Mistake #2: Playing Designer

Unless your business is website design or something else in the arts, you don’t need a beautiful website. A nice looking website is a bonus, but make sure you’re working towards a functioning website instead of something that will look great printed out and framed on your wall.

Oftentimes when going over design mockups or newly updated websites, you’ll find yourself leaning back in your chair and staring at your homepage for a minute or two taking it all in.

Stop it! No one browses the web this way.

If you think of your website as a work of art, you surely will find little things here and there that might be smaller or larger or a little bit to the right. Resist the urge to do this.

If you know the primary goal of your website (see post #1), make sure the design focuses on that goal. Focus your design feedback on how well the design enables sales, mailing list sign ups, contact requests, etc.

As for website design, hire an experienced web designer at a decent rate and trust their instincts for what looks good.

If you hassle your designer with a lot of feedback on what “looks good”, they are going to shut down and move into “code monkey” mode where they just code up whatever requests you have. Unless you are paying bottom dollar (in which case you get what you pay for) you are wasting money by paying designer rates for code monkey work.

More importantly, micro managing a code monkey will not get you as good of a website as one where you control the vision via a strong primary goal, and an experienced designer controls the particulars of the site’s look and feel.

View all posts in this series here.

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Mistake #1: Lack of Goals

One of the biggest mistakes made by website owners is to have a website that is totally detached from any business activity.

Maybe your website is beautiful. Maybe it has tons of information about your business. But what is the goal of your website?

What do you want people who visit your website to do?

If you haven’t thought about this question yet, do it. Some good answers are:

  • Buy my product.
  • Sign up for my mailing list.
  • Call me for an appointment.
  • Follow me on social media.
  • Fill out a contact form.

Mistake #1 has a corollary: Too Many Goals.

When asked what the goal of your website is, you might have answered 2-5 things. Great! Throw away items 2 through 5. What was your first answer? Do that. On your homepage.

View all posts in this series here.

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CharityGoal.com Launches, Support our Cause

I’m happy to announce the launch of CharityGoal. This is a site we built for a client whose goal is to enable anyone to raise money for any (legal) cause. CharityGoal gives you an easy way to accept donations online, a beautiful landing page, and quick access to social network sharing.

For those interested, the site is built on top of WordPress. “Causes” are custom post types. A custom plugin we developed allows users who have signed up to create new causes through a front end form and to manage that cause. The checkout code was pulled from the Paid Memberships Pro plugin (also developed by us and GPL) and tweaked to work specifically for this site.

So take a look. While you at it, I’d appreciate a donation to our cause:


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Locanda Osteria and Bar

A custom coded WordPress site using the client’s supplied design from Robert van Horne

Locanda wanted a unique restaurant website that featured full size photographs of the restaurant’s beautiful interior and even more attractive food! The client can easily update each page’s background image, and control the menu and logo colors to best complement the uploaded image.

The website is also coded to reformat seamlessly for use on a tablet or other handheld device.

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Edwards Educational Services

A website redesign project to bring a more youthfull, crisp, and funky vibe to a firm in the educational services industry.

Edwards Educational Services was looking to revamp their existing website to bring a young, hip flavor to the site, while still balancing a professional and serious undertone. The new site features a multi-user blog, integrated videos and downloadable resources, and a search-friendly JavaScript homepage slider box to keep material current and interesting.

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Serac Solutions

A facelift to redesign the corporate website for Philadelphia-area consulting company Serac Solutions

The custom WordPress theme was designed to play on the company tagline’s “Puzzle Solving” theme and coordinate with their new logo and business identity package. A simple JavaScript homepage box allows the client to keep the active content fresh while still adding an interesting slideshow feature.

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In collaboration with this NYC-based SEO organization, we created this brochureware website to showcase the marketing services and client successes of Avi Wilensky and his team of experts.

Client Testimonial

“Stranger Studios is our go-to company for all of our WordPress projects. Having developed 6 sites for us to date, including our own company website, Kim and Jason are extremely talented, professional, and always available when we need them. A great pleasure to work with.”
—Sheara Goldenthal, COO, Promediacorp

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Make One Category Display Full Posts in Thesis Theme

Update: Seems like this doesn’t work with the latest version of thesis. If you get it working, let me know.

Got a request from a client to have a specific category page on their WordPress blog running the Thesis theme show full posts (vs. excerpts) for just one category. So I’m going to figure it out and write the steps here for the benefit of humanity.

First, to be clear, I’m not talking about changing ALL CATEGORY PAGES from excerpts to full posts. That can be done easily through the Thesis Display Options. You would change the “Posts” display options to “display full content” and the “Archives” display options to “same as home page”.

What I want to do is show excerpts on every category page except one. You do this by settings up a custom category theme, and Thesis has its own way to do that. A custom category theme wasn’t optimal for this install, so I need to do something different. It’s good to have different ways of doing things. Maybe my method below works for you too.

Here’s what we’re going to do.

  1. Use the “thesis_hook_before_post_box” hook to check the current category and if it is the “Quick Takes” category, change the $thesis[‘display’][‘archives’][‘style’] value to “content”.
  2. Use the “thesis_hook_after_post_box” hook to change the $thesis[‘display’][‘archives’][‘style’] value back to what it was before we tweaked it.

Sounds complicated, but it’s only a few lines to add to the /custom/custom_functions.php file in your Thesis theme folder.

function quicktakes_fullpost_setup()
	$target_category = "Quick Takes";

	//saving the global archives display setting so we can revert later
	global $thesis, $saved_thesis_display_archives_style;
	$saved_thesis_display_archives_style = $thesis['display']['archives']['style'];

	//checking the category, if it's the target category, then set the display to full post
	$current_category = single_cat_title("", false);
	if($current_category == $target_category)
		$thesis['display']['archives']['style'] = "content";

function quicktakes_fullpost_cleanup()
	//we're setting the display archives style back to what it was before we tweaked it
	global $thesis, $saved_thesis_display_archives_style;
	$thesis['display']['archives']['style'] = $saved_thesis_display_archives_style;
add_action('thesis_hook_before_post_box', 'quicktakes_fullpost_setup');
add_action('thesis_hook_after_post_box', 'quicktakes_fullpost_cleanup');

Be sure to change the $target_category variable to the title of the category you want to change.

If you want to do the inverse of this, which would be to show the excerpt on just one category page and update show the full post on all others, you would:

  1. Change the Thesis Display Options for posts to “display full post content”
  2. Change the Thesis Display Options for archives to “same as your homepage”
  3. Then adjust line 12 in the code above to set the style to “excerpts” instead of “content.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions about this or similar customizations for Thesis.

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Nik’s Naks Online

This eCommerce site carries a wide variety of personalized merchandise, mainly geared toward the bridal and baby crowd. Unique product options and option-sensitive pricing put our eCommerce platform to the test and enabled us to enhance our plugin with additional options support.

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The Relational Capital Group

The Relational Capital Group has been a client for the past 3 years, through 2 website iterations and the development of a custom web application for their unique Business Relationship methodology—RQ®.

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