Putting the cart before the horse. My top 5 reasons why its a bad idea to design a website without the content

I build websites and, even though I know better,  from time to time I find myself developing websites without having all the content beforehand. Eventually this always leads to problems, so here are my top 5 reasons why this is such a bad idea.

Reason 1: That’s Not Design

Design is more than just adding the logo and choosing the colour. If you have the chance to create something from scratch, why not take the opportunity to have it meet your needs properly. If you were creating something brand new with bricks and mortar you wouldn’t simply get the builder to start throwing up a few walls here and there. Even if you insist on focusing solely on how the website looks, How do you create a visual design when you don’t know what something is?

If you don’t have any of the content, how are you and the person building your site making decisions? What things are important? What are the calls to action? What are the conversions? How should people move around the site? What is the experience like for the user? How are you going to avoid pain points for visitors? These are the sorts of things you should have in mind during the design phase.

It is entirely possible to build a website and fling the words and pictures in afterwards, but if you’re serious about your new site and whichever organisation it’s supposed to represent, then this is the wrong way to go about things.

Reason 2: Strategy

Is there a strategy? If you’re commissioning a website without the necessary information then perhaps you’re not looking at the bigger picture. Your website is a key part of your content marketing arsenal. What role will it play in communicating with your customers.? How will the site fit in with your marketing communications strategy?

A website is an important and sometimes expensive resource that should be performing specific tasks to help you with your business, organisation or personal goals. If you need to include the domain on printed materials, then a holding page with nothing but contact details is better than a website built without the necessary thought and planning it needs to do its job properly.

Reason 3: Rework

I’m currently rebuilding a site because although I had the written content, when I finally received the website images from the client, the majority of them didn’t fit with the visual design we’d agreed on. The site needed lots of high quality, slim, landscape images. The idea was that each page would include a beautiful photograph of the products they offered, which would be at least 1025 pixel wide and approximately 250 pixels high. The images that arrived were anything and everything but that. As a result I now have to go back to the drawing board and create something that fits with the resources we have. The alternative would be cropping lots of beautiful, well composed, professional photographs into a bizarre collection of ugly, badly proportioned images that nobody would be happy with. I’m happy to accept that I’m not creating the Sistine Chapel, but there is no way on earth I’m going to deliberately create that type of monstrosity. If I’d insisted on having the images up front I wouldn’t be wasting time now by starting again.

Reason 4: Project Management

Managing projects is often difficult enough without adding unnecessary complications. If the content isn’t available at the start of the project when enthusiasm levels are high, how likely is it that they’ll materialise promptly when it’s been a few weeks or even months. It is impossible to plan effectively without having access to the materials at the appropriate time.

Missing content generates questions. When will the content be available? What else could get in the way? What controls are in place to manage the timescale. How do these delays affect other projects. Does this piece of work have a designated time-slot? Will the project end up filed behind somebody else’s because the developer couldn’t work on it when they planned to? What are the payment schedules? In this scenario either developers are wasting time and not being paid or clients are paying and not receiving their website in a timely fashion. Nobody benefits and it is all avoidable.

Reason 5: You Know Better

If nothing you’ve read so far is news to you, then you clearly already know that you shouldn’t be working this way. Television adverts of people adding their online content to site builders on the fly, perpetuates the idea that you just knock up a website in 20 minutes and then you leave it and wait for the money to roll in.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with people using site builders or frameworks to build low cost websites . For lots of businesses this is a brilliant option, but if you have made a decision to spend money paying a professional to create one for you, then give that person everything they need to do a good job.




Cheesey Photo of Claire Worthington

Cheesey Makeovers, Professional Networks and My Fear of Photography.

In the mid 1990s makeover photo shoots became a thing. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, let me elaborate.

  • You turn up at a photography studio in your jeans and whatever else you usually wear on a Saturday
  • You sit in a room with no mirrors, whilst a professional make up artist does your hair and make up
  • At some point you end up with a makeshift boob-tube made of shiny fabric instead of the shirt you arrived in
  • A photographer spends ages taking pictures, whilst you quick change between a baffling assortment of jackets and feather boas.

