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)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Handling Spreadsheets in a website

(Introducing TablePress)

I am sure most of you are familiar with tables of data in WordPress sites and how to create one and populate it. I have recently been developing a Community Transport website which is nearing completion.  I have done one before, but this was some time ago.

One of the issues with publishing timetables is that the it can be done by simply publishing an image of the timetable. In most cases a JPG or PNG would do the job. It looks ok to people visiting the site, and if we also make a PDF version available as well so someone can download and print a high resolution version, it ticks all of the boxes.  Well not quite.

A computer cannot read an image

I frequently see people placing images on websites with text in them. That is fine for humans, but let’s remember that locally the website has a search function, and of course the whole internet works on search functions as well via Google, Bing and many others. But while a human can see what is in a picture, a computer cannot. You can only rely on what is in the Alt Text field for the image as a matching search string.

An image of a timetable is the same. So how do we get around this? One of the search considerations I made when approaching this new site was the ability for the public to search for their bus stop, or village. If you can search the site for your village, this will return when buses come through provided the time table is in text form.

Workflow

This is probably outside of the remit of a website developer, but one of the things I thought about was workflow from a maintenance perspective. Websites like plants die with no love and attention. So maintenance has to be really easy.

In this case the organisation had all of their timetables in Excel. I took the master sheet and generated PDF’s of each timetable. I then created additional sheets with just the timetable values in and exported each as a CSV (comma separated value) file. This is a very basic array of data that is commonly used in porting information from one system to another. The facility is built into Excel if you wish to use it.

Next I go into the website and load a plugin called TablePress. This allows me to import the CSV file and convert it back to a table. Once this is done, I can then add the table to a page. All remarkably easy and painless to do.

So if you want to add anything that is in a Excel spreadsheet into a WordPress website, take a look at TablePress. It is one of the best implementations I have come across, and in this case it takes out a lot of manual editing.

Catering for all

My final solution (provided I am not asked to change it) was to have a downloadable PDF timetable appropriately formatted. A text version of the same table, and a google map with the routes on.

For a short time you can see the website here, it should be published shortly.

http://wingrove-staging.uk/flittabus/

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Home-Start Stories

I mentioned last month (see the article) that I had been working with Home-Start London, adding in a section called Home-Start Stories. These are slide shows that illustrate the work that Home-Start does from a client’s perspective.

In this case the process was led by the director of Home-Start London; Helena  Konneh. I had the relative easy job of preparing the stories for the web, powerpoint and video. Helena used social media (twitter) to encourage people to visit the website and see the stories. This is what happened. The formal launch was September 4th

Continue reading Home-Start Stories

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

News sites and upgrades

It has been a very busy month, here are some sites that are in the late stages of development or about to be released.

Home-Start Carmarthenshire

This is one of the first sites to request a facelift to the new template I have developed for Home-Start websites. It is based on Divi too.  I have two other Home-Start’s pending an upgrade at the moment, if you are interested in getting your site upgraded let me know please. While upgrading existing sites, I can also add in new content if it is out of date.  https://homestartcarmarthenshire.org.uk 

Seniors Social

A new daycare centre being launched in November. The site is based on the Divi Template:  https://seniorssocial.org.uk

New Covenant Fellowship Church

Continue reading News sites and upgrades

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

More on Fast Secure Contact Form

Many of the newer sites use Fast Secure Contact form. This plugin was withdrawn last weekend following the discovery that someone who had acquired it had attempted to manipulate it to show adverts for payday loans and other things. In this case it never got to the stage where it showed adverts, and everyone that has come back to me has confirmed their site has been upgraded to remove the advertising (or spamvertising as it seems to be called) code.

This is a great shame because the original plugin by Mike Challis worked really well and had a few side benefits from the earlier form manager I used about 6 years ago.

Continue reading More on Fast Secure Contact Form

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Fast Secure Contact Form

Some of the websites I have built use a plugin called Fast Secure Contact Form. It was a very popular form handler highly regarded by users written by Mike Challis.  The plugin was sold to a third party in June of this year and the new owner attempted to manipulate the code in the plugin to set up adverts.

Please check ASAP whether the version that is currently in use on your website is version 4.0.56. You can do that by logging in, and going to the Plugins page and look down the list. You will see an entry similar to the one below which includes the version number.

If you have version 4.0.56 you are OK! Don’t panic. 

If your site is at an earlier version contact me immediately and I will sort out updating it. 

(update: 6:00am 27/9/17 Nobody has reported a problem so far, all sites have upgraded automatically. That was to be expected. If you cannot find Fast Secure Contact form another method is used for forms on your website. Probably Form Manager. You are not affected by this notice.)

Why is this important?

Continue reading Fast Secure Contact Form

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Colour inspiration

Palettron.com website
Click on the image to visit the website

I am currently working with a group that have independently created a logo. The logo contains a set of colours that to my eye are not naturally harmonious. The relationships between some of the colours don’t work for me, the problem is I cannot say why.

I have to add here, like most people from an IT/ Engineering background, I should be the last person to question someone’s colour choice. My wife frequently comments on mine, as does my daughter. Continue reading Colour inspiration

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Be seen (by Google)…

I have just finished working my way around 100+ websites and backing them all up. I also check them to make sure the infrastructure is up to day. There are a couple of interesting observations that are worth noting, particularly if you are new to editing, or struggling with updating your website, or don’t like updating it for some other reason.

All of the points raised and guidance are included in a downloadable document at the end of this article.

1). Google Searches.

Before I start checking a site I perform a google search on the entity name (not the domain name) to make sure it comes very close to the top, if not at the top of the first page on Google. I have never had any problems getting people to the top of searches without paying a penny. But there are things you need to do to stay there, and stay fresh.

Download some tips

2). A picture paints a thousand words

Well in web terms it doesn’t unfortunately. I have seen lots of examples of people placing images, such as posters on their home pages. Posters are generally a graphic stored as a PDF, JPG or PNG file. It is an image file. Humans can read and interpret images. Google and computers generally cannot.

Download some tips Continue reading Be seen (by Google)…

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Home-Start Site Upgrade Offer

This offer is specifically for those websites that I have built based on the “Home-Start Lite” template I developed, of which there are now five versions. These sites are limited to 14 pages “off the shelf” and customised/ localised for satellite offices.

I have built  version 5 of the Home-Start lite website in August and have released my first site for Home-Start Lisburn. You can see the site here: https://homestartlisburn.org.uk or click on the screen shot below.

Version 5 of Home-Start Lite site

Continue reading Home-Start Site Upgrade Offer

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail