Version Control

5 12 2009

Most of my work happens directly online.  When I make huge changes I generally back up the complete site.  I can then revert to the backup if I make a mistake.  This form of version control is not robust or a complete solution, but it works for me.  Version control programs like GIT and SVN have there place.  In multi-developer environments, complex code and environments demand a sound proof version control system.

For coding I use Panic’s Coda.  Coda allows the use of Subversion, however the documentation was scarce.  SVN does not work in my situation because my files live on the web.  Some web developers, develop on the computer and then upload on the web.  I design on the web so that I can access the files from anywhere.

Version control does interest me, but for now implementing a version control system would be too much for my my situation.  What I need to implement is nightly backups for my clients so that I can fix any errors that might arise.


Social Media is not Marketing

28 11 2009

There is a confusion in the design world.  Social media is not marketing.  Many designers believe that if they are plugged into the social media networks they can use those tools to effectively market.  Here is the problem.  Marketing is the act of reaching people.  In the social media realm people have already been reached.  For example, if someone is following you on Twitter, you have already reached them.  The follower has chosen to receive information from you.

Does this mean that a follower cannot be marketed to become a client?  No, however the chances of a follower becoming a client are slim.  One would do better marketing through conventional methods like word of mouth.  Word of mouth is still the most effective way of marketing.

With that discussion out of the way, it is time to progress to what prompted the above.  Based on the class assignment, I have chosen to a web designer that I admire.  To tell the truth I do not know much about the designer, but have admired his website and business goal / direction.

Adam Kayce of Bright Coconut designs WordPress websites for small to mid-size businesses.  Adam has a blog on his personal site, a business and personal Twitter account, and a Facebook account.  Nothing on Adam’s social networking sites would cause me to hire him.  What would cause me to hire him is a personal reference (which I was given) and his portfolio.

Backing Up and Moving

25 11 2009

Backing up and moving a site can be a problem.  Below are the steps that I used to backup and restore my site.

  1. First I downloaded a backup of my site files and database from my host.  My web host makes it very easy to download backups.
  2. I created a new database.
  3. I restored my files to my backup directory and restored my database.
  4. Next I edited my config file to reflect the new database.
  5. Using the guide on this blog I ran several scripts on PHP MyAdmin to change the site name.
  6. Using WordPress admin I updated the Permalink Structure.
  7. Not all my permalinks were updated so I used Update URLs Plugin.

The only problem I ran into was a security plugin.  One of the plugins that encrypts my login prevented me from logging on to the backuped site.  The other problem involved some of my image links.  I had to manually change those due to using only a partial link to call the pictures.

Altering the Theme

28 10 2009

For WordPress I used the Sandbox theme as a base.  Sandbox is a minimal theme that has some great functionality.  The foundation is solid and the design process is easy and clean.  Basically all you need to do is style the site with CSS.  For my design I needed to dig a bit deeper.  I was not familiar with WordPress at all.  I needed to find out what each class and id did.  I also needed to find how the theme files were built and what WordPress function was called where.

In the end the learning curve was small.  I was able to mold the site files and CSS to match what I wanted.

SEO . . . When will Google See?

19 10 2009

When Google places your site in the top ten of related search results you know you have made it.  How long will this take is like asking the owl “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”

This week I accomplished several tasks that make my Search Engine Optimized.

  1. Permalinks – I made sure permalinks were formatted correctly from the beginning with page title.
  2. All In One SEO Pack – Installed and configured.
  3. SEO Friendly Images – Adds alt tags and optimizes images.
  4. XHTML –  Within my readings I fond multiple references to the heading tags.  The main change was made to the H1 tag.  The website name is not worthy of the H1 tag.  Instead the page title is H1.  There is one H1 tag per page.
  5. WordPress has a setting that makes the blog visible to search engines under “settings > privacy”.  I made the site visible.

SEO and Static Pages

15 10 2009

I am not overly concerned with SEO.  I am creating a portfolio site that advertises work that I have done and design services that I can provide.  Most people will come to my site because I have given them the link.  Design work is something that I do in addition to my full-time job which limits my potential client base.  Perhaps later when I do design work, SEO will be important.

One of my big concerns with WordPress driven SEO is the design of WordPress.  WordPress is a blog driven platform intended to be updated frequently.  I came across a post on the WordPress forums that address static pages.  Even with static sites, SEO principles on WordPress are the same.

WPBeginner published an article Must See SEO Guide for all WordPress Bloggers that I found useful.  I learned about permalinks, the importance of heading tags, and post descriptions.  The article mentions All In One SEO plugin which makes SEO easy to implement.  All In One SEO tackles issues like page titles, meta tags, and links.  SEO Friendly Images is a plugin that deals with ALT and TITLE attributes.  I plan to use these plugins in the coming week.

Holy, Flying, Toaster

7 10 2009

What did I do?  I was working on securing my site and it appears that I secured my site in such a way that even WordPress did not know it was there.  This is probably where a decent backup comes in handy.  If only I had a back up.

All of a sudden my site started to forward to the installation page.  I researched the problem for an hour and tried various fixes, but nothing took.  Next I contacted my web host and asked for my site to be restored.  The next problem arose when my web host informed me that they only had database backup and not file backup.  Hmmm …. Problem.  This is not my host’s problem.  They are not responsible to back up my website before I do something stupid.

All is well now.  This is what I did to fix my site.  I backed up my theme and plugins folder.  I logged in to my web host portal and uninstalled WordPress.  I completed a fresh install, uploaded my plugins and theme folder and restored my database.  Wham, bam, back in business.  There was a slight problem with permalinks after the reinstall and restore, but I simply changed the settings and I am back in business.

Lesson learned, take the extra five minutes to back up the site before trying something.