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The story of your $49 WordPress theme website…

Publikálva:

I thought I should warn about few things before you go online with a ready-made WordPress theme. I know few people who already curse them…

Image sizes

These themes are using far more image sizes than necessary, and they ignore the default 3 system images sizes (Thumbnail, Medium and Large). One of my client has a site which generates six extra size version next to the default three which gives you extra 9 jpg files, with a combine size of 150-200% of the original file. For example for every 250kb picture you end up having 9 size version with a size around 300-400kb.

Of course the system generate these files for a reason, but most of the clients does not use more than 30-40% of the available functionalities and/or layouts what the system have to offer. For every 100MB web space you lose 60-80MB web space with no reason.

My advice: If you have to buy a theme, take your time to choose the right one. Have a look at all sub-page layout and all the function and choose a theme closest to your needs. If you need a simple website, with 3-6 sub-pages do not choose an overcomplicated theme with zillion custom post type: you are never going to use them.

A simpler, more compact theme can be easier developed further in the future.

Plug-in conflicts

No matter how many articles you can find on the internet about NOT integrate a plug-in or a functionality into the theme folder, unfortunately developers keep doing this. The most commonly committed mistake is to bundle the theme with a customized drag-and-drop page builder. Its look very cool in the description of a theme that you can build a website easily with it, the only problem with it is that this is not a purpose of a theme. This is a functionality of a plug-in you should choose independently from you theme files. One of my other client cannot have a system update because the customized, built-in page builder of his theme is not updated to be compatible with the latest WordPress (while the original page builder is).

My advice: Consult your developer / web designer at first to find out if you need a page builder at all, or which one is the best for you as a stand-alone plug-in. Write a list with all the functionality you need now and probably going to need in the next 2-4 years, and look for the best, most commonly updated plug-ins available.

You also have to look out for shortcodes (definitely if you have no idea what a shortcode is); and you also have to be very careful with choosing plug-ins if you need a multi-language website.

Why you should avoid these theme?

You website gets deprived of the opportunity of the freedom of future developments. They turn your self-hosted website into a one-in-a-million, “blogger.com” styled web site with restricted functionality. Just like you would register for a free wordpress.com website…. As for you is not possible to know all the possibilities you can have, you might end up choosing one or two “really cool” feature and loosing dozen of other you don’t even know about, but could serve you better.

This is a good solution for the first few months for your business, but believe me, there will be a point when 99% you will regret your fancy 49 dollar theme.

Find a developer you can talk about your plans. You do not have to necessarily spend money on a custom build theme, but he/she can give you some good advice to choose the right one.

 

 

How to simplify a complicated WordPress multisite install, and make it futureproof?

Publikálva:

Lately I have been included in a larger WordPress based project as a font-end developer. The one of the biggest customer on Malta have ordered 13 websites, all must have to be a member of a multisite installation. I joined the group approximately at the 40% of the full project being finished.

Although the sites could be grouped by design, there were no parent-child themes in use at that time. As the project grew before I have joined the group it was already way too complicated to be ignored.

Before we would move on with the development to the next group of website, we paused a little, and had a clean-up. We restructured the past sites and made a plan for the future as well. We created parent themes for every group, and stared to simplify the file structure.

At first, we categorized the existing files

  • Identical: These are the files which should be in the parent theme folder as they are exactly the same for all websites
  • Not identical, but can be: These are the files which main part can be generalized and just contains a small part that is unique for that specific website
  • Not used: These are the files which became irrelevant as the development went further
  • Files could be combined: These are the files which were separated for no special reason. These could be combined and have the same functionality as the separated files had before, thanks to the conditional tags in WordPress.
  • Unique: These are the files which should be in the child theme folder as they give an extra functionality for one website only. For example, a unique home page.

We had approximately 60-80 PHP files per website, which does not sound a lot, but keep in mind that we are talking about five websites in one group, and we also knew we have to create new groups as well. 15-20 unnecessary files multiplied by 5 gives you 75-100 extra files you have to take care for.

We did not just take care of PHP files, but every other common files as well. And other than that, we also realized how many things have in common not just in one group, but between groups. We needed a higher level of sharing than the parent theme folder structure.


Animation about the clean-up process

New Libraries

We created a Library folder above the default themes folder in WordPress, with two subfolders, one is for common PHP files, and one for common LESS files. As every site based on Bootstrap (what we have modified for our needs) and there are a lot of structural similarities in parts of WordPress as well, our LESS compilations includes these common LESS files from the same Library.

