Avoid This WordPress Theme

Written: April 22, 2014

Last night I attended the monthly Portland WordPress Meetup group and learned about membership sites, thanks to our guest speaker Bob Dunn. After the meeting ended I stayed around to meet new people and answer questions. An author approached me with a question about making her WordPress home page appear correctly, because something funny was happening. We used her laptop and logged into WordPress, then saw that it was using a Theme called StormMusic from SMThemes.

SM Themes

Based on my experience I knew exactly where to look in WordPress to control the Home page content, so I said, “Let’s click on: Settings> Reading“. This is what I expected to see in the WordPress dashboard:

Settings> Reading

 

This dialog is where I can define that my Home page is a static page, and that my blog posts should go on a page called Blog. Nice and easy. If you instead wanted a Blog style of web site, then you would click the radio button choice for Your latest posts, instead of A static page.

To my horror, all of these choices were missing. How could that be? What would make this standard WordPress dialog not appear?

It turns out that the culprit is the theme author, SMThemes. In their theme they decided to remove standard WordPress features, and instead do something totally different. I would call this very poor design, because they took a standard WordPress feature and removed it altogether, making a WordPress user like myself wonder if I’d lost my mind. When a company makes a decision like this, then I will recommend that you stay away from this theme in particular and probably all themes they have to offer in general. What use is a standard platform like WordPress if theme authors come along and remove standard features?

You have been warned.

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Let’s Go Surfing

Written: April 18, 2014

One of my favorite web clients is surfer Nancy Emerson, and she teaches people how to surf in Hawaii, Australia and Fiji. Her newly remodeled web site is filled with gorgeous photos of sunny days, something that helps me muddle through a rainy Oregon spring time. The Home page features wide photos that rotate automatically, helping to tell the surfing story.

 

The theme for this web site also makes uses of columns and rows, almost like a newspaper or magazine, and that is something that helps to organize ideas and force the eye along a set path. Finally, most pages contain real testimonials from happy clients. A strong marketing principle is to let your customers sing your praise, instead of you telling everyone how great you are.

We had converted Nancy’s original site into WordPress a year ago, so doing this remodel meant that we had to update WordPress themes. The beauty of WordPress is that you can update your look, or Theme as often as you like. Visitors enjoy a visual change every year or so, almost like how the automobile industry comes out with new body styles and colors on an annual basis. Change catches our attention.

Mahalo.

What is a Bundle Builder?

Written: April 7, 2014

Telecom companies love to offer us lots of services and upgrades, but often the process to order these services is cumbersome or requires a phone call. Working with TCT West, we came up with an elegant way to accept orders online for:

It’s all done with dynamic forms and the following video gives a good overview of what the process looks like:

This ability is called a Bundle Builder and was delivered in WordPress, so that TCT can make their own updates to pricing without hiring a web developer.

The logic used for TCT West is unique to their business model, however the concept can be applied to any telecom provider wanting an online ordering system.

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Using Forms to Gather and Track Info

Written: March 17, 2014

I’m a member of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce and we used WordPress to build most of their web site. Next month there’s an annual award celebration, so this month we needed to gather nominations for the awards. In WordPress we used the Form feature in the Jetpack plugin. Here’s what the form looks like in WordPress:

After I defined the form in WordPress, I viewed it in a browser to double-check that it looked OK:

Once a web visitor fills out this Form, then feedback is sent by email to the Tualatin Chamber, and they can also go into WordPress and see this one nomination or even export all nominations into a CSV file for use in Excel.

So it’s quick and simple to add forms to your WordPress site, view the results, and automate the process to save you time in organizing your association or business.

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