The last stage is often seeing hundreds of photographs of yourself and somehow handing over the details of your visa card. It’s similar to the packs of baby portraits deal, that new parents often fall for, but instead of spending hundreds of pounds on pictures of your children that you’ll put up on the wall, share with family and eventually scan and add to their Facebook walls, you end up with lots of pictures of yourself with big hair and full make up. I don’t know whether it was a global phenomena, a British thing or even just a thing in and around Greater Manchester, but just about every woman I know, who is the same age as me, ended up having a makeover and left with at least one photograph. For some reason I left with a whole album. Considering I only went because my friend Hayley wanted to go, I think that says a lot for their sales team or just how suggestible I was back in the 90s. Don’t judge me, it was “a thing” in those days.

You may be wondering what made me think of a 20 year old photoshoot and surprisingly enough it was LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional networking site where you share details of your career history to colleagues and potential employers. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is designed to be a professional platform where you show the world your work self. The stereotype is that LinkedIn is lots of people in suits, looking for other people in suits, that they can do business with. As LinkedIn has grown and attracted a wider audience there is an increasing number of people who think it’s like Facebook and nothing makes that more clear than some of their profile pictures including a number of 1990s style makeover pictures.

I’m looking to change direction with my career so I’ve been updating my CV and checking my personal profile. As part of this process I’ve been giving some serious thought to updating the photograph on my LinkedIn profile. My current profile picture is of me in a Code Club hoodie. I’m a Code Club volunteer and over the last few years I have run a number of after school coding clubs and turning up in a big green hoodie helps make it very obvious to staff who you are. Now that I’m doing a lot more work in Digital Marketing rather than just Web Development, I’ve decided that perhaps it would be better if my LinkedIn profile picture reflected ‘Claire The Professional’, rather than ‘Claire Nipping to Asda’.

My love of the hoodie is a well documented thing (They’re comfortable, you never get cold and they often have a little pouch at the front for your stuff. What’s not to love?) but it’s time to replace it with a recent photograph of me looking professional. The only problem with this is that I don’t have one and am not looking forward to having one done.

I’m not a massive fan of having my photograph taken. This is probably because I tend to pull a weird face whenever somebody tries to take my picture. I have an assortment of weird photo faces, which I suspect stems from nerves about having yet another ugly picture of me roaming around on the internet. There is a special place in Hell reserved for people who take unannounced photographs of people dancing or eating a meal on nights out and upload them to Facebook, without checking that the person in the picture doesn’t look like a monster first. (You people know who you are)

Photographs of me usually fall into one of three categories.

  1. I look amazing and much better than I do in real life.
  2. I look awful / deranged / like a chipmunk and generally much worse than I do in real life.
  3. I look fine. It’s me, it looks like me and I’m not: cross eyed, mid sentence, squinting, eating or in an odd position because I’m in mid dance move.

There is usually a fairly high percentage of pictures in category three where I look fine, but I don’t like them because I didn’t like my hair that day, my face looked a bit fat or some other minor detail. For example I don’t like my official graduation photograph because I look ridiculously shiny and by shiny I mean it looks like I’d just ran a marathon. Technically the picture is fine, I’m holding the fake scroll, I’m wearing the official cap and gown and I even managed to stop the sash from strangling me, but I don’t like it because I look incredibly shiny.

It is entirely possible that the 90s style profile pictures I’ve seen on LinkedIn are by women in the same predicament as me. Maybe they’re waiting for a decent photograph of themselves to come along so that they can update their profile pictures too. At least as a web developer I had the perfectly acceptable option of classing jeans and a hoodie as business attire, particularly when I usually work from home. When I remove jeans, hoodies and conference t-shirts from my daily workwear options, there will be a period of time where frankly I have no idea what I’ll be wearing Monday to Friday. It is clearly going to involve some shopping, but the amount of visa card waving will depend on the culture of the company I join. When I was a senior manager I wore a suit every day, carried a smart bag instead of a rucksack and wore heels. At the moment I only have to look smart for client meetings, looking smart on a daily basis is going to be a slight adjustment and may require some Gok Wan style inspiration. None of which is getting me any closer to updating my profile picture.

