New “off the shelf” template for Child Contact Centres (NACCC groups)

I continue to be impressed by the Elegant Themes Divi template which has made many sites that use it a lot more interesting to use, and they all look very professional. Many commercial web development agencies are now basing sites on Divi, I am seeing it all of the time.

I am developing a new “off the shelf” package for NACCC groups that run Child Contact Centres throughout the UK.  Continue reading New “off the shelf” template for Child Contact Centres (NACCC groups)

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Introducing Forums

In July I built a site where one of the requirements was to include a forum. I have not done this before, but I  have come across them and use them on a regular basis.

I have just added the functionality to this website. If you are one of my clients you can join this area, it is managed through a registration form. I receive the form and review it. If I recognise you as one of my clients I grant you access to the system.

There are three forums set up. One is a general forum, the other two are specific to satellite website owners from Home-Start and the NACCC’s Child Contact Centres. I have built a lot of websites for these two groups, and it seems to be a good idea to offer the opportunity for an online community to share ideas and have a place to test concepts. Being specific to a group is useful, because everyone in that group will have the same clients, the same services, and the same problems to deal with.

Do you need a forum?

Continue reading Introducing Forums

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New Home-Start Lite Design

Click on the image to open up a full screen version in a new browser window.

A new design for Home-Start sites is available in the “Lite” off the shelf versions that I make available to new clients. This offers a website in a box. I take the content and localise it for any Home-Start organisation.

The new design is based on Divi. I have built quite a few Divi sites now and am getting quicker, and learning short cuts which can radically reduce development time. Continue reading New Home-Start Lite Design

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Group Calendar

I have been asked on a number of occasions is it possible to have a group or office shared calendar. The problem is generally those people who are used to using Outlook in a business context have used an Exchange Server which managed all of the calendaring functions for you. In a charity situation, particularly a small regional one, it is not very likely that your charity uses a Microsoft Exchange server. The calendar management needs to be handled at a central point such as a server.

I received a request about a group calendar a few days ago and did some digging and have come up with a solution. So if you are interested in having an office calendaring system that is online, that your volunteers and office staff can log into then this may be for you. Continue reading Group Calendar

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Divi Layout Builder

I have talked about the Divi Template several times and I use this regularly now for my premium sites. The layout tool that is used in the Divi Template is also available as a stand alone plugin.

It is a bit more complicated to use than the standard editor, however it offers endless possibilities. Take a look at the site below (the actual site is under development so likely to change before it is public). You can temporarily see the development version here:  http://wingrove-staging.uk/hhccc/

Continue reading Divi Layout Builder

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Adding a Twitter Feed

Many of the organisations I work with manage social media marketing through Facebook and Twitter. I know from my own experience that you reach a different and frequently younger audience through Facebook and Twitter compared to relying on people visiting your website.

For my local village association we have around 900 subscribers that receive a newsletter each month, and around 350 subscribers to a Facebook group. By checking the demographics in Google Analytics we know that the majority of website visitors are aged 35+. We reach a younger audience through Facebook. The behaviours are different, the conversations are different on Facebook compared to the discussions associated with Posts.

I have recently installed two plugins that repeat the Facebook and Twitter activity on your website. They are easy to set up provided you are logged into your respective accounts. On this article I am going to refer to Twitter.

Where to put it?

Continue reading Adding a Twitter Feed

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I just don’t have the time

I wanted to highlight that in a couple of cases I am editing websites on behalf of their owners. This was not my original goal, which was to help every one to be independent of their developer. Which is the primary reason I built this site!

However I recognise if you only need a few changes a year, then keeping up to date with everything may be a problem. The situation you need to avoid at all costs is procrastination. Keep your site up to date and keep it fresh in Google.

I need help!

If you don’t have the time to update your site, but you have material you want added to your site, I can do this for you. There will be a small charge for this service which starts at £5/ 15 minutes or £20/hr. I can get quite a lot done in 15 minutes so provided you have everything ready, I can add things to your site if you wish.

