Posted by & filed under Design, Web, WordPress.

I’ve mentioned here that one of my recent projects is the redesign of spokesman-recorder.com. There were a lot of challenges presented by this undertaking, many of them involved managing the 4,000 some legacy posts that existed. One of them had to do with the authorship attribution. The old theme did not display the author meta, the bylines were simply included as parts of the text. Our new theme, Largo, not only displayed the meta, but allowed the user to customize the byline. That allows the articles to be attributed to their actual author, rather than the person actually posting, very handy for a publication that goes to print first and then uses the print content on the site. We would eventually like to shift that paradigm to having the authors post directly to the site, subject to editorial approval. But that’s a different kind of challenge.

The problem I’m concerned with here is that we now had almost 4,000 posts attributed to the online production person. Of course we could go back and change every author and remove every credit from the text to avoid redundancy. But who has time for that? So my first thought was to suppress the display of the author meta before the date that we went live with the new site, since it would be difficult to remove the byline from the text.

Face it, I’m not much of a coder. But I know people. I posted to the MSP WordPress Google Group and of course got a quick answer from Nick Ciske at Thought Refinery  one of the most accomplished and generous members of the local WordPress community and famous for his  quick replies and great answers to just about any question. His advice was to wrap the code that inserted the byline in an ‘if’ statement. I get that. I could probably even do it with some study and some trial and error. But before I dove into it, I wanted to see if I could come up with an easier way.

Then a lightbulb went on in my head. I was asking the wrong question. I was asking a specific technical question, a ‘how to’ about a narrow solution to my problem, not addressing the problem itself. The right question to ask was, “We have legacy content that displays the wrong name in the author meta. What can we do to correct it.” In other words take a step back. When I looked at the problem from a higher level I realized that the answer was right there in WordPress. Fortunately the 4,000 odd posts were input by the same user, so we just made a new user with a generic display name, deleted the original user and attributed their posts to the generic user. Bang-Zoom.

So take a step back and make sure you’re framing the problem and not too focused on a single solution.

 

Posted by & filed under WordPress.

About four months ago I read a post by Jeremy Iggers on the MSP WordPress Users Group Google Group. He was looking for people to help start a project teaching WordPress to inner city teens. I thought that it sounded like a great idea, an opportunity to give back to the community, meet some new people and take on a new challenge.

But that’s another story, one that I’ll post about later. The reason I mention it now is that it lead to the project that is the subject of this post. Soon after our first meeting, Jeremy contacted me about the plight of the Minneapolis Spokesman Recorder, a weekly African American newspaper that is celebrating it’s 80th year of publishing in 2014. It’s the oldest minority owned business in Minnesota. Jeremy explained to me that they were having some troubles evolving from paper to digital and needed some help with their website. He asked me if I would take a look at their current site and see if I could give them any help, particularly in the realm of SEO. Oh, and of course, there was no budget. I’m no expert on SEO, not by a long shot, but I figured I knew more than they did and the least I could do was install WordPress SEO by Yoast for them and spend some time training them how to use it. Plus they were looking for any help I could give them on any aspect of the site. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Web, WordPress.

I try to stay on top of development technology, I read the blogs and comb twitter for new and better ways to get things done. Granted a lot of what I find goes right over my head, but the more I learn, the more great things I discover to incorporate into my workflow. Sometimes though, I just flat stumble on to something. And it’s great.

While using Chrome Inspect to check out the code on a project I must have accidentally clicked on the little cell phone icon in the upper right corner. All of a sudden the page I was viewing was decked out with rulers sliding scales and all sorts of new options. At first I was kind of irritated it was there and, since I didn’t realize how I got it there, I spent time trying to figure out how to get rid of it.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 10.33.15 AM

 

That’s when I realized what it was. And how to toggle it off and on, which was good because let’s face it, if you’re not checking out your mobile views, who needs all that distracting stuff in the browser. It’s chrome mobile emulation and it’s built right into Inspect. I meet with a group of WordPress developers every Wednesday at the CoCo the co-working venue that I belong to. I was a big hit at the table when I showed this off. No one else knew about it and they’re all more experienced developers than I am. So if you’re a developer and haven’t seen this yet check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under WordPress.

JuanEscotoWhat’s the first thing you check if you have a lamp that’s not working. Is it plugged in? That’s right. What’s the first question the guy from tech support asks when you report a problem. “Did you restart?” If you asked Occam why you can’t get a close shave, he’d tell you to check the blade. The solution to any problem is usually the simplest one. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Business, Design, WordPress.

GLC_LockupA couple of months ago I saw a message posted by Jeremy Iggers on the MSP WordPress Users Google Group. He was asking for volunteers to get involved with a project aimed at teaching WordPress to inner-city teens. I’m a WordPress devotee and since I’m semi-retired, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to give back to the community, so I threw my hat in the ring. I twisted my friend Beth Backen’s arm to join us, because she’s a community minded person, a resident of North Minneapolis (our original target area), and because I knew she would bring a lot to the project. We were joined by educator and community activist Lanise Block, founder and Executive Director of the Digital Empowerment Academy.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Business, Web, WordPress.

And I’m not talking about food.

Last week at WordPress Wednesdays, a local meet up for WordPress users and developers held at CoCo one of my colleagues was wondering if the business model for building websites was sustainable in the face of huge disparity between what we in the US have to charge to make a living and what some of the designers offshore charge. Good question. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Business, Design.

Every freelancer has been faced with the problem of deciding what to charge for their work. Often the first question out of a client’s mouth is, “How much will it cost?” And I think we all do quite a bit of agonizing over coming up with an answer. If we’re a the point in our careers where our schedules aren’t full, we worry about not knowing where the next job will come from and what will happen if we don’t get this one. If the customer is an old friend just starting out and or someone with a just cause like the preservation of puppies and kittens, you might be wondering how much can you discount your rate. If you’re like me, when you tell someone how much your services will cost, you have this nagging thought in the back of your head, “That’s a lot of money! I’d be shocked if someone asked me to pay that much.” Read more »

Posted by & filed under Design.

There’s an art to building small ads for small businesses and if you master it you can create effective ads that are kind to your budget.

KISS

While I would never refer to my readers as “stupid,” the above acronym applies to designing ads, so let’s just say it stands for “Keep It Simple Sweetheart.” And if I were to continue in cliché mode, I could use the old “Rules 2-5, refer to rule 1,” routine, because this is the most important rule and all the others really come from it.
Space is limited so non-essential copy and images just have to go. A good rule to remember is every element you ad to a design detracts from the impact of all the other elements in the design. You’ve got a very short time to get your potential customer’s attention and give them your sales pitch, skip the small talk. Read more »