Maybe the ladies with the makeover style profile pictures really love their pictures and use them as often as possible or perhaps they spent so much on them, that they are determined to get their money’s worth by wheeling them out at every opportunity. I suspect that some of them only gave LinkedIn a whirl for an hour and didn’t bother updating it. If you don’t use it as part of your acquisition strategy, most people only pay attention to LinkedIn when they’re looking for new opportunities. Maybe the ladies I’ve seen are so busy in their amazing high paid careers that they have no need to bother looking at it. Realistically there is a strong chance that some of them didn’t fully understand the LinkedIn environment or maybe they all work in industries where flashing a bit of shoulder isn’t seen as unprofessional. If I was a supermodel, instead of a shortish person that works in digital, lots of pictures where I’m wearing unusual jackets and glancing moodily over my shoulder wouldn’t seem that odd.

Rather than make special arrangements to have professional head shots taken, I’d prefer to wait until a decent photograph of me appears and just use that. The problem with this method is that there is no time scale on that and there is no guarantee that I’ll be wearing professional attire when it happens. I had my photograph taken recently at an SEO conference I attended in Brighton. It’s a decent picture of me, with no weird expressions or excessive shine, but I’m next to a guy in a giant panda head, which isn’t really the look I’m going for. Without the context of the panda being the mascot for a software company, I just look like some maniac with a weird thing for mascots, which is really more appropriate for Facebook.

At some point I’ll take the plunge and just get on with it, but one thing is for certain, I definitely will not be wearing a feather boa.



I’ll Use Your Products However I Want. Unplanned Uses Of Digital Products

I just liked something on Twitter, not because I particularly liked the tweet but because the Twitter app I was using doesn’t have an option to save a tweet and go back to it later. 

The like function is designed to measure engagement. My insistence on using it as a bookmark is probably making a mess of somebody’s analytics. 

The thing about users is that they are the ones using your products, but you don’t get any say whatsoever in how they use them. 

If I want a feature that you don’t have, then I’m likely to bend the features you do have to meet my needs. You don’t get to choose how your customers use the features of your creations. They won’t read all your text, they won’t utilise features you laboured over providing for them, they just do what they want. Try not to take it personally. 

As a Twitter user I don’t care that I’m going to mess up your figures by using your content incorrectly and why should I?

In the grand scheme of things my “bookmarking by liking things” system isn’t really causing a problem for anybody because the scale is so small, but how many other people are there doing the same thing? Do Twitter know that I’m doing it? Do they know and not care? Are they in the process of adding it as a new feature? Is there a bookmarking system that I haven’t found yet? I could investigate all these things but I’m not going to. I’ll just keep pressing the heart whenever I find anything that I intend to go back to. 

I’m not the only person out there repurposing social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram have a specific age policy for members, but the private account facility has resulted in some parents allowing their children to use it two to three years ahead of schedule. Ten year olds, who are not allowed to use Facebook, have private Instagram accounts and use it like Facebook. There is a parallel universe full of ten year old English kids holding nice, and sometimes not so nice, conversations in the dark social arena of Instagram. 

Insta is supposed to be full of people over the age of 13 sharing pictures with the world. Tweens using the direct chat facility to hang out and / or bully each other wasn’t the plan. The thing is that those kids in Year Six don’t care about your plan. They don’t care about how the folks at Instagram thought their app would be used. 

The platform I “misuse” most often is probably Facebook. If I find something funny on Facebook and want to share it with somebody specific I comment on it by adding the name of the person I want to share it with. 

