Archive for Wordpress

Does Your Website Need A Face-lift?

I’ve noticed a trend this year where a significant portion of the work that I’m getting involves overhauling and refreshing existing web sites.  I’ve given face-lifts to everything from sites that I built myself a few years ago to sites built in the last millennium!  I’ve converted sites to WordPress, Joomla, Shopify and Lemonstand.  I’ve even built a few sites directly out of HTML5/CSS3.

The primary reasons my customers looked for these rebuilds were:

  1. Mobile Layout/Responsive Design: Adapting their site to be responsive so that it looks good not only on computers, but on mobile platforms, tablets, and smartphones.
  2. Functionality: Adding additional functionality to their sites including mailing lists, customer forms, sliders, custom graphics, link-sharing capabilities and links to their social media.
  3. E-Commerce: Adding a shopping cart to an existing site or totally converting a site over to E-Commerce.
  4. Site Refresh: Revamping the look of their site with a modern layout and custom graphics.

I’ve been working in partnership with DrewSevan Design this year and we’ve put together some really great sites. The collaboration has gone so well that we’ve both decided to add site refresh/face-lifts to our portfolio of services.  We’ve launched a joint website, Web-Facelift.com. If you’re interested in having us take a look at your site head over, fill out the form in as much detail as you wish and we’ll take a look.

Website Refresh – JaPaulScape.com

Busy as usual, but I wanted to make a quick post to feature a website refresh for one of my customers that I’m especially proud of, JaPaulscape.com.  The owner called me looking to get an update and refresh for his site, including a new logo.  I contacted the designer I’ve been partnering with, Evan at Drew Sevan Design, and we came up with a new lofo for JaPaul’ and an update for his site.

We kept him on WordPress and added these features and updates:

  1. New logo
  2. Cycling background image.  The owner wanted it and I was hesitant at first, but in the end I think it looks great and adds movement to the site that I normally achieve with a slider.  Good call on his part.
  3. Addition of floating social link tabs to the right side of the site.
  4. Upgraded site to latest version of WordPress, currently 3.7.1
  5. Upgraded theme to latest version of Builder, currently 5.0.10.  This allowed me to take advantage of new features including:
    1. Native mobile and tablet responsive support.  Check it out on your phone, I love the new nav bar styling
    2. Easier customization and upgrading
    3. Automatic theme updates
  6. Updated and adapted code and css to keep his old options in the new setup.

Evan and I are putting together a service to do this for businesses that need a site refresh and/or web facelift.  Look for an announcement in the near future, possibly today!

Here’s a before and after, let me know what you think.

Three New Websites – An Auto Shop, A Short Film and A Dance Troupe

I’ve been really busy the last 2 months, bringing on new clients and working on a lot of new projects.  I just finished posting on Facebook about the latest website that I made live and realized that I have two others that I haven’t posted on my own blog!  So without further ado, here they are:

Scott’s Automotive Inc

The customer wanted it to be slick, clean and SEO-friendly. I’ve been working on it for a really long time. It’s the biggest site that I’ve built yet where I had to generate all the content myself.  Features include:

  • 2 types of custom slider
  • Custom page layouts for “Top” pages and “Parts & Services” pages
  • 220+ Entries on car repair and body work with text and pictures on each
  • 35+ Pages including “Top” pages and categories for Parts & Services
  • 40+ Categories
  • 600+ Metatags
  • Music on the home page with access for visitors to control the volume or turn it off
  • Social media links on every page

Childish Dream Chronicles the Mess Up Room

This site was built for a short film shot locally in Tampa, Florida.  The purpose of the site is to publicize, showcase and eventually sell the movie.  They really went all out with a full crew, professional cameras and professional actors.  It’s a really impressive project and the site I built currently has a lot of behind-the-scenes content while the actual film is being put together.

