New WordPress Website Launch: Matthews Specialty Vehicles

Beacon is pleased to announce the recent launch of a new WordPress site for Matthews Specialty Vehicles. The new site features new imagery and a responsive design that works well on tablet and mobile devices.

Here is the old site:

msv-homepage

And here is the new site:

msv-responsive

Visit the live site here.

If you are looking for a content management system to help you maintain your website, we have different solutions depending on the needs of your business. Contact us today to see how we can help.

Deb Paylor
With a B.S. from East Tennessee State University and a Masters Degree from Kansas State University, Deb Paylor joins Beacon with over 18 years of experience in the project management and IT space. In her spare time, Deb enjoys reading, crafting and cooking.
By | 2017-08-08T08:39:00+00:00 May 1st, 2015|Beacon News|Comments Off on New WordPress Website Launch: Matthews Specialty Vehicles

Mobile Usability Fix for WordPress Sites

Have you gotten the dreaded message in Webmaster Tools that you need to fix the mobile usability issues affecting your site? You have blah blah pages with errors.

You know, this one..

 

mobile usability issues

Yea, me too. Since we all know Google cares if our sites are mobile friendly (i.e look good and easy to use on a cell phone) or not, enough to put a report in Webmaster Tools about it; Then it probably is time to make sure your Wordpress site does work well on a mobile phone. We always recommend to our clients to upgrade your site to a responsive theme. Which is something we can do and are able to create beautiful custom responsive designs.

However, if you really like your current theme and can’t afford/don’t want to pay for a new responsive theme, then this plugin will help solve your mobile usability errors. After doing a little research on all the mobile plugins available, I found one that had great reviews and works really well.

mobile plugin for wordpress

WPtouch is that plugin. This plugin is not only great because it is FREE but if you want to be able to make more advanced changes, then you can buy the paid version. What I’ve loved about it is how easy it was to set up and how it makes wordpress sites much easier to use on a touch phone. Instead of having to constantly use my fingers to make a page bigger so I could read it and click on links. Now I can see everything clearly and the page fits perfectly on the phone screen.  Another perk I like is that the user is able to choose if they want to see a site in mobile or desktop view. So if that person is someone who likes seeing the entire site, then they still can.

The only downfall I’ve found with this plugin is that advertisements don’t show on the mobile version. So if you prefer them to show you might want to look into that a little further. Since I have used the free version it’s possible there is a setting to show them in the paid version.

So tell me..

Have you tried this plugin yet? What did you think about it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashley Agee
Ashley has a BS in Business with a concentration in Marketing from UNCG. She considers herself a marketing maniac during the day and marvelous mom at night. When not working she enjoys spending time with her family and training horses.

Connect with Ashley on Google+

By | 2017-08-08T08:37:30+00:00 February 12th, 2015|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Mobile Usability Fix for WordPress Sites

How to Pull WordPress Posts into External Website

How to pull WordPress posts from external siteI’m sure there are many ways to pull WordPress posts into an external website but here I would like to offer up a simple custom XML solution. No matter what back-end/server-side technology being used (PHP, ASP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, Ruby, Perl etc.) on the non-WordPress site, most will offer up a way to parse external XML. The problem however is that the out of the box WordPress feed does not include the full post content and limits you to 10 posts. We will need to create a custom feed that will not only provide full post content depending on the ID specified but also allow us to get an unlimited number of posts for our listing page.

Creating WordPress Custom Feed

Copy/paste the following into a new file at the root of your WordPress installation.

As you will see if you go to the page URL the feed will default to all posts and the number that displays defaults to 10. To get exactly what content you want in the custom xml feed we will need to use QueryStrings.

 

URL QueryString Parameters

  • type – Feed type
    • singlePost – only pulls post that matches post id parameter
    • catFeed – shows a listing of posts from a category
    • default – all posts
  • postid – post id of the post you’d like to retrieve (only applies to singlePost)
  • catid – category id of the category to pull in (only applies to catFeed, optional)
  • numberposts – number of posts to display (defaults to 10)

 

Examples

  • http://www.example.com/customFeed.php?catid=244&type=catFeed&numberposts=100 – get 100 of the most recent posts in category with the ID of 244
  • http://www.example.com/customFeed.php?postid=13&type=singlePost – get a single post with the id of 13

 

XML Structure

 

Back-End/Server Side General Logic

Now that you have the custom feed you can write the back-end code that will parse the custom XML and display blog content on your external website. I would suggest the logic be set up as follows:

  • Individual Post Display
    • Page that allows for a query string to pull in individual posts
    • Display the title, date, author and full post content
  • Listing Page Display
    • Page that pulls in a category listing (query string is optional)
    • Display title, date, author and teaser
    • Post titles would link to the individual post page with the specific post id as the query string parameter

 

Conclusion

If you follow this you can easily pull in your WordPress listings and individual posts via XML and your choice of back-end/server-side scripting language. This opens up a lot of possibilities for highly advanced and customized applications no matter what the platform.

