work!

Resources

KillaNet Navigator

One client, who I produced several projects with asked me to write a web browser for their site. It's goal was to interlink the networks services into basic user-interface.

Details

Release

While the application still exists, sadly the business failed to update it or go beyond the initial release so it has ended up as an archived piece of work floating on the web.

Resources

KillaCast TV

Before the days of BBC iPlayer and streaming media the web used a variety of formats to show audio and video. I was asked to built a web media aggregator for these.

Details

Project

A regular client approached me to built a tool which used a hosted XML list of streams or media, that detected the player and made use of the format playing the file.

Support

The product supported Quicktime, Windows Media Player, RealOne, Flash and any format associated with them. However it required those products to be installed.

Resources

Project Salamander

While I offer help file production as a service, this application was a web based help file viewer that I put together. It also came with a range of unique, useful features.

Naming

As you can tell, this software has a strange name. The reason for this is due to it never getting past the beta stage. While never released, it still did it's job very effectively.

Conventions

This product supported HTML and CSS, it could send commands to the product on link clicking and even built index maps of content automatically, no help required!

Resources

ADO Architect

A client employed me to create a simple but effective management solution for email addresses. The utility used a secure database and had entries for their task needs.

General

Most applications take a while to produce, this one was different. A straight forward tool with simple goals! It acted as the front-end for a Microsoft Access database.

Client

This projects client was studying computer science and bought the source code to develop further. It's therefore possible that it may have evolved into a complete app!

Resources

Website Editor

I was approached by a client to advise on, and produce a custom user interface for a website editor that would be used integrally for their various Intranet pages.

Breakdown

While the client was able to write the needed back-end code, their usability and UI skills were lacking. Therefore I worked to make their front-end design user-friendly.

Essentials

One key layout decision was to organize the toolbar into tabbed navigation. The decisions for the structure and layout of users code was therefore logically handled.

Resources

Offline CMS

A while ago, I had the inspiration of producing an offline CMS tool. While this didn't go past the user-interface creation, the layout itself is actually pretty well designed.

Layout

For the tools layout, I made the decision to follow conventions in web design so it would run as in the browser. This gave a simple but easy to grasp layout design.

Ideas

A unique feature that the product would have had was the ability to generate semantic code without having to touch any HTML or CSS as the source was strictly handled.

Resources

Security Suite

A friend asked me to produce a skin for a security application he was building as a hobby project. While the tool was never released, the layout did the job required.

Sections

The programs sidebar had built sections for file and disk scanning, live protection, heuristic archives, system tools it shipped with and the all important product help file.

Scope

The work done extended beyond the skin, I also created a module loader to let custom components be embedded within the utility securely at the authors request.

Resources

Social Browser

I spent a lot of time building tools for MSN Chat. One abandoned project, due to MSN Chat closing was a social tool that streamlined their services for web beginners.

Layers

The product itself would connect and collaborate with several MSN services including Chat, Groups, cross format Instant messaging, searching, file editing and more.

Inspiration

Few people know every service MSN produced, the products aim was to highlight such functionality in a user-friendly manner. The tool was also made child friendly.

Resources

My Consultation

When it comes to web design, I've learnt a lot and I don't like keeping it to myself. I freely contribute to several communities and offer my skills as a consultant and trainer.

Consulting

Contributing

One Second Film

I am an executive producer of a social collaboration film. As well as donating money to this charitable cause, I've also freely given my services to the non-profit project.

Services

Synopsis

The One Second Film is funded by micro-donations from the public to produce a movie. The profits from this socially driven, celebrity endorsed project goes to charity.

Position

In my assigned beta testing role, I undertook simplified versions of the above to assist the director in both bug discovery and providing ideas to how the site could evolve.

Resources

KillaNet Network

One of the longest running online projects I was associated with for a previous client was that of the online gaming community owned by KillaNet Technology Ltd.

Services

Synopsis

KillaNet Technology Ltd are a web based Canadian community who offer a range of services aimed at graphic artists and gamers such as hosting, chat rooms and forums.

Position

As the project manager, I advised on the business operations, wrote software, content, articles and even produced a Flash corporate promotion video of their results.

