WordPress.org Changes Plugin Page Layout

WordPress.org plugin page layout change likely for usability

Wordpress.org plugin page from 2008
What the WordPress.org plugin page used to look like.

A couple of weeks ago, WordPress.org changed the layout of their plugins directory plugin pages. The update was likely to improve usability for users trying to determine whether a plugin is trustworthy and what it does. I believe the re-arranging of the page has achieved those goals.

The update removes author links

The layout redesign removes links to the official plugin page. I believe this makes it more difficult for users trying to get support on plugins.

Removing links also affects plugin authors. One of the ways that plugin authors are “rewarded” for creating plugins used to be a link from the WordPress.org website. This resulted in two things: increased traffic to the author’s website and some passed SEO value from the WordPress website to the author’s website.

I recommend all authors to go back through their readme.txt files and add a link to their support pages. Continue reading “WordPress.org Changes Plugin Page Layout”

Mountain America Jerky Redesign Launched

Mountain America Jerky Redesign

Mountain America Jerky Before Redesign Mountain America Jerky - After Redesign
Mountain America Jerky - Before and After Redesign

I’m happy to announce that today the new Mountain America Jerky website launched. Check out the site and try some of their crazy-good Garlic Black Pepper Beef Jerky. One perk of working with a nice client who sells beef jerky is getting samples of the product! Seriously, though, it’s the best jerky I’ve ever had.

I started working with Mountain America Jerky as a SEO. Jerky is a competitive field, and they wanted to improve their ranking. After working with Chuck on the website’s optimization, he told me he wanted to go big and rebrand the site. The result is a rustic, functional, beautiful website. Continue reading “Mountain America Jerky Redesign Launched”

Career-Magic.com Launched

New CareerMagic Website Design

An updated website for a Denver career coach

CAREERMagic came to Katz Web Design to give their website some fresh blood.

When Career-Magic.com was last updated, I was in high school.  Yes, it’s true — and I said it. The website not only needed updating visually, but there were a lot of parts of the website that needed to be better integrated with how the business ran.  The new Career-Magic.com website launched last night. Continue reading “Career-Magic.com Launched”

Obama White House Website Design — the President's Web Site

Update: the new White House Website is launched!

Presidential White House Web Design...Change sure IS a'comin!

The new White House website design: what to expect?

We know who President-Elect Barack Obama’s web designers were: SimpleScott, and later Walker Hamilton too.  My sources tell me (don’t you have sources? 🙂 ) that Scott Thomas and Walker Hamilton are no longer working with the Obama or Change.gov website. Scott Thomas is busy working on an art collective project (VERY cool stuff).

Change.gov web design

The Change.gov site is basically BarackObama.com restyled a bit. The Change.gov site uses many resources from the barackobama.com website, including most of the main CSS file. The Change.gov website was designed by Matt Ipcar. The Change.gov website’s back-end (just like the Obama website) is being handled by Blue State Digital.

What can we learn about the WhiteHouse.gov web design?

If the Change.gov web site is any indication, we can extrapolate the following: Continue reading “Obama White House Website Design — the President's Web Site”

Creating a Real Estate Website in WordPress — Part 2

Real estate website screenshot

If you find this article helpful, please share it, or Digg it!

In Part 1 of Building a real estate website in WordPress, you learned about a plugin called FreshPost that we used to set up the basic structure of your real estate website.  Using this article, you will be able to display a single listing page that has all the content your real estate website will need. Continue reading “Creating a Real Estate Website in WordPress — Part 2”

Web Design Coupon — Up to $300 off a new website!

Denver Web Design Coupon

Katz Web Design is was offering up to $300.00 in discounts on all new web design projects.

From June 2 to August 2 2008, we want to thank you for your feedback — save up to $300.00 on your website.  After you have your new website, just write a review of your experience with KWD, and save money!

Here’s how the web design discount works:

  • $100.00 off final payment for one review on a major website (Citysearch.com, Yelp.com, Yahoo) after the web design project is complete.
  • $20.00 off final payment for each additional review on another major website.
  • Up to $300.00 total savings!

For full promotion details or to start a new web development project, contact Katz Web Design today: 970-882-1477

Update: For existing clients, if you write a review of Katz Web Design, you will get a $50 credit toward your account.

