Written: August 11, 2014

Portland WordPress Meetup

Wanting to Learn WordPress?

With some 70,000,000 users world-wide, it is safe to say that WordPress is very popular as both a CMS and blogging platform. Here in Portland, Oregon we have a very active Meetup group that hosts two meetings per month, so for August you can learn more about WordPress at:

Note that the first Meetup is for developers (aka programmers), people that actually code with PHP, Javascript, jQuery, CSS, HTML or MySQL.

The second  Meetup is for users of WordPress, not developers.

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A New Parts Catalog Web Site

Trever Dougan and his partner are starting up a brand-new parts catalog company called ICDT and asked me to help them get it up and running this month. For the Content Management System I selected WordPress, because it is the #1 CMS now with some 70,000,000 users. Trever wanted his clients to see all of the electronic parts he offers, but not actually order them, instead they can request a quote. I choose a catalog plugin and then added the quoting feature. Here’s a photo gallery to give an idea of how a prospective buyer can find their part and request a quote:

After a training session Trever is able to add new parts to the catalog, upload photos, add PDF specifications, along with updating any page or writing news articles. The theme for this website is responsive, so it works and looks good on the desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

I wish the team at ICDT all the best in their startup company.

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3 responses to “A New Parts Catalog Web Site”

  1. Nice article! Day by day I am personally learning a little more about NodeJS. It is definately the only real language to educate yourself on long term. I have finished the BackSpace.Academy Amazon web services (aws) Certified Developers path. They have opened a different Realm of apps for myself. Now I need to find the time for getting coding!

  2. Mike Dowden says:

    what catalog plugin did you use?

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Information Architecture

The title of this blog may not present a clear idea in your mind, however in the web world an Information Architect decides important things like:

To that end we learned all about WordPress and Information Architecture last night at the monthly WordPress Meetup group in Portland, our guest speaker was Lorelle VanFossen. You can see the presentation summary at Lorelle’s web site.

 

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Avoid This WordPress Theme

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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What is a Bundle Builder?

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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Celebrate Tualatin

Using Forms to Gather and Track Info

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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WordPress as a Content Management System

Who Knows WordPress

WordPress as a Content Management System

WordPress is my favorite content management system for developing web sites and I discovered it in 2008 after a friend from the American Marketing Association recommended it to me. Prior to that I had written my own content management system and installed it at a handful of businesses. Once I saw how WordPress had separated content from the look of a site, and how I could customize and extend the looks or features to do anything, then it really convinced me that this CMS was the one to specialize in.

Today when you hear that someone “knows WordPress”, you really should stop and think for a minute, because there are no regulatory bodies or associations out there to say that you are “WordPress certified”. That prompted me to think about a list of questions to ask your WordPress expert, just to find out how much they really know about WordPress:

  1. Can you install WordPress manually by uploading files, creating a MySQL database, and running the install script? Not all web hosts have a single-click install feature.
  2. Have you migrated a WordPress site from one domain to another domain?
  3. Do you know how to backup a WordPress site?
  4. Is my web hosting company using the right version of PHP and MySQL for WordPress?
  5. Can you manually upgrade to a newer version of WordPress when the automatic upgrade isn’t working?
  6. Can you setup an SEO-friendly permalink structure to help search engines find content on your pages?
  7. Do you know how to setup the Home page to be a static page, not filled with blog posts?
  8. Do you know how to harden WordPress to make it more secure from attacks?
  9. How would you restore an infected WordPress site?
  10. How do you make a slow WordPress site faster?
  11. My WordPress theme has Javascript and HTML errors, can you fix those?
  12. How may WordPress sites have you built?
  13. Can you create a custom theme from scratch, or do you only know how to install someone else’s theme?
  14. Can you create a custom plugin from scratch, or do you only know how to install a plugin?
  15. What is your experience in creating a child theme?
  16. Are you a WordPress theme designer, or a WordPress plugin developer? Design and development are very different skill sets.
  17. Are you active in the WordPress discussion Forums?
  18. Can you customize my theme using CSS, HTML, PHP, Javascript and jQuery?
  19. Have you used Custom Post Types before, and why did you have to?
  20. Do you provide a Web User Guide to explain how I can update my own WordPress site?
  21. Are you involved with the WordPress community, like on Meetup or at WordCamps?
  22. What are your favorite plugins and themes, and why?
  23. Have you migrated any web sites from Joomla or Blogger into WordPress?
  24. When you upgrade a plugin and it breaks WordPress, how do you fix it?
  25. Have you built an e-commerce site for WordPress and how complex was it?
  26. What is AJAX and how is it used in WordPress? Have you programmed with AJAX?
  27. Have you developed responsive themes for use in WordPress, so that I can view it on my desktop, tablet or mobile device?
  28. What is the difference between a Page and a Post in WordPress?
  29. Can I see your portfolio of WordPress projects?
  30. May I contact your WordPress references?
  31. Is my theme SEO friendly?
  32. Can you add a new sidebar to my theme?

The vast majority of people that use WordPress are content to update pages or posts, and on occasion click the Update link when there are new versions for their plugin, theme or WordPress. Using WordPress and developing or designing for WordPress are very different tasks, so ask a few questions of your WordPress expert to see if they are a good fit for your next web project.

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Combined membership from PMPA and PPO

Photographers United

Several years ago I developed a web site for the Portland Metropolitan Photographer’s Association (PMPA), at first using a custom Content Management System (CMS), then a few years ago I migrated it to the WordPress platform. Using WordPress means that the volunteers that run the association can login and update the site, manage the membership, send out email, count up merit points, schedule events, blog, etc. There’s another photography association in town called the Professional Photographers of Oregon (PPO), and they recently decided to merge with the PMPA.

Now the challenge was to import all of the membership information from PPO into the PMPA system automatically, so that there wouldn’t be any manual re-typing. I just finished up the work today, and now the united photography association has a single place where the public can visit to find a professional photographer; and the members can network, find events, update their profile, send out email, and add up their merit points which lead to an official title in photography as recognized by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

Using an online approach to membership management saves the volunteers hours of work, and lets them concentrate on improving their craft through education and networking.

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Austin Burres

Non-profit site developed pro-bono

Every year I meet interesting people that volunteer their time, talent and energy for  worthy causes. Such was the case with Austin Burres and Cassie Eichenberger. Their cause is called: A Village For One. They are a Portland based not-for-profit organization developed to serve children who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. An astounding number of youth in the Portland and surrounding areas have experienced this global crime against children.

We first met at a Tualatin Chamber of Commercing networking event back in October, so I followed up with her and offered to remodel their web site, and migrate them from a hand-coded site to a Content Management Site using WordPress. Now they can update their own website by just using a web browser.

 

We added several features to this site to make it relevant for their audience:

The banner of their site uses a special logo that they had designed earlier, and then the menu colors were selected to complement the logo.

We just had a WordPress training session today, so Cassie and Austin are all geared up to spread their message of hope, healing and change to our hurting community.

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Kate Ertmann

Sometimes Less is More

While networking at the Portland WordPress Meetup group I met a person that needed to migrate their old web site to a new Content Management System, so that they could update their own content without being a webmaster. I accepted the project and used WordPress as the CMS, then selected a theme called “Plain WP” because it most closely matched the simple look that they asked for.

To make the WordPress site look exactly like the old one, I made something called a Child Theme and modified a CSS file for:

This web site has a very simple look to it, which forces me to focus on the content, not the colors or layout.

Visit the live site here: www.kateertmann.com

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