These happs blogs don’t always allow me to go into as much depth as I would like, but they are definitely a lot easier to write. I have been writing much more frequently now that I’ve started them. “Remember, a writer writes, always.”
WordPress Starter Theme
After much time and effort, I’ve finally released my WordPress base theme, TJMBase. It is the very bare parent theme for what my website has been running on for several months now. These days, I don’t use WordPress for very much, but I have done several projects with it, especially earlier in my web development life, and to some extent still like it.
Years ago, I had made a theme starter that was basically bare of any styles and extra fluff, the kind of thing you might want to start with if you wanted a good starting point for doing a theme basically from scratch. I never released it (didn’t release anything open source at that point), though I did use it for some projects and let at least one interested party use it. I had stopped doing much with WordPress once I got my current job, but I did want my theme starter to be useful to the community. WordPress 3 came out and brought some important changes that made my old theme behind the times, missing some important features.
I’ve “completed” my first freelance project, the Samba Soccer Club site (sambasoccerclub.org). It went live almost two weeks ago. I’ve got my first freelance pay, and though I didn’t ask for much, they liked the site enough to give me a little extra. They were very nice to work with, a definite good beginning into the freelance world. I’ve hear plenty of stories about troubles with clients, but I had none. They will have me continue working on the site from time to time, updating it with new content, so I will have a little extra long term income.
The site has already made it to number one on Google and Bing for “samba soccer club” (not surprising), though not Yahoo. For the Stearns project, it had been Bing that was slow to find the site. I’m no SEO master, but hopefully we’ll be able to get decent rankings on “cleveland soccer club” or the like, things that people who don’t know about Samba but might want to would search for.
I’ve also set up my first Google Analytics account for the site. I’ve always just used apache log analyzers, such as awstats. I’m leery of the tracking implications of having so many sites with such tracking scripts, but I think the information will be useful for my clients. Google Analytics provides a lot of information in a fairly nice format. Some of the information, such as the detailed maps, I don’t get with awstats. I will have to look into a way to get my clients these stats, since the account is currently in my name.
Hopefully the site will work out well for them and make a good portfolio piece for me. I definitely learned a lot from the project, and hope my future projects go as nicely.
In building a website for a client, one usually builds clients, one usually builds a few mockups with different themes to give the client an idea of what the site will look like with one of a few options. They can tell the designer what changes they want, which can be made relatively easily to the mockup before the theme is actually built for the site.
The mockups are supposed to be quick and easy to build and modify, allowing designers to avoid dealing with all of the nuances of CSS and HTML at this early stage. Designers shouldn’t be held to any limits at this point: They design what they think the site should look like, and figure out how to build it later.
Traditionally, this might have been done in Photoshop. The layout would later be cut up and positioned on the site with CSS. I did three mockups for the Stearns Homestead project in Photoshop. They were a pain, with maybe a hundred layers to handle two pages of the site for each mockup. Managing multiple elements of the same type is not easy there. Photoshop doesn’t allow any easy management of multiple blocks of typography at once, so changes are difficult. Now that I’m not using school computers, I don’t have access to a newer version of Photoshop, and none of my image editors have layer folders or some other useful features, which had helped me out a lot.
Yay! I’ve got another freelance project now, and this one I’ll actually get paid for. It won’t be much pay, I gave them a very low price, but it sounds like I will get paid more from this job in the future: They want me to be their go-to guy for updating the site and new features. They will probably have me do things like update dates and add images, so it may be like an hour a month or something, not a lot, but something.
So finally, the project is for Samba Soccer Club, a small Cleveland youth soccer club. I got the lead from Ronda Leffel, the coordinator of the eBusiness program I was in at Tri-C. I met with them Saturday at Baker’s Square to talk the project over.
They had a site at one point, but let that lapse, and now want a completely new site, from scratch. They still have the URL, so they will just have to get a host and transfer it, or however that works (I’ve never done it yet). I’m going to have to do a bit of research on hosts for them, but I might suggest they just let me manage their site on my hosting account. I’ve not done this before, but it sounds like Dreamhost‘s version of reselling is just letting us create users for our clients and bill them ourselves. They shouldn’t have too much traffic, so this should work fine.