Resources

Epic Web Services

In the past, I affiliated and assisted the hosting and domain registrar business in a few ways. The client who owned the business has been a friend of mine for several years.

Services

Synopsis

Epic Web Services was a web host and domain registrar in the United Kingdom. While they do not exist anymore, I assisted and gave my support to them until they closed.

Position

My job role in Epic Web Services was rather minimal. I gave general advice to the design of their site and custom control panel along with helping market the business.

Resources

Merito Web Services

A client wanted to expand their existing business so I agreed to promote and integrate services they offered in an affiliate scheme through a download site I owned.

Services

Synopsis

Merito Web Services is a small but scalable provider of web hosting services in the United Kingdom. They have been offering a core range of hosting for several years.

Position

I promoted Merito's core services through an affiliate scheme using a site I managed over a period of 2 years. This gave them significant exposure and new customers.

Resources

TechGear 007

Back in the days of MSN Chat, I worked with the well respected provider of 3rd party tools for the popular network. The assistance I gave came in a range of forms.

Services

Synopsis

TechGear was a leading provider of MSN bots, clients and utilities, back when MSN Chat existed. These days it's become a software resource and online community.

Position

As a producer of MSN software, I regularly contributed tools to the site. This allowed TechGear to gain additional network exposure via owners of my created products.

Resources

eXtreme Computing

A highly successful forum back in the day, I assisted this community aimed at users of 3rd party tools for MSN Chat as a moderator, contributor and writer of content.

Services

Synopsis

eXtreme Computing was a very successful web forum for users of MSN Chat. While the community no longer exists, they were a very popular non-profit organisation.

Position

As an authority on MSN tools, I acted as a community adviser, global moderator and long term supporter of the community. This involved a great deal of writing.

Resources

MSN Chat Network

When producing clients for MSN Chat, research was carried out examining the popularity of such tools. The studies are listed below for general archival purposes.

Top 10 Guide

The most important MSN research for 3rd party tools carried out an independent study of functionality within several well known utilities and built a report of the results.

Resources

Product List

In MSN Chat's history, well over 1,000 tools were provided for it's network! The research attached contains the most comprehensive list of such products in existence.

Resources

AD2K-Ware Studios

Before HiTechy existed, there was AD2K-Ware. This was a non-profit business I launched to hold free software products I wrote. This of course provided it's own services.

Services

Explanation

During my days at college as a part time venture, I offered a range of highly successful freeware tools and useful resources for regular users of the MSN Chat network.

Resources

SitePoint Community

I have been a regular contributor to SitePoint since February 2009. Over this time I've contributed to the community in many different ways, and some are listed below.

Community

SitePoint's forums are one of the worlds largest web professional communities. They regularly talk about a range of subjects related to web design and development.

Awards

Position

I'm an ex-mentor with over 7,000 posts and 5 awards who has also contributed an article, content for their forums podcast and material for a community book project.

Resources

GAWDS Member

I have become a member of the accessibility group, the Guild of Accessible Web Designers to aid both the promotion and advocacy of disability rights on the web.

Community

This organization promotes and protects accessible web design standards to aid the increasing range of needs for ability inhibited individuals who use the Internet.

Position

As a member of this group, my goal is to assist in the promotion of accessibility both through my business and to promote such methods to the wider community.

Resources

UPA Member

I've joined yet another group who actively promote best practices to make the web better for end users called the Usability Professionals Association (in the UK chapter).

Community

This group promotes design with a users needs and abilities in mind. They also connect professionals from sectors such as usability, UX design and user-centered design.

Position

As a member of this organization, I aim to not only reinforce the core principles of user-centered design and promote best practices while encouraging continued learning.

Resources

Web Standards Group

I am currently a contributor to the well known web mailing list that provides assistance, discussions and support in respect to current and existing web standards.

Community

The Web Standards Group exists to provide information, discussion and resources on web standards and industry best practices for web designers and developers.

Position

I am a subscriber to their forums and mailing list primarily spending my free time giving people email based assistance to web design questions on a voluntary basis.

Resources

CSS-WG Test Suite

The CSS Working Group test suite is a W3C project aimed at listing common flaws in rendering CSS so browser makers can ensure that their code works as predicted.