Wordpress Multisite structure with extended libraries

WordPress Multisite structure with extended libraries

We do not have 13 copies of the modified Bootstrap LESS files, neither have the very same WordPress CSS coding for simple modules like comment boxes, image alignments, basic hack and we also create some plug-in specific LESS file. We combined every structural coding in our Library, so we have to deal with the colouring and the unique codes in the child themes or parent themes folders only.

In our PHP Library we have some custom made widgets, and code snippets which are cam be included at any point of any of the 13 websites.

Wordpress Multisite structure with extended libraries

WordPress Multisite structure with extended libraries

Meanwhile I created a map of files and their connection with Xmind, one of my favourite software. This map is very useful to keep the track of changes. I color-coded the different file types, and in the original version I also kept everything what have been deleted. On the map we have documented not just the files, but custom taxonomies, custom fields and functions as well.

At the end of the clean-up process the number of files was less with more than 30%, which means we were able to make bug fixing and do the further development way faster. We also gained speed on creating new websites in this multisite install, and at the end we were able to finish the full project with two months earlier as planned.

 

How to use your developing website as an easy collaboration tool?

Publikálva:

While I got familiar with WordPress and became a programmer despite my intentions, I learned how to turn WordPress into a great and easy collaboration tool.

I believe in simplicity, I do not believe in paid online tools. Most of the online wireframe builder platforms and collaboration tools waste your money and require extra learning curves for everyone in your organization, when a simple wireframe can also be created in an online shared PPT using shapes and slides.

Instead of wasting your time finding the right online tool you can turn WordPress (or any other CMS) into a great collaboration tool for working together with copywriters and marketers. With minimal effort towards others in your company, you can reduce the time being spent on meetings, not to mention all the re-dos and cancelled solutions. So here is what you do: besides focusing on creating and coding a responsive website, use the following simple tools from the beginning of the website development process.

Colourful markers

Provide different colour-coded markers for the editors (even in the text editor interface). You can choose different colours for temporary or place-holder texts and notes:


Big fat image labels

When you can use placeholder images as well, you may want to provide a possibility for the editors to put a clearly visible label on it. This way everyone will know what this image is supposed to be about, so copywriters can write better content and vice versa.

Subsections

Sometimes marketers tend to divide the website into several (way too many) subsections. This habit makes the overview of the entire, full content difficult. What you might want to do is mark and hide subsections until you have final and approved content (open/close on interaction, make subsections semi-transparent). This way everyone can see all related content at once, without having to waste their time clicking for subpages. When all the content is ready, editors can decide about splitting it to sub-pages.

Keep it human

Do not forget that you are working with non-programmers. Instead of boring people with teaching them about “sortcodes” and “custom fields”, create an easy to use interface.

 

The 30th birthday of the House of Culture of Sárospatak

Publikálva:

We like to invite everyone to the opening ceremony of the one month long exhibition of House of Culture of Sárospatak at 22th of March. The Imre Makovecz Lifetime Achievement exhibition opening will be at 5 pm, where the 21-piece board installation can be seen which we have been working in the past weeks.

We have worked with more the 40 GB of scanned materials, on which we have been working more than 30 hours of retouching of them. Because of this the visitors can see very old and damaged, postcard sized photographs in the size of 100 x 140 cm. For the extremely high resolution scanned material we owe many thanks for the Emlékmentő (‘Memorial Ambulanc’e) Ltd..

Virtual journey

Publikálva:

I do not like the winter, but a little bit we can get rid of the cold weather.

It’s a virtual journey only, and our new customer’s little red truck is ready to discover all four cardinals.

 

Imre Makovecz Foundation

Publikálva:

We are delighted to announce that our studio has won the contract to create an online presentation of the works of esteemed architect Imre Makovecz. On behalf of the Imre Makovecz Foundation, we are going to develop entirely new braning and a new website.

The client’s current website already bears the logos we designed for Imre Makovecz and the Imre Makovecz Foundation. We are going to continue work on the brand in the coming weeks along the same lines, creating a selection of printed and online designs, product designs, as well as book covers for the client.

Imre Makovecz was one of the most prominent proponents of organic architecture. As such, his buildings adapt to the natural surroundings rather than overshadowing their environments. Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf Steiner were both strong influences of his, as was traditional Hungarian art. He passed away in 2011.

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