This is the question on many of our clients minds, and we thought we’d take a second to try and simply explain this new exciting design/development method in layman’s terms. The web design and development field is constantly growing and evolving, as you may be aware. Recently you might have heard about “Responsive Design” and you might be wondering what it is, and does your website do it?
The huge growth of mobile devices has had an impact on how we all perceive and experience this wonderful thing we know as the internet. We are now looking at websites, and using applications on a huge variety of screen sizes. As designers and developers we’ve had to react to this, no longer do we just have to worry about ie8, or the small variety of desktop screen resolutions…it’s a whole new ball field. Traditionally websites were coded at fixed widths, and we would check to see what the widest width was people were viewing sites on using their desktop computers, then we would tailor our designs to that.
When mobile devices took off in popularity, the mobile bowser developers had to figure out a way to show your website, hardcoded to a width of 800px in a much smaller screen. Their solution was to shrink the whole website down to fit (example to the right in the graphic below). The result of this is a nightmarish experience of pinching and scrolling around to navigate through any website. To remedy this in the past few years a few helpful tools have evolved (note my restraint in not using technical terms!) to help us target specific screen sizes and make certain adjustments to the website code which allows us to present a much nicer user experience across multiple devices.
This approach is quickly becoming standard practice for many websites. It is not ALWAYS the right choice, this depends on the needs of your website, and the type of traffic you get. We would be happy to take a look at your website and help you decide if it is the right option for you. You should know this though, mobile traffic is on the rise and will continue to constitute more and more of your visitors. Phone and tablet growth continues to skyrocket, and you want to make sure your site visitors are getting the best possible experience they can from your website.
The graphic above quickly illustrates how much better the phone experience is when a site is coded using responsive techniques. Boston Accountability is just one of many recent responsive websites we’ve designed and built. We’d be happy to show you more, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have on converting your website code to make it responsive.
Yep, we are having a scorching August here in the Pacific Northwest, with what feels like record temps. You know who hates this damp steamy heat? My MacBook laptop. How do I know? Well, late yesterday afternoon my wireless mouse stopped working. Actually the mouse controls seemed to be locked in some sort of right-click nightmare where I could not escape the webpage I was on, nor could I close the page. Initial thoughts: time to change the batteries in my Targus. Fresh batteries inserted. No dice, still trapped in right-click hell. Due to a similar incident earlier this summer, I knew what the issue probably was. Swollen laptop battery. Our PHP developer ran into this exact right-click entrapment during one of the first hot spells here at the studio. Seems the old swollen battery is a known Mac issue, and removing it from my laptop alleviated the right-click hell immediately. Now I am running battery free, which will be fine provided we don’t lose power and all that. Seems it’s past time to replace my MacBook laptop battery.
There is simply no application I use more as a web developer than Panic software’s Coda. It is the cornerstone of our production here at Bitclone, and we are slap happy that the new version is finally out. If you are thinking of getting into the web development industry…I can’t recommend this application enough. They have simultaneously released Diet Coda for the iPad…I can’t wait to give that a spin, once I am comfortable with the new Coda2 interface. It’s been a long wait, but it seems like they have addressed a number of my main complaints.
Well we just pulled the switch here and upgraded to WordPress 3.2. It’s a pretty hefty upgrade, and our Media Temple DV server is always a bit finicky when I run WordPress upgrades, however all went pretty well (You can feel free to contact us if you need help upgrading your WordPress system). The new dashboard is quite a big change, and a few things to note with this upgrade.
The WordPress team has officially dropped support for IE6 (hooray I say) and they now include a little browser check right there in the dashboard to help give you a little poke if your browser is in need of an update (you’ll see in the screenshot my version of Firefox is outdated…yes I know, shame on me, I was waiting for a 1Password update). Next thing of import, your server will now need php5 AND mySQL 5. This will require those of you running older Media Temple Gridservers to upgrade. I’m sure MT support phones have been ringing off the hook, and they have already been addressing the issue diligently. As a matter of fact they just posted a video to Facebook which should help you on your way.
Last bit of advice should always be the first bit of advice. BACK SHIT UP! You’ll feel better about the whole process.
Here is a screenshot of the new Admin Dashboard, pretty slick!
Google is everywhere…it’s true, they have a hungry tentacle in so many cookie jars it is hard to keep track of. One of the more recent and I say exciting evolutions in web design and development has been easier embedding of fonts! Yay! No more just relying on the 18 or so web safe fonts available (let’s face it 6 or so that get used) to all viewers across platforms. Of course you always want to be careful and make sure your cool new embedded fonts will degrade gracefully, just to be sure you have all your bases covered. This of course has opened a new can of worms, and opportunity for font makers…it is of course not legal to just use any font you have on your website.
There are TONS of free fonts out there and I’d say (being generous) about 5-10% of them are attractive and usable…it’s like web design in general these days, almost anyone can design and build a font thanks to computers, but you know there are reasons you hire a professional! We’ll save that for another post. So, moving foreward, once you have found a free font that works for you, all you need to do is head over to the Font Squirrel @fontface Generator and upload your font: convert it, download it, and add it to your CSS! Excellent. Google has made it even easier, they have 182 fonts (as of this post) for you to choose from, and they are all converted and ready to go. they even serve them up for you, all you need to do is add a simple link to your code.
