The Challenge Series built on WordPress

I was very pleased to read a recent article on the WordPress blog about Ford choosing the WordPress platform for their new website: “The Ford Story“. This new website aims to show Ford’s commitment towards getting new, high-quality, fuel-efficient cars and trucks on the road and uses WordPress as a CMS to deliver a wide variety of static content, videos, photos, and dynamic updates.

I recently came to the same decision when building a website for the Challenge Series which is a celebration of the planning, design and building of Vancouver’s first sustainable neighbourhood – Millennium Water: The Southeast False Creek Olympic Village.

Screenshot of the Challenge Series website homepage

Published as an online book, the first of eight chapters was recently launched and, just like The Ford Story, uses WordPress as a CMS to deliver a wide variety of static content, downloadable documents and photos. Future issues will also include videos. When I was first introduced to this project, I instantly thought of WordPress as the CMS for this website, but wondered if perhaps Drupal or some other CMS might be a better platform. The design of the home page alone proved somewhat challenging and uses a large number of custom fields, but with proper training and the use of simple HTML, I think that the website is fairly easy to maintain and look forward to seeing how it progresses and develops. Finding out that companies like Ford also choose WordPress has convinced me that I’ve made a good decision.

How green is your work place?

Green Workplace screenshotThese days businesses not only have to provide needed services and solutions, they need to do it in an appealing matter. For most of us this “appealing matter” will include sustainable, viable, green solutions. Since 2001, Green Workplace has been working with organizations to track their resource consumption and reduce it. They’ve also implemented easy-to-use energy efficiency campaigns and delivered environmental skills training and education.

Located right here in Vancouver, BC, they are a great resource for small and large companies looking for solutions towards greener business.

Introducing Notch Hill Educational Products

Have you been searching for a way to help your child learn while playing a fun interactive game? Now you can, simply by spending just 15 minutes with Notch Hill Educational Products. These products are a great way to help your child build a strong educational foundation.

The products consist of a GamePak “The Nogs of Notch Hill” which is a learning program containing everything you need to help your child learn to read, write and sound the lower case letters of the alphabet and “Pam’s Patterns” which helps your child develop pre-alphabet learning skills, using simple pegboards.

Developed by Joan Thornton, these products were derived from a notion that children learn best whilst playing. While taking children for extra reading practice, Joan discovered patterns in the behaviours of the students who were struggling. She created games that practiced the skills the children were missing and began playing them with the children. The children loved the games, and began to learn fast in her care. Over the years she has given hundreds of children the gift of a solid academic foundation.

With the help of her daughter, Nicola Lott, the first Educational GamePak and a fun, informative website were recently released and plans are underway to create 8 more GamePaks taking children to a Grade three level in reading, writing and maths skills. Working with Nicola was very interesting and we wish them great success in their new business venture.

Enhance Dental Centre enhanced with jQuery

Enhance Dental CentreUnless your a web developer you might not have heard about jQuery. As defined in Wikipedia, “jQuery is a lightweight JavaScript library that emphasizes interaction between JavaScript and HTML”. Released in 2006, it’s use is very common on many websites, yet, I’ve never had a chance to play with it, until now.

Inspired by a beautiful design by Mizu Creative, my task was to convert the design into a WordPress based website enabling the client to make edits themselves and insert a series of slide shows with different behaviours. Converting the design into WordPress templates was a breeze, but finding a way to integrate the slide shows proved challenging. My initial thought of course was to use flash, but flash is expensive, annoying, hard to update and quite frankly, I don’t like it. I knew that Tzaddi had recently built a WordPress site where she used jQuery, so I thought I would investigate.

After a couple of Google searches, I found exactly what I needed.

InnerFade by Medienfreunde
The first demo I found was the InnerFade plugin. As the name suggests this plugin allows a series of text or images to fade in and out.

I’m not exactly sure who created this code, because my German is non-existent, but using his/her demo, I found the solution for one type of slide shows and used it on several sections of the Enhance Dental Centre website including this page, where you can see a series of before and after shots fading in an out.

Better Coda Slider by Remy Sharp
The second demo I found was the better coda slider. The aim of Remy‘s demo was to look at the original effect used on the Coda site and improve on it. Once again, using his example and making a few adjustments, I was able to use the code and create a “slider” effect where users can view the various testimonials.

All in all, I’m very pleased with the final outcome of the site. What proved to be daunting and challenging initially, turned out to be fairly simple and I look forward to playing with jQuery on more sites. What are your thoughts?

Bluelime Media in 2009

I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolution. Personally I don’t see the point. Every year I notice the same thing at my yoga studio. The classes are just packed with people for the first two – three weeks and then it’s back to normal class size. I’m sure that gyms have seen an increase in attendance in these past few weeks and slim fast an increase in sales.

Although I never make resolutions, over the holidays, I do think about the year and how I can improve things at Bluelime Media and every year, I do the same thing. I think about it and then do nothing…. So this year I thought I would put it up in writing and make myself accountable.

