Category Archives: Self-Managed Websites

16Jun/17

Lane Titans Custom WordPress Child Theme

At the day job I was tasked with creating a WordPress child theme for the college sports teams.  Since I’m a Bootstrap kind of guy, and Lane has standardized on Bootstrap as a framework, I found a pretty basic theme that uses Bootstrap for its core and proceeded to modify the stuff that didn’t look right.  The results are quite good and saved the college $5000/year over the framework most of the rest of the college sports teams use.  Good day for me.  I like paying my way.  

Features Include

  • Totally custom design.
  • Full Customizer integration.  (Customizer is the WordPress admin interface for dealing with design aspects of your theme and website.)
  • Ability to change the logo (Titan Athletics) through the Customizer.
  • Ability to change the tagline in the top gold bar (OFFICIAL ATHLETICS WEBSITE…) through the Customizer.
  • Ability to change the semi-opaque background image (behind the slideshow on the home page) through the Customizer.
  • Mega-menu integrated through the stock WordPress menu system so you can change all aspects of the menu structure and design without having to call the web guy.
  • Ability to change the page background color through the Customizer.
  • Upcoming Events automated through a SPUD from 25-Live, the scheduling system the college uses.
  • Full responsive embeds, like YouTube and Vimeo videos as well as images.  (This is mostly stock WordPress behavior, but it needed a little help.)
  • Off the shelf plugins were used for things like OUR VALUED PARTNERS so they can list sponsors. 
  • Team Rosters are also through an off the shelf plugin, but it allows you to totally customize the fields as well as the templates used for outputting the single player bio pages and the tabled rosters used on the team pages.
  • A footer menu built with Bootstrap’s standard navbar code, but using a WordPress menu as its source.  Easy for the end user to change what shows up in the footer through the Customizer.
  • Custom recruiting forms for each sport.
  • Accessible design that complies with government regulations for use with screen readers.  This is ongoing, but, on launch, will be fully compliant.  (Just in case you go to the site and test me on it and it’s not quite there yet…)
  • And, of course, the site is fully responsive so it’s going to look great on a phone, a tablet or a computer.  

Development Server Link:  https://vader.lanecc.edu/lanetitans/

Production Site Link: http://lanetitans.com (Will look very different until the final site is launched…)

13Oct/12

Herbert Lumber – Riddle Oregon

Herbert Lumber had recently lost their website to a server crash.  Scary.  Especially since their host didn’t have a backup.  When I talked to them they were trying to figure out how to get a website back up that they could back up and maintain themselves.  Hmmmm.  What do I have that would work for that?  Yep.  WordPress.

Herbert Lumber Company

It came out pretty well.  They had some of the original photos that they had used on the original site and even some of the content from the pages.  I was able to get a custom WordPress theme set up for them in a couple days and moved all their photos and content over in a few hours.  Now they have a site they can maintain, update and, most importantly, back up on their own.

Unfortunately, Herbert Lumber wasn’t the first client I had talked to that week who had lost their website to a server crash with no backups.  I decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a way to back up a full WordPress installation with a single click from the Dashboard in WordPress.  I wrote a plugin that is available from WordPress that makes a backup of your entire database as well as your entire web root folder.  That means that if you have information on your website that’s not in WordPress, my plugin backs that up too.  Pretty cool, really.  One click makes the backup file, then shows you a link to it so you can download it to your local computer.  Then you just delete the backup file from the server and you’re good to go.  You can run the backup as often as you like.

If you have lost your website, or you’re not happy with the one you have, give me a call.  I’m sure I can help you put something together that will fit your needs, look great and be under budget.

11Oct/12

Coast Professional Services – Roseburg OR

Coast Professional Services is a local insurance agency.  Like Fotan, he’s basically a one man show and specializes in giving personal service.  He knows his clients by name and answers the phone when you call.  There’s really only one email address because he’s the one who checks it.  Ron originally paid several thousand dollars to a guy who said he “specializes in insurance agent websites”.  That sounded great.  Except he got a site that looks exactly like all the other insurance websites he did and it didn’t capture the feel of Ron’s agency.  Oh, plus he was paying hundreds of dollars a month to Google AdWords and not getting a single lead from his shiny new website.

When I came in I was able to give Ron a custom WordPress website with a very comfortable home town look.

Coast Professional Services

Ron is able to update his website on his own, which is great because he has a lot to say about Obamacare and the insurance industry in general.  He posts blog entries every now and then, which then submits his website to Google, Bing and several other search engines and directories.  Now he comes up in Google searches.  Pretty cool trick, huh?

Ron has become my insurance guy.  I highly recommend him.  I really prefer to keep my money local, but it really comes down to the value you get for your money.  If it looks like I can give you what you want better than the guy down the street from you, but I’m not local, you’re still better off hiring me.  At least you know who you’ll be talking to if you have changes.

