Websites

Picking A Wordpress Theme

One of the things we do is training, and some of that training is related to Wordpress, a popular web design software.

It happens that every time we train people, at least one in the group is going to ask me to help pick out a Wordpress theme.

Now it’s not that I don’t want to help… but there are a couple things to know:

  1. There are literally hundreds of thousands of themes and there is no way I can personally be familiar enough to comment offhand about most of them.
  2. Part of what people pay a web designer to do is wade through these options.

So without getting super detailed (and spending about 30-60 minutes of my paid time researching), I couldn’t necessarily recommend (or disqualify) a specific theme. Besides knowing you can Google ‘best wordpress theme insert-your-profession-or-business-here’, here are a few other things to know about evaluating a theme:

Love Something? Stalk It

I will say if there is a website you like (assuming it runs Wordpress), you can put the URL in this website: http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and it’ll tell you the name of the theme!

With one client, she sent me three or four websites she really liked and we found that two of them were running the same theme (with customizations of course). Problem solved!

Think General In Search

Let’s say you’re a yoga teacher, and the yoga themes make you want to say ‘namaste’ to Wordpress in a general way. (Little terrible yoga humor there.)
Instead of only searching ‘wordpress theme yoga teacher’, try ‘wordpress theme health’. Simply broadening your search will allow you to still see businesses that look like yours while also giving you some options.

Basic Themes Will Give You Options… And Options Mean Decisions

Picking something basic, like Genesis or Canvas, will give you more options but more options also equal more decisions. Do you want your H1 font to be Helvetica 35 point? Do you want you blog page to be laid out with a left sidebar and the pages on your site not to have a sidebar? Now take these decisions and multiply them by 500 and you have a ‘basic’ custom premium theme. If you are someone decisive and cares that your hoverlink color is 2 shades lighter than your link color, you’ll love having a basic theme.
Some people love this and some hate it. And if you want to be a control freak without doing a ton of code, these ‘basic’ themes are for you. (By basic, I clearly mean minimalist versus uncomplicated.)

All Things Equal, Pick The Better Company

You also want to look at the name of the company making the theme. Do they have documentation? Do they seem fly by night? How are their reviews?

Support is a good thing to have so all things being equal, pick the company that seems better on the support side. If your theme provider has a support page like this, that not only has general information but also a way to get specific questions answered, you are on the right track:

themesupport
Above all, know there are a lot of great Wordpress themes out there and you probably won’t choose wrong if you do a little homework, keeping our tips in mind! Happy theme hunting!
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

We Can Get Someone To Maintain Our Site For Free.. Or Can You?

I was once on a committee that was discussing goals. We were bouncing ideas around, as many groups do.

There was talk about having to hire someone to do project management to coordinate the lots of moving parts. Totally understandable.

There was talk of hiring a logo designer to help create a better brand. Absolutely.

‘And we can probably get someone to maintain the website for free.’ said someone.

Out loud.

With me sitting in the room.

Now, maybe this was a way to get me to volunteer…But implying that what I do is easy enough that we could get someone to do it for free, well, that’s not the way to do it.

Here are three snarky, sarcastic things I didn’t say back:

“Yes, because so many people keep their websites up-to-date, there must be tons of people doing this for free already.”

“Yes I love the free t-shirt I got that software conference so much more than the $20 one I just bought.”

“See it’s the fact there are so many people that can do this well that explains why I am practically out of a job.”

Please enjoy my restraint.

Now here’s three reasons why you should assume something is ‘easy’ and therefor someone would do it for free (Yes, even for a good cause) with maintaining a website as an example.

1) You are willing to pay for similar skills… even when it would require getting the ‘free’ person to do stuff. Project manager wants something updated on the website? Graphic designer wanted a certain kind of website header? Guess who they have to talk to. Asking one person to do it free versus paying who they are working with is like asking your new girlfriend to get your stuff from your ex. Plus it’s awkward for all concerned and won’t lead to good feelings…or results.

2) You call someone not free when something terrible happens… so why wait? I have (way more than one time) cancelled my weekend or evening plans to spend hours trying to fix the hot mess of a hacked website. So why wait for something bad to happen to hire a pro?

3) Often the folks that you are asking for free help need something to pay their bills besides ‘exposure’ or ‘good word of mouth’. You wouldn’t show up to your job if that was your ‘payment’, how do you expect this person to be equally (or even a little) reliable with little to no incentive?

Via http://doonesbury.slate.com/strip/archive/2012/04/09

Via http://doonesbury.slate.com/strip/archive/2012/04/09

My point: If you are asking someone to do something for free, ask yourself why. If you have the money to pay other people for services; are going to be annoyed if it isn’t done (or isn’t done well); and are going to be annoyed at people you pay to bail you out as needed, reconsider. Otherwise, happy bargain hunting.

