I wrote an article over the weekend over at The Phuse’s blog. It was called “Hack-proofing WordPress: Simple Basic Steps.” It talks about some of the security things I’ve learned in the last couple years since I’ve started using WordPress as my CMS of choice. I plan on going more in-depth for the next few WordPress articles but figured I’d start it out nice and easy.
I haven’t updated this site much the past… forever. I’ve been really busy since going freelance and I haven’t really had much time to write or update the portfolio. I have a ton of new work I need to post. I’m in the initial brainstorming process of a rebrand of myself so hopefully I’ll get time in the next couple weeks to get that on track and get some new work up.
I’ve always been a big fan of RSS feeds. I have around 75 feeds I check as regularly as I can find time, sometimes just for a few minutes while I’m waiting for files to upload or an hour or two before bed. Between that and sites like FFFFOUND!, I end up running across a lot of images I like or find inspiring and want to save. I’ve done the whole “giant folder of images” thing, I’ve done “folder of huge bookmarks” thing and I’ve tried a few web apps like Ember and Zootool. I never liked any of them. They never felt convenient to me to look through, or was too hard to add stuff to.
My most recent iteration of an inspiration saving tool is a quick Tumblr blog. I figured I’m saving this stuff for myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m the only one who see it. So if you’d like a quick shot of inspiration for a design project or just want to check out some cool stuff, you can go to inspire.arkitect.org. I plan on messing around with the design once I have some free time but for now, it’s quick to add to and looks decent.
I’ve previously worked with Foto Cabina at my last job before I started the self-employment route. They rent out upscale photo booths to use at parties and events. They already had a WordPress blog but their website was completely static and hard to update. They wanted to stick with WordPress for the ease of edibility but also bring the rest of the website “under one roof.”
The design was done by my previous employer, David Roberts, and was handed off to me to do all the development and WordPressification. This site gave me good time to play around with the new features of WordPress 3 like custom post types and custom thumbnails. I tried to make sure all the custom functionality that they wanted in their site was completely built in and easy to use and update. Click here to view the site.
If you follow me on twitter, you might have saw me mention earlier today that I was working on a really nerdy blog post. In an effort to post a little more, I decided that I should share a simple PHP function I wrote today so that maybe someone can get some use out of it. You can use this function on your website to consolidate your follower counts into a single number that you can then style and display. Right now, it supports Feedburner (most blogs RSS feed provider. If you aren’t using it, I’d suggest it.), a Facebook Fan Page and a Twitter account. You can mix and match out of the three if you don’t use all three services.
Another thing worth mentioning is that when you’re pulling data from other servers, especially with how popular Facebook and Twitter are, it could potentially make your site stop rendering the page at the number while it’s waiting for the results. This function caches your follower count (which you can turn off) into a text file so that any page loads for the rest of the day won’t have to queue up all three additional servers.
If you are running a WordPress site, just pop the function into your themes functions.php file. The cache text file will be saved into your theme folder. If not, it will be saved to the root directory of your site.
For the longest time I didn’t have a voicemail message for my cellphone. I just left it on the automated, “This number is not available. Please leave a message after the beep,” or whatever the AT&T computer says. I prefer to do business by email so that I can draft what I want to say so getting phone calls were either from my parents or wrong numbers. Now that I’m on my way to being self-employed, I figured I should probably take another look at leaving a message. More people are calling me now then ever and being that I don’t always answer my phone, leaving a message to at least notify the caller that they hit the right person is probably a good thing.
Since the fully-automated message is out, that leaves two other options. A) A semi-automated message where you say your name like a zombie into your phone and let the computers do the rest or B) A fully-custom message. I tried option A a couple times (in private of course) and I never sounded like a real person. Option B it is.
Drafting a message is tough, especially for me since I over-think everything. Do I want to say something funny? Yes. Would that be good for business? Probably not. I also don’t want to sound too business-y and have my friends and relatives feel unwelcome. I decided the simpler the message, the better. “This is Matt. Leave me a message and I’ll call you back.” But wait, why do I need to say the “Leave me a message…” part? It’s 2010. Everyone knows to leave a message after the beep. The beep has been around since answering machines have been invented (The 30′s but not widely distributed in the US until the 60′s. Thanks Google.)
Why do we still say that? I left it in my message because without it all I’m saying is my name. I don’t want to just say “I’ll call you back,” because would really much rather send an email then talk on the phone and I’m not going to call someone back if they don’t leave me a message. I couldn’t figure out a suitable replacement. Anyone have any ideas?
My friends Randy & Erin over at He & She Photo recently asked me to help them with their website. They wanted to redo the entire site and combined their Flash portfolio with their WordPress blog. No sense in having multiple places to have to update any time you do something new. We brought it all under one roof. It just went live last night.
Since they have such a distinct style they wanted to keep, I took a strictly developer role in this project. I turned their mockups into a WordPress template, customized the back-end of WordPress a little bit so that adding to their galleries and referrals pages would be as easy as possible and added some security features. All in all, I think we’re all pretty happy with the product. Click here to view the site.
While in college, I used a lot of books as inspiration for all the work I was doing. You know the books, the ones with maybe a paragraph of text every page but a ton of decent looking work, I call them picture books now. A ton of images, no descriptions or anything. They’re nice to flip through while walking around a bookstore but really doesn’t do anything in the long run.
I don’t remember when it exactly was, late 2006 – early 2007, I stumbled across a video by Hillman Curtis. It was a short documentary on Pentagram, the grossly famous design agency with branches all over the world. I’m not sure exactly what it was about the video, something one of the partners said, but it really affected me. It made me understand that design isn’t just coming up with visuals, it’s not just spitting out a poster or a logo for someone. Design is about solving problems.
Since then, I don’t think I’ve bought a single picture book for myself, although I’ll still look through them if I’m walking around at Barnes and Nobles. I’ve also really followed the work of Pentagram. It’s not the most stylistically edgy work out there, that’s what FFFFound is for, but it’s, to me, the most thoughtful and intelligent work I’ve found.
Well, since I guess I’ve finished this site and now I have a blog, I guess I should start posting some of my work. American Strong is a clothing line started by a friend of mine. He had a lot of products to sell but other then a Facebook and Myspace page, he didn’t have a web presence. We spent some time coming up with a few simple goals for the site that we wanted to acheive, and created the design for the site around that.
I decided on creating a WordPress backed website and Big Cartel for the storefront and shopping cart since both of those provide dead simple edibility. I also made the storefront the homepage so that any visitors to the site see the goods right off the bat. Click here to view the site.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love lists, but most of the time authors cloak a list as a helpful and informative post, and they hardly ever are. You can look at any ‘big-time design blog’ (Smashing Magazine and any of its off-shoots and clones) and find more lists then you can count and less actually useful information then you’d hope for.
A good list should be short and concise. You can go into detail later.
If you are ranking or comparing things, show a summary at the bottom.
If the title of your ‘article’ contains any of the following words, you’re wasting my time: awesome, rocks, best, great, fresh
You aren’t doing anyone a favor if you aren’t providing links.
Bring something new to the table. Just a list is not enough.
You are not the top most resource on the subject. Don’t act like you are. Your post is an opinion.
Don’t post about something that you haven’t actually used or affected you. It’s how you separate garbage from quality.
No matter what, it’s been done before.
You aren’t an author if you’re just curating.
It’s usually way too long. I’ve got time for 10 bullet points at the most.