By | 2016-11-22T17:49:16+00:00 January 14th, 2013|Web Development|1 Comment

WordPress Lightbox Conflicts and Solutions

Recently we developed a custom WordPress site for a client that has an integrated lightbox image gallery. It was an easy plugin installation and activation process. The next step was to add in the images to the media library and then call the shortcode inside the code dialog in the specified page. Everything looked great on thumbnail preview, but when clicking on one to view a larger version the lightbox would not show up. The larger image would preview in a separate window.

First, is to check to see if the lightbox version works together with the WordPress installation and custom theme. WordPress notifies of any updates. Second, check to see if any of the plugins are not compatible with the lightbox plugin, by checking one at a time. If any of them are not compatible, it’s good practice to notify the plugin developer, so they can try to work out a solution for future versions. Third, is to check against any custom codes to see if anything is conflicting. In this particular case it happened to be a jQuery conflict on a particular plugin. By updating these conflicting files it allowed the lightbox to work properly.

Zedric Myers
Zedric Myers is a Web Designer for Beacon Technologies. After earning his degree in Advertising and Graphic Design, he spent 11 years with an advertising agency in Greensboro, NC where he was initially hired as a designer and transitioned to being a Web Developer.
By | 2016-11-18T14:24:46+00:00 March 20th, 2012|Cascade CMS|Comments Off on WordPress Lightbox Conflicts and Solutions

WordPress Theme Development with Artisteer

We recently picked up a fantastic piece of software for designing WordPress themes called Artisteer. While this software doesn’t give you complete control over the content, its great for throwing a general layout which can be finely tuned after it is exported. Artisteer features an easy to use ‘Microsoft Office’-styled interface that generates your layout and scheme via point and click.

When developing for WordPress sites in this way, I religiously abide by the following development process:

Start with the Design/Theme in Artisteer.

  • Start a new project within Artisteer with the WordPress CMS.
  • Work left to right with along the menu tabs on the ribbon across the top. Within each tab, work left to right with the avaible options and settings.
  • On the far left tab, Ideas, click Suggest Design until a base design to work from is found or skip this and build the page using the Layour tab.
  • Each tab focus has a ‘Suggest’ button for the helplessly creative.
  • As you work to the last tabs, the design gets fine-tuned across page elements.
  • Once a design is ready for site integration, click the arrow on Export button at the top of the menu bar. Select Export Options…
  • On the properties option window, enter the author name, url, template version, template URL, any associated tags, and a brief description of the theme.
  • Once this is entered, export your theme as a WordPress Theme. Exporting the theme as standard markup is available too, but is of no use inside WordPress.

Integrate into WordPress.

  • Start up your FTP app of choice, FireFTP is convenient if your a FireFox user.
  • Navigate and transfer a copy of your theme folder to: /public_html/wp-content/themes/
  • Log into your WordPress Dashboard. http://YourSite.com/wp-admin
  • Under the appearance drop-down on the sidebar, select Themes.
  • Your theme once uploaded, should be listed among the themes avaialable to your site. Find yours and click ‘Activate’.

Add Non-Artisteer Elements and Styles to Template

    • Artisteer isn’t going to always have every part of your site. You can make these from the ‘editor’ in the WordPress Dashboard listed under Appearance, or use a text editor and FTP.
    • Making these modifications require knowing the WordPress Theme structure. Much of the code is in PHP, so background there also helps.
    • Inside of every Artisteer generated WordPress theme, you will have the following in your Export folder:

  • Open and add/change markup to THEME_NAME/header.php for changes to the header area, usually META, LINK, and SCRIPT tags and body elements that precede the menu bar.
  • Open and add/change markup to THEME_NAME/templates/page.php for changes to the pages Menu, Sidebar, down until the main content area is loaded.
  • Open and add/change markup to THEME_NAME/templates/post.php for changes to the content area of posts and pages across the site.
  • Open and add/change markup to THEME_NAME/footer.php for changes to the footer area, this is any markup that follows the pages main content area (May be contained within outter-most DIV if designed so within the ‘Sheet’ in Artisteer).
  • Open and add/change markup to THEME_NAME/404.php for changes to text and verbage on the 404 page.
  • Open and add/change styles in THEME_NAME/style.css for changes to the stylesheet.