The site is built to evolve with the project, from post-production to trailers and film festivals and the eventual release and/or sale of the movie on the site itself.  Features include:

  • Custom sliders
  • Custom slide show galleries
  • Video preview and customer-only pages (coming soon)
  • Social media links and social media sharing options

Philippine Performing Arts Company Inc

I’ve been a member of the Philippine Performing Arts Company since before it’s founding.  Filipino dance has been a huge part of my life and I only stopped being an active member a few years ago after family and work really cut down on my extra-curricular activity time.  They’re having a big show this May at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.  This will be the first big show that I haven’t been in.  I channeled my feelings into something positive and decided to create a new site for them to celebrate the new show.  Features include:

  • Front page slider
  • Individual pages for the types of Filipino dance
  • Individual sliders for each dance style page
  • Video page with YouTube video links
  • Social media links
  • Mailing list subscription

New Website: MyHeartDoc.org

I launched a new website last week: MyHeartDoc.org, a website for the Heart & Vascular Institute of Florida in Davenport, FL.  The main feature of the site is the extensive documentation of heart conditions, symptoms, tests and procedures.  I coded in a custom design and layout for the doctor and turned it around in a few weeks as a rush job.

Features include:

  1. WordPress platform
  2. Completely customized layout and theme
  3. Front page slider
  4. Customized loop/page layouts

New Site Live: Evolution Martial Arts

Evolution Martial Arts Website Screenshot

Evolution Martial Arts Website

I just completed a website project with my customer: Evolution Martial Arts.  They’re a martial arts school here in Tampa, Florida specializing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Kids Classes, and Kardio Kickboxing.

It’s an intensive re-design of their original site.  I moved it into WordPress to take advantage of the innate SEO benefits as well as giving the customer the ability to work on the site himself with his own login.  I re-used some of the original design elements, but did a ton of custom graphic design work to distress the images, use them as backgrounds, create buttons, and crop them for the various display banners and videos.

The customer and I spent a lot of time going back and forth, but we’re both really proud of the result.  I think it’s my best site to date.

If you need any help with a website of your own, or have any questions on how I built it, please feel free to contact me.

My Favorite WordPress Themes

I’ve been developing websites for customers for 3 years now and actually building them myself for the past 6 months. After years of trying out different web development platforms; everything from raw html, to FrontPage, to DreamWeaver, and various PHP and online development programs, I’ve decided on WordPress as my platform of choice. With it’s wide range of templates and plugins and the active community of WordPress developers who’ve created code and tutorials, WordPress can do almost everything that I need to do in a website.

With that in mind, here are the tools that I use everyday when building websites.

The Builder Theme from iThemes

iThemes Builder WordPress theme I literally use Builder for 90% of the websites that I create.  Builder offers:

  • Completely customizable layouts
  • The Style Manager, which allows you to edit CSS on the fly
  • 38 child themes on which to base the look of your site.
  • Built-in SEO options

Some of my favorites child themes are:

Among the non-Builder theme, I really like Magazine Basic from Themes by Bavotasan.  I use a no-frills basic install for an article website that I put together.  I was looking for something simple that would allow me to display my most recent posts in an article/magazine format.  It actually has a fairly powerful back-end editor that allows you to control things like page width, headers, footers, sidebars and SEO options.  This version doesn’t have the versatility of Builder, but you don’t always need that much complexity.  If you’re looking for more options, they offer upgraded versions: Magazine Flow and Magazine Premium.

Examples Site for iThemes Themes

When building websites, we spend a lot of time with customers going through the available themes. We use iThemes Builder for the majority of the websites that we build, so I put together an example site to show all of the Builder child themes: http://the-internet-adventure.com/examples/.

Check it out, I set it up with 2 different methods to preview the 30+ child themes that we have available.  I’ve also set up pages that shows all the available typography as well as 4 different layouts and a page showing a variety of widget layouts.

I have another post coming soon about my favorite themes, plugins and tools for WordPress.  Keep an eye out for it.

