Genesis Framework and Why You Might Want To Use It or Not!

An overview of Genesis Framework for WordPress and why I use it and where I might not use it when developing websites.

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This presentation was given at WordPressDC on October 14th 2014.

Coupon Creator 1.81 Released!

Coupon Creator 1.81 is up on WordPress.org, this update is preparing for a Pro version of the Coupon Creator.

The two main focuses for this update are the Options Page and the Meta Fields, both of which were turned into Classes.

This is also fixes one of the major problems I had with 1.70 was that sanitization had to be added for each field and could not be shared, this is now done by the field type. The Options page was overhauled for a better look with a tab interface to make it easier to group options together.

The new options added to the Coupon Creator are:

  • Choose Default Colors for New Coupons for the Border, Discount Text, and Discount Background.
  • Option to Hide the Click to Print Link
  • Option to add or remove nofollow on the Click to Print Link and Print Template (on by default)
  • Option for Custom CSS to be added with the Coupons or on the Print Template
  • Option to Reset to Default

Coupon Creator Version 1.70

This version is a complete rewrite of the plugin to Object-oriented programming and was done to get ready for a Pro Version with many new features. In the process of rewriting, I updated the color picker script and changed to the latest WordPress Media Uploaded for the Coupon Image Upload.

I also, fixed some errors in addition, to changing the deprecated php split function. Localization is nwo expanded to include the admin area, however, the only translation right now is for Spanish on the front-end. The settings page is a new addition so admins can change the default permalinks for the coupons. The final update is to add custom columns to the list view so users can tell expiration dates and if it is set to ignore them.

The next version will also have a pro version with these features in the works, including: a visual editor to make coupons, background coupon images, editable link texts, more themes, more control from the settings page, custom css, premium support, and more! More details as the that version approaches beta.

Coupon Creator Version 1.60

This update focuses on making the CSS Responsive and improving css methods. Coupons will resize their height according to the content, but will maintain their width. The width has a maximum set so that it will show 100% on the screen on smaller devices or content areas. There is a minimum height for the content and that is supported in all browsers and IE7 and above. There is base support for IE7 and none for IE6 and below with the new style rules.

A html comment is now added when a coupon has expired so someone can tell by looking at the source code if a coupon has expired.

A version number has been added when registering all scripts to bust caches. The number is the last date a file was modified.

The filter for the Print View of the coupon has been changed to template_include as the previous was causing 404 errors in some themes. This maybe changed back depending on the feedback.

Colorbox script and css have been updated to 1.4.37 for the videos in the Coupon Editor.

In the next version of the Coupon Creator I am planning on overhauling all the coding to prepare for a pro version that will support many features people have asked for including a visual editor, more themes, and support for directory sites.

Quick Answers – Interactive Site, SEO, and Marketing

Quick answers to complex questions I get asked all the time.

How can I make my site more interactive?
By creating content such as blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, etc…, but it takes effort to make content. Therefore, you have two choices to make your site more interactive: either do it yourself or pay someone to do it.

How can I rank higher in Google (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimization is done to something .So, you must create content, then optimize it And you are going to have to do at least as much work as your competitors, if not more.

How can marketing be effective?
Marketing is like working out. If you work out for the next month, you would feel good by the end of the month. If you stop after that month and do not work out for the next year, not only will you lose everything you did last month, but you will also be in worse shape than when you started. Marketing is the same way doing it for a month then stopping does not do anything to help sales (assuming your work out or marketing is effective). Marketing is Radio Ads, TV Ads, PPC, Blogging, Email, Website Content, Print Ads, etc…

Introduction to WordPress Child Themes, Filters, Actions, and Frameworks

July 2013 DC WordPress Meetup Presentation – Introduction to WordPress Child Themes, Filters, Actions, and Frameworks

Learn what a child theme is, how to make them, why they are best way to customize WordPress themes. Get an introduction to filters, actions, pluggable functions, frameworks, and everything else to get you started making your own custom child themes for WordPress.

Files:

WordPress DC Meetup Twenty Thirteen Child Theme
Twenty Thirteen Theme

Links:

How to Protect Your Property – Website, Domain, and Server

I took over a website for a small business owned by Jane (not her real name) who was being charged Two Thousand Dollars per month for hosting, updates, and maintenance. Two Thousand Dollars for an eight page website is crazy! Jane financed the website with her credit card. She ended up maxing out her credit card, leaving her with no additional funds to pay the overpriced website maintenance.  After informing the web developer her financial distress, the web developer responded by closing the hosting, removing the website, and he refused to give her access to the domain. This left Jane with nothing.

What could Jane (or you) do in the future to prevent this?

First, do your due diligence about the web developer and follow some these helpful tips in my Article “Hire a Web Developer like you Hire a Car Mechanic,” to find a reasonably price web developer.

Then, you can follow the tips below that can help protect your domain, hosting, and website.

Before I go any further, let me say this article is only informational and it is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult a licensed attorney.

Domain
Jane lost the domain because she did not have access to it. The web developer controlled the account and refused to give it up.  Jane decided that the legal costs would be too much. For a small business, a legal fight over a domain could be very costly and time consuming.

One way customers can avoid this from happening is by purchasing a domain under their account.

This can be done easily and in a cost effective manner. Websites such as  Namecheap.com(affiliate link) or GoDaddy(if you can stand the up selling) allow you to set up a domain in a few easy steps. You type in the domain you want, create an account, and pay for it. This service will cost you between $10 to $15 per year.

With the domain under your account, this protects you if any dispute arises. Now what about hosting?

Hosting
Hosting is where all the files  are stored  for your website. In Jane’s case, the web developer hosted the files.

There is nothing wrong with using a web developer’s hosting, but there can be risks involved such as the web developer shutting down the hosting or changing the account access.