09Oct/12

UCC Accreditation WordPress Blog

I’ve been on contract working as webmaster for Umpqua Community College for quite a while now and one of the things they asked me to do was to take their Accreditation blog and clean it up.  Before I got to it it was a stock WordPress theme and didn’t look anything like UCC’s website.  The only way to tell it was UCC’s was that it said so in the header.  No logo, no nothing.

I found a theme that would let us upload a full page photo to display behind the content.  I was able to adjust the colors of the theme to match UCC’s standards and reorganized the whole site so it flows and makes sense now.

I think it came out great.  Could probably use a better photo for the background, but anyone who has ever been there will recognize the fountain on the right side.

The best part is that UCC is thrilled with it.  Very professional and lets the world see them that way.

If you have a website that’s not putting your best foot forward, let me know.  I can help you too.

13Apr/12

Puget Sound Platter

PSP is a site all about the food scene in the Puget Sound area.  Karen, the owner, is quite the foodie and wanted to be able to share all the great local food related happenings as well as write-ups about local restaurants, pubs, cooking schools…  Pretty much everything food related, but with a local focus.

The site is pretty straight forward except that she needed a way to compile her own lists of establishments and wanted to be able to sort them her own way.  What I ended up doing was coding an add-on for WordPress that gave her access to her own database so she could do what she wanted to do.  Pretty slick.  It finds latitude and longitude of an address as she’s inputting it so it can show up on the map in just the right spot.  It also allows her to place paid ads throughout the site in specific ways so it doesn’t lose its local feel.  Oftentimes ads stick out like a sore thumb, but I think she’s done a great job keeping the design clean and easy to follow.

So, if you’re planning a trip to the Seattle area, check out the Puget Sound Platter.  There’s a lot of good food up there.  You just need to know where to find it.

11Apr/12

Roseburg Country Club

So, the Country Club had a great website.  Designed by my friends over at BBG Marketing many moons ago.  As often happens these days, RCC wants to be able to update their website without having to “call the web guy”.  They also wanted to make the site more interactive.  Randy, the pro, wants to post tournament rosters as well as results so members can check the website rather than calling the pro shop to find out how the tournament is going, or who put the most balls in the pond on 18 trying to reenact the final scene from Tin Cup.  Anyway, a redesign and WordPress conversion was the only way to go.

 

I gave them a couple cool features.  The most obvious in the picture above is that the whole website’s background is made up of a photo of the course.  Not just one photo though.  There are actually a number of photos that are grabbed randomly each time a user hits the site.  In other words, go to the site right now and maybe you’ll see a picture of #4 from the tees.  Go back tomorrow and you might see the clubhouse from 18’s green.  “Why not make a new picture come up every time I visit a page” you say?  Well, that would just be silly.  Those pictures are kind of big, so I only want you to have to download one each time you visit the site.  Otherwise page load times could be pretty long if you’re on a slow internet connection.  I know.  “Nice job Matt.  You really think of everything, don’t you?”  Yeah.  I try.  That’s what makes me worth what I bill. 🙂

Another thing you might notice is that the majority of the site is semi-transparent so you can see the background. Why would you want to cover up those awesome backgrounds and not even be able to see them?

They are also able to post PDFs of menus, tournament pairings and results to the website that end up embedded in the website rather than opening in a big, ugly window in your browser or downloading so you have to try to find it in the sea of icons all over your desktop.  There is also a calendar of events, a tour of each hole and a blog so they can keep everyone up to date on what’s happening in the restaurant, frost closures in the winter or whatever happens at a country club that they want people to know about.

Fun site.  Great course.  Nifty pool for the kids.

08Mar/12

Integrity Team Real Estate Services

Integrity finally got tired of paying hundreds of dollars a month for a cookie cutter website that looked just like everyone else’s.  When I met with Janet she was looking for something to make her stand apart from the competition.  As a successful real estate broker she had been meticulous in the design of her business cards, her signs, her new office in downtown Roseburg.  She wanted clean lines, classy, something that would really catch the eye.  I think I did a pretty good job.

What you’re seeing above is the listing details page for one of Janet’s listings.  I’ll tell you about a few of the cooler features of the site.