How to Start a Company from the Ground Up in the Information Age

or… Our First Month (and a half) in The Internet Adventure

Hello everyone, I hope it’s been as exciting for you in April and May as it has been for us.  As you may or may not know, I went into business for myself at the beginning of April.  I’ve been setting up websites (for myself and for customers), my email lists, billing, a customer relationship manager (CRM) & project management solution, social media, as well as working on the bread and butter projects for my customers.  It’s been exciting and scary, a mountain of work, but also very satisfying.  After setting up businesses for other people over the years, it’s extremely gratifying to actually be doing it for myself this time.

Having been through the process several times now, I’ve been able to learn from past successes and mistakes.  This time, for my own company, I’ve already tested countless programs and applications and websites.  Here’s a sample of what I use every day to build my own business.

Wordpress LogoWebsite Development: WordPress, WordPress, and WordPress

Originally a platform for blogging, WordPress has become a fully featured platform for developing websites.  Over the years it has accumulated thousands of themes and plug-ins, both free and paid, which allow you to build almost any kind of website you want.  There’s a huge community of users and developers who can answer any question that you have.

I’m in it every day, working on sites for customers or slowly developing my own sites.  One of the most useful aspects is that I can assign customers, such as Ivy Learning Solutions, their own logins so that they can also work on their website if they want to.

MailChimp LogoEmail Lists: MailChimp

For the “do-it-yourselfer” you can’t beat MailChimp to run your email campaigns, like the one I’m using to send this one out.  MailChimp keeps track of separate mailing lists, allows you to set up custom campaigns, and provides thorough reporting.  You can also link your account to Facebook, Twitter, and many other websites and applications.

WORKetc LogoCRM & Project Management: WORKetc

At the last business I worked at, we tried several different options for managing customers and projects, everything from emailed Excel spreadsheets, to Google Docs, to Google Wave, to Zoho.  As you might expect, our results went from utter dissatisfaction to mild annoyance.  Then our Project Manager, the lovely and talented Morgan, brought us something called WORKetc.

I’ve had the experience of feeling like the clouds opening up and a choir of angels descending from the sky a few times in my life: the births of my children, getting married (both times), the first time I walked into the Zendah Grotto, an a capella fast tinikling my dance company had to do when our music failed.  I really felt that way when I was first shown WORKetc.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that it completely changed the way I work.

With WORKetc, I can track a customer all the way through their lifespan with my company, all the way from a suspect to a lead to a customer.  I can create projects from templates and assign them to co-workers and contractors with personalized to-dos and timelines.  I can invoice and bill and track expenses.  I can send individual emails and I can email a list.  WORKetc is a CRM and Project Manager and Billing system all in one and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Best of all, it’s in the cloud, so I can get to it from anywhere at any time, even on my phone if I have to.

Is it perfect? No, but they add features and update it all the time, so it’s getting there.  Getting everything set up exactly how you want it requires a pretty big up front time investment, but it pays off in the time you save afterwards.  Also, it’s a per-user system (starting at $39/user) so it can get expensive quick, but it’s absolutely worth it.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

FreshBooks LogoBilling: FreshBooks

As much as I love WORKetc, it’s a jack-of-all-trades and I found a tool that does billing better than anything else I’ve worked with.  In FreshBooks I enter my customers and I can bill them as necessary or auto-bill everyone who’s on a monthly service with me.  I don’t have to remember to bill people, the bill goes out and the money comes in.  FreshBooks also keeps track of invoices that have been sent out and what has or hasn’t been paid.  It assigns all my customers their own login so that they can pay online, through PayPal or Authorize.net, and I can see if they’ve received their bill or not.  It literally makes billing easy for me.

The main benefit I get from these tools and applications is this:  Time.  I spend much less of my time and energy on “business stuff” and I get to spend it on my customers and my business and, frankly, I get to spend more time with my family.  That is worth every penny that they cost me.

For more information on these tools or for more information on Local Search Marketing and Web Development, please contact Chris Lontok at chris@the-internet-adventure or call him at: 813-500-9202.