Contact me to find out more. Generally I recommend packaging everything up that needs editing/ changing/ adding and sending it to me with explicit instructions on what you want the end result to look like. I will let you know how long it will take to make the edits, you then need to authorise me to go ahead.

 

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New Home-Start Template Available

Following some work on another project I have developed a new low cost framework for Home-Start sites. This is now the 5th generation for Home-Starts from when I started around 5 years ago.

Responsive site
Desktop/ Laptop display
Responsive display
Same site displayed on a phone

Some people do not like the heavy dominance of the orange sidebar in the old Home-Start Lite site template. The new design is cleaner and brighter with more white in the background, and more open than the former design, although the former design is still available  if anyone wishes to use it.

This has been built largely because of the demand for low cost responsive websites. It also compliments the premium Home-Start websites I have been building over the summer and autumn period. The premium sites have a lot more work involved in creating them, so I felt it was necessary to continue to provide an entry level solution.

 

The new template is available to existing Home-Start websites for a single fee starting from £60  (up to ten pages) to swap the templates over and change some of the layout to fit the new style. Your content can be retained in this framework. Higher page counts will be based on £5/ page.

I also upgrade the contact form to a new style of form.

I can also import an old website, even those not built in WordPress to this new framework. Contact me for more details if this is of interest.

In case you are curious there is no Home-Start Seething, this is a demonstration website only for the purposes of displaying this example. 

 

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Windows 10 upgrades

There have been several reports over the past month about Microsoft upgrading people’s computers to Windows 10 from Windows, 7, 8 and 8.1. This seems to be happening without the consent of the computer owner.

Windows 10 is a free upgrade, however it appears that in some cases including my own (because I checked) I was going to get it whether I wanted it or not.

MS Office Disappeared!

I helped out a colleague two weeks ago whose computer was upgraded without her permission. She just accepted it after it happened, and then could not find anything because the interface had changed. I think I am correct in saying that Microsoft also download a version of Office onto computers as well as the operating system. It is not activated, just sitting there as an install file. In this case the user clicked on it and started to use the latest version of MS Office. It stopped working 2 weeks later asking for a licence key.

In this case she had an older version (circa 2003) of MS Office on the computer that was licenced, however it appears the installation of the latest one removed the old one! So I could not roll it back. Needless to say nobody had retained the disks for the original version so in this case Microsoft had deleted Office because of operator error and Microsoft installing an operating system that was not required. It can happen to anyone.

An easy solution to this?

In this case I loaded Open Office on her computer and she was able to continue editing Office Documents without MS Office for free. Just bear that in mind if you find yourself in a similar position and don’t know what to do.

GWX in the system tray

I was aware of an application that sits in your tray in the bottom right hand corner of your screen which is called GWX.exe. It is installed by Microsoft during one of the many updates that you need to get as part of the maintenance of any Windows machine. See the image below.

gwx upgrade

Having checked my colleague’s computer and done some research, I thought I would check out my computer. Sure enough an upgrade was scheduled two days later!  I turned it off.

Open and Check

If you go to your system tray and open the icons and click on the Windows 10 Upgrade icon you will see a screen that gives you some options. In my case I declined the upgrade so my screen may look different to yours.

gwx upgrade2

Do you need it?

I prefer to consent to have my computer altered. I have experience of Windows 10 on a non-touch screen laptop. It is really an adaptation of their operating system for touch screens so it does not have any major benefits for me personally on a desktop machine.

If you have Windows 8 or 8.1 installed (which are also touch screen operating systems) then you will benefit from installing it. It looks similar and is an improved version.

If you have Windows 7 installed and you are happy with Windows 7 then I would recommend hanging on for a point in time when you have the opportunity to set some time aside to learn the new operating system rather than have it provided when Microsoft gets around to doing it for you automatically.  There is nothing worse than waking up one morning with a huge list of things to get done and finding you have wasted several hours in relearning how to use your computer.

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