There isn’t a “show this to your mate” button on Facebook, so you tag them in the comments. It’s still engagement, but it’s not really commenting on the post. I have specific people I share certain things with. If it’s gin related it goes to Paula and Steph, if its about art or cats then it’s Cath etc. etc. I do it all the time. 

On the one hand maybe Facebook needs a “show your mate” button but on the other we’ve already established our own system, so why change it? Unlike my “like to bookmark” system I’m fairly certain that Mr Zuckerberg knows that this is what we all do. The numbers say that 50 people commented on a specific post and 48 of those comments include a tag to another Facebook user. They already know that I’m friends with Steph but now they know that she likes gin. They can see the story behind the numbers and gather extra information at the same time. 

The way I misuse Snapchat is less obvious. On the face of it I look like a person that uses Snapchat. I’m not the target market but I have the app on my phone and use it several times a day. The data is telling somebody somewhere that Claire is using Snapchat, but what I’m really doing is maintaining a streak with one of my kids for the sole purpose of having had a streak. Utterly pointless but still something that’s happening. 

75% of the images on our streak are the inside of my phone case but from time to time I will take an actual picture and sometimes even use the filters. Its a silly little thing that I do with my kid, which has taught me how the platform works in practice, so lets call it educational. I’m studying digital marketing communications and stupid selfies is “a thing” so it makes sense to combine them. 

If you’ve never sent one of your kids a photo of yourself with a sheep where your hair should be, then your parenting style must be very different to mine. I appreciate that Snapchatting your kid a picture of the bins isn’t for everybody, but it saved me trekking up a flight of stairs in order to nag a certain somebody for not taking the rubbish out. 

The days of Snapchat being the “cool” thing are clearly numbered. Once your mum joins it stops being cool by default. I get some leeway because I work in digital, but my friends are playing with it too, so its only a matter of time before teenagers are sharing the platform with their entire family and it’s hard to see something as cool and sexy when your grandparents have adopted it, especially not when you’re in your teens. 

I don’t know what the next social media trend is going to be, but whatever it is I’ll give it a try, probably misuse bits of it and slightly skew somebody’s analytics.

There is no 100% guaranteed way to know what all of your customers want, but you can try and improve your odds of finding out and perhaps offering them features you don’t currently have. It won’t help you with the problem of primary school kids lying about their age, but that’s a whole different matter. 

The first way to get information about what your customers want if you have an app is to Ask Them. You won’t get to everybody but at least ask some of them. Asking anybody is better than asking nobody and asking the right questions of the right people is a brilliant way to get insight. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to send a ridiculous selfie of myself to a teenager, or maybe I’ll just send the usual phone case photo. 


Can’t We Just Keep All Of It? The changing face of Manchester. 

I’m currently studying at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) which means that I travel into Manchester at least twice a week. On my regular stomp between Piccadilly Station and All Saints campus, I see the construction of lots of new buildings alongside buildings and landmarks from my childhood. 

I like new buildings. They’re cool. They stand out and make the city look modern, but I’m always sad when somebody changes or demolishes an old building that I remember going past on the bus as a little girl. 

Over the last few years there has been a campaign to force some activity from the owners of London Road Fire Station. An enormous building near Piccadilly Station, with ornate stone carvings that has been boarded up for a very long time. In the days before firemen had cool looking uniforms and sexy calendars, London Rd was a working Fire Station and when I was very small I could see them doing their drills in the courtyard as I went past on the bus. My mum didn’t drive, so anywhere that wasn’t within walking distance meant a bus journey complete with little yellow tickets. I see the building on my way to and from uni and I like to think that eventually they’ll do the right thing and start looking after it. The rest of my journey takes me past various buildings some I care about and others I barely even notice. 

Manchester University has a building on Grosvenor Street called Oddfellows Hall. Apparently it is one of the university’s language centres, but the only reason I care about that building is because the gable end wall used to have a huge wheel and a brightly coloured mural. 

