WordPress Design and Development in AshevilleWordPress Design & Development

WordPress is a great way to create robust, good-looking websites. We’ve got some tips, tricks and resources to help make your site kick-ass.

With WordPress being one of the fastest-growing platforms for web development, and with our vast experience in designing, developing and maintaining great-looking, super-functional WordPress sites, we have a little bit to offer in the way of expertise.

This is where we’ll blog about the sexiest open-source web platform – and why you should care about it.

It’s (semi)fascinating stuff. Give it a read:

WordPress Design and Development in Asheville

Last week, WordPress 3.8 “Parker” was released. “Parker” is named for Charlie Parker – who, honestly, is pretty kick-ass. While this is a good upgrade, I’m not too sure I’d term it as kick-ass as Charlie Parker. All things said, though – it’s a solid release, and the addition of more native mobile support is worth the price of admission.

Responsive WordPress DashboardSo – what does the update entail, and why should you care? Well:

  • Mobile-Ready Dashboard: Like I said, this is worth the update if there were no other features. This bit makes it a snap to administer your WordPress site on a tablet or phone (great for writing posts while you sit in the parking lot, waiting for your kids to finish up whatever it is that kids do…) Previous versions of the WordPress dashboard were a little bit of  a nosebleed when you went mobile (although there are apps,) and this addresses the problem quite admirably.
  • Choose Your Color Theme: Not a really big deal, but it’s always cool to personalize things. This feature allows you to set up the color of the dashboard to better “match your personality.” Unfortunately, there are only 8 themes to choose from, so you’d better hope you’ve got one of those 8 personalities.
  • New Widget Panel: This is pretty nice. The widget options panel has been cleaned up, making for less scrolling and dragging. You can still drag-and-drop widgets, but your can also click to install. This is a MUCH better experience when you’re mobile. When you’re using a desktop or normal browser, it’s not all that fabulous – but it’s a step in the right direction. Now, a built-in WSIWYG editor for widgets would be sweet. But – widgets are getting better.
  • New Style: Looks good. As I mentioned, you can choose your color. The default icons have been updated. It FEELS snappier – but it could just be me. Lots of new fonts and it’s all a little cleaner and more modern – but I never really had much of a problem with the way it was prior to “Parker.”

Should you update? Sure. So far, I’ve not found a real downside. No major incompatibilities that I’ve seen or that I’ve heard reported. The new style is nice, and the mobile feature makes it worth a look, even if there weren’t other additionss. Of course, you should ALWAYS back up your WordPress site and database before you update (Duplicator is pretty great and easy) and make sure that you test after you upgrade – don’t want a broken site turning folks off.

If you need help updating your WordPress site, contact us. We’d be happy to help.

In the meantime, enjoy a little smooth jazz from Charlie Parker. Good stuff. And I’m not a jazz fan. Unless it’s played by Andy Gill.

Asheville Website Development for Wahl TempPlates

Palmer Wahl, in Asheville, manufactures all sorts of temperature-sensing devices and instrumentation. They’ve been around since 1836 (not in Asheville the whole time, but – still) and their products are unsurpassed in quality and variety.

TempPlates are temperature-sensitive labels that have an enormous variety of applications. Put ’em on a package of Omaha Steaks, and you know if the temperature of the steaks got too low and that the steaks might be compromised. Put ’em on a package of donated kidneys on their way to a transplant patient, and you know if they were strained while in transit. Put ’em on your forehead, and you know if you’re running a fever. The possibilities are endless.

Palmer Wahl contacted us to develop an easy-to-use and easy-to-update site for direct sales of TempPlates. WordPress, WooThemes and WooCommerce to the rescue. We delivered a site that looks great, functions smoothly and makes it easy for customers to order any number of TempPlates, see news and get ideas on their use. Fully integrated with PayPal and with Palmer Wahl’s merchant account, book-keeping is simple; and with a variety of shipping and tracking options, that end is pretty slick, too. Responsive, mobile-ready design rounds the site into a very usable and (if we do say so ourselves) great looking site.

Check ’em out! Click HERE to visit the TempPlates site. Click HERE to see our portfolio.

