Founded this online news outlet for Argyll with Lynda and Patrick in 2007, and have loved being involved ever since. OK, so the server outtages aren’t fun, but some of our achievements have made a real difference, like our stories on Schools Closures or the Maersk Container vessels.
For a while the design of the Forargyll.com website has been creaking. Obviously there’s the website’s popularity and its regular traffic above 3,000 unique visitors, but there’s also the increasing relevance of mobile devices as opposed to desktop. It is still the case that we get most traffic from PCs, but the proportion is declining and this or next year we expect mobile devices to take over.
So, we went looking for something that would give us two things: device flexibity and article readability, with also the capacity to include our red and green thumbs in the comments (among many other things). It also needed to be a light design, not using up too much bandwidth, as well as a more visually appealing layout.
Now, as a designer I’ve always enjoyed the pinterest model, particularly because it allows the reader to experience the serendipity of the newspaper reading experience – you never know what you are going to see next. Eschewing fixed sections and relying on presenting the freshest stories first, alongside putting the search facility front and centre, we think this should create a level of welcome variety for the reader which we hope will engage everyone further.
There are some other nice touches: the order of the articles changes on the homepage depending on their length – you actually see them move around sometimes. The comments section is a great improvement and all the new media icons are baked in, speeding up the website considerably. The ads are served as part of the design, and this means we no longer have to integrate cumbersome thirdparty applications, which is delightfuland we’ve done something fairly whizzy with the header image – it’ll take a minute or so of close observation to notice. You might ask why, and the answer will be, well, why not, because in a sense, that’s what it’s there for.
If you are havering over which way to vote, or if you’ve decided but want to reassure yourself you are voting the right way, I’ve come up with 36 questions which have helped me make my decision. They’re not in any particular order, but they do group around topics. They helped me make my choice, I hope they’ll be useful for you too.
Would an Independent Scotland require a nuclear deterrent? How long will the present nuclear weapons remain on Scottish soil in the case of a ‘Yes’ vote?
Does the UK really need a nuclear deterrent and does it strengthen our ability to respond to crises around the world or weaken it?
Would a Scottish armed forces in an Independent Scotland increase or diminish Scotland’s security? Or its susceptibility to terrorist attack?
In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, will the rest of the Union really withhold currency union as they have promised, or will currency be one of the major negotiating points?
And if it is a negotiating point whose interest is it in to cast doubt on a currency union’s viability before the vote?
Will border controls really be imposed in the event of a Yes vote? Or will the border be left to its own devices rather like the present border between the Irelands?
Ignoring the historical context, how much should Oil reserves play a part in my calculations? And if they should how critical are they given such factors as climate change and the potential withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil (see below).
If nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Scottish soil, would the restrictions on Oil and Gas exploration on the West Coast remain in force? Or would these reserves come into play?
97% of the world’s scientists agree that Climate Change is happening, and that this is due to human activity. Which of our potential governments is more likely to react well to this and provide for significant investment in renewable energy which is relevant to our communities and our environment?
Are pensions going to be affected by a change in Scotland’s status when, for example, pensions are drawn by UK ex-pats in places like Spain? And in any case, is this a factor when my generation and those younger than me can’t really afford a pension at present?
What will happen to income tax or VAT if there is a ‘Yes’ vote? Is it likely that these taxes will remain broadly the same until the populace decide, via a general election, to change things?
In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote will the SNP remain in power for the foreseeable future or will we have democratic and fair elections representing the decisions of the people who live in Scotland? Will it be possible that new political parties emerge?
In which case is it more likely that universal health care will remain in place through the NHS?
In which case is it more likely that free universal education will remain in place?
While, for example, education and health are devolved matters at the moment, how likely is it that in the case of a ‘No’ vote the UK government will start to claw back powers from the Scottish government given voter sentiment in England?
Is a vote for Independence a vote for Nationalism or a more direct form of Democracy? And in either case, do you trust the Scottish people to make the right decisions looking forward?
Is the quality of political debate in Scotland robust enough to ensure that decisions made are free from the self-interest of the decision-makers?
How many times in the last 50 years has the vote of the Scottish people actually altered the outome of a general election in the UK? And does this really matter?
Will the remaining UK be more or less likely to elect Tory governments if Scotland goes its own way?
If Scotland gains independence, will Wales and Northern Ireland also wish to remove themselves from the Union?
Will Berwick-upon-Tweed migrate to an Independent Scotland? Is that a good thing? Will other English regions ‘migrate north’?
Does an independent Scotland change residents’ identity? Will they remain Scottish, English, Welsh and/or Irish? Can they still call themselves British, and hold allegiance to the British Isles?
Will sectarianism be more prevalent in an Independent Scotland? Or will Scotland be a more equitable country, intolerant of all types of discrimination?
Is a constitution written in consultation with the general populace a worthwhile endeavour and provide a sound basis for Scotland’s future?
Is remaining in the EU a reason to vote for the Union?
Will Scotland be more or less likely to be part of the EU in ten years time as part of the UK or as an independent state?
How will a ‘Yes’ vote affect my livelihood?
Is a ‘Yes’ vote an opportunity for myself, my family, my community? Will permanent, advantageous change be possible?
What will the effect of a vote for Independence be on Grant Funding, particularly for UK-wide funds, like the Big Lottery, and EU funds, like SRDP and LEADER?
Is Community Asset ownership, development and Social Enterprise likely to be more encouraged in an Independent Scotland or not?
Will the ongoing move to Land Reform continue in Scotland either way? Will the progress already achieved be augmented in an Independent Scotland, and will this result in a more equitable pattern of land ownership in Scotland?
What will happen to the present Scottish MPs in Westminster in the event of a vote for Independence? Will they come north and seek to represent the views of the Scottish people in a Scottish Government, or will they want to remain as MPs in the Union? And will an independent Scotland benefit from their talents more directly?
Could a successful ‘Yes’ vote be another example of a “disruptive technology” entering the established “marketplace” and have the potential to change everything?
How many people will benefit from a Yes vote in Scotland? How many will benefit from remaining in the Union? Discounting political allegiance, voting intention, nationality, race and gender how many lives will be positively affected either way?
Which campaign has been run in a more imaginative, positive and constructive way?
Is the ‘No’ campaign disadvantaged because it has the negative choice? Or is the ‘Yes’ campaign fighting against a majority who avoid change and are therefore predisposed to vote ‘No’?