XLD Studios http://www.xldstudios.com Just another WordPress site Thu, 20 Feb 2014 07:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why Infrequent Overhauls Must Be Replaced With Frequent Small Iterationshttp://www.xldstudios.com/infrequent-overhauls-must-replaced-frequent-small-iterations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=infrequent-overhauls-must-replaced-frequent-small-iterations http://www.xldstudios.com/infrequent-overhauls-must-replaced-frequent-small-iterations/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 07:00:35 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1851 We’ve all been there. You feel that your website is getting out of date and that you just have to change it up a bit, so you decide to call your web agency/designer up to discuss it. More often than not the result of this is a completely exaggerated complete overhaul of too much. This […]

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We’ve all been there. You feel that your website is getting out of date and that you just have to change it up a bit, so you decide to call your web agency/designer up to discuss it. More often than not the result of this is a completely exaggerated complete overhaul of too much.

This applies not just to the web field but to design and marketing in general. Often re-design efforts are done not because they are desperately needed or even thought through, but because someone, somewhere decides that they are bored with a design. This is perhaps increasingly so in small businesses compared to larger organizations which is in part explained by organizational lag.

A Complete Overhaul Confuses Customers

By doing a complete graphical overhaul of a website it is important to remember that you will at least initially be confusing your customers. Instead of being served the standard website that they are used to, where they instantly know where on the web they are, customers are taken to something new and surprising.

As an example, let’s take the re-branding attempt that was done by Tropicana back in 2009. Sales took a big hit in large because the new packaging lacked the key differentiating factor it used to have and that customers had grown accustomed to.

Comparing a product to a website is not as far-fetched as it would seem. Re-branding efforts trigger in essence the same responses whether part of a product packaging, website design or advertising. There is something about consistency that makes customers feel secure in your brand. Plus, as we are all very aware of, people don’t like change.

Re-Design By Small Improvement

As such, I would argue that most re-design efforts are not undertaken simply because of a business need but because someone inside the organization, for many reasons from politics to sheer boredom, decides that it must be done. Usually, doing a complete overhaul is a way to make a statement. As we have seen above, this statement rarely resonates well with customers.

Instead, borrowing from the popular scrum methodology in software development, iterating design often in small increments both gets rid of the fear of change while making much less riskier improvements. As a side benefit, small improvements are much easier to track and analyze as you can tell what specific change triggered a change in behavior. This is completely lost when multiple changes happen at once.

Conclusion

The next time you think about having your site completely re-designed think twice. I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t update your site, but I am suggesting that you try to keep the branding—a differentiating factor between a good and a bad agency—consistent and make customers feel familiar. In most cases, re-designs could be favorably replaced with frequent small iterations to yield better results across the board.

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Poedit Pro Adds Direct Support for WordPress Themes and Pluginshttp://www.xldstudios.com/poedit-pro-adds-direct-support-wordpress-themes-plugins/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=poedit-pro-adds-direct-support-wordpress-themes-plugins http://www.xldstudios.com/poedit-pro-adds-direct-support-wordpress-themes-plugins/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 15:05:46 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1846 We’ve previously shown how to properly translate WordPress themes and plugins using Poedit. One of the steps is setting up the project with the right keywords and paths which can (due to the fast amount of keywords in WordPress) take a little time, especially if you do it often. Now, Poedit has released a Pro […]

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We’ve previously shown how to properly translate WordPress themes and plugins using Poedit. One of the steps is setting up the project with the right keywords and paths which can (due to the fast amount of keywords in WordPress) take a little time, especially if you do it often.

Now, Poedit has released a Pro version, that, in addition to supporting the development, comes with a quick WordPress theme/plugin mode that inserts all of these by default when you create a new project for a theme/plugin through the app.

Personally, I think the $19.99 is worth it just for this time saving feature and for supporting the Poedit development, seeing as it is an app that I personally use quite a bit.

To get it, just update the Poedit app to the latest version and you’ll be prompted to sign up, or visit their Pro page.

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Create a Cascading Grid using Masonry.jshttp://www.xldstudios.com/create-cascading-grid-using-masonry-js/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=create-cascading-grid-using-masonry-js http://www.xldstudios.com/create-cascading-grid-using-masonry-js/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 07:00:12 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1840 When you design a layout using floats, there is typically one problem. Each item needs to be as tall as the next one or your layout will break in one of a number of different ways. To solve this and create a true cascading grid, or masonry type pattern, you need to turn to jQuery. […]

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When you design a layout using floats, there is typically one problem. Each item needs to be as tall as the next one or your layout will break in one of a number of different ways. To solve this and create a true cascading grid, or masonry type pattern, you need to turn to jQuery.

Luckily, there is a good jQuery library available called, simply, Masonry that turns your standard floated layout into this cascading grid with very little markup necessary. It plays nice with framework such as Foundation too and is responsive-friendly as it reflows nicely when you scale your browser.

