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Plug it in

Categories: Learning things, Our work, Useful/interesting

We're always interested in making things better through design, and as technology develops we're increasingly able to improve functional – as well as visual – design 'under the hood' of the websites we build.

A great user experience for admins as well as website visitors? In the web parlance of old; EPIC WIN!!11!!.

Many of these improvements are made possible by judicious use of plugins.

What's that now?

Avoiding too much techy jargon, a plugin is a bit of code that gets added (plugged-in) to an existing software application to help it do more.

Plugins come in all shapes and sizes – some tweak an existing feature to make it work in a slightly different way; others are incredibly involved and drastically extend the capabilities of an application.

As an example of the latter; an off-the-shelf content management system (CMS) won't necessarily come with an integrated shop, so if a website needs to sell something, that functionality needs to be added – in the form of a plugin. (It's either that or build a shop from scratch, which will have a fairly drastic impact on cost and timescales.)

In essence, plugins add specific features to an existing application.

Why we use plugins

Our favoured CMS, Craft – a beautiful, simple, lightweight system – has a good deal of built-in functionality, but sometimes we need it to do more or do something a little differently.

So, we tailor Craft to each project by adding certain plugins – giving the system the precise features to meet a project's needs without it getting weighed-down with superfluous functionality.

I guess the mantra's "Start simple and add only what's needed."

We sometime use plugins made by third parties but when there's nothing out there that does the specific thing we need, that's not a problem; that's when we build it ourselves.

Plugins we've made

Pimp My Matrix
Keeps a complex and long list of design functions neat and easy-to-use.

Button Box
A set of field types for colours, text size, star-ratings, customisable buttons …



Table Maker
Our most recent release is Table Maker which allows website administrators to define their own table columns; something Craft's in-built table function doesn't (yet) do.

This plugin was developed so one of our clients can easily and flexibly create tables of wildly differing datasets, without needing umpteen table templates to choose from – pretty fundamental for a governmental finance organisation.

TL;DR
We build Craft plugins which are freely available for other developers to use – plugins.supercooldesign.co.uk

This post was co-authored by Josh.

Season’s Greetings 2014

Categories: Silly

'Tis the season for impossibly busy shopping centres, boiler-breakdowns and treacherously slippery pavements. Bah!

But it's not all bad …

Decorations!
Christmas trees, nativity scenes – and especially fairy lights.

Christmas music!
There's a suitable festive tune for everyone, whether Bublé's your bag or you're more the South Park Christmas Album type. (Howdy-ho!)

Food and drink!
Mmmm; stollen, nuts, mulled wine, spiced biscuits, chocolate coins, satsumas, party food and Christmas dinner … except the sprouts.

Relaxation!
There's something special about (almost) everyone having the same day off work at least once a year.

Elf!
Needs no explanation.

Warmest winter wishes from Supercool.

A fine vintage?

Categories: Silly, Useful/interesting

Official Pantone image of Color of the Year 2015 – Marsala

Towards the end of each year, Pantone announce their Color of the Year, and for 2015 this honour has been bestowed upon Pantone 18-1438 – named Marsala for descriptive and, potentially, ease-of-copywriting purposes.

The Pantone website describes the colour with words like robust, earthy, full-bodied, rich, elegant – borrowing many an adjective from a sommelier's handbook.

I don't know if it's just me but Marsala seems very 1970's. See what I mean?

Seventies-tastic images of clothing, bike, radio, cars – all 'marsala' coloured

It brings back childhood memories not because I used to drink marsala as a child (I didn't) but because I'd automatically call this colour 'maroon' – a word which as a 4-year old I simply could not pronounce. "Ra-moon." "Raaa-moooon!" Nope.

It's possibly a bit of a weird one for a 4-year old but I had a maroon coat that I loved showing-off, and my parents – sticklers for colour correctness – weren't about to let me call it 'reddish-brown'. (Mum worked in the Dulux paint lab before having me, so knew all the colours.)

Other than its retroness, another immediate reaction I had to this colour is that it's very much in the make-up department; show me a cosmetics counter without this exact shade of blusher, lipstick and nail polish.

But I understand the name Blusher wouldn't really cut it so, for what's essentially a wine-like colour, Marsala is as good a name as any. Especially as a similarly appropriate word is already widely associated with something else …

Ron Burgundy