Tableless, accessible, nearly validating osCommerce — Rewriting the beast

Rocky Mountain Baggers

osCommerce accessibility stinks

osCommerce default installation is a huge mess for accessibility. Every piece of code that the platform spits out has endless tables and poorly coded HTML — finding your way through the code is like trying to clear brush.

The simple solution to osCommerce accessibility is to install the Simple Template System and put together a XHTML/CSS’ed out template.  That only solves one part of the problem, however, because your wonderful template is going to be wrapping around a whole slew of undesirable code.

Over a year ago, a client of mine wanted an osCommerce website. I wanted to create a masterpiece of accessibility. I tackled osCommerce head-on and re-wrote most of the code that creates the HTML.  It was a nightmare, but I created a nearly validating eCommerce website with osCommerce.

The experience was so scarring that I haven’t yet written about it 🙂 Nearly every file was affected, so upgrading it would be a nightmare, but it’s truly an effort of love.

KWD presents: a nearly validating, tableless osCommerce website

Continue reading “Tableless, accessible, nearly validating osCommerce — Rewriting the beast”

Denver Real Estate Website – Blue Sky Development Group

Screenshot of the Denver Real Estate website design

In anticipation of a magazine ad in Denver magazine 5280, we launched two static web pages featuring properties.

  • 2250 South Marion Street
  • 2372 South Humboldt Street

These websites are no longer active.

These pages are a preview to the WordPress real estate website I’ve been working on.  The complete site will be coming soon, including some nifty features that someone should turn into plugins! 🙂

Standards-Compliant Shopping Cart with XHTML & CSS!

I’ve been looking for a shopping cart like this for a long time

One of my clients is looking to move from osCommerce to a more user-friendly solution, and I really want to use a shopping cart that is XHTML and standards-compliant…Something that validates and looks pretty with stylesheets off, has a full feature set, and a great admin panel.

I was quite pleasantly surprised when I discovered Tradingeye. They have a well-coded shopping cart solution as well as a CMS. Very, very interesting.  Looks like a pleasure to develop for; like WordPress for eCommerce. Check out their Shopping cart demo. Continue reading “Standards-Compliant Shopping Cart with XHTML & CSS!”

Westside Business Builders chooses Katz Web Design

Westside Business Builders logo

Westside Business Builders is a networking group based in Golden, Colorado. Their website provides general information about the group, and it serves as a member directory. Katz Web Design is a member of the group.

The membership committee asked Katz Web Design to prepare a proposal for the WSBB website, and this Wednesday, the group voted to have KWD redesign the website to improve appearance and functionality.

Continue reading “Westside Business Builders chooses Katz Web Design”

What is a web designer, and who are these people?

The Burning Question
I just finished meeting with a client who told me that she had met with multiple other designers, and that I was the only one who provided any ideas for marketing her website. It’s pretty unbelievable.

She has a new product that is not yet launched — very under wraps — and wants to spread the word once the product goes live. Other web designers only discussed her website. I talked about a web presence.

It’s hard for me to imagine doing what I do in Katz Web Design and NOT knowing about Squidoo or Flickr and finding ways to integrate a community of users into your website.  If people want exposure, they know they need a website.  But that’s not all.  They need to be properly situated online, and that means SEO.

Found: Hillary Clinton's web designer

Mayfield Strategy Group
We know who Barack Obama’s web designer is.  Let’s find out who Hillary’s web designer is!

I’ve looked through the CSS and there’s no trace of the designer. Anyone know?

Hillary Clinton’s web designer has been found!

Thanks to krs who left a comment below, Hillary’s web designer has been found.

A company of few words

The only content on Mayfield’s website is this:

The Mayfield Strategy Group is a leading provider of strategic internet services for political campaigns, non-profit organizations, and corporations. Our unique experience and methodology allow us to provide the highest quality and most professional services in the industry.

And I guess that’s all they needed to say about that!

Found: Barack Obama's Web Designer

Update: The New WhiteHouse.gov Website

Update: Who will be the White House web designer?

A lot of people have wanted to know who designed Barack Obama’s website. With good reason: Obama’s website is beautiful. It even conveys Obama’s message of hope in it’s wistful design. Well, here it is:

Barack Obama’s web designer is:

SimpleScott. SimpleScott designed Barack Obama’s website, so here’s to SimpleScott for a gorgeous design.

From Scott Thomas, of SimpleScott:

I am the creative director of New Media for Obama for America. The team consisted of many people in house as well as many volunteers. Project leads were myself and John Slabyk. We are maintaining site and brand in-house. Sol Sender designed the logo before I joined the campaign.

