I took an excellent class on adaptive design at lynda.com in January. I decided to try mobilizing my main business site, which is a WordPress site that was running WPTouch or one of the other instant mobile plugins. I disabled it and got started about a week ago.

After taking the class, it was much easier to see what I needed to take out for the handheld version, but I hit a snag when I was trying to get images in custom post types to resize. This afternoon I finally got that problem fixed and was able to complete the mobile version, then it only took about 30 minutes to get a separate stylesheet for tablets.

I think it looks pretty reasonable considering it was my first attempt at creating an adaptive version of a WordPress theme – if you have a chance please check out Red Kite Creative on a phone or tablet and let me know what you think.

On Saturday night I downloaded the Hybrid WordPress framework and installed it on the site where I’ll be reworking my main website. By Sunday afternoon, I was a total convert from WP Framework.

I learned more about advanced WP custom theming in a day than I have in the last month. Very excited to delve more deeply into Hybrid and all its possibilities.

I spent a few hours this weekend going over my website, Red Kite Creative, making some changes to improve readability and better show what I can do for clients. I haven’t really done this since the ‘new’ site went up about 15 months ago (not to the whole site, anyway)… it’s ironic that it’s hard to keep my own site up to date, as a web designer. Sigh.

So, I made some changes:

  • Cut back the text quite a bit on many pages, including the home page. I replaced blocks of text  with lists when possible, or put them into blockquotes to set them apart from regular paragraphs. Less wordy, more concise.
  • I removed the ugly little email newsletter sign up form from the top section of my site and moved it into the sidebar, above the fold. I redesigned it to be smaller, but with a big obvious ‘Sign Up’ button. Before it wasn’t so obvious, and I haven’t had a lot of registrations for my newsletter in the past.
  • I added information specifically about WordPress – WP is really becoming my platform of choice lately and I want to promote my skills. I added a block of content on the home page about it, and a brand new page just for WordPress.
  • Created a new services page; the old one was way too long.
  • Replaced the old services menu with a new one that always shows subpages.
  • Replaced the old ‘website makeovers’ page with a new redesign page – I’m using HighSlide to show before-and-after screenshots of redesigned sites.
  • Created a new page for custom portfolio and gallery design. I’m a landscape architect by education, and I work with a number of architects, designers, photographers and artists. I really love building imagery-focused sites and want to make this a more prominent part of my business. I showed a few example screenshots from some of my portfolio projects on this page, too.

I’m happier with the site now – it’s much cleaner-looking and there’s not as much reading required to get the point across. I hope prospective clients agree!

Go on vacation, then come down with the flu the day after getting back and that tends to put out the fire when trying to catch up on work.

This week has been super-productive so far. I have a shoe store client for whom I’m integrating FoxyCart, a great little ecommerce system for smaller shops; today I added FoxyCart forms to about 30 products and finished the remaining cart setup, and tomorrow will be ready to build a checkout template.

I’m also integrating OptionCart for a BMW racing parts store – that’s nearly done. And a Plogger image gallery for the same company (which is now complete).

And…what else?

  • Finishing up a custom Javascript gallery for my typographer client, as well as 11 XHTML/CSS custom template pages. That should be done this week, I’m just working on a list of revisions.
  • Adding functionality to a large site for which I’m working as the developer only. I have a WordPress theme to build this week among other things.
  • Finishing up a WordPress site for a dentist – tomorrow I’ll be creating a template for her online scheduling tool.

Whew. Time to make dinner.

We just returned from a great vacation last night, and I’m finally going through about 300 emails, the ones I deleted from the Blackberry while away (I answered the most pressing ones at night).

I’m still in vacation mode. That’s not easy considering it was 95 degrees when we left Florida and we arrived home in a 29 degree semi-blizzard; it took us almost two hours to drive home from Denver. I don’t understand why it’s always snowing when we get back from vacation – the last 3 years. It’s ridiculous.  And today the high here was 30. Brrr.

Anyway I’m reviewing lots of emails. A number of requests for new work or updating older sites from existing customers. At least three quote requests for Monday, and a few more later in the week. I have one gigantic project, a number of medium-sized ones nearing completion, and a few new ones starting up in the next three weeks.

There’s an awful lot of work to be done, and a lot of it is, well, somewhat monotonous. It’s easy stuff, especially the development side. But I was just thinking about that as I unpacked souvenirs from Disney World. I don’t deny I got some interesting design ideas by being there for a week…

So I was just thinking as I wade through these new work requests – why does that development work have to be boring? Just because I can crank it out without thinking, do I have to do that?

The answer is no, I really don’t. I think that I can enliven some of the ‘easy’ stuff by looking for new ways to do familiar things. For instance – the ubiquitous gallery slideshow script. There are a few that I use a lot, for WordPress or HTML sites  (Slideshow2, Plogger, Highslide, SimpleViewer, SmoothGallery, and many small CSS-only or CSS-and-jQuery offerings). But I’m always on the lookout for a new gallery appropriate to a specific project and I’ve collected several dozen, any of which might be useful at one time or another. That list is always growing – I have a new one I’ll be trying out this coming week.

I think I’ll be trying to use that kind of expansive thinking the next time I have a task come up that I normally wouldn’t think twice about. It will help me by being fun (always fun) and giving me a broader collection of tools and techniques to draw on. I don’t know why I haven’t been doing this more – maybe it took a break from work to see the opportunity.

This morning I’ve been hunting for a gallery script for my typography client that will include the following features:

  • Thumbnails not in a strip, but in a box
  • Selected image thumbnail has a different background image to highlight it
  • Large image shown when thumbnail is clicked
  • A previous | next navigation feature
  • The ability to add a small order form in the ‘description’
  • Slideshow controls

I had a few in mind but none of them did everything I needed, but I just found Galleriffic. This seems to be perfect; here’s an example of what it can do. If the client likes it, I’ll give it a test run on her site.