  • At the top, you’ll see “About the Company”, “Local Events”, and “Local Info / Links”.  All three of those pages are self managed by Integrity.  They have an administrative back end (custom built by me) that they log into to add or edit content for those pages.
  • The photo at the top right of the stream is actually a photo slideshow.  They can place any number of photos in the slideshow and each time a page loads the slideshow grabs a number of them and starts displaying them with a nice fade in/fade out transition.  I limited the number of slides so that the page didn’t take forever to load.  More pictures = more time to download.  As it is, the page loads quickly, but you get a seemingly random slideshow each time.  Pretty cool.
  • The menus are actually what is known as a Mega-Menu.  Most of the links are pretty normal, but if you roll over “Meet The Team” you see a dynamically generated grid of brokers.  The list is created from the database which, you guessed it, Integrity has full control over.  They add/edit/remove brokers on the fly.  Each broker profile has space for a photo, contact information, social networking links and all the normal stuff.  The broker profile page also shows each broker’s listings and, at some point, will also show blog posts for that particular broker.
  • The blog.  Ok.  Janet knows that the real value to a real estate broker is the knowledge in their head.  She wanted to be able to share that knowledge as well as boost her Google ranking, so we integrated a custom WordPress blog with the same design as her website.  The benefit to having it all together is that I can grab posts from a given category, tag or author and display them anywhere I like on the website.  Hence the statement above about showing blog posts on broker profile pages.  It’ll be super cool once the brokers really start posting.
  • The slideshow of photos is pretty cool.  Nothing overly special that you don’t see every day, but the thumbnails are squared off and outlined and move along with the main photo.  Oh, and the buttons are styled to match the rest of the site.  Nice, but not rocket science.
  • The listing data is obviously pulled automatically from the RMLS using my IDX feed.  No rocket science there either.  If you have a real estate website and you’re not utilizing some form of IDX you should really pull your head out of the sand and join the 20th century.
  • The map.  This is totally cool.  On the left you see a list of 10 listings of similar price and size (beds/baths/sqft) within a predefined radius. As you hover over the entries on the left, the photo and listing info on the right change as does the map.

So, lots of cool features.  All custom coded and pieced together to fit Janet’s vision of what she wanted a website to be.  I can do the same thing for you.  Just give me a call and we can talk.

08Mar/12

EmbertsonCPA.com

Rick needed a site refresh in a bad way.  He also wanted to be able to update his website in house and needed to be found on Google.  His old site was somewhere around page 14 on Google and used bright, vibrant colors and, well, didn’t work.  Logins that lead to nowhere.  Pages dedicated to a single line of text.  Just odd and didn’t really fit his style.  I met with him and a couple of his office people and we decided the best option for him was a WordPress website with a custom design.

Going off his business card and a tri-fold pamphlet I was able to customize a WordPress theme to fit his needs and style.  Subtle blues and grays, his logo, a classy font…  He also has the ability to add pages, post tips for his clients and edit everything down to the size and color of text.

Oh, and 3 weeks after launching he showed up on the first page in Google.  Pretty impressive considering all we did was move his old content over to a fresh design.  Google obviously LOVES WordPress.  I think I do too.  What can I say?  I’m a fan. 🙂

09Oct/11

Leif Photography

Gary had been trying to find someone local who could take a design he had purchased online and make it work for his purposes.  As it turned out, the design he purchased had a bunch of Flash that made it very difficult to modify.  I basically re-created the look of the design he bought, but dumped the Flash and added some PHP fed JavaScript slideshows (12 of them on the home page) and gave him a way to upload photographs that a script on the server resized, created thumbnails and moved to a folder for each of the 12 slideshows.  What he ended up with was the ability to change the photos that come up in the slideshows himself.  No need to call the web guy.

Once he got the “do crazy stuff with my website” bug, he had me add a custom blog that he uses to showcase shoots and let people download low resolution versions of their photos for use on sites like Facebook, add a music player that let him choose specific music based on the page, add a full blown photo gallery that lets him upload as many photos as he likes (I think there are a couple thousand as of today) and a way to upload tips and coupons to go with specific photo galleries.  Very fun site.  Gary really knows how to test my creativity in coding.

 

28Sep/11

Century 21 The Neil Company Real Estate

I took over development or The Neil Company in about 2005 or 2006.  Since then I’ve done 3 total redesigns.  Franchises like this are a challenge because you have to take the client’s wishes for design and make it work within the legal constraints of the marketing guidelines of the parent company.

Along with all the normal IDX stuff, Neil Company also wanted to be able to add/edit/delete broker bios from their website on their own.  As time went on, it morphed from a very basic name, phone, email and bio to social networking icons, a property list along with the bio info, multiple contact numbers and so on.

I have also integrated a custom WordPress blog to help them with their search engine ranking.  Neil posts a helpful real estate related article a couple times a week and, voila, they’re ranked much higher in Google.

The latest iteration of their site includes some pretty cool features like accordion menus, Google maps showing other similar listings within a certain distance of the listing you’re looking at, mortgage and tax information on each listing and integration of a special C-21 lead router deal that lets them track email leads from their website and print ads.

All in all a pretty cool site for a very cool client.


** UPDATE **

Neil Company has had a custom WordPress blog as part of their site for quite a while now, but it was a little bit like a red-headed step child.  Didn’t look like the rest of the family (site) and always kind of bugged me.  Well, last week they contacted me about adding a second blog to the site for commercial investing articles.  I took the opportunity to create a child theme for a WordPress framework.  What that means is that I created a theme that looks identical to their website, then, since it’s a child theme, was able to copy it to their original blog (Neil’s Blog) so now both blogs look exactly like the rest of the website and everything is pretty again.  I’ll be able to sleep at night now.

This is the blog.  Just in case you want to see it.  Oh, shoot.  The photo above is actually one design ago.  The current site looks just like this.  Trust me.  🙂