beaconfire

Death to Website Redesigns

There was a great webinar today by website agency Beaconfire called “Death to Website Redesigns.” The main takeaway was that businesses and non-profits should be considering a shift away from the traditional webdesign model (one site for a couple of years, then replace, then overhaul again a couple of years later) towards the idea that the website is a living project that it continuously evolving.

They also shared some great resources for getting an idea of which part of a website needs attention first, and looked at a couple of examples.

They’ve made a replay available (although I don’t know for how long) and I highly recommend it!

New Site: Just Neighbors

Just Neighbors - Dev ScreenshotThis new website project is for Just Neighbors: a non-profit in Northern Virginia.

I have just completed phase 1 – converting a PSD to HTML – and looking forward to phase 2, which is converting the HTML to a WordPress template. This organization has needed a website overhaul for a while, and it will be a special moment when we flip the switch and go live with the new site 🙂

 

Responsive Websites in WordPress

mobile-wordpress-siteI started out coding mobile websites by hand several years ago (before the first iPhone came out, actually), and that is still how I prefer to do it sometimes! However, I have given that technique up as old-fashioned now when it comes to WordPress sites

It’s just too tricky to do your own coding on that platform without having lots of obstacles. Perhaps someday a mobile- and tablet-friendly approach will be built-in, but for now my favorite way to make WordPress websites is with one of two plugins: WPTouch and WP Mobile Detector.

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New Site: 3rd Church DC

by Jay Frost

3rd-church-dc

New Website for DC Church

I’m pleased to add a new website to the family: Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Washington DC. They were already running WordPress, but using the default 2010 theme with lots of plugins, and the site was very far behind on updates. Additionally, the content had become quite a mish-mash after being assembled, I would guess, by several different people working on different projects over the past couple of years. (This is a common issue for small businesses and non-profits that don’t have a dedicated webmaster!)

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Link-Building Strategy for 2014

SEO Genius logoOne thing that took me a while to get used to in the SEO word is how fast things are always changing. Just when you’ve got everything figured out and are starting to rock it, the rules change and you have tackle some new approach!

Such is the challenge of technology’s rapid evolution, the rate of which many predict will continue to accelerate. Nevertheless, everything you learn along the way contributes to your your ability to keep up with further modifications and maturing of technology and it adaptation.

One core component of SEO strategy is link-building: increasing the number of domains that link to your website. The following article from SEO Genius poses the question What link building tactics should we follow in 2014 and why? to several SEO experts, whose compiled answers provide a good cross-section of different ways to approach this strategy this year.

 

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

WordPress is a great website-building platform, in part because it’s open source. This allows for a gigantic index of plugins created by freelance developers to increase functionality and customize various aspects of the WordPress package.

There are many plugins to sort through, and when I’m looking for one that does a specific thing I’ve found that I often need to install several different plugins and try them each out before settling on the best one.

Below is a list I’ve compiled of my favorite and most frequently-used plugins.

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Google Privacy Concerns?

We’re all used to announcements like this from Facebook … but it seems that Google isn’t immune to raising security concerns either. I basically trust Google with my digital everything because I believe in the company, its unofficial slogan, and its track record. It behooves, however, us to not become too complacent!

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Managing separate Files/Folders in WordPress Directory

Off and on over the past few years I’ve occasionally wanted to put a file/directory inside a WordPress directory and then simple get the link to that file without messing with WordPress. I follow all normal procedures only to find that when I paste the link to my file in the browser, I get a WordPress error page – not just a regular error page, but one from the WordPress install that I’m trying to avoid.

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Microsoft Office Trial

by Jay Frost

Despite my best efforts to keep all software discs, I couldn’t find an original box for Microsoft Office Professional Pro 2010 when I wanted to transfer it to a new computer. I spent quite a lot of time Googling it, expecting even if I couldn’t find it on Microsoft’s website that other popular software sites would be able to give me the free trial version, into which I’d enter my serial number and be done with it.

These searches proved to be in vain. Site after trusted site kept redirecting the most recent Microsoft Office trial version, where my 2010 serial number wouldn’t be of much help. They seem to have really clamped down on this, and it was frustrating! Especially when places like CNET have pages called Microsoft Office Professional 2010 advertising the free trial download.

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Making 301 Redirects with Windows Hosting (on GoDaddy)

Most of the websites I make for people are on linux servers, but in an effort to expand my know-how I am now running a few simple pages on Windows. The fundamentals of XHTML and CSS are the same, but server-level things are way different. With linux, you have a .htaccess file that you can use for page redirects, url canonicalization, and much more I’m sure!

Back on Windows servers, you may have a web.config file if you’re the system admin and running a dedicated server. I, however, use shared hosting on GoDaddy, which means that there isn’t a huge IIS command center to log into.

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Bank of America “Number 1 Online Bank”

I was doing some online banking today at Bank of America (yes, I still have an account with them … for now). I saw a little announcement on the bottom left of the screen that said “Bank of America ranked #1 Online Bank.”

“Hmmmf,” I sniggered. I have experience with 3-4 online banking systems, and BOA is my least favorite in terms of ease-of-use and understanding-where-all-these-other-charges-are-coming-from. It has even been difficult to simply find out how much I owe and pay it. One of my old accounts is still listed in my payment center (even though I closed it over two years ago) and I can never remember which one is the active one.

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Making Your New Facebook Profile Look Cool

I’m as wary as the next Facebook user about the frequency of Facebook layout updates and the privacy issues that accompany this whole social networking phenomenon.

With the most recent Facebook layout change, however, I took the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude after finding this webpage sharing cool new things people have done with their Facebook profiles. This first article was so popular, they wrote another one called more creative uses of the new Facebook Profile.

You can make your Facebook Profile look like this too! Just follow the directions on this page :)

My Facebook Page with Faux Panoramic

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Dropbox – File sharing on multiple devices – even your smartphone!

 

Logo for Dropbox, a could computing file sharing service.

Dropbox Logo

Dropbox is one of those new web services that has completely changed my digital life. In a nutshell, Dropbox creates a folder system that is automatically synced up with all of your computers AND your smartphone. That means that any files that you put in can be viewed on all of your devices. Even better, they can be accessed ANYWHERE just by logging in to the website.

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