Keeping it small

When I first started web design, I normally thought that I would create a company, get office space, hire a few employees and increase to a half dozen people over the years. At least that’s what BNI and business coaches were envisioning for me. I realise now that that dream isn’t mine. I have no desire to grow and manage staff. I enjoying working by myself and like Dave Shae, happy to be the little guy. So I’ve removed my careers page and updated my about section to reflect this new direction. At least in writing it’s a new direction.. it’s always been like that in my heart.

Embracing WordPress

For the past 2 years, I’ve been building more and more WordPress sites and have come to the conclusion that it’s the best solution for me and for my clients. I’ve updated my home page to reflect this change and in the next week or so I’ll be updating the service section to inform potential clients, that this is what I offer. Not to worry though, I know people who can use Drupal, Joomla and flash, so if that’s your flavour, I will gladly refer you.

Work Less

This is the reason I never make resolutions… Ever year, I look back and think that I’ve worked much too hard… but when you decide to work on your own and refuse to delegate or resist offers of helps… then you end up with a lot of work. So I only have myself to blame. In the past, I’ve taken weeks off here and there and enjoyed the breaks where phone and Internet access is limited. This has worked very well for me in the past and I will keep doing this, starting this month. At the end of January, I’m heading out to India for a yoga trip with Christina Sell and Genevieve Gilbreath. I’ll take lots of pictures while I’m there, but won’t be putting them online until I get back. Doing so, would require finding an Internet cafe which could lead to peaking in my inbox.

Happy New Year to all of you and best of luck with your goals for 2009.

Help for Youth in BC

Bluelime has helped The Crisis Centre with their websites for years, including maintaining the Youth in BC site. Until recently the latter was easier said than done because the site was, well, a bit of a tangled mess under the hood. Little changes took longer than you might expect because of old-style coding. To the viewers eyes, it was visually overwhelming and not very user friendly. Given the number of resources offered on the site, and especially the potential state of crisis that viewers may be experiencing, ease of finding information and ease of maintenance are crucial.

Recently we designed a new site incorporating Youth in BC’s new branding and built it with WordPress so that staff can do most of the maintenance themselves. They’ve been receiving positive feedback from their audience, including:

The site is way better than the old one. Lots more info on so many things now.

…Which was music to my ears. It’s actually the same information, just easier to find. Mission accomplished :-)

Twenty Something Theatre presents SubUrbia

If you were one of the lucky ones who saw the highly acclaimed play “The Fever” earlier this year at the Beaumont  you’ll be happy to hear that another Twenty Something Theatre production is now coming to theatres. SubUrbia by Eric Bogosian, produced and directed by Sabrina Evertt, is the story of a group of suburban twenty-year olds who gather outside their local convenience store to welcome home an old friend who is returning after a successful national tour with his rock band. His arrival in a limousine with entourage in tow precipitates an all night whirlwind of drinking, sex & violence.

This new production also comes with a new website for the Theatre company. Working with Andrew Lewis, a very clean, elegant design was put together and built using WordPress allowing Sabrina to make changes and updates as needed.

If theatre is of interest to you, be sure to catch Suburbia from August 19 – August 31, 2008 at the Playwrights Theatre Centre on Granville Island.

Tickets are available at the door, at Ticket Tonight or by calling 604-684-2787.

Apologies to Pacey + Pacey…. oops!

Pacey + PaceyA few months ago we updated our portfolio with our latest project, UBC Vault. This website was a collaborative effort and we mistakenly credited the logo design to Johnny Kuan, when in fact the creative team at Pacey + Pacey Design were responsible for the UBC Library’s branding.

So apologies are in order!

And just to recap, here are the names of everyone involved in this project:

Pacey + Pacey – Branding/log
Johnny Kuan – Web Design
Christine Rondeau (me) – HTML/CSS
Joseph Lo and Ben Keen – PHP Programming
Miin Lim and Angelia Darnbrough – Consultation

And of course the team at UBC were extensively involved in testing, copywriting, etc….

Acheiving Work Life Balance

When I first started my business 5 years ago, I was always surprised to hear myself say “not at all, I’m a workaholic” when asked if I found it distracting to work at home. I always considered myself to be very lucky and grateful that I could stay focused and motivated even though, cooking, TV and laundry were there to tempt me. And I guess that’s what allowed me to build a successful business. By “not being distracted” and thus remaining focused, I managed to work hard, do lots of business development, networked and gained a good number of clients.

This year has been fantastic so far, but I’m finding myself in a conundrum; I’m friggin exhausted! I’ve been working so hard, I’ve forgotten to take the time to cook, watch TV and do the laundry… Ok, watching TV is not that big of a deal, considering the rubbish that’s on, but on average, I’m working between 55 to 70 hours a week and I’m burning out.

Read more…

It’s time to get active

Active CommunitiesI’ve been swamped lately and frantically trying to stay afloat. As a result blog postings have been few and far between and I apologize. I’m still working like a fiend trying to catch up, but I think that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As our company grows we’ve managed to secure bigger and bigger clients. Earlier this year, we’ve not only signed on to work on a government project, but four. It’s been very exciting to work on large scale projects that require much more planning and strategizing.

Read more…