canineLifeline posts

Canine: WordPress Custom Searches

The WordPress search by default looks through the title and content of all available posts and pages for given query words. But sometimes you might want to only search a certain category or search custom fields or some other criteria. On the Canine Lifeline site, we have a dog section where we want to be able to list dogs based on a number of parameters, such as age, gender, adoption status, et cetera. We are currently storing dogs as posts in a particular category, and using Magic Fields to add custom fields for various aspects of each dog.

WordPress sends search queries as GET requests from its search form. The “s” variable contains the search query, but others are allowed. In fact, if you’re familiar with the “query_posts” function, many of the parameters for that are available, and the rest can be enabled, because the search is basically just a regular WordPress query with parameters appended from the GET variables.

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WordPress: XML Sitemap with XSLT WordPress Theme

For the Canine site, we wanted to have an XML sitemap to help search engines index the site. The sitemap can help search engines find all content on the site as well as tell it which pages are most important, how often they are updated, and when they were last modified.

There seems to be a number of plugins to generate the sitemap automatically for WordPress, but the Google XML Sitemaps plugin seems to have the highest rating and have gotten the most mention in blogs. Jason had used this plugin already for his site, so we knew a little about it already, thus we went with it.

After some minor configuration, it worked just fine. It regenerates a static file every time a page or post is updated. Not as dynamic, but it saves processor time. I doubt the plugin will work with Pods at all, since that’s outside the posts/pages dataset. Our Pods content probably won’t be as important anyway. I could potentially look into modifying the plugin if need be for that.

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Canine Lifeline: Meeting and Start

Jason and I have begun work on the Canine Lifeline site I had mentioned as a freelance project.  It will be for free (they are a non-profit) but will be good experience and we will get our names and links in the footer.  As our first project outside of school together and my first real freelance project altogether, the experience should be great and free should make it more relaxed.

We met with the clients on Sunday to discuss the project.  We met at Yours Truly in Valley View and discussed the site over lunch.  They all were very nice and seemed to know a good bit about websites and what they want, which should help a lot.  They gave a good idea of the functionality and content they wanted, as well as some basic thematic ideas.

Their current site is a simple four pager built with a template and hosted for free with adverts.  We will be building a many-page CMS for them, using WordPress after our experiences with the Stearns project, so they can make frequent updates.  They want a dynamic site that entices people to visit frequently for updates.  They, like Stearns, will need some custom data types, so I will be using Magic Fields again as well as trying out Pod CMS, which should allow for more complex uses of data.  We shouldn’t need multi-column pages for this site, so we hopefully won’t run into the TinyMCE editor troubles we had with Stearns.

Stylistically, they want a blend of professional looking with bright and colorful.  Since Jason is the designer of our duo, I will let him handle most of the theme design while I work on the functionality of the site.  I do want to at least give a try at a couple of hand drawn mockups though.

Since this is about all I have going on, I will continue to post about this project, how its going, and anything I discover from it.