Asheville Website Development for Wahl TempPlates

Oh, man – web design, Asheville, beer AND pizza? Yes, please – may we have another?

Barley’s is a downtown Asheville institution, and we got to do a little responsive web design for them. Using WordPress, Google Docs and a few other tricks, we gave Barley’s a great-looking website to go with their awesome everything else. It’s easy to update, easy to use and also totally responsive. Works great on all platforms from desktops to tablets to phones. The site integrates with Google Docs to keep calendars updated and menus refreshed. Beer. Pizza. Web design. Oh, yes.

We’ve got a few more things in the works with Barley’s – so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out their site by clicking here.

barleys_web_design-1003x1024

 

Honey Bee Steward Logo

HONEYBEESTEWARD_LOGO_DESIGN

We’re privileged to work with some pretty special people – and the Honey Bee Steward is certainly tone of those. This fellow has dedicated a huge portion of his life to the preservation of honey bees, educating folks about honey bees – and just about everything else you can do concerning the little buggers.

Blue Dozen Design developed a lovely, subtle logo for him, and a bold, bright website. The logo captures the honey cell and some good, earthy tones – and comes out warm and subtle. The site, built with WordPress and WooThemes, is as bold as the logo is subtle. The site is easy to update, and the design really makes it all pop.

Check out the Honey Bee Stewardgive us a call – we’ll help you be the bee’s knees too!

We’re happy to announce a new web design and development launch – this time for Asheville’s own Brewgrass Festival.

Danny and the good folks at the Brewgrass Festival needed a new website that could grow and change with the festival. With bands and breweries dropping out, they needed something easy to update and easy to use.

They also needed (like everyone does) a responsive web design so they didn’t miss out on the huge percentage of folks using mobile devices to view their site. It needed to work – and work it does. How? WordPress and WooThemes.

The site features some nifty stuff and a super-easy user interface so it can stay updated, fresh and awesome. Also, since it’s built using a totally modular system and theme, they won’t have to recreate the wheel next year when their look changes. Sweet!

So – go check it out. Then, drop us a line – we can help you be awesome, too!

BREWGRASS_THUMB1

 

WordPress Website Design in Asheville NC

Well, you’re really in it pretty deep now. We’ve covered the Dashboard, Posts and Pages and the Visual Editor’s role in all of that. Now, you’ve got pages on your site, posts in your blog, and you’re starting to get the hang of editing it all. But – websites need images and people like to see websites with images on ’em.

“How? Please, Mr. Gaffney – don’t withhold that delicious knowledge from us one more second!”

Well – you add stuff using the Visual Editor and the “Add Media” button. Easy-peasy, right?

A bit of a synopsis on adding images to your WordPress posts and pages:

  1. Click and place your cursor within the text where you would like the image to be inserted.
  2. Click on Add Media button (above the Visual Editor, and with the cute little camera and music note icon.) You might need to click on Upload Files at the top left of the screen that pops up.
  3. Click on Select Files.
  4. Locate the images on your computer you want to upload and click Open.
  5. Once it’s done uploading, you’ll have some options on the right of the screen:
    • Title: Type a title for the image. This is important for search engines. Choose a descriptive title that works with the content of your page. For instance – if you’re writing a post about puppies and insert a photo of puppies, give it a title that includes stuff like “Cute photo of puppies.” It’s a good habit to get into to give all your images good, rich, SEO-friendly titles.
    • Caption: If you want your image to have a caption, this is the place to add it. Depending upon your theme, it may appear in a box or in some sort of different configuration – but the text will usually be below the image.
    • Alt Text: Add alternate text. Again – good for search engines and for folks whose browsers don’t display images. If the browser doesn’t display images, this text will appear – so, make it descriptive of the photo itself – not necessarily of the page that it’s on.
    • Alignment: Choose how you want the image to align – None  or Center and it’ll float on it’s own line. Left or Right and it will push itself to one side of the page and your text will flow around it. Pretty sweet…
    • Link To: Tells the browser what to do when a person clicks on the link. “Media File” will link the photo to itself. Good if you need to have a thumbnail that blows up to a bigger size (also pretty sweet if we installed Auto Thickbox Plus on your site – we’ll let you know…) “Custom URL” allows you to use your image as a link to another site – or a page within your site – or a file in your Media Library. “Attachment Page” links to a page that can show all the attachments that you’ve put on the page you’re currently editing. Honestly, still haven’t found much of a practical use for that one… “None” deadens the link altogether.
    • Size: Size of image as you want it to appear – Thumbnail, Medium, Large or Full Size. If you sized the image before you uploaded it, you can leave it at Full Size. If the image you started with is big, you can change the size before you insert it into your post.
    • Insert into Post/Page: Inserts your image into the post or page.
  6. Done!

