Little Errors

Sometimes when creating a website little errors suddenly present a huge obstacle to progress. This happened to me this last week while working on a website which integrated a slideshow on the front page. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly until I realized that the slideshow was only showing the first 10 slides. I tried everything I could think of: double checked every slideshow setting, checked every line of css and php in the theme having to do with the slideshow, asked for input from other knowledgeable web developers – nothing worked. As a last resort I went to the theme’s developer web page and and posted a request for assistance. It came within 36 hours. “Just increase the number of posts per page to the number of slides you want to have shown.” So if any of you are using the ‘boldy’ theme, remember that little tidbit. It might save you 4 hours of mad scrambling!!

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Slideshows and Website Visit Length…

There are many ways to keep visitors on your website for more than just a few seconds. One of the methods many websites use is a slideshow. Putting that slideshow up near the top … more specifically, the ‘header’ area of your website is a sure-fire way of making sure they see all the wonderful shots you have to show them. I decided to place a short slideshow in the header of this website. I looked in vain for a ‘plug-in’ which would do this automatically. One of them ‘broke’ my theme. Another didn’t seem to work at all. A third had such complicated instructions that even a hard-core Winnipeg WordPress Web Designer like myself gave up. Finally I just went with something I knew. I took the tried and true NextGen gallery, and created a new gallery just for the header and added the appropriately sized images to it. All that remained was to create the little piece of php code which I had to insert into the header.php file. (To edit the header.php file, click on ‘Appearance’, then ‘Edit’, then find the header.php file in the right margin and click to open and edit.)

And here’s a little hint. Before you go and delete all sorts of stuff in your header.php file, use the  comment symbols /* comments go inside here */ to comment out the stuff that is no longer needed instead of deleting it. That way if your website ‘breaks’ you can always bring back the code which you commented out.

At any rate, what I did was add one line of php code into the header file and ‘comment out’ one line – as shown below. Note, you need to find the place in your header.php file where a header image would be displayed. How do you find that? Well, If your theme is worth its salt, it will have documentation clearly indicating where this is. In my theme, the documentation was as follows:

/* ======== HEADER IMAGE ======== */
/*get_template_part(‘hdr’,'image’);*/      /*this is the original line which produced the original header*/
{ nggSlideshowWidget(3,940,198); };    /*I added this which calls the Next Gen gallery slideshow widget instead */

Note how I ‘commented out’ the original line and added the {nggSlideshowWidget (3,940,198);} line. The line I added calls up the NextGen gallery widget to create a slideshow from the gallery with an ID number of 3 and size it to 940 x 198 pixels.

Hope this helps you if you should ever want to add a slideshow to the header of your WordPress website!

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Things to learn

There are a few things which help a WordPress web designer in Winnipeg along. Some of them you only learn by experience. One of these is the whole idea of a child theme. Creating the code in a child theme is relatively easy for an old C++ programmer like myself, but the concept that whatever you do in the child theme over-rides what is in the original them provides a pretty powerful reason to learn how to to those child themes because it is such a powerful tool. A plug-in which I have found very useful in the process is the ‘One-Click Child Theme plugin found at this url: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/one-click-child-theme/ . It allows you to create a child theme with one click – saving you the hassle of going through all those manual steps. I highly recommend it.

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Summertime…and the livin’ is easy…

So goes the old tune, anyway. For a web site designer, though, summer is particularly challenging. Especially when the weather is beautiful and you’d rather be doing something else. As it turns out, though, we are involved in creating an amazing, multi-thousand picture website which will serve the residents – both present and past – of Flin Flon well. And so when a Winnipeg Web Design company can assist in a major project that will bring together libraries, government institutions, and a whole menagerie of other groups, it makes web site design in Winnipeg a little bit easier…especially when you know it is all in support of a good cause…check it out at http:/www.flinflonheritageproject.com

