Wilmington NC Bead Store Redesign

Venuecom, our partner web design company, will be redesigning the website for A Place to Bead, a Wilmington, NC bead store.  The site was recently scheduled for redesign, but the project was never completed and it was not what the owner of the store had in mind anyway.

The new website for A Place to Bead will be given a fun, more colorful design.  The owner also wanted to be able to easily handle minor updates herself in order to add dates for jewelry classes or post new pictures, which will easily be handled via the content management system that is included in all sites built by Venuecom and Impulse Web Solutions.  The site will also feature a blog and e-commerce, giving the store the ability to sell its wares online as well as take payments for class registrations.  She will also be switching her email newsletters from manually sending them via her personal email account to using Venuecom’s EMT (email marketing tools) system, which will allow people to sign up for the store’s newsletter online and gives better creative control to the newsletters that are sent.

This website redesign is made more affordable by taking advantage of Venuecom’s website leasing program.  Contact us for details on leasing a website.

Wilmington NC Lawyer Website Redesign

Venuecom, a Wilmington, NC web design company and partner of Impulse Web Solutions, has just been given the green light to  redesign attydc.com.  The website has been in existence for roughly a decade and has seen no major design overhaul in that time, so Venuecom’s web design team will work on bringing the site up to date with fresh, new graphics and a bolder appearance.

The site already has terrific search engine placement for its main key term, Wilmington NC Lawyer:

Google: 1
Yahoo: 1
Bing: 2

However, the client wishes to have the site rank high for other areas around Wilmington as well as for specific areas of law.  To that end, the newly designed website will include many new pages of relevant content and feature a blog for the discussion of legal advice, law news and other legal matters.

Upcoming Website Design Jobs

It has been a busy week for Impulse Web Solutions and Venue Communications, partner Wilmington, NC web design firms.  Between the two companies we have sent out or are working on sending out proposals for the following web design jobs.

  • Redesign and increase search engine optimization scope of an existing client’s website.  The site is at the top of search engines for its main key phrase, but the client would like to rank high for more search terms.  A secondary goal is to ensure a higher conversion rate by updating the design of the website, which was probably built close to a decade ago.
  • Revamp a website that focuses on providing information about the Myrtle Beach area.  It was originally intended to be a one-page website with some basic information about the company, but they are now ready to flesh it out to make better use of their resources.
  • Redesign a partially-completed website for a local Wilmington, NC shopkeeper.  A site was started for her, but it was never completed, did not accomplish what she wanted to accomplish and is not easy for her to update.  To top all of that off, the client is no longer able to get in contact with her former web designer.  (And that’s why it’s better to use an established web design company instead of the friend of a friend who happens to do  websites.)
  • Copy an existing client’s website, update the code using CSS and make some minor modifications to help them better track leads generated from mass mailing campaigns.

In addition to these web design jobs, we have a few minor to major maintenance jobs lined up for some new and existing clients.  While we’ve been very busy since at least November, this is quite a bit to come all at once.  That fact makes me really glad that we recently expanded our team.  And who knows, maybe all this work is a sign that the economy is turning around.

Upgrade WordPress 2.9.2 to WordPress 3.0

I saw yesterday that WordPress 3.0 was out of beta and available via WordPress’s terrific automatic update feature.  I figured if they had it available through that, they must have worked out any auto install bugs, right?

Well, not quite.

I did the auto install on my personal blog and was told that it failed, then when I tried to go back and change some things in my admin, I got this error:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function set_current_screen() in /xxxxx/wordpress/wp-admin/admin.php  on line 129

Upgrade WordPressI did a little digging around and discovered that I wasn’t the only one.  The suggestions were to disable all your plugins (if you don’t have admin access you can do this by simply renaming the plugins directory via FTP) and see if that works, which would mean one of your existing plugins was causing the issue, or do a manual upgrade.

Renaming my plugins directory didn’t fix it for me, so I decided to do the manual upgrade, and that did the trick.  My WordPress 3.0 blog is working peachy keen now.

There’s a lot going on in WordPress 3.0 and I was eager to play with it, but it was pretty late at that point so I messed with the new default WordPress theme, Twenty Ten, a little bit and called it a night.

While the manual install isn’t particularly difficult, I’m not going to suggest our clients upgrade to it yet unless they want to give it a go themselves.  I’m going to wait until whatever bugs there are in automatically upgrading from WordPress 2.9.2 to WordPress 3.0 are fixed before we go forward with that.

