WordPress Resources by Code Poet

This weekend at WordCamp Seattle, I was pleased to hear that Automattic has revamped their Code Poet website. What used to be a directory of top-notched WordPress developers, is now a resources for anyone who uses WordPress to make websites.

There are loads of tutorials and WordPress how-to out there. Do we really need another? The difference with Code Poet, is that all the resources found here are written, published or recommended by Automatticians. So you can be sure that it’s the best info.

I myself had a lot of fun last night taking the WordPress quiz. I failed to get the Master ranking, but Expert is pretty good. I’ll have to review those questions I missed.

But before that, I’ll be reviewed one of their first eBooks, “Getting Pricing Right“.

Oh and in case you were wondering, yes, it’s all FREE.

Three ways to give your WordPress site a full screen background image

New design techniques are popping up everyday and now that there are less bandwidth issues, designers have been incorporating full screen background images in their design more and more.

If you wanted to do that yourself but didn’t know how, here are a few techniques ranging from super-easy to advanced.

Super easy plugin solution

The Simple Full Screen Background Image WordPress plugin allows you to easily upload and set a full screen image as the background of your website. Once installed and activated, you’ll see in your Appearance section a new area called, Fullscreen BG Image. You can then browse for your image, upload it and insert it like you would for a blog post. Once uploaded, the plugin will do the rest and make sure that it re-sizes to fit your browser. You may need to play with the size and resolution, but using this plugin couldn’t be easier.

Read more…

A five year old’s take on branding.

Companies spend thousands of dollars on branding and logos. Ohio-based identity designer Adam Ladd showed his 5-year-old daughter popular logos and asked her to comment on them. Some of these are most likely familiar to her and thus her comments aren’t surprising, but others are very interesting. This video reminds us that we can learn so much from children.

Protecting your email address from spam bots

With all the great things that came along with the Internet, spam is probably the worse downside. No one is immune to it and spam is simply part of everyday life. There are of course, a few things you can do to protect yourself.

Keeping your email address private, i.e. never putting it up anywhere is by far the best way to avoid spam, but that’s not always possible.

One way to make it harder for spam bots to harvest your email address is by encoding it. Encoding is simply the process of changing the email into code making it harder to robots to recognize.

A new WordPress plugin was released at the end of 2011 which does just that. Once installed and activated, the email address encoder plugin turns email addresses and mailto links into decimal and hexadecimal entities thus protecting them. The plugin works on email addresses throughout your WordPress site including comments.

Subtle Patterns

When I started working on the websites for my class material, CSS for graphic designer and WordPress, I questioned why I was doing this. It’s a lot of unpaid work and I have no idea if people appreciate it. But now and again,  I’m reminded that people all over the web share their content for Free.

Today, I discovered Subtle Patterns, a web project by Atle Mo.  Atle is a Norwegian designer and his subtle patterns projects is both wonderful and Free. You can browse the various patterns, preview them, download the one you wish to use or download them all. How wonderful!


Bluelime Media Design Principles

I had the pleasure of attending the Interlink Conference last Friday and loved every minute of it. The speakers were all very knowledgeable and gave excellent presentations. Following the event, I hopped on a plane and headed down to Portland for the World Domination Summit (WDS). Although both conferences covered very different topics, the main message that I got from that three day weekend, was simple – be yourself and be the best you can.

Whitney Hess gave a great presentation on the Principles of UX Design. In her talk she challenged the audience to read companies’ design principles and guess who they were. Some of these were then discussed and mocked a bit. Facebook claims that transparency is an important principle of theirs, yet, we’ve witnessed the opposite on many occasions. Charles and Ray Eames have a delightful list of principles and these are clearly felt in their designs. I’ve never been to Burning Man, but my friend Kathleen immediately guessed them to be behind this ambitious list of design principles.

Although the topic of WDS wasn’t Web design, similar set of discussions happened throughout the rest of the weekend. Whether you call them business principles or design principles, the principles you live by are what define you and make you who you are. On the flight back to Vancouver, I took a pen and paper and decided to make my own list. I probably should have done this 8 years ago when I started this company, but better late than never. So here is my list:

Bluelime Media Design Principles

  • Do good work
  • Code to standard and best practices
  • Keep files organized and easy to understand
  • Always look for better ways
  • Update client work even if they don’t ask
  • Find the easiest/best solution for the client
  • Suggest alternate designer or developer if I can’t do the work
  • Help others
  • Teach
  • Connect people
  • Be positive

Teach your clients about the mysteries of the web

As designers or web developers, we’ve all been there. We create an initial mock up based on the client’s request, they love it but ask for changes, we revise again, add more bells and whistles, they still love it, but now that they see it, they think it needs more of this or that want… next thing you know your design looks like crap.

If you don’t know what I mean, take a look at this comic from the Oatmeal. This is obviously an exaggerated scenario, but sooner or later, as a designer, you will be in the same situation.

So what can we do to avoid this?
One of the best way is to educate ourselves and our clients. Paddy Donnelly & Jack Osborne have gathered a great list of resources just for you. Make sure to bookmark it and then simply send your client to one of their topic pages for a quick intro on the subject. Hopefully that will provide them with the wee nudge that was needed.

This is how twitter works

With 2011 upon us, is one of your New Year’s resolution to finally come to grip with twitter?

I’ve been using twitter for several years now and absolutely love it. I’ve made friends, connected with like minded folks and of course kept up with all sorts of funny nonsense. I much prefer twitter over facebook. In fact I deleted most of my facebook friends and now only ever login to see what my nieces and nephew are up to.

Unlike facebook, twitter is a bit more difficult to grasp, but so much better for business, once you get it. I could have written a very long post explaining in detail how it works, but I discovered this morning, via one of my twitter followers, @ipstenu, this very detailed article on how twitter works. Written for moms, but not just for moms, Jessica explains everything you need to know about how twitter works.

Have a read and I hope that social media helps you grow your business in 2011.

Merry Christmas from Twitter

I get asked all the time, why I’m on twitter and what benefit I get from it. I’ve been using twitter actively for almost 2 years now and have made great connections and friends. But the main benefit of twitter is the amount of sharing that takes place.

Just in time for Christmas, Rafi from Graphic Fuel, has released a FREE Photoshop template for a blog design. You can read more about his design concept and download the PSD here. Based of a 960 grid, this PSD has everything you need to build your next blog design and is very well organized.