How did I find out SimpleScott was involved? Just check out Obama’s main style sheet. SimpleScott uses CSSEdit, a great program for Mac CSS web design.

The CSS code gives it away:

CSS Version 2: – View the stylesheet

/* CSS
Author: Scott Thomas
Client: Obama for America
Created: 12-15-07
Modified: 12-22-07

CSS Version 3: – View the stylesheet

/* CSS
Author: Scott Thomas
Created: 12-15-07
Author: Walker Hamilton
Modified: 08-10-07

Did you notice there are two authors for Version 3? If you’re like me, you want to know who this Walker Hamilton fella is that is referenced in Version 3 of the CSS.

This is from Walker’s resume at walkerhamilton.com:

I architected and implemented the deployment mechanisms and technologies for the campaign’s various web properties. I implemented various applications to improve some processes, automate others, and facilitate instate/headquarters communications for departments within the campaign. Other duties included general maintenance, day to day content administration, and feature planning and development for the social network tied into the site.

Update: I’ve learned a couple of more people who were involved in the BarackObama.com website:

The Barack Obama logo design is by Sender, LLC

Sender, LLC developed the Obama ’08 logo.

From Brian Drum, of Sender LLC

Sender designed the original mark, but the site is developed and maintained in-house by the campaign’s web team.

Sender was involved *only* with the development of the “sunrise” mark, and had no role whatsoever in the design, development, or maintenance of barackobama.com.

Leave your reactions here

Do you like the design, or not? What aspects work best for you? Drop a line below.

Which design do you like?  I prefer the lighter, more optimistic “Primary Obama” website, not the Obama/Biden serious, solumn “General Election Obama” site. What do you think?

WordPress.com finally updates to 2.5 — A review

A picture [of my cat] is worth a thousand words.

She's a jungle-catI’ve been waiting for WordPress.com to update the administration panel so that I can have galleries.  That is the main feature that I’ve been waiting for.  Now it’s here, I can finally upload pictures of my cat (and my wife 🙂 )  

This will also allow simpler embedding of video, audio, et al.  I’m glad it’s finally live.

EDIT: There seem to be a few kinks still with this feature — instead of having thumbnails, the site was loading the full images. This is obviously an issue. Until then, you get a thumbnail of my cat in the grass.

Auto-tagging is good too

2.5 also recommends what tags to use based on tags you’ve used in the past. Unfortunately, that part is less responsive than I would like.  It’s still neat to have available.

Much better text editor

The previous text editor for WordPress.com was so terrible, every time I tried to make a word bold, it added some round-about Safari-specific hack ( or something like that).  Now it uses the proper code (strong), and I’m quite grateful. Now, I can actually write posts online, instead of writing them in Dreamweaver and then pasting the code in to WordPress. Very much improved.

The text editor still does not create paragraphs when you view the HTML code; it displays paragraphs as line breaks.  This is frustrating, because in the past it often lost all formatting.  At least in this iteration, switching views between Visual and HTML keeps the formatting intact.

Very pleased with this update

The editor is a LOT more functional, the gallery is great, and well, what can I say?  It’s a great success.

Just wondering: who would want to use Blogger.com?

Before this update, WordPress was just VERY superior to Blogger.  Now it’s outright in a league of it’s own.  I used blogger when it came out because, well, it was the originator of simple blogging.  But man, it’s really outdated.

Blogger is owned by Google, so you think it would be cutting edge, but every time I try to work with it, I end up hitting myself over the head.  What advantages does Blogger have, if any?

How does a 30% conversion rate sound?

I like to brag every now and then.

Landing page conversionWhen we set out to design a landing page for my Denver client, we had our eyes set on a minimum 2% conversion rate for their pay-per-click campaign. Currently, we’re achieving a 15.94% overall conversion rate. I made some tweaks to the form design last week, and for the past 6 days, the landing page is getting a 30% conversion rate (that’s pretty good :-))

Focusing on the front door.

The reason we’ve been able to get such good results is because we’re focusing on one thing: having people sign up for a form. No longer is the internet about websites. The internet is now about front doors. Showing people exactly what they want to see — and sometimes only what they want to see — is how to improve your conversion rate.

Don’t lock users in and throw away the key.

