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Since about 2000 I have been interested in web site making, although in truth design was not uppermost in my mind in the early days. My interest was prompted by wanting to put my home town of Cradley in the Black Country on the world wide web map.

I started from absolute scratch. I understood little or nothing of "html" and had not even heard of "css". Thankfully, my meagre first attempts did not see the light of day. My progress was interupted by hearing from someone on the other side of the world, in Melbourne, Australia to be exact, who had the same idea. And Mike knew all about web sites; he earnt his living at it.

Mike owed his interest in Cradley to his ancestor Richard Stevens, a Cradley man, and I knew that "Dick's Hill" was named after him. It was the route from Windmill Hill to and from his pub, the Windmill. The collaboration commenced and whilst I provided most of the content, Mike presented it to a waiting world.

The Cradley Links web site was launched in 2001 and was a runaway success. Soon content, much of it of excellent quality, was being offered by lots of people, all of whom regarded Cradley as home, wherever in the world they now resided. The "team" moved from duo to trio as we were joined by a Cradley woman, Jill.

Cradley Links (CL) went from strength to strength for 3½ years, until a fateful day in February 2005 when Mike pulled out and briefly the site went off the air. After a short intermission CL was back online and we decided to "freeze" it as it was on the died it died, and to start work on creating a successor. My old aspirations to be a web site creator were revived and the new Cradley Links went live in May 2007. The rest, as they say, is history.

I have gone on to create four more web sites (read on...). I do this for pleasure. I do not take commissions.

 ENLARGING A PICTURE        Hover the mouse pointer over any thumbnail below and when the magnifying glass appears, a single left click will bring forward an enlarged view.
Opening page of the original, now "old", Cradley Links.

The appearance of the original Cradley Links was wholly the work of Mike. In its day it was highly regarded for its design, content and ease of navigation. It enjoyed a pre-eminent position amongst local history web sites and, more importantly, acted as a focal point for thousands of people around the world - and in Cradley itself - a place where they could access and contribute information about their local and family history.

I still find the inner workings of the site difficult to follow, and perhaps it was conceived to be so, but I learnt a lot from working with Mike on it. It continues to be well-used to this day, 12 years later.

The site was described as "fabulous" by GENUKI (the UK & Ireland Genealogy web portal site) and "extremely well-designed" by Family History Monthly magazine.

It is a hard act to follow.

Welcome page of the original, now "old" Cradley Links.
Opening page of the "new" Cradley Links.

The re-designed "new" Cradley Links is wholly my own work. I learnt as I went along, discovering and adapting techniques as I needed them. I know that the use of a dark background is controversial, but for me it reflects the place of Cradley, in history and still today, in the Black Country of England.

All of the content is new, and it continues to grow. CL is closely associated with the Cradley Then & Now local history group and with the Rootsweb Cradley Mailing List. As with the old Cradley Links we rely heavily on contributions of articles and information from our visitors and users.

Many entries in the Guestbook tell us that the site is much appreciated and enjoyed.

Welcome page of the "new" Cradley Links.

My interest in family and local history led me to start a One-Name Study of my grandma Brown's maiden name, Vousden. This in turn led me to develop a web site to promote the study. In design terms it is mostly a clone of Cradley Links; the use of red and green colours is different but otherwise the appearance is similar.

One day I may embark on a re-design, but I have no pressing urge to do so, other than perhaps the welcome page which is trying to say far too much and may put visitors off. There are more important things to do, not least in keeping up with the continuous flow of contacts from other Vousden researchers that come through the web site, for which it is most succesful, and my own researches.

Vousden One-Name Study

This is my "personal" web site, the one that you are looking at now. It serves two purposes, or rather will do one day. One is to provide a platform for my experimentations in web design, the other is to host a summary of the results of my family history researches and other interests, and to tell the world a little about me and my family at the same time. In fact, the family history side remains minimal, and even my experimenting is less than I anticipated. I have added a substantial new section (30+ pages) about my father's time as a prisoner of war in the Far East (1942-45).

The new "autobiographical miscellany" that you are now reading is designed to be easy for you to read and easy for me to maintain, always two important aspects of web design. In earlier inacrnations, some of the images were obscure in relation to the content. Plus, I have abandoned the strip of ship images that appeared in the header of every page, giving a wrong impression that this is some sort of maritime web site. The "ships" have their own page anyway, and I think this is enough. Less is more!

Regarding the family history, I intend to use The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding© ("TNG") software to manage and display my genealogy data. TNG stores the data in MySQL database tables and dynamically displays with PHP scripting language. I have looked at numerous TNG sites, employing various templates, and I like them.

This web site, as it was.

My wife Mercedes' jewellery making hobby renewed her interest in psychoanalytic literature on creativity and play. Her interest in art stems from her delight in beauty, nature, creativity and transformation.

Mercedes is a psychotherapist and counsellor and one of her professional activities is running workshops on creativity. She has revisited the writings of Freud, Klein, Winnicott, Storr and Phillips and has designed workshops for counsellors, psychotherapists and others in the helping professions, and for creative artists and crafts enthusiasts. She focuses on the symbolic meaning and the healing power of the creative process.

The purpose of the Creative Workshops web site is to promote forthcoming workshops, to attract new participants, and to showcase testimonials from participants in past events.

The web site is a simple one, with few pages, but is fit for the purpose. We may expand it in the future.

Creative Workshops

One of my pastimes is walking, as in rambling. I have done it for years. The main group that I walk with, Single Boots, had a web site that was for ever "under construction", with links to non-existent pages and what little information it carried was mostly out of date, or wrong. I should have kept quiet, but for better or worse I talked myself into producing a new site.

We needed a site that would attract new members and keep existing ones informed. I have sole responsibility for producing and maintaining the site, and also the "artistic" side of things is entirely mine. Content is supplied mostly by Committee members but I sometimes make it "fit" the design. We have pages for casual visitors and prospective new members, and a Members Area with lots of additional material for paid-up members.

I am looking for help to maintain the site, as there is a constant flow of new information (monthly walks programmes, etc.) and I am not always on hand to keep it as up to date as it needs to be.

Most new members now find us through the web site, which performs well in the search engines and is inviting once found. I think each page has just about the right amount of content, and the welcome page is especially welcoming. It serves the main purpose (attracting new members) very well and continues to evolve and expand.

Single Boots walking group