However, there are numerous alternatives other than using a web developer for hosting which include: Shared Hosting, VPS, Dedicated Servers, Cloud Hosting, and more.

And with these options you control the hosting and pay for it directly.Therefore, if any dispute arises, you have the option of locking out the web developer.

Anyway you do hosting, you can add additional protection by having a written agreement.

Agreement
Why have an agreement? It is simple, memories change over time and oftentimes they change to benefit the person remembering them.

When agreements are put in writing, it gives you a resource to solve a dispute or something to present in a court of law if you decide to take legal action.

An agreement can include the following:

  • What you authorize the Web Developer access (usually the domain and hosting service)
  • Scope of the Work
  • Price for the Project
  • Payment Schedule
  • Point of Contact
  • A way to terminate the contract
  • Where to seek legal recourse if there is a dispute

With these protections in place, you can be confident that your property is under your control and if there is a dispute there is enough evidence on your side to prove the web developer has violated your agreement and you can take the proper recourse.

Most importantly, you will not end up paying Two Thousand Dollars a month to “rent” a website, like Jane did.

Hire a Web Developer like you Hire a Car Mechanic

A car, it takes you places, there are new models every year, there is maintenance to do, and there are mechanics to it.

Web Developer = Car Mechanic

Or Find a Web Developing Car Mechanic!

Websites are similar; it helps you reach a goal, there are new coding methods every year, there is upgrading to do, and there are web developers to do it.

A car and website can also both be used by someone that does not understand the inner machinery, but it is when you are looking to lengthen the life, fix problems, or improve upon either a website or a car a professional is needed to work on the inner machinery.

That inner machinery for websites can be divided into two areas, support and upgrades:

  1. A web developer can support your website, with coding improvements, maintenance and security updates to core files, bug fixes, server upgrades, etc…
  2. They can also, make upgrades with layout changes, new features, new themes, and more that will help you reach the goal of your web presence.

but there are also dangers..

A web developer just as a mechanic knows the inner machinery of the site better then you. So they can find problems that do not exist, they can suggest features that do not help you reach a goal and they can also not do what they say there are going to do and you might never know.

Therefore you should hire a Web Developer the same way you hire a mechanic and follow these steps:

  1. Find a Web Developer – First find a developer by asking friends, contacting websites you like the style of, search online for web developers, visit local meetups for developers, etc..
  2. Look at Their Work – Once you find a developer look over their projects and visit a sample of their websites and decide if you like it or not.
  3. Check References – Then contact the developer to get references or look at their portfolio and contact the owners of the sites for a reference.
  4. Google Them – At the same time, Google the Web Developer to see what is written about them, look for social media accounts, and find them on Linkedin.
  5. Try Out – Finally,if you think the web developer will work out, test them out with small updates or another small project for a couple months and see if you work well together before taking on bigger projects.

With those steps you should be able to determine if you want to work with the web developer and the web developer will deliver what you want. However, unlike a car where it is pretty clear you own it, websites ownership can get tricky with domains, hosting, and the website files.

Therefore, there are additional steps to take to protect your property from ownership of accounts to contracts for the work.

That is going to be the next post in “How to Protect Your Property – Website, Domain, and Server”

Welcome to the New Site!

A complete redesign that includes:

  • Mobile, Tablet, and Desktop Responsive Theme
  • 100% custom child theme of Genesis Framework
  • Retina Graphics
  • jQuery Rotate to move the Compass
  • Font Icons in the Nav
  • Custom WordPress Admin Settings Page for RSS, Sliders, Analytics, Colorbox, and more
  • Improved Security
  • And a Blog Geared towards non developers

2 Things to Know When Hiring a Web Developer

You would like a new website or want to update your website or just have questions about web design, but you do not know any web developers.

So what do you look for in a web developer that will help you meet your goal?

And that is point one.

Have a specific goal.

Having a website without a goal is like driving around in circles, at first the scenery is nice, but eventually you realize you not going anywhere.

When talking to a web developer have a goal in mind and use that as a way to judge the developers work. Asking yourself will this developer create a website that meets my goal?

What could that goal be? It could be a restaurant website that is designed to make a great impression with enough information to get visitors to make a reservation. Or maybe you want to increase conversion for your email newsletter. Or you want visitors to buy a product.

Whatever the goal is, specific beats general.

With a specific goal in mind you can judge the web developers work and ask yourself, will this person or company help me meet my goal now and as it changes in the future.

Reliability is the trait a web developer needs to meet the goal of your website.

A reliable web developer will be able to do three things: do what they say they are going to do, respond to you in a timely manner, and provide you with information to make good decisions about your wesite.

Therefore, test reliability by how long it takes to respond to your emails. If a web developer is taking a long time to respond to you then how long will they take once you have paid them?

Another part of reliably is giving you information in response to your questions, to help you make informed decisions. One question I received recently was, “Should I get a blog for my site, because someone told me a blog can increase traffic?”

A true statement, a blog can increase traffic, but….

I looked at the site, the niche the client was selling to, and found a small market for it. However, writing a blog does not magically increase traffic it takes a lot of work. Only 20% of a blog is making content the rest is promoting and sharing that content with relevant sites with interviews, guest posts, videos, etc….

I concluded that a blog could be useful, but only if the client was willingly to put in the time to make it succeed and I let them know that.

This way they could decide if they want to spend the money to get a blog and then more importantly spend the time to make the blog succeed.

Having a web developer that will answer your questions and not just say, “Lets Do it” will help you decide whether it is worth it to spend your time and money on different aspects of your website.

Once you have decided a web developer can meet your goal and is reliable there are steps to take to protect your investment and that is next in “How To Protect Your Wesite”