As a youngster my journey into town on the number 50 bus meant that I went past that mural every few weeks. I didn’t know what went on in the building, only that I liked the look of it and went past it on my way to town. After “my” wheel the bus turned left. At some point they took the wheel down and painted over the mural, probably when Oddfellows stopped being the home of the Museum of Science and Industry. Strangely, even now I feel a little bit sad whenever I see the cream wall that my memory tells me should be brightly painted and propping up an oversized wheel. I know its ridiculous but that cream painted wall is a tiny part of my childhood that has gone forever. 

After my wheel the bus made its way to All Saints park. When I was little I didn’t know that there was a University next to the park but I did know that the shop over the road had musical instruments outside. Johnny Roadhouse has been a feature on Oxford Road for as long as I can remember. It’s one of my landmarks and as such is never allowed to change. I’m less nostalgic about the university buildings they are currently destroying because I didn’t discover them until I was already a grown up. 

During my teens I knew what a university was but didn’t regard them as anything to do with me. Universities are for people who are very clever and quite posh and students were a bit of a nuisance because the bus always ended up at All Saints for too long whilst dozens of them got on and off. Teenage me got bored of waiting for them. Tiny me had more tolerance because I was distracted by the music shop. 

As I got older and discovered nightclubs, the list of places in the city centre that became a part of my youth grew. Some of them were places I only saw from the outside as they were before my time. Places like Rotters which closed before I was old enough to even think about going and an upstairs club called Tropicana that wouldn’t let me in because they didn’t think I looked 18. I’d love to have lots of cool stories about nights in the Hacienda but I only went there once. It was a soul night and I ended up in a fight with a rough looking girl who accused me of spilling her drink. Luckily there was a lot less drama on most nights out.  

I’m not particularly good with road names so if I’m ever required to give directions it usually involves shops or old nightclubs which is becoming more and more problematic. If you are a similar age to me I can navigate you to Lever St by telling you that its the road that starts at 21 Piccadilly, which was of course upstairs from the old Woolworths. None of which is any use to people in their 20s. Thankfully somebody invented Google maps. 

For me the most important club in Manchester was Gallery. Gallery wasn’t much to look at and, as venues go, it didn’t have very good facilities but the music was amazing. It hasn’t existed for years, the building simply isn’t there anymore but the memories aren’t going anywhere. 

Nostalgia is a funny thing, it makes you care about things you don’t really care about. You can count on one hand the number of times I visited the Dutch Pancake House near Central Library but I was still annoyed when it closed. I also feel nostalgic about the Kentucky Fried Chicken that used to be near it. It was one of the few takeaways open at 2.00 am when the clubs closed. (back when nightclubs used to shut at 2) rockers from Jilly’s on Oxford St and soul divas from totally different clubs, all queuing up for fried chicken. Some of that nostalgia makes sense but some of it is nonsense. I’m sure I’ll love the amazing new buildings near Central Library but I still miss the Dutch Pancake House. There is no logic behind it. As exciting as the new buildings are, I don’t want to lose any of the old ones. 

Both MMU and Manchester University have been creating amazing 21st century buildings but amongst the shiny new ones are beautiful old ones built in the 1800s. The new ones have cool features, but the old ones have beautiful stone carvings and stained glass. Developers are making over Manchester and making changes to people’s memories.

Memories are one way to tie ourselves to our past. To the people we used to be and the people we were with. Nightclubs were about more than music and dancing. They represent a time when I was a lot cooler than I am now. A time before I was a grown up and the inherent uncoolness that comes with it. Nightclubs are about the people you were with on those nights out. They’re about hearing Soul to Soul’s Keep On Moving in Legends (5th Avenue)  with Simone and being in Gallery with Jane, Carol and Nikki from school the first time we heard Steve Silk Hurley’s Jack Your Body and talking about it on the way home. Nightclubs are also about the places you wanted to go to but couldn’t get in. They are the funny stories I still share with friends I’ve known since I was a teenager. Thanks to the internet it is possible to rebuild the music collection but the shared experiences of those nights can only live within us. 