Site Structure and Content

  • After the above is said and done, all thats left is organizing the structure of the site and loading it with content.
  • Under 'Settings > General', change blog metadata and primary options.
  • Under 'Settings > Writing', set defaults and settings for publishing blog content.
  • Under 'Settings > Reading', set a static or blog listing homepage and set listing pages to show either summaries or full articles.
  • Under 'Settings > Discussion', configure comment restrictions and requirements.
  • Under 'Settings > Media', configure media (image and file) restrictions and requirements.
  • Under 'Settings > Privacy', configure whether the site is to be visible or not to Search Engines.
  • Under 'Settings > Permalinks', customize the URL structure. I generally stick to Month & Name or a Custom Structure using: /%category%/%postname%
  • Determine sidebar widgets and make active under 'Appearance > Widgets'.
  • Load posts and pages with content in their respective sections. Keep in mind to setup categories for posts if necessary.
By | 2016-11-18T14:24:51+00:00 March 17th, 2011|Cascade CMS|Comments Off on WordPress Theme Development with Artisteer

10 Great WordPress Plugins for Businesses

If your business uses WordPress for blogging or as a content management system, there are some great plugins out there to make life easier. Here are the top 10 WordPress plugins that I love.

1. Headspace 2 – HeadSpace manages meta data and other SEO functions. It allows you to tag your posts, create custom titles and descriptions that help your page ranking.

2. Simple Facebook Connect – This plugin comes with many different options. You can give your visitors the ability to comment using Facebook Identity (with FB avatar support), login with Facebook credentials and register using Facebook. It also allows you to automatically publish new posts to a Facebook Profile or manually publish posts to a Facebook Profile or Application/Fan Page. And if that weren’t enough, check out the other available buttons and widgets available through this plugin!

  • Share button and Shortcode
  • Connect Button Widget and Shortcode
  • User Status Widget and Shortcode
  • Live Stream Widget and Shortcode
  • Bookmark Widget and Shortcode
  • Find us on Facebook button Widget and Shortcode
  • Fan Box Widget
  • Fan Count Chicklet and Widget

3. TweetMeme – The TweetMeme button plugin simply adds the TweetMeme button to your posts and feed. It keeps a running total of how many times your content is tweeted. (See example on this post!)

4. Akismet – This does a great job of keeping your WordPress site free of spam. When a new comment, trackback, or pingback comes to your site it is Akismet runs hundreds of tests on the comment to determine whether or not it is spam.

5. WP Click-Track – This plugin automatically posts and rewrites links in your content (pages, sidebar, posts, etc.) in order to include a tracking element. It also allows users to create stand alone trackable links that can be included in posts. It also provides extensive reports right within the WordPress dashboard.

Link Report

6. Category Order – This seems like a simple plugin but there have been countless times where I’ve needed categories to be in a specific order that wasn’t alphabetical or by ID. This little plugin allows you to easily reorder your categories the way you want via drag and drop.

7. Google Analytics for WordPress – Even though you can use Google Analytics on a WordPress site without this plugin, it’s missing a whole lot of features that this plugin offers. This plugin includes:

  • Google Analytics Custom Variables
  • Google Analytics API integration
  • E-Commerce integration
  • Event tracking

8. cformsII – CformsII is the best form plugin I’ve used. Its creators are actually the authors of one of my favorite cooking blogs. This amazing plugin has an incredible amount of features and flexibility. You can create detailed custom forms, style them individually and place them in sidebars, posts or pages.

9. AddThis – AddThis is my favorite share plugin because  it automatically optimizes itself for each person who visits your site. AddThis custom fits each menu with the services they’ll normally use. This plugin also has an automatic interface for iPhone users. The plugin allows a customized share button to be placed in a sidebar or on each post. AddThis.com also provides detailed analytics so you can see how your content is shared across the Web.

10. YD Recent Posts Widget – This WordPress plugin installs a new sidebar widget displays your most recent blog posts along with images. It is very customizable allowing different settings on the home page and other blog pages.

By | 2017-02-21T13:00:24+00:00 December 21st, 2010|Web Development|4 Comments
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