Now you’ve got a page with a beautiful image. But – what if it’s too big or too small? Want to re-size? Want to change the link or the Alt Text? You can edit an image by being in your Visual Editor and:

  1. Clicking the image you’d like to edit.
  2. Clicking on Edit icon (looks like a little pencil) that shows over the image.
  3. Editing the information you’d like to change. You can also scale the image by percentage. Sweet.
  4. Clicking the Update button.

Man – that was easy! Now get out there and make your WordPress site YOURS.

Only 1 more week until we launch our fabulous WordPress help, tutorial and resources section. You’ll want to see this!

Well, we’ve covered the general stuff – your WordPress Dashboard and some of it’s function, plus the basics of Posts and Pages.

You’re in there, elbow-deep, editing a page or post. Maybe you’re just starting a page or post – but you want to add some zip to your content.

“Tell me, James – how do I do that?” you’re probably saying…

Well – your Visual Editor is what you’re going to use to do stuff like make your text bold, change colors, add links, align stuff and make nifty lists and quotes.

Using your Visual Editor in posts, pages and in other special areas (if we designed the site, you might have other places that the Visual Editor will show up,) is really the same pretty much everywhere. Learn it – get used to the nomenclature, and you can really take your posts or pages to a higher level. Make the text interesting, make it easier to read, easier to navigate and – ultimately – easier for your customer/client/visitor to get to exactly what they’re looking for. Plus – you can use it to help direct folks to your “Call to Action” page or link or store or what-have-you. The Visual Editor makes it simple.

Your WordPress Visual Editor includes the following functionality:

  • Add Media – Images, videos, music and files. We’ll discuss this more in another post.
  • Font Style – Bold, italics, strikethrough, underline. Groovy!
  • Lists – Make an unordered or numbered list. Like this one!
  • Quotes – make text really stand out.
  • Justify – Left, center, right and full-width justification. Align that text, yo!
  • Links – Make or break a link to any web URL (a URL is like http://designavl.com)
  • Page Break – make a “More” button that reveals more content – but only after the user clicks on “More.”
  • Spell Check – Good spelling is cruucial.
  • Full Screen – Use the editor in full screen mode.
  • Kitchen Sink – Hide or show the second line of icons.
  • Text Style – Change fonts (this function depends on how we set your site up. If you want to know what each one does, though – feel free to experiment. You can always erase or change it…)
  • Text Color – Changes text color. This one is, we hope, pretty obvious.
  • Paste Tools – Use these when pasting from Word or any other text editor. Otherwise, you can wind up with some funky text formatting that gets left over from copy/paste.
  • Erase – This erases formatting – not the text itself. If something is weird-looking, use this. It can be an easy way to correct formatting issues.
  • Symbols – Greek, math and more. Want a ©? It’s in there.
  • Indent – Indent your text. Or, if it’s in a list (see above,) it will push the text to the next “level” of indentation.
  • Undo – Undoes stuff. I really want one of these in my brain and on my mouth, but that’s another story for another time.
  • Help – Get help. If you REALLY need help, contact us. We’d be happy to lend a hand.

So, there’s a whole, whole lot you can do with your WordPress visual editor. Always remember – you can experiment all you want. WordPress sites are very open-ended, and if you make a mistake, it’s easy to drop back to an older version, or even start over with a “blank” page. Experiment, play and make your site YOURS.

We’re about 2 weeks away from the launch of our fabulous WordPress help, tutorial and resources section. Stay tuned!

So, you’ve got a WordPress site (and if we built it, it looks awesome.) You’ve logged in to your Dashboard. Now what? How about a blog post or editing one of your pages?