Just because it isn’t instantly doable in CSS, don’t shy away from creating this type of a design. It can be a really nice way of showing data on a site, where items typically are not the same height.

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Learning to Embrace Code – Why should and how can designers learn to code?http://www.xldstudios.com/learning-to-embrace-code-why-should-and-how-can-designers-learn-to-code/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=learning-to-embrace-code-why-should-and-how-can-designers-learn-to-code http://www.xldstudios.com/learning-to-embrace-code-why-should-and-how-can-designers-learn-to-code/#comments Tue, 01 Oct 2013 20:45:35 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1835 My other session at D2WC this year is one aimed to help designers learn to love code. As a designer, you can benefit a lot from knowing code. Are you a designer? Do you live to create gorgeous designs? Having some trouble getting into coding? Designers benefit greatly from knowing how to work HTML and […]

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My other session at D2WC this year is one aimed to help designers learn to love code. As a designer, you can benefit a lot from knowing code.

Are you a designer? Do you live to create gorgeous designs? Having some trouble getting into coding? Designers benefit greatly from knowing how to work HTML and CSS in their workflow with developers. We’ll talk about effective ways to get comfortable with coding and learning how to embrace it and thus becoming a better designer.

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D2WC 2013: Designing and Developing for eCommercehttp://www.xldstudios.com/d2wc-2013-designing-and-developing-for-ecommerce/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=d2wc-2013-designing-and-developing-for-ecommerce http://www.xldstudios.com/d2wc-2013-designing-and-developing-for-ecommerce/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 20:14:32 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1829 One of the conferences I really enjoy doing every year is D2WC – Designer, Developer Workflow Conference in Kansas City. Right now, it’s on again and I’m honored to have been invited back to speak- This year, I’m doing two sessions, where one is on this topic: Designing and Developing for eCommerce. Click the more […]

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One of the conferences I really enjoy doing every year is D2WC – Designer, Developer Workflow Conference in Kansas City. Right now, it’s on again and I’m honored to have been invited back to speak-

This year, I’m doing two sessions, where one is on this topic: Designing and Developing for eCommerce. Click the more link to see what the session was about and see my slides. A recording will at one point be made available for conference attendees.

Designing and developing E-Commerce websites presents a special set of challenges. The relationship between designer and developer is put to its test when creating effective online sales experiences. We’ll talk about the balance between effective UX and solid security and how to ultimately create a great E-Commerce website.

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5 Bad Practices to Watch Out for When Buying a WordPress Themehttp://www.xldstudios.com/5-bad-practices-to-watch-out-for-when-buying-a-wordpress-theme/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-bad-practices-to-watch-out-for-when-buying-a-wordpress-theme http://www.xldstudios.com/5-bad-practices-to-watch-out-for-when-buying-a-wordpress-theme/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 17:25:11 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1770 Buying a WordPress theme can be a difficult business. After all, you want something that looks good and finding the perfect looks sure isn’t always that easy. Sadly, once you have found the most gorgeous theme you could ever have hoped for, it may still let you know. In this post, I want to touch […]

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Buying a WordPress theme can be a difficult business. After all, you want something that looks good and finding the perfect looks sure isn’t always that easy. Sadly, once you have found the most gorgeous theme you could ever have hoped for, it may still let you know.

In this post, I want to touch on 5 bad practices that exist the WordPress theme community and that you really need to watch out for when buying a WordPress theme.

1. Translation. Can the theme be translated well?

Most themes say that they are “translation ready” but most also fall very short of the mark. Sadly, it is usually the case of theme authors not realizing the difficulty of translation that is hard to get unless you speak at least two languages.

WordPress makes translation technically extremely simple through its four translation functions and it ought to be every professional WordPress developer’s duty to make sure they understand how not just to throw in translation support, but excel in doing it.

2. Features Put in the Theme

Unfortunately, this is bound to rule out a majority of themes. When speaking about “features” in the theme, considering the last time you saw that a theme made it easy to add portfolio items through a custom post type. That is a feature. You don’t want to loose the posts if you just switch a theme, right?

The behavior of continuing to do this is ultimately confusing to everyone and will sadly result in problems down the line. If the theme offers the features as a plugin to install with it, then great!

3. Slow Loading/Heavy on Libraries

One of the major problems with WordPress themes being released for general use, is that they include every possible library (Javascript etc.) on all pages, even where it isn’t really necessary just in case a user might want to use it. This of course results in a very slow site which is a major problem.

Consider the load time of the theme demo site when choosing your theme as best as possible. While released themes will always be slower than custom made websites, it doesn’t have to be such a dramatic difference that it often is.

4. Patched together from code snippets

Every now and again I find myself consulting to a client who have purchased a WordPress theme and while trying to help him/her, I find that most of the theme consists of copied and pasted code snippets from tutorials around the web (often easily discovered when PHP functions have a plethora of different prefixes).

What this tells me, is that the developer doesn’t really know what he or she is doing and sets off the alarm. Do you really want to base your website on a theme made by someone who didn’t really know what they were doing?