P.S. This blog post has been in draft mode for two years… and every time I think of releasing it something similar happens. So if you are reading this now and think this is aimed at you in particular, I assure you it is not. This is a general idea to consider the next time someone to do some work for free that you’d normally pay someone to do.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

New Website Launch: Roy, Beardsley, Williams, & Granger LLC

Roy, Beardsley, Williams, and Granger LLC is a local law firm with big personality. (Don’t take my word for it, check out their Facebook page!)

RBWG was looking for a contemporary and professional style that stood apart from the “stodgy lawyer” stereotype, that they could easily update when needed. Their old website offered a lot of information, but needed a face-lift and some function. Most of the content, such as the attorney bios, resources, and information about areas of practice, just needed to be transferred over to the new site. The face-lift would require some high resolution images, mobile-friendliness, and a new color scheme. For functionality, we wanted to add custom contact forms for all attorneys and simplify the navigation process.

Once you’ve seen one law firm website, you’ve seen them all. Although this is a bit of an exaggeration, after looking at some industry websites, we noticed similar elements and a similar overall look. RBWG has too much personality to use professionals with briefcases or scales of justice stock photos. Instead of going for the legal chic look, Leslie suggested showcasing the local area and found a local photographer for us to work with. Some clients for RBWG live out of state, but there’s a reason they’re drawn to Downeast Maine. And we were all about showcasing the unique beauty of the Ellsworth area without drawing on the Maine cliches we’re all used to.

An interesting challenge for the new design was the lack of a logo. A logo often acts as a design guideline, where the concepts for colors and fonts are born. It also directs the attention of those who visit the website (entire homepages are built around logos). With RBWG, we started from scratch in terms of color concepts and fonts. Leslie created a design concept that all the attorneys agreed upon. This is their new homepage:

rbwghome

The homepage is also used to organize the information listed in the menu in a more visual way. For instance, we used a widgetized footer to display all areas of practice (also accessible as a drop-down list through the main menu).

rbwgfooter

 

In terms of functionality, every business deserves a website that does a little bit of legwork for them. We created custom contact forms for each lawyer. This means that anytime you fill out the contact form on the RBWG website, it goes to the actual attorney. The intake and inquiry process of any business can be time-consuming, but with the help of these contact forms, the process will hopefully become more streamlined.

rbwgcontact

In addition to custom forms, individual attorneys now have their own pages (before, it was a pop-out window). In addition to a head shot and the bios from the old site (if you haven’t read them yet, add it to your to-do list, I promise it’s worth it), the page has a sidebar that displays areas of practice, education, and a link to their Martindale pages.

Example of an attorney sidebar

Example of an attorney sidebar

Roy, Beardsley, Williams and Granger was our first ever law firm website. We enjoyed working with this team and hope that they enjoy their new website!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Donation Form PSA: Part 6 of 6

This series was inspired by Quarter Life Poetry and my fascination with Microsoft Paint. There are all kinds of excuses why people aren’t making online donations and, as the appeals letters, commercials, and annual asks roll in during the most generous time of the year, we like to think of this series as your public service announcement to get your cause (or your favorite non-profit) a donation form on your own website. More information here! 

lostcheckbookrhyme

Part 6: 69% of people use their phones and other mobile devices for banking, including paying bills. Many times, these payments are recurring and automatic- an added layer of convenience. As a result, having a checkbook nearby has become unnecessary for most people. If you’re relying on donations via check, you might be leaving money on the table (especially from people who misplace their checkbooks or don’t know where they are in the first place). Getting a donation form up and running on your site is easy, and you’ll more than make your money back (just ask our friends at SFOA!).

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Donation Form PSA: Part 5 of Many

 

Paypal_Rhyme

This series was inspired by Quarter Life Poetry and my fascination with Microsoft Paint. There are all kinds of excuses why people aren’t making online donations and, as the appeals letters, commercials, and annual asks roll in during the most generous time of the year, we like to think of this series as your public service announcement to get your cause (or your favorite non-profit) a donation form on your own website. More information here! 

Part 5: When it comes to payment processing, Paypal gets the job done. But, it still causes some confusion when your website visitors are taken to a different website altogether in order to make a donation. While Paypal doesn’t require you to create an account to make payments, this isn’t always clear from the user’s perspective, and there are a couple different points you may lose money along the way. Point A is when users are sent to Paypal.com, away from your website that they know and trust. Point B is the confusion of Paypal.com, and whether or not you need to create an account to use it.

Don’t send your donors on a trip through Wonderland to make a donation- keep them on your website with the help of an online donation form!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Tech Thursday: Final Hurrah

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. In our final Tech Thursday, we reflect on what it’s like to be watched by tens of people… and what we learned about ourselves in the process.

Keep your eyes out for next week’s email newsletter- we have a survey going out and want your feedback for our next Tech Thursday-esque endeavor! (Subscribe here if you haven’t already).

And, as promised, a link to the infamous OGP video that was the magnum opus of Tech Thursday!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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