Amazon’s Cage

Amazon cages me in. If you go to Amazon, place something in your cart, then begin the checkout process, they make it impossible (without clicking the Back button a lot) to return to their store. They throw away any chance of revising your order, adding a product, or just browsing around — they sacrifice user experience for the sake of conversion rates.

Guide users through a funnel, don’t force them

Amazon.com no longer shows you how much shipping will be until you’re at the final checkout page. They used to show you right up front, but now you have to get to the final checkout page to find out shipping costs. Very annoying. Always give users the information they want, even if it means some will choose an option you don’t want them to. Give users a way out.

Warning: Create your website at your own risk!

Diving too deep can result in a waste of energy, time, and resources.

We know better now.

My wife and I have just bought our first house. It has been updated, it looks great, and we’re slowly making it our own. When we bought it, we planned on installing our own laminate flooring. We bought a circular saw, read a few how-to articles, and felt generally pretty confident. It can’t be that hard!

Each day after work, my wife and I would come to our new house to work on the floors. We started in the small room to get a handle on the process. To make a long (and painful) story short, 8 hours in, we had only completed about 30 square feet. It was a disaster.

By doing flooring ourselves, we managed to:

  • Turn our new house into a source of frustration
  • Spend valuable energy
  • Waste three nights of our lives
  • Burn ourselves out

In the end, we hired a professional. Now the project is done, and it looks great.

Continue reading “Warning: Create your website at your own risk!”

How to Define Your Website Audience – includes a PDF sample!

Lucia Hernandez - A fictional website audience profile

This two-page PDF file is an example of how to define your website audience. When you create a website, it’s important to have in mind for whom you’re designing.

When designing landing pages, it is especially important to focus on an audience and craft every piece of content to fit that profile.

Feel free to use the audience profile PDF as an outline for your projects.

[download id=”1″]

Content is king…when can I get it?

King content and his pawns

As a web designer / developer, my job is pretty straight forward: I design a website, code it, and add the content. But that’s not all. I’ve also got to be a pest, hounding clients for content.

At the beginning of each project, it’s always a good idea to get a firm grasp on exactly what content is going to be on the website. Defining a site map is vital to developing a website. A simple list helps you figure out what is needed. Below is a sample:

  • About us
    • Employees
      • Bio paragraphs
      • Head shots
      • Contact information
    • History
      • Photo of founders, current owners
      • Chronology
      • Intro paragraph
        • Bridge history with present, link to various project

Once you’ve got a good understanding of what is needed, you must start asking for content immediately. Companies like to wait until the last minute, then wait days longer to deliver content. If you plan for late content and pester your clients from the get-go, you might be able to have everything you need when the website is complete.

There is a great book (Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works) that says you should create a timeline for content delivery. They have a pretty table with deliverables and a flow chart and all sorts of great stuff. In a perfect world where the website project is the client’s top priority, a content delivery timeline might work. Heck, you could even bill clients for overdue content! However, in the real world, there’s no such thing as a content delivery timeline. A web developer must take content into their own hands, or else you won’t get paid.

Designer, protect thyself!

If you have clients with overdue content that is holding up the launch of a website, it’s not a big deal, except that designers often get paid when the site goes live. No content, no pay check.

A contract is a great place to define what happens if the site is ready except for the content. Rather than being paid at launch, it is a good great idea to be paid when the site is ready – content or not. That way, if you’ve done your part of the project, and your client has not yet prepared their portion, you can still send off that invoice.

When modifying your contract, keep in mind that you’ll still need to agree to add the content once you receive it! If that’s too big a hassle (working for free after getting paid), then don’t bother changing your current contract.

How do you deal?

Do you have nightmare clients? Late content delivery? Are you the client? How do you handle being part of a web design project? I’d love to hear your stories.

Exploring and learning: Are you taking alternate routes?

Denver Map

When you first move to a new city, you aren’t familiar with the roads. You buy a map to help guide you, you ask Google how to get you from here to there most efficiently, and you stop and ask people directions.

After you’ve lived in the city for a while, you become familiar and confident. You start to understand the road naming conventions, the north/south corridors that are the fastest, the quickest way downtown from your location.

The more experience you have with the city, the better you understand how to arrive exactly where you want to without running into any snags. But yet, there’s always more to learn.

Like a city, every profession has its own learning curve. Are you exploring past your comfort zone?

Continue reading “Exploring and learning: Are you taking alternate routes?”