Sort of a lazy post, but I really liked this article on New Trends in Web Design. The author’s focus is on UX (user experience) so many of the points of the article touch on that. But that’s what I think the focus of a designer should be – you want your site to be easy and fun to use.
Make it easy to buy things, if you are selling them! That is the excellent advice in this ecommerce article, boiled down to its essence. Don’t confuse your visitor, make it easy to navigate and easy to return to shopping. Let them see what is in their cart. Make it crystal clear how to contact you, what your return policy is, and give them a hint about shipping costs. Of course, page load times are always crucial to conversions: “Four in 10 Americans give up accessing a mobile shopping site that won’t load in just three seconds (which is roughly the time taken to read to the period at the end of this sentence).”
Bonobos has an excellent shopping cart, and actually just an excellent site in general. Walmart isn’t too shabby (you doubtless know this but I am still amazed at the different sites for different countries. I guess a different aesthetic appeals to Americans vs. Canadians…)
What do you look for in a shopping experience? Do requirements to sign up for a membership or an account drive you away? Do you appreciate or resent (one vote for resent, over here) the “You May Also Be Interested In” suggestions after you put something in your cart?
I was idly wondering what theme to go with for this site. And now you’re curious, right? But remember when your dad wouldn’t tell you the answer when you were little and made you look it up? Well if you’re now wondering what theme you’re reading this one, leap over to “What WordPress Theme is That?” and you’ll find out for yourself.
Anyway, I was trying to pick a theme, but then I had an awesome idea. What if each page were a different theme? How fun and different would that be!?!?! But just like twaikus, someone had already thought of it. The Multiple Themes plugin will allow you to put different themes on the same site. Apparently there might be some limitations, especially with particularly plush premium themes, but let’s give it a try and see how it works! Otherwise you can just make your site a multisite and have each “page” actually be a different site. …and I can’t take credit for that one, either (I had only the vaguest glimmering of an idea in that direction), and wpmudev fleshed it out for me.
Speaking of wpmudev, they are so awesome, and really really nice; they had a free table at WordCamp last year where a very nice guy helped me with a vexing WordPress problem. For free. Just to be nice.
I had such a great time! I learned so much! I forgot my phone at home and had to navigate from wifi spot to wifi spot like some crazy urban explorer!
Here is Matt Mullenweg delivering the State of the Word.
They gave away lots of free stickers and free t shirts and apparently, free Google Cardboards…but I missed that table. (but Donna, who is all things awesome, found it, got one, and showed it to us later). It’s lots of short talks – there’s three at a time so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find one that’s interesting. All the cool kids hung out in the hallways chatting up the vendors and one another; I, true to form, dutifully followed my premade lecture schedule. Because I’m cool like that. There were also parties and a BBQ in the evenings but I did not plan for that with babysitting so…next time. But the great news is – WordCamp US will be in Philadelphia again (yay!) this coming December, so consider going. It’s only $40 and you get lunch and meet nice people and you’ll learn a lot and did I mention the stickers? Seriously, it’s worth it, especially if you’re within a few hours of Philly.
A small marina in Strathmere, New Jersey. They wanted a website with a laid-back, authentic feel – just like their marina.
If you ever can’t close a pop-up window to get to the site you want to see (it’s holding you hostage for your email address), try moving the mouse around the upper right where a nice designer would put a helpful X.
If you see your mouse pointer turn into an active link hand, click it; that is the X, only it’s hidden. You’ll go back to the site you were trying to visit.
Thoreau said, simplify, simplify. Realized I have been carrying around a bag full of tools, when a Swiss Army knife would have sufficed.
Background: I was chatting with a very kind and interesting man at last week’s WordCamp US in Philly (so much fun, so educational, and really excellent mid-afternoon snack). He was talking about force multipliers for the entrepreneur who is a one-person shop. Basically, you need to use tools or methods that make the best use of your time – for example, finding a trusted web host and steering all of your clients to them; you know their downtime is minimal, their support is excellent, they handle all updates and security patches and you already understand how their system works. That is the crucial part.
