Web Design Blog

June 3, 2012

My website got a little attention the past week. After a couple false starts in Photoshop, I realized I already had a good start in front of me. This realization enabled me to simply focus on changing the things I didn’t like. I am proud of myself for not falling into the all too common designer trap of never feeling it’s good enough and therefore never completing anything. I can get now on with the more important business of developing new content and client work.

Coincidentally I have noticed when working a job that I am not always so quick to throw away an existing design and start everything fresh. I like to analyze what is there first and see how we can move it forward versus starting from scratch. This may be a sign that technologies and the discipline of web design are maturing. You don’t always have to throw away the baby with the bathwater. Just because I didn’t design it or code it doesn’t mean it’s 100% crap. Your previous programmer or designer may have been perfectly capable to up this point and we just need to change the parts that don’t work, are outdated or bother us. Sometimes unfortunately though it is a do over.

The Domain Name

I have been using websitedesignby.com for the past 5 or 6 years. I registered it in 2006 because it was available, short, descriptive and I thought it would look nice as a credit at the bottom of sites I had designed.

Last year I purchased webdesignby.com through GoDaddy’s domain auction service. Since then I had been putting off moving everything to the newer, shorter domain name. When I seriously considered making the switch last week, I realized there was a relatively painless way to do it. I created a webdesignby.com alias in my current domain, websitedesignby.com (using the Plesk interface). So traffic to webdesignby.com would actually land on websitedesignby.com pages. Then I simply changed the siteurl and home options in WordPress to webdesignby.com. I Chopped the site off the logo at the top and was done. websitedesignby.com addresses will remain in tact, once you click on a menu item or link though you will be on the new streamlined domain webdesignby.com.

Attention to Typography

The line spacing and my original choice of serif, purple type for the quotes was really bothering me. I fixed the font size and line spacing issues, got rid of the serif purple text, and put some nice 15px rounded edges and a white background on the <blockquote> elements. I also made sure all of the quotes followed a uniform format with the attribute at the end. This made a huge difference in the look of the website portfolio pages in my eyes. I find myself becoming more of an evangelist for attention to typography on web pages. I still see too many sites using old design trends like small type and tight spacing. Advances in technology have allowed us as designers to have more control over typography choices.

Update WordPress

A review of my site inside of Google Webmaster Tools made me realize the importance of updating WordPress. I had neglected to update since version 2.9.?, WordPress is now at 3.3.2 and apparently Google knows about it and is not ok with it. Fortunately WordPress makes this an elementary task. No more slacking on WordPress updates, done.

Social Media Buttons

I try to keep current with what the kids are doing these days so naturally I have my nose in social media. I had buttons for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN but no Google+ up to this point. I know the service has taken it on the chin a in the media but I won’t be ignoring Google or it’s social platform. I actually think they are on top of their game in terms of user interface design. Either way I remain active on both Facebook and Twitter but will continue to hedge my bets and migrate content to Google+ as well. My sharing buttons also got a quick makeover switching from the AddtoAny WordPress plugin to Addthis. Addthis has a few more features for measuring your social button efficacy and I like the new aesthetic they bring.

Commenting

I also went ahead and added Facebook’s commenting feature. I have been watching it proliferate on the web and think it’s a good choice, particularly for sites like mine with light commenting needs. Disqus is also a good community discussion tool I see used often. Facebook comments is an excellent plugin. Just one page with 363 lines of code. I did have a little conflict with the Addthis plugin though. My new Addthis ‘Like’ button was displaying twice when the comments plugin loaded. Moving the FBML setup function in the facebook comments plugin from the footer to just after the <body> tag with a custom hook resolved it. I also checked it using the Facebook debug tool and got a few warnings about some missing og (open graph) meta tags. So I wrote a quick plugin to add these meta tags and get rid of the warnings.

Multiple Personality Disorder Cured

Initially I wrote much of the content from the perspective of we and us. I changed all of that. Initially I felt justified since I do occasionally outsource and work with teams, but the majority of the time it’s just me. For some reason I didn’t feel comfortable talking about my company as a one man show. But it is what it is and I have found a lot of my clients actually choose me because of this, not in spite of it. They prefer working directly with an individual who can give them the personal attention their project requires.

Onward

I went through most of the site content and meta tags and made assorted other tweaks to try and get my Google rank up. There are a few more updates planned around the corner, but in general I feel that an itch has been scratched and I can move on now with other projects. I hope to post some examples of other website updates in the near future. I know there is nothing earth shattering here but I like to keep it simple and hopefully I gave you some ideas on some little things you can do to update your own site.

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