Contributions

To date, I have successfully made contributions that helped identify flaws as to how certain browsers render CSS. A Link to the site with the test-cases is provided below.

Test-Cases

Event Speaking

People enjoy talking for all sorts of reasons, I love chatting about web design. Below you'll see the places I've participated as a speaker such as podcasts and conferences.

Teaching

Podcasts

Learnable Course

I've produced a course on mobile web design, in association with Learnable. This product aims to provide tips, tricks, best practices and more for alternative devices.

Format

Project

My content is provided entirely in video format (Screencasts), and I ended up producing four hours of content comprised of 24 videos. It also contains a Q&A for students.

Position

I became a member of the original beta team. We worked closely with the Learnable staff, building our courses, helping to uncover bugs and request new features.

Resources

SitePoint ForumCast

I was involved in a podcast aimed at SitePoint's visitors for the first two episodes. This unique show is an offbeat and fun examination of whats going on in the community.

Format

Project

Along with other regulars in the community, we produce segments of interest in an easy to listen to format. The podcast was officially endorsed by SitePoint themselves.

Position

I was the producer, editor and the audio engineer of my "Featured Topics" segment. This role was to give thread recommendations for active forum users to participate.

Resources

Published Writing

As well as talking about the web, I also enjoy writing. Whether it's a sites content, forum discussions, article or books that I've written, I'm happy to throw in my views.

Books

eBooks

Articles

Distinctive Design

Distinctive design is my latest Web design book for anyone wanting to learn about design theory, and how to maximize the usefulness and visibility of content on a page.

Audience

This title is aimed at designers who already know how to code, but want to learn to design effectively. Design students with an interest in the Web could learn stuff too.

Information

Using a wide mixture of design techniques, from design theory to psychology, usability to sociology; I'll show you how to increase your pages influence over an audience.

Subjects

Bonus

Resources

GS: Building Websites

Getting StartED Building Websites is my first book on the subject of web design for beginners. It's a whopping 688 pages and covers a wide range of important subjects.

Audience

This is a great book to start with if you want to build a website but have no idea what you need to learn or where you should start. It covers the basics in simple steps.

Information

Using a unique process, this book will teach you best practices while ensuring you don't lose sight of the bigger picture, you'll soon be building sites like a professional!

Subjects

Resources

Thinking Web

The free community eBook project was forged upon an idea I had. I helped to manage the project, did some technical editing and even contributed two useful chapters.

Audience

This great eBook was produced by SitePoint to showcase and utilize the knowledge and spirit of it's community. The content reflects this, covering numerous subjects.

Information

With content provided by myself and other designers, developers, authors and professionals, it's all worth reading. My two chapters cover accessibility and UX design.

Subjects

Resources

Pro Web Design Vol.2

Another co-authored eBook, this one has an article, first published on the Smashing Magazine site, about how users are turning into the anonymous web designer.

Audience

If you want to learn what part users have to play in the overall design and development of a site and it's interface. My article (in this eBook) is just what you need!

Information

Apart from the content I provide, there is a whole lot of additional material by other designers in the field. This isn't a one man show, it's a collection of fantastic work.

Subjects

Resources

Mobile Design for iOS

My first co-authored eBook title, this Smashing Magazine Mobile title contains a exclusive 90+ page report authored by me on mobile design trends and best practices.

Audience

If you want to understand what other major sites do to culture a mobile friendly experience, this report is for you. It contains over 50 independent sets of results!

Information

Tested on the top 100 sites and some others within the top 1,000 (for verifying results), you'll gain a fantastic insight into what the average mobile website looks like.

Subjects

Resources

Freelance Mingle

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

Freelance Switch

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

OneXtra Pixel

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

SitePoint Articles

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

Six Revisions

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

Smashing Magazine

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

UX Booth

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

UX Magazine

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

Web Designer Depot

I write articles about web design and development for various web magazines, journals and blogs as I get the time. Below you can find links to all of my published work.

Articles

Get In Contact

If you want a proposal or quote for work, if you want to send me a message or even if you just want to follow me, click the appropriate link as below. It couldn't be easier!

Contact

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