About Us

You’ll be joining a small, friendly team who design and build websites and online systems for small companies, associations, campaigners and politicians.

We develop, host and support highly regarded content management systems and online applications built with PHP, Drupal, WordPress, and Symfony for a variety of membership organisations including the CIPR, hundreds of Liberal Democrat local parties and parliamentarians, an investment manager, solicitor, and a number of businesses and campaigners.

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SDC Systems homepage

Although we recommend that we host your website for you, it doesn’t have to be that way…

We were approached in April 2016 by data software and security company SDC Systems. They were looking to move their website from a legacy system to WordPress to make it rather easier to update and add new content.

At that stage they wanted this change to occur with the minimum of design changes, and also to host their new site in-house as they clearly had significant technical experyise. We did so for them, porting their content and site structure with a limited number of changes in under two working days – all to time and specification.

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Money

Each month, we pay a $50 subscription to a US software company for use of their anti-spam and anti-virus product across our sites (just one more service we provide for our customers!).

On looking at our accounts for the last year, the payments in pounds sterling for that 50 US dollars a month have been:

  • 05-03-2016     £36.14
  • 05-04-2016     £36.30
  • 05-05-2016     £35.47

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We’ve been delighted to work on Major Foodie since moving to our hosting a few weeks ago, and have already delivered the first batch of changes that site owner Richard had been seeking.

The changes have been about evolution not revolution: tweaking design and functionality to be easier to use, work better on a range of devices and make reviews and content east to find – all to Richard’s specification.

As examples of the changes, on the home page we’ve reworked the main image slider, making it resize nicely whatever screen size (and orientation) of device you are reading on, adding captions to each picture and a click through to the relevant review in each case. We’ve also added a bespoke styled Twitter feed to bring their very active Twitter presence to the front page of the site in a style that fits well with the rest of the content rather than a standard plug-in.

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28 November 2016

Major Foodie: How We Met

When we first met Major Foodie, his WordPress site had been going some time, and although he was, in the main, happy with it there were some changes and upgrades that his previous developers hadn’t been able to deliver.

A little while after our first discussions the site started to have problems, and, when we investigated it became clear it had been hacked.

We cleaned the site on its existing shared hosting, updated and re-set logins and passwords, restored files (from a back-up we’d taken when we first met – there was otherwise no regular backup in place), updated PHP, the WordPress install itself and the plug-ins to the site which were out of date, and generally got things back up and running.

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24 November 2016

Welcome Naomi

We’ve been proud to be the website provider for the cross-community Alliance Party of Northern Ireland for over eleven years, and throughout that period, the magnificent David Ford has been Party Leader.

It was with real sadness that we learned David was standing down as Leader a few weeks ago, but we were equally delighted to learn former Alliance MP Naomi Long was standing to take over from him.

On the day of her election we helped Alliance get a new splash screen on the front page of their introducing Naomi as Leader in place, and encouraging supporters of the Party to sign up as members.

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HTTPS logo

Our friends at Custodian DC (the award winning data-centre where we host our main server array) have today enabled their DDoS mitigation service for all sites we host.

We’ve seen a couple of DDoS attacks on sites we host, and they are difficult* to deal with, and generally take the website offline for a period of time. The Custodian DDoS service deals with the problem differently. They explain:

“Once you have subscribed to the service, should you come under a DDoS attack (either detected by our systems or reported by you), we move your network connection behind our mitigation service. The service can withstand attacks up to 800Gbps (the unofficial world record for a DDoS attack is 500Gbps). The service absorbs the large amount of traffic and ‘cleans’ it. The clean traffic is then delivered to you as normal.”

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APDS website

We’re delighted to have brought live a new web site for APDS – The Association of Palliative Day Services – who are the national representative body formed exclusively for palliative day service professionals in the UK.

The site is, as you would expect from a site designed by Prater Raines, a fully secure https site throughout, and designed to work well on screens from desktop to mobile. We worked with APDS designing them everything from a new logo upwards, and assisting in getting the content in place.

The site is built on Drupal 8 but some of the key areas are the ones you can’t see.

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HTTPS logo

Traditionally associated with e-commerce websites, HTTPS is beginning to be more widely used on all types of websites to secure user accounts and keep communications private. Traffic to and from your website will be encrypted to guarantee that users are communicating with the website they intended and ensure that contents cannot be read or forged by third parties.

The security of your site users and data is clearly paramount, but there are other reasons why moving to HTTPS is important. Google announced in 2014 that they would give a small SEO advantage to sites using HTTPS over HTTP and are taking steps to further alert users when sites are insecure. They won’t be the only ones.

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Embed icon

All good things must come to an end.

Today, we’re retired our “Youtube” embed component from our Liberal Democrat Foci system, which allowed you to embed video (with a bit of difficulty, we will admit) into that website. Sad times.

Happily, “coincidentally” also today, we’ve launched a new component that will allow you to embed any OEmbed content in your site. That content includes videos from YouTube, but also content from Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Meetup, Reddit, Slideshare, Soundcloud, Twitter, Tumblr, Vimeo, Vine, WordPress, Daily Motion… That list goes on and on, and we think its a BIG step forward!

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Wordpress Logo

As the release from WordPress yesterday says:

“WordPress 4.6.1 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

“WordPress versions 4.6 and earlier are affected by two security issues: a cross-site scripting vulnerability via image filename, reported by SumOfPwn researcher Cengiz Han Sahin; and a path traversal vulnerability in the upgrade package uploader, reported by Dominik Schilling from the WordPress security team.

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5 September 2016

CIPR’s Summer of CPD

CIPR Summer of CPD mailing including water bottle

We do a lot of work with the Charted Institute of Public Relations, including supporting their main corporate Drupal based site, the “Influence” site of curated aggregated content from their members based on WordPress and CIPR Ladder (member login required to view) which is their bespoke CPD (Continuous Professional Development) platform.

This year CIPR have again run their annual “Summer of CPD” to encourage professional development. To support their work on this, CIPR needed some new detailed reports from their CPD system to support their weekly, regionally based updates on the CPD achievements of their members.

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