Take this final piece of advice to heart. Keep it simple…don’t use embedded fonts for your content, use them for headers or emphasis, as they can cause some page load issues if you load too many styles or use them for large areas of content.
So I was just trying to update some WordPress plugins and the new automatic update system went all fubar on me. It claimed my ftp info was incorrect and sent the site into permanent “maintenence mode” which might be frightening for someone updating their site obviously as you simply get that nice message above on a blank page…no way to access the admin again. Here are the solutions. First to get the site back, look in whatever directory is your root install for a hidden file .maintenance (note you’ll need to be able to view hidden files in your ftp program). Once you find it just delete that bugger and the site should be back. I found I had to go into the wp-settings.php file and comment out line 50 which runs the function “wp_maintenance();” in order to be able to update the plugins…for some reason it kept not accepting my ftp info and adding that file…wonky.
It’s amazing how fast the world of business, and seemingly the world in general, has changed in my lifetime. This is, of course, heavily due to first the personal computer revolution, and secondly the internet boom. I graduated from Boston University in 1987 with a graphic design degree which gave me the ability to hand-paint fonts! Needless to say, it quickly became obvious to me that unless I started learning how to use computers I would be left behind as an artist and a designer.
In addition to designing and developing websites I also run a small business, which has opened up a whole other area of evolution and education for me. I interact directly with every client, and when I am approached by a potential customer some of the first questions are generally:
“Help me understand the process of building our new website.”
“How long does it take?”
“What are the costs involved in this?”
So let’s hope this post will begin to illustrate one of Bitclone’s basic processes – developing a WordPress CMS-based website. It should provide something of an overview, and help you get started in thinking about your project and some of the questions you’ll need to answer. We feel it is important to point out that every job is different, and part of our goal is to help you maintain your company’s unique identity among your competition. Having said that, there are some common points of focus we have identified through experience, and can discuss here.
So I had been writing this big post about WordPress 3.0 coming out, and how we were so sneaky as to be running a release candidate on our site…Then we got busy and by the time I came back they went and released the final version! The new version 3.0 is called “Thelonious” after the great jazzman and purveyor of awesome hats I assume. I am going to try to do some specific feature updates as I encounter them while upgrading our small fleet of WordPress clients! Some of the most noteworthy additions I have been testing include the merging of MU (multiple user version) into the standard version. That and the new custom post types alone make this a pretty huge upgrade and really push WordPress closer to being the perfect full CMS solution. My only concern is the application will get too bloated, as they continue to add to it, so I am going to also run some speed tests to compare this new version. Results to follow shortly I promise!
If you have not seen “Straight No Chaser” the Monk documentary directed by Eastwood…I’d recommend it.
While WordPress obviously wasn’t initially designed to be a full featured CMS, and it still has a ways to go in competing with Drupal or Concrete, this is a great trick you can use to expand your ability to add content which is editable from the admin area. WordPress Custom Fields will allow you to add data below the post area when you are creating a post (or a page which uses “post” info basically). You can create a Custom Field “Name” and “Value”, the name is basically a key that you can use to call the content in your template…which is the great part of this as it allows you to place editable content outside of the main post area on a page. Here is a screen shot where you can see I have added two Custom Fields, one for a picture (I didn’t add the picture value yet, but you can add a pict via the main content area then just copy the HTML info and paste it in) and one for a quote the client wants to change on each page (click the thumb for full size).
You need to actually edit your templates a bit, but it is fairly easy. Once you have created your Custom Field Name and added some content (value) you can use the get_post_meta() (click here for more detailed info) function as demonstrated below, just swap out Custom Field name where indicated and you can place this in your template-
<?php $key=”YOUR CUSTOM FIELD NAME”; echo get_post_meta($post->ID, $key, true); ?>
You can play around with adding html in the custom field or your template to get styling correct. This is how it looks in my template where I want the quote to show up.
I also recently discovered a nifty plug-in which will add tinyMCE toolbar functionality to the Custom Fields! Very cool.
Do you Tweetbook your Facetubes? Pinterest your Tumblr? Yes we try to keep up with that social networking firestorm. We can help you integrate your site with the latest social hotspot, and offer tips on what works for us promotionally. What’s your favorite flavor?
WordPress has emerged as the perfect easy-to-maintain solution for operating and managing websites of all scale. We often get asked the question “Why would I want to use WordPress as a CMS for my small business?”. It seems like it might be overkill for a small business to run a fully vetted platform if you only …read more
This is the question on many of our clients minds, and we thought we’d take a second to try and simply explain this new exciting design/development method in layman’s terms. The web design and development field is constantly growing and evolving, as you may be aware. Recently you might have heard about “Responsive Design” and you might …read more
Local PDX store owners Amanda and Katie contacted us to help them bring a new look and feel to their wordpress driven website for their produce market, Cherry Sprout. We created a custom theme based on their logo and colors used at the physical store front. Knowing they wanted to better showcase the local produce they …read more
Bitclone is a small Portland, Oregon based Web Design Agency owned by these two nerds Eric Baldoni and Alex Carey (pictured above somewhere in the outdoors, clearly lost without their trusty computers).