In our professional lives today, we are increasingly specializing. We are experts in our area, constantly acquiring more knowledge and experience…but that takes time and energy. To succeed in one’s field, you need to cut away the distractions and time-sucks. Making a site is no different.
I have been experimenting with several frameworks for themes, but this gentleman urged me pick just one, whichever works best for me, and stick with it and become an expert. Likewise, find a host with great support, find a company that makes great plugins or tools, and stick with them. You can do so much more with your time, and actually do so much more for your clients, if you are deeply familiar with your system for making a site and completely knowledgeable with the tools you choose to use.
It is also a heck of a lot easier!
Well, widgetizing your theme, that is. Sounds pretty neat – I need to try this out on an unsuspecting theme/site. (preferably one of my own, first). Here’s the official directions from WordPress, though theirs doesn’t include “make a fist and howl at the monitor”. But it should. On a side note, whenever I get started on a home repair job, I – and I am totally serious here – include some time in the plan to go and stare sadly at said item in need of repair. Just sort of, I dunno, be at one with the broken door or the clogged drain hose for a while. Also contemplate the various ways I can screw up this repair and the extra items I should buy at Home Depot to ameliorate the coming screw up. My husband laughs at me but I consider it a vital part of any maintenance project.
A great starter theme is usually the latest WordPress issued theme, and people make their livings creating custom child themes out of them. Why not give widgetizing a try? I plan to!
Ever look at a site and wonder how it was made? I do, all the time. I’m sure most of you are aware you can simply right click and “View Source” in Chrome and IE, and “View Page Source” in Firefox and see the html of a page. But here are some tools to easily see some other stuff.
What WordPress Theme is That?
Just what it sounds like, What WordPress Theme is That? allows you to paste in the url of a site and see the theme the site is using, along with any plugins. Handy and easy if you don’t want to go through the source code looking for “wp-content” and “wp-includes.”
Also a handy way to see if a site you like (or dislike!) is made using a certain CMS. Just go to whatcms.org and type or paste in the url of the site in question. Per their site, they detect CMS’s from a list of approximately 100 CMS applications and services.
And I learned something new today! Quote from the What CMS site: “Keep in mind a website may use multiple CMS’. WordPress may be used as the primary CMS, while using vBulletin on a subdomain (forum.example.com) or subdirectory (example.com/forum). For this reason, you can enter any url in the form above to see what CMS is being used on a specific page.” Now that you think about it, it’s definitely possible, why not?…I just hadn’t considered it. Good to keep learning!
You guys all know I love WordPress, of course. And, I guess this sounds weird or old-school, but I also really believe in our government and the people who work for it. And then I saw this combination: WordPress for Government!
I think this could be a great way for us as taxpayers to save money. A site built on WordPress (or I would say, any of the open source CMS’s) it usually less expensive than a bespoke site, and can often fill your requirements just as effectively. Atilus.com has a “large business” website costing anywhere from $15,000-$100,000. I assumed a smaller federal agency or large city’s website would cost at least this much, if not a great deal more. However, by one estimate, the Obamacare site, which was widely criticized, cost approximately $515,000,000. Yes, $515 million. Also, it was built by a Canadian company. I know of several American web designers who would be thrilled to make a website that didn’t work, for just 1/10th of that money.
It would challenge gov’t to bring their workers up to speed on the Web (not to paint all federal or state employees with the same brush, but some branches of gov’t have the reputation of being a little behind, technically). But if they take the step into using a CMS like WordPress, I think the inevitable next step is for any bureau or department to begin taking more ownership and agency in managing their own web presence. Websites need to be living things, constantly updated and interacting with their target community. More and more government-citizen interaction is taking place online (because Microsoft). And a site made on WordPress is easy to update!
I am hopeful this will help make our government’s web presences (city, state and local) more nimble and affordable, while starting to development a deeper bench of website management experience among employees. What do you think?