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Best Plugin Ever

Ok, so I’ve only been a developing WordPress websites here in Winnipeg for less than six months, but still, it’s enough time to have checked out a wide variety of plugins and themes. It is rare that a plugin – even if purchased – does absolutely everything you want it too. There is always that little ‘tweak’ that is needed to fit your website perfectly. A plugin I bought for the nggallery was perfect – until I realized that my drop-down menus overlaid the photos. That meant scrounging around in the code and resetting z values. With another gallery (I bought this one too)  the ‘sliding’ feature worked perfectly – until the very last slide, when it reversed direction – for no apparent reason. That brings me to WordPress Photo Album Plus (WPPA) – a plugin that, as of yet, has worked perfectly. This, inspite of the fact, it probably has more settings and adjustments than any plug-in I’ve ever seen. And it’s free! I installed it for a ‘heritage photo’ website. The website needed a gallery where titles, descriptions and keywords could be attached to photos. But all of this neeeded to be searchable. Once found, all search results would be displayed in a gallery on a new page. Many of the photos would be poorly documented. Hence, the idea was that poorly documented photos could have additional information submitted by viewers who were browsing the website. This might result in some new information coming to light. Comments, however would need to be moderated by site administrators. WP Photo Album Plus fit the bill perfectly and in all of our testing so far has come through as a stellar performance. Check it out!

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Editing Your WordPress Pages

Editing your WordPress pages is easy. Just follow these steps:

Step 1: Go to your website: http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin (Replace the word yourwebsite, with the name of your website.

Step 2: When you do Step 1, you will see a page that looks like what you see below. Enter your username and password and click the ‘Log In’ button.

WordPress Log In Screen

Step 3: After logging in you will see a page like this. Click the ‘Pages’ menu tab and then the ‘All Pages’ menu tab.

Word Press Welcome Screen

Step 4: That will bring you to a list of all the pages on your website as shown below. You now mus select the page you want to edit by clicking on the name of the page and then clicking the word ‘Edit’ beneath the page’s name.

Word Press Side Bar Menu

Step 5: Now we get to the interesting stuff. You can edit the text on the page just like you would in any word processor. There are buttons for Bold, Italic etc which you can use as well. The thing that’s easy to forget is that you must make sure to click the update button after you are all done – as shown below.

Word Press Page Edit ScreenStep 6: And now it’s time to check out what your website looks like after your changes! Choose one of the many ways to get back to your edited website (shown below).

WordPress - Checking your edited work.

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Winnipeg Web Design in Texas

WordPress seems far away for me, a Winnipeg Web Designer when you are jogging down the ocean-side in Texas. But they say a change is as good as a rest, and in the end, may invigorate some of the ideas you have jiggling around in your brain and some of the techniques you might want to use. So while I may not be working hard at creating new websites at the moment, I’m thinking of ways in which we can implement some new and interesting techniques on future ones. And though you may not think of Texas as stimulating a different way of looking at things, surprises wait around every corner.

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A New WordPress Website
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I am quite excited. Why? I have successfully created one of my first WordPress WeJoan's Pet Photography Logobsites this week Joan's Pet Photography is a photography website which links to a 'SmugMug' gallery via an RSS feed. Joan Morgan was wonderful to work with and has some excellent pictures of pets. She also does some nice digital enhancements of images. And it's always great, as a Winnipeg Web Designer, to do something like this for a local company! This website provided some unique challenges, but I am very pleased with the way it turned out. I even managed to hone my graphic design skills and create a logo for it! Check it out!
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Winnipeg has been amazingly mild this winter.
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Even Winnipeg Web Designers huddled over their computers notice the mild weather. After all, Winnipeg is known as a city with severe winters, so much so that some people call it “Winterpeg”. But 2012 is different: it’s been so mild and dry in the ‘Peg this year that a popular snow-sculpting competition has been forced to truck in 200 loads of fake snowflakes. That’s right: Winnipeg is importing snow. In fact, this winter is Winnipeg’s third-warmest in the last 100 years, and much of the rest of Canada is experiencing milder-than-usual conditions, which may seem like great news. Yep. Mild winters come a lot of plusses. You can go in and out without freezing. You can make it to and from the garage without having to put on a jacket. You can sit next to the dining room window without feeling cold on one side and warm on the other. You can stand at rink-side at the local community club and watch a full half period of hockey before your feet start getting cold. But there are a few negatives. The car is never clean. The ice in the back lane (from the dripping garage roofs) is treacherous. Your workout on the elliptical comes with more than its fair share of sweat equity. And working inside, doing web design for Winnipeg clients on the computer while you can hear the birds chirping cheerily in the sunshine is sometimes tough…but we get by.

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