Blog Category: Process

Quick WordPress/website performance tweaks

November 27, 2011

Add some expires data and compress stuff. Add this to your .htaccess file and be done, or your httpd.conf file and then restart apache.
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Browser color override test for Modernizr

July 13, 2011

I’ve been working on a project recently that requires the website to be usable for people with visual and cognitive impairments. One of the tests that we’ve been doing is overriding the text/link and background colors in Firefox and IE.

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WordPress Google Analytics Content Filter

March 17, 2011

I’ve been working on a site recently that has a lot of PDFs that the content owners link to and I’ve been wanting to track the number of views that each PDF has. To accomplish that I’ve been using a feature of google analytics that requires you to add some extra info to links so you can track how many clicks a PDF gets.

Up until now I’ve been adding that extra information by hand because there haven’t been a lot of links but I figured there was a ripe oppurtunity to do some simple automation. I’ve created the following content filter that will automatically add the google analytics bit to each link in the content, you just have to put it in your theme’s function.php file. I also added a bit that tracks outbound links as well just because that might be handy info to have as well.
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Good WordPress Plugins

December 16, 2009

When I make wordpress themes there are usually a few good plugins that I use repeatedly and I thought that if I found them useful other folks might to.

Autothumb
This is best plugin for resizing images. I’ve found it most effective when I set image URLs in custom fields and then grab that info to generate resized images. This is really handy when people upload pictures and don’t have any concept about picture dimensions and where the image is actually going to go. It can even grab pictures from another host and resize those as well.

TDO Mini Forms
This plugin is great if you want people to submit posts or pages for your site. It lets people upload pictures and write everything you would need for a post; it also has built in moderation features and the forms that it makes are very customizable. I’ve used it several times for contest websites where people upload photos and descriptions.

Page Link Manager
When you need to hide pages from being listed in the wp_list_pages() function this plugin is really handy. It provides a simple page of with all the published pages in the site listed and select a checkbox to turn them on and off.

All In One SEO
Really great plugin to generate the basic metatags for your content without you actually having to write it in.

Link to Post
The WYSIWYG link button in wordpress drives me nuts. This plugin will add two new buttons to the WYSIWYG editor that will provide you with a list of pages or posts on your site that you can select from. No more copying and pasting links!

Page Links To
If you ever need to redirect a post/page to another location this plugin is great. Adds a simple field on the edit post page where you can type in the URL that you want that post to redirect to.

Version Cue

September 17, 2008

Version Cue is the Adobe file management software that comes with any larger package of Adobe software. If you aren’t familiar with file management, it’s the process of handling multiple versions of the same file. For example, if I work on a logo 3 different times, proper file management allows me to go back to a previous saved version of the logo I may have made. For the past couple of months we’ve been using Version Cue at the office and overall it’s been a great addition and powerful productivity tool.

Initially the way we handled versions was with file naming conventions (Client Name – Project Name – v1.1.psd for example). That was ok for awhile but we found that people didn’t follow it 100% of the time. There was often miscommunication about who had the most current file and what needed to be done. At the time we also didn’t have a networked storage solution, so everyone was working on their own sets of files and it was really hard to share work on a project and know what the most recent file was.

I had a looked into another file management system called Subversion and found the system way to complex and not particularly user friendly to non computer geeks. It was geared towards managing text files, which would have been ok for websites but with the amount of imagery we work with it wasn’t feasible. I ended up deciding to try Version Cue out on my own computer to see how it works.

After you turn Version Cue on, you can access it though most Adobe programs (Photoshop, inDesign, Illustrator, Flash) so you can easily save the file you’re work on as a version. You can also access Version Cue through Bridge; this is Adobe’s take on a file manager like Windows Explorer or Finder but with artists in mind. Using Bridge and Version Cue you can browse though the version history of a file as well as tag and label files and slew of other options.

Over time we found that Version Cue can also do simple networking as well. We ended up putting Version Cue on a dedicated computer on our network and using Bridge it was really easy to find the server and start working on files. It also allowed us to do automatic backups which was something we had needed to setup for a while. There is simple web administration software that you can login to from any computer in your local network that allows you to backup the server data as well as set a schedule for when you want a particular project to backup.

One of the issues we have run into is the stability of Bridge on Windows. Depending on what features you have turned on, Bridge can crash as often as every 5 minutes. By turning certain features off you can reduce the amount of crashing but it still ends up being finicky. On the Mac computers we use there haven’t been any problems.

For any designers that want to take the next step in how they do file management on their projects I would recommend giving Version Cue and Bridge a try.