The missing mural on the side of Oddfellows Hall is different. The Manchester buildings I claimed as mine as a very small child are tied up in my memories of going into town on the bus with my mum. I don’t get to do that anymore so my special buildings are one of my ties to her. Looking out of the bus window on my way to Lewis’s. Wandering around the Underground Market and in later years moaning about Clarks school shoes and begging for Adidas trainers and Farah pants. The most mundane things that weren’t important then, now feel as though they were, simply because I dont get to do that anymore. I guess that’s part of growing up, but my buildings take me back to a time when my mum was still here to go shopping with. So no matter how I feel about the new buildings I will always feel sad about losing the old ones. 


WorthyOnTheWeb Blog 

As part of the MSc DMC 2016 2017 challenge I’m looking at some of my online presences so today’s post covers the WorthyOnTheWeb blog.

WorthyOnTheWeb is my Twitter name and when I first started working for myself it was also the name of my business. For the last couple of years I have been building websites for small businesses and by small, I mean businesses with maybe only one or two people.

Sole traders are usually juggling lots of different areas in order to run their core business and many of them don’t have the time or inclination to become a digital expert. I started the blog with the intention of helping these small business owners learn what they needed to know in order to start using digital in a positive way. My intention was to provide some plain English information for regular people that don’t work in digital.

The downside of the blog is that it was started on a bit of whim so I didn’t really employ any content strategy, I’d just pick a topic from time to time that I thought would be useful. There is also no active strategy in place to get more readers or perform well in search. These things don’t make the content any less useful but it does mean that a lot less people are likely to ever read it.

Starting a blog is an easy thing to do and it costs literally nothing so it’s no wonder that people like me start them “willy nilly” nobody comes round and checks that you’re doing it right. As long as you don’t post anything illegal you can do what you like, and I like to share info for digital novices.

WorthyOnTheWeb Blog


Acceptance Speeches – Thoughts from a train platform

I regularly spend time at Piccadilly Station and on those days when I know I’ll be sat there for quite a long time, my mind tends to wander. I started this post during a cold, boring 40 minute stint on a Saturday evening. 

If I ever do anything so amazing that people hand me an award and I have to do an acceptance speech, there are lots of people I would thank. Those are the people who helped me reach that place in my life. If I get the full 10 min oscar speech length I will be including an assortment of people including some of my teachers.

As a kid I was never a teachers pet but I definitely had some favourite teachers. At primary school Mrs Evans was hands down my favourite teacher, she just kind of got me and she read our class The Twits by Roald Dahl. The impact on a 7 year old of a book where grown ups fed each other worms and played tricks with a glass eye was huge. I had been reading lots of fairy stories and Enid Blyton until that point so this was a pretty big deal.

At high school I would have said that my favourite teacher was Mrs Blackwell but as I’ve got older I wonder about lots of my high school teachers, but more than most, I wonder about Ms Balfe. 

Ms Balfe was only my form teacher for a relatively short time but she introduced me to the concept of feminism. I didn’t really get it at the time, but some of the things I say to my daughters come from her. Explaining to 15 year old working class kids why she was a Ms and not a Mrs shouldn’t really have been a complicated task but it was. If you were female and got married, you changed your surname and despite her clearly explaining it several times in plain English we still didn’t really get it. 

Despite being pre-Spice Girls we fully understood that women were in no way inferior to men but it never occured to any of us that things like that mattered. I didn’t even know it was a “thing” We just thought it was weird. The public announcement of your marital status every time you use your debit card didn’t seem weird, but Ms Balfe keeping her own name and using an unexpected pronoun did. Ms Balfe made me question some of those things, not at the time, but her influence stayed with me.

I wasn’t particularly academic at school. Most of my school reports featured phrases about how much better I’d do if I talked less. I was good at P.E. My best subjects were running fast and jumping over things. I was merely OK at everything else, although allegedly I’d have been better if it wasn’t for the endless talking! 