It’s pretty simple – but there are a few things you need to remember:

  • Posts: This goes to your “blog” section. Depending upon how your site is set up, you can have different categories post to different parts of your website. That’s somewhat advanced, and if we did something like that with your site – we’ll talk.
  • Pages: These are your sites “pages.” About, Contact, Services, etc.

Their editor is laid out pretty much exactly the same – and if you watch the video, you’ll get a pretty good idea of some of the basic functionality that both offer.

One very important thing to keep in mind when you’re working with WordPress – it keeps backups of itself, it’s posts and it’s pages. If you screw something up, it’s easy to drop back to an older version. So – don’t stress. Edit away, have fun, experiment. If you break it, we can easily fix it. Oh – and another video, coming soon, will show YOU how to utilize the backup function…

Stay tuned – much more coming. Be sure to subscribe to our blog (click on the sidebar thing – over there on the right) to get updates in your email. We don’t spam, you can unsubscribe whenever you’d like. But – you’ll be sure to get all our WordPress pointers, right in your box. Sweet!

Responsive WordPress Dashboard

It’s no secret – we LOVE WordPress. It allows us to develop websites that look great and function like a dream. One of the best parts is that it allows customers to keep their site updated, change things up and add functionality – all without having to pay us to do it. It really helps the site owner control and fully develop their site. Pretty sweet!

While WordPress is easy and friendly to use, we still get quite a number of questions – so, we thought some resources, tips and tricks were in order. We’ll be putting up a new video every day, and adding a new section to our website that will bundle all our WordPress goodies into one area.

So – what is the WordPress “Dashboard?” It’s really kind of like the dash in your car. It puts all your controls within reach and keeps them organize in easy-to-understand groups. There’s no radio, but – well, you can’t have it all.

WPLOGINTo get to your WordPress dashboard, you’ll need to log in to your site. If we’ve developed your web site for you, you’ll have received an email with a link and your username and password. Usually, it’s http://yoursite.com/wp-admin or http://yoursite.com/wp-login.php. You’ll drop in your username and password, and you’ll be whisked away to your dashboard.

So, that’s it! WordPress is easy-peasy, huh? Well, here are some of the things you’ll see on the left-hand side of your Dashboard – the stuff you’re going to REALLY want to use:

  • Dashboard: Click that to get back to the base level of your site. You’ll also see update notifications in there.
  • Posts: This is what goes to your blog. Click “Add New” to add a new blog post (or news story, or update, or whatever you call the segment of your site that is the “Blog”)
  • Media: Manage your media files – photos, videos, documents, etc. Keep in mind that you can upload and manage media while in posts and pages, too. This option is really more for adding stuff that’s linked to in various parts of the site. For example, if you have a PDF that you want folks to be able to download, you would upload it using the “Media” segment – then you could just link to that file from other pages, in emails or other marketing materials. Newsletters, anyone?
  • Pages: This is where you can add, update and change pages.
  • Comments: Manage what other folks are saying on your site. Folks can say whatever they’d like – but you have the ability to approve or disapprove it. So, negative comments won’t appear unless you let them. You can also mark them as spam, because you WILL get spam comments. Just part of having a WordPress site. Don’t worry about them – nobody will see them, and they’re really not hurting much.
  • Appearance: Manage your theme, your menu and your widgets. We’ll get more into those later.
  • Plugins: This is where you’ll manage the plugins – things that add functionality to your site. Turn ’em on or off, delete them, add them, yippee!
  • Users: You can add or edit users here. You can add administrators (who have full access to the whole site,) or other levels that have varying access to your site and your Dashboard. Give people power, take it away, reset passwords, etc.
  • Tools: Not a lot going on here – but you can back up your pages and posts and what-not. Kind of cool.
  • Settings: A lot of options here – permalinks, privacy, site titles, etc. There’s a lot of power in this part – but be careful, as this is one spot you don’t want to mess up.

Now – you have a WordPress site. And you have some knowledge. Now, you’re dangerous…

Stay tuned – much more coming. Be sure to subscribe to our blog (click on the sidebar thing – over there on the right) to get updates in your email. We don’t spam, you can unsubscribe whenever you’d like. But – you’ll be sure to get all our WordPress pointers, right in your box. Sweet!