Web Site Design Blog

Tag: web design
June 7, 2012

Liane Fried was referred to me from an existing client. She had been struggling for months with her web company to complete an e-commerce web site. She was generally happy with the initial design, but there were functionality requirements that had been lingering for weeks. Liane contacted me for advice after several weeks of unresponsiveness from her web designer. After reviewing the website source code I agreed to help her.

The website was developed using the osCommerce platform. osCommerce is an e-commerce package written in PHP. Since she was happy with the design and I had experience with osCommerce, I knew we would be able to complete the website requirements to her satisfaction.

The website specification required both wholesale and retail pricing structures. An analysis of the website revealed the developer had set up 2 separate stores and databases, one for wholesalers and one for retail. This was a less than ideal scenario. I pointed this out to Liane and explained how we could set it up to use the same store for wholesalers and retailers by creating separate pricing groups for logged in users. This way she would only have to maintain a single catalogue of products with retail and wholesale prices. Visitors could apply to become a wholesaler and Liane could approve them after reviewing their information.

There were numerous other customizations including custom email notifications, custom content management and display for the retail galleries section, automated image resizing, custom what’s new? module and much more. In the end Liane is happy I was able to complete her site and communicate clearly with her throughout the process.

Liane Fried Studio
* original design by other

I began working with Ross after my previous web designer had “disappeared”. He worked very closely with me, taking over the mess of a site my previous designer had left. Ross accomplished more for me in two weeks than my previous designer had in six months. He guided me through the website building process with good direction, a lot of patience, and quick responses to questions. I am pleased with the great job he did; he is a true professional. I would recommend him to anyone seeking a webpage designer.

Liane Fried
Liane Fried Studio

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.

May 25, 2012

Pelican Wire Company, Inc., located in Naples Florida, manufactures all types of wire from standard resistance to specialty applications. This custom website was designed to reflect the professionalism, technical capabilities and wealth of knowledge offered at the Pelican Wire. Along with the website, we provide training on the CMS (built on the WordPress platform) and ongoing support.

Pelican Wire Company

Ross provided us with exceptional service during our web development process. His knowledge of web technologies guided us to an excellent technical solution that allows us to keep control over our web content. Ross provided excellent design insight through research of competitive sites and understanding the nuances of modern web design. In addition, Ross spent many hours collaborating with our ERP developer, web hosting services, and our IT support organization making the entire web development process a seamless experience. I would highly recommend Ross for any future web development project.

Ted Bill
President
Pelican Wire Company

November 29, 2010

When Dr. Becker asked me to have a look at his website for Minneapolis Orthopaedics, I was more than happy to provide detailed suggestions on how the existing website could be improved. My suggestions included content recommendations as well as design and functionality requirements such as iPad and iPhone compatibility. The result is a website that exceeded the client’s expectations.

Dr. Becker provided the following recommendation on LinkedIN:

Ross performed a complete makeover of our site; www.mplsortho.com. The original site was a little bland and dated and used older coding. Ross, at www.websitedesignby.com not only updated it, he transformed it into a modern, interactive, aesthetically appealing, and informative site. He worked days, nights and weekends and kept incorporating any changes I wanted. He had fresh ideas that we implemented and he used the latest coding techniques known. He was even able to make our online video compatible with IPhone and IPad and streamed different resolutions of the video based on available bandwidth on the user end. He researched several topics and found additional sites that he linked and embedded seamlessly. He was always available and responded within 24 hours to every Email I sent. He works very fast and is incredibly detailed oriented. I am thoroughly pleased with the worked Ross did on our site and will be telling friends and other companies about his abilities. His pricing is very reasonable and he stays on budget. Our web site turned out better than I had even hoped for and in the few short days since its launch, I have gotten uniformly positive feedback….and new business.

Dr. Douglas Becker
Minneapolis Orthopaedics

View the complete website at mplsortho.com.

August 13, 2010

There are 2 ways a website can be developed: either as static web pages or as dynamic (database driven) web pages. Let’s discuss both varieties:

Static Web Pages
All web pages are displayed using HTML code. Static web pages are essentially a series of linked HTML documents. To make a change to a static website one must edit the HTML code directly on each page. While this may work for a simple web site that has 3 or 4 pages, it quickly becomes inefficient as your web site grows in depth and complexity.

Database SymbolDynamic, Database Driven Web Pages
Database driven websites are fast becoming the standard for website development. The content on a dynamic website is maintained in a database. When a visitor requests information for a page, product, article or photo, that request is processed and returned by a database.

Web Site Maintenance
Typically the information in the database is maintained through a secure administrator log-in area. A well designed administrator log-in area makes it easy for anyone to update the website content without having to learn HTML or sophisticated website design software.

Content Management Area

If you are interested in developing a dynamic, database driven website, have static web pages that need to be converted or want help with an existing dynamic website please contact us for a free consultation. We will be happy to discuss the various benefits and options available to you.

You can also use the comments form below for additional discussion and questions.

August 7, 2010

I have been busy on a few client projects lately including deazzle.com. I will get these into my portfolio soon. I am also involved in some on-going personal development projects that I hope to release later this year. I appreciate the support and help from those that look at my blog and are interested in my work. There are always exciting things on the horizon and new opportunities are presenting themselves as the internet and the companies that are shaping it continue to evolve.

March 3, 2010

I posted photos from the Big Boy EXPO in Estero, Florida on Flickr and FaceBook.

View them on FaceBook

View them on Flickr

August 26, 2009

Koast2Koast - D-Town Design

New Flash interface design for Koast2Koast / D-Town Records. Design was done in Photoshop then brought into Flash for animation and interactivity. This is a concept to be used on the artist CD. These guys are great to work with. Fun project!

Here is the clients response:

“Ross is an amazing talent, I first discovered his work when he was with 4What. Just looking at how he focuses on detail made me believe this was the web designer for me. Since then, I hired Ross to create a web design for one of my artist 3riple Threat. We were on a tight deadline trying to close a deal with Universal, and not only did Ross get right on the job, his work left everyone on my team speechless. His work displayed to Universal that our company is committed to working with only the best. I would recommend Ross work to anyone looking to enhance their companies image through viral marketing.”

View Project

October 26, 2008

The purpose of this blog is to post information related to the design and development of web sites. This ranges from technologies, processes  and ideas involved. As a developer with over 12 years experience designing and developing web sites and applications, I hope to provide useful information that you can apply to your web site development projects. At the same time I hope to learn from those who contribute to this blog through commenting and sharing.

September 3, 2004

Courtyard Decor website 2004

Website developed in 2004 for Courtyard Décor, a local store that sells unique interior and exterior decorative furnishings in Naples Florida. This site was developed using PHP and Flash.

View Project