If I do find myself at an awards ceremony there is also a list of people that I should probably just not mention. Those are the people in your life who were there whilst you achieved greatness despite their nonsense. It is not that these people don’t appreciate you, they just don’t share your vision of a better you. 

They are the ones who didn’t expect you to do well and just humoured you whilst you did. The ones who were never surprised when you had set backs and tried to make you feel like an idiot for caring. They are the people in your life that don’t understand why you work late, volunteer to help with social causes or spend several hours in the library on a Saturday, working on an assignment because universities don’t just give out Master’s degrees. 

Supposedly the problem is them and not you, but its hard not to have a problem with people who ought to know better than trying to bring you down instead of encouraging you to aim higher.

Maybe that’s one of the key things about the people I’ll be thanking in my imaginary awards speech. They understood me and knew that whatever I was doing that I always was, and will always be, capable of more. 


Happy New Year from The Suburban Afro

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m studying digital marketing communications and my course leader set us a digital challenge based around MSc DMC 2016 2017, which runs until September 2017.

In my last post I mentioned that I have several online presences roaming wild and free around the internet, so I thought I’d introduce a few of them starting with Suburban Afro.

Suburban Afro is a blog I created to give me a place to experiment with WordPress and particularly the Genesis Framework. Having an ‘extra’ blog also gives me a place to improve my skills with Adobe Illustrator. Every post needs a featured image, which means that I have to create an image every time I finish writing a post.

We’re currently learning the practical elements of SEO and at some point I’ll also utilise my freshly developed search engine optimisation skills on the Suburban Afro, but its quite hard to imagine keyword phrases for a development blog which consists solely of some woman moaning about her hair. I don’t sell anything, despite my original vision being an afro hair products retail site, so I’m not entirely sure at this stage what I’m trying to achieve. For want of a better purpose let’s say its for entertainment and aim for more readers.

During my time as an independent retailer I came up with the idea of selling afro hair products, fairly random considering my business sold childrens clothes and gifts. The short(ish) version is that I was in my shop on a quiet retail day and needed to go and buy hair products from a specialist hair shop, but couldn’t because I was stuck in my own shop. An hour or so later I’d bought a web domain and ordered £300.00 worth of afro hair products with the intention of selling the majority of them online.

The plan didn’t quite work out. Running a bricks and mortar store and an associated ecommerce site is already a pretty big job, so if you throw in an extra retail business, that you didn’t bother researching, then realistically the end result is likely to be a big box of unsold haircare products. A year or so later I bought a different domain name (the original name was Afro Tamers) with the intention of selling the outstanding stock. By this point I had a much clearer picture of what was involved, so the domain just sat in my collection for a while. I eventually started the Suburban Afro blog where I essentially just get all my hair related grievances off my chest.

Who knows if I get really good at it I could get discovered and end up with a book deal – seems unlikely but there are a number of entertaining Twitter accounts that did exactly that, so if I learn to whine about my hair in an entertaining enough way my endless complaining could become commercially viable.

Feel free to visit and see what you think.

Bye for now



All Over The Internet

The MSc DMC 2016 2017 challenge has been set, which requires me to start utilising my digital skills in a very specific way. I’m currently pondering the way forward and started casually looking at the various places that I exist on the internet.

The first thing that sprung to mind is: I am all over the internet! Not in a particularly cool, organised or intentional way. I’m just dotted about all over the internet. Websites, blogs, social media accounts and ecommerce sites relating to my various online personas, business ventures and random activities exist in little pockets of cyberspace. Some are flourishing and well maintained, whilst others have been totally abandoned and forgotten. I have created digital footprints in parts of the internet that I barely remember walking through. 

Although the MSc DMC 2016 2017 challenge started today and moves forward, throughout the process it would definitely be a good time to do some house keeping and tidy up my messy digital past.