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Responsive: Mobile First

iphone

iphone
We have all read that all over the place. When you are creating a website and want to make sure that it works well on mobile platforms, then you should design for that platform first. I thought it was nothing and said to myself, “self, we can do responsive **last**”. And so I did.

And failed.

Sure, the site worked on mobile and tablets, but it wasn’t _quite_ right. Back to the drawing board I went, rebuilding the grid and starting almost from scratch.

Mobile first.

And you know what, it worked much better! If you are looking at this on a mobile device, trust me when I tell you that it is better than my first attempt. There are still some tweaks to follow to dial it in just a little bit more, especially on the gallery pages. I’ll be writing it up for you to read all about shortly. But for now, kick the tires and let me know if you have any issues.

A few details? Ok.

  • Custom Post type for a gallery
  • Custom header, background and menus (just like the stock WP themes)
  • Fully responsive
  • A few shortcodes for widget styling and other things

More to follow in the next week!

WordPress Theme Try-Out: Twenty Twelve

2012

The latest default theme for WordPress is Twenty Twelve. Being part of the 3.5 upgrade and available for download now. I thought I would give it a test drive here.

Normally I’d be using a theme that I have built. That is something I will be doing very soon. Very soon as in as soon as it’s ready. I have a test lab loaded up with it now and expect to roll it out before the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the old theme was acting funny, especially on mobile. As part of my “oh yea, I’m a WordPress Guy” program, I figure why not run the stock stuff for a bit. I’m already in the process of replacing my Tumblr with a WordPress.com blog, and everything else I do is WordPress based. I figured, why not!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Unless you aren’t in the US, then I hope your Thursday was fabulous.

My First Child Theme

Big WordPress week here at DonBurnside.com with 2 sites getting brand new themes. One of them I created and the other I created, kinda. Plus a few other neat things that I have picked up and incorporated.

But what is a child theme you ask? Let’s head over to the codex for the answer!
>A WordPress child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme, and allows you to modify, or add to, the functionality of that parent theme.

In other words, it’s a way to modify a theme indirectly. There are many reasons why you would want to do this. The biggest reason is to not lose any modifications to a premium theme or one of the built in WordPress themes if an update comes down the pipe.

Considering this was my first time, I found the experience not unlike creating a theme from scratch. Luckily, the premium theme I was dealing with, Viewport by Themezilla, is fairly well documented and has code that actually makes sense, which made it simple to make modifications. I was able to make the changes the client wanted while still keeping all of the features that drew the client to the theme in the first place. Best of both worlds.

The other site is an update to my current theme (the same one that is powering this site). Updates include enhanced widget areas, featured image support, custom image support for posts and page and better Facebook integration that includes adding Facebook comments. Besides features, the overall appearance has been cleaned up, incorporating more white space and an overall softening of the edges.

This theme is also my first responsive theme. Full support for mobile and tablet sized screens. It’s not perfect yet, but good enough to launch. I will be updating that after taking the site live, hoping to get it fully dialed in shortly.

WordPress + Amazon S3

Recently I’ve been tasked with management of a couple of WordPress websites that get more traffic than I’m used to dealing with. Quite a bit more in fact. So much so that they were causing the server they lived on to have memory issues, random reboots and other odd issues.

Step 1

In order to get the sites more stable, I started clearing out plug-ins. Starting by deleting the ones that were being used and actually deleting them off the server. Then removing plugins that weren’t _really_ needed and replacing them with a WordPress function where possible.

**Result:** Not enough to stablize the server

Step 2

Looking at the logs, I found quite a bit of traffic to the WordPress comment system. These sites are running Disqus, so WordPress comments aren’t needed. Got rid of them. I also noticed quite a bit of traffic and strain on the servers coming from other sites, hotlinking to images, javascript files and content. Turned on hot-link protection for all but a few sites and blocked a few IPs.

**Result:** Better, but server still not 100% stable.
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Another new WordPress site

Actually, my 2nd since moving to Arizona, so go me.

That is for my new place of employment, Encore Creative. Site is powered by WordPress using a few plugins to manage things like the contact form and testimonials.

This site is unique for me on a few levels. First is that the layout was created using a pre-made grid. I must say that I really enjoy using that as a base for a new layout and plan on using it again in the future. Second, this site I built a few conditional pages as well as building out separate theme pages for each section of the site. It’s one of the largest themes I’ve built in terms of files, but it’s also one of the largest sites that I have ever managed, weighing in at over 70 pages plus a blog!

Revisions will be trimming down the number of files by recycling some code and making a little more compliant with IE7 and 8. It looks good, but not as good as it should. Finally, tweaks to the header and the blog for some good, old fashioned, calls to action.
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