5. Deviating from Standards

It is saddening to see how many developers try to come up with their own way of doing things that are in the WordPress core because either they don’t like the way it is done in core, or just didn’t bother to learn how. This is glaringly apparent when trying to set a theme up with a custom front page and separate blog page. There is a perfectly good built-in function for this, yet an alarming amount of themes fully ignore this, implementing their own system instead.

Deviating from standards is not positive for anyone. The community suffers because of the fragmentation, the end user suffers because of having to learn different ways of doing things which really should be just one way and developers suffer because it is hard to maintain.

Summary

These are just five bad practices that you should watch out for before settling on your next WordPress theme. All of these are very common and if they don’t create an immediate problem, will definitely do down the line.

Most of them are due to developer ignorance and lack of quality control when it comes to enforcing standards.

As a “consumer” or end user, it can be hard to discover some of these, but keeping a watchful eye and being wary of these potential problems can go a long way.

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Happy Easter!http://www.xldstudios.com/happy-easter-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=happy-easter-2 http://www.xldstudios.com/happy-easter-2/#comments Fri, 29 Mar 2013 23:00:12 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1758 It’s this time of year again where we have a few days to relax and recharge our batteries. From us here at XLD Studios, we want to wish you a very Happy Easter. While we are working on some exciting projects through the weekend, we hope that you are taking some time off to spend […]

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It’s this time of year again where we have a few days to relax and recharge our batteries. From us here at XLD Studios, we want to wish you a very Happy Easter. While we are working on some exciting projects through the weekend, we hope that you are taking some time off to spend time with family (we will be), eat good and enjoy yourself.

happy-easter

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WooCommerce 2.0 hits the shelveshttp://www.xldstudios.com/woocommerce-2-0-hits-the-shelves/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=woocommerce-2-0-hits-the-shelves http://www.xldstudios.com/woocommerce-2-0-hits-the-shelves/#comments Thu, 07 Mar 2013 21:19:41 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1753 When it comes to eCommerce for WordPress, there is arguably no better plugin available than WooCommerce from WooThemes. The plugin just got a major update, WooCommerce 2.0 with lots of new features available. As you would expect from a major update, the new version has some sought after features for store managers, developers and customers, […]

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When it comes to eCommerce for WordPress, there is arguably no better plugin available than WooCommerce from WooThemes. The plugin just got a major update, WooCommerce 2.0 with lots of new features available.

As you would expect from a major update, the new version has some sought after features for store managers, developers and customers, who all benefit greatly from an upgrade, which isn’t all too hard to do either. Compatibility with previous themes and modifications (if done rightly) is a breeze.

You can read more about what’s new over on the WooThemes blog.

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Google Webmaster Help on YouTube Answers Your Questionshttp://www.xldstudios.com/google-webmaster-help-on-youtube-answers-your-questions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=google-webmaster-help-on-youtube-answers-your-questions http://www.xldstudios.com/google-webmaster-help-on-youtube-answers-your-questions/#comments Wed, 13 Feb 2013 18:43:03 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1745 One of the great resources for webmasters that Google put out, is their videos on the GoogleWebmasterHelp channel on YouTube. They are constantly uploading videos answering questions they get, all very good questions with usually excellent answers. A personal favorite are the videos with Matt Cutts who usually talks about items related to SEO and […]

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One of the great resources for webmasters that Google put out, is their videos on the GoogleWebmasterHelp channel on YouTube. They are constantly uploading videos answering questions they get, all very good questions with usually excellent answers.

A personal favorite are the videos with Matt Cutts who usually talks about items related to SEO and what Google considers to be spammy. Check out the channel. It’s a great resource.

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WordPress 3.5.1 Fixes Bugs and Tightens Securityhttp://www.xldstudios.com/wordpress-3-5-1-fixes-bugs-and-tightens-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wordpress-3-5-1-fixes-bugs-and-tightens-security http://www.xldstudios.com/wordpress-3-5-1-fixes-bugs-and-tightens-security/#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2013 08:12:47 +0000 http://www.xldstudios.com/?p=1739 It’s that time again if you have a WordPress site to get the updater running. The latest update is a maintenance and security release, WordPress 3.5.1, to fix some important bugs and security vulnerabilities. It is as always a simple update from the admin panel but may we just remind you to make sure you […]

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It’s that time again if you have a WordPress site to get the updater running. The latest update is a maintenance and security release, WordPress 3.5.1, to fix some important bugs and security vulnerabilities. It is as always a simple update from the admin panel but may we just remind you to make sure you have a backup of your site just in case something goes wrong.

An overview of what is new and what they have fixed in this version, head over to the official blog post on WordPress.org where they outline a few of the most important ones and link to the trac for the full changelog.

If you don’t want to worry about the updates yourself, just contact us and we will happy to update your site for you to save some time, or invite you to sign up for our service plan where we make sure your site is safely backed up and updated at all times.

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