In case you want to know how to manually upgrade from WordPress 2.9.2 to WordPress 3.0, here are the steps:

  • Download WordPress 3.0 and unzip the files into the WordPress folder on your computer.
  • Back up your database.  This is optional, but it’s a good idea.
  • Disable your plugins.  Sometimes a plugin will conflict with something in a newer version of WordPress.  You can reactivate them one at a time to make sure there’s no conflict.  I usually skip this step, personally, but I do remember once or twice where it caused me a problem.
  • Delete the wp-admin and wp-includes directories on the server.
  • Upload all the WordPress 3.0 files to your server except the wp-contents folder.  That folder contains your themes and plugins.
  • Upload the wp-content/themes/twentyten folder.  This will give you the WordPress 3.0 default theme, Twenty Ten, which lets you use all of WordPress 3.0’s new features.  Uploading this folder separately from the rest will ensure that any other themes or plugins you have are not overwritten.
  • You’ll be prompted to update your database, which takes under a minute, then you’re done and ready to explore the new features of WordPress 3.0!

Fewer Hats

I’ve worn many hats in this job, the most recent ones being sales, support and design.  Being pulled in so many directions kept us steady, but dividing time up between three distinct jobs meant less focus was given to one or another at any given time.  We decided that if we want the company to grow, the team would have to grow too.

Travis RayWe determined that the best place to expand was in the design department.  We were looking for someone skilled in creating fresh, contemporary designs who was also comfortable talking to clients.  After all, it’s more efficient in web design to have a designer who can also sell, otherwise you’re playing the telephone game and details might get lost or you waste time going back and forth (designer to sales to client then client to sales to designer and so on).  We’ve been around long enough to know that the less interference there is between the designer and the client, the better the whole process flows.

So after a weeks-long search, we would like to welcome Travis Ray to the team.  Travis has an impressive design background and the ability to listen to what a client needs then take it a step further to improve upon their ideas.  He will be taking over the majority of the design duties as well as following up with new and existing clients.  We look forward to showcasing his skills, and I, in particular, look forward to wearing fewer hats.

Flash vs. HTML5

This week a friend contacted me to take a look at a template that was purchased for building a photographer web site. He had purchased was a site template built in Flash. Not an HTML site with a Flash plugin, but a 100% Flash design. He wanted to know if I could advise him on how to make some changes to it.

My response was he would need the original .fla file that should be with the template that was purchased. Then he would need Adobe Flash in at minimum the version of Flash the template was built in to edit it. His site, as it is now, has very little chance of showing up in Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines for anything other than a search for the domain name, and perhaps the company name if he can get that in the Title tag. After years of trying, Google (and others) still cannot index Flash sites so they have no idea what is in the site.

Most of my clients have a need to rank high in search engines, therefor I have very little experience with Flash. Instead, I use HTML5 and AJAX to create the same stunning visual effects you can achieve with Flash. See examples listed at the bottom of this post.

My advice to my friend was if he wants to show up in searches he should build it in HTML5. If he doesn’t care about his ranking then he’s fine with Flash as long as he can afford to get it edited by a Flash developer. CMS for Flash – haven’t seen it!

One more slam on Flash and I’m done. His site is a big black blank on 2,000,000 iPads and over 50,000,000 iPhones/iPods Touches. Blackberry and Android typically only support lightweight Flash plugins. The proper way to build a pure Flash site is to provide an alternative version for mobile devices and other systems that do not support Flash.

The bottom line is the future for web design is HTML5, Flash is dying fast. Do a few Google searches on that subject.

Converting Blogger to WordPress

My project for this weekend has been to convert this blog from Blogger to WordPress.  It was not as easy as I had hoped.  The import tool made such a mess of the posts that I deleted them all and manually (copy and paste) imported each post.  Took about 4 hours to rebuild 211 posts.

I managed to keep all the URL’s the same.  I even kept the .html at the end.  All the posts were by the former owner of Impulse, Jonathan, who sold the business to us in December 2009.   More about that perhaps in another post.  I was able to set the author of all his post to his name.  I hope we can do as good of a job of updating this blog as he did.  That job will most likely fall on Zach, who is much better at keeping his social media sites updated than I am.

Now that I have the posts imported and the URL’s all the same as they were before I’m running our Sitemap Generator to check for broken links, duplicate H1 tags, etc.

Find Us on Facebook link

You’ve got a Facebook page for your company, but now you want to put a link to your Facebook page on your company website.

Not sure how to do it? Give me a call – it’s simple and inexpensive to add.

Contact Me Today!

Facebook Widgets

Facebook now allows you to embed several different types of widgets onto your blog or website:

1. Profile Badge

2. Photo Badge

3. Fan Box

4. Live Stream Box

5. Page badge

Link: http://www.facebook.com/facebook-widgets/

If you need help setting these up on your blog or website, please let me know.

Ajax in 10 minutes

I recommend the following book on getting started with Ajax:

Ajax in 10 Minutes
Sams Teach Yourself
Phil Ballard


My only complaint is that the first half of the book does a brief overview of Javascript, HTML, CSS and PHP. I already know all of that stuff so I didn’t really need the refresher chapters but overall the sections on Ajax were very thorough. It had some good explanations and easy to follow examples that I coded for myself just to make it sink into my brain.