Category Archives: WebDesign

I recently discovered the “themia” theme from InkThemes. It’s been a perfect starting point for one of my customers.

As I was setting things up, I prototyped it on my server (like I always do) and it looked great.

Then I installed the them on the production site and noticed there was an upgrade for the theme, so I ran it.┬áLo and behold, the menus on the top weren’t working.

Since I can be pretty scattered about changes; and because modifying a theme to support WordPress’ built-in menus has become second-hand to me, I thought maybe I had forgotten doing that step. But no, that wasn’t the case. In fact, when I upgraded my test site, the problem appeared there as well.

Luckily, the guys over at InkThemes are a great (and responsive) bunch. Even using their free support, I got an answer in under 24 hours, which you can find here.

But the upshot is that one word reversal in their function code made all the difference in the world.

If you are experiencing this issue, find the line that reads:

add_action('after_theme_setup', 'inkthemes_register_custom_menu');

…and change it to…

add_action('after_setup_theme', 'inkthemes_register_custom_menu');

This just makes me nuts. What gets me is that there’s an actual human involved in this. If it was just a robot-spammer, I could shrug it off.

It’s an email one of my customers received recently. I’m listing out all of this bozo’s information so you (or your customers) don’t get scammed:

Dear Manager
We are a professional intellectual property rights consultant organization, who mainly deal with the global domain name registration and internet intellectual property rights protection.

12th,3,2012 we received an application from Matas export trade Limited. They want to register () internet brand and CN domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflict with your company name or trademark. In order to deal with this matter better, it’s necessary to send email to you and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner?

Please let me know whether you let they use or register them by yourself. Waiting for your reply.

Kind Regards,
Jerry Lan
Brand Registration Department Manager
HongKong Newname Net Service Co., Limited
www.trademarkdns.com
E-Mail: jerry@trademarkdns.com
Tel: +00852-8193 0858, Fax: +00852 8193 2728
4A, Units 19/F, Far East Consortium Bldg., 121 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong

My customer was (understandably) agitated and, believing this to be a real situation, responded. This is what he received back:

Dear Sir,

Since you have no relationship with this company, we assume that they have other purposes to obtain these domain names. Matas export trade Limited want to register the following Domain name:
<yourdomain>.cn
<yourdomain>.com.cn
<yourdomain>.hk
<yourdomain>.com.hk
<yourdomain>.tw
<yourdomain>.com.tw
<yourdomain>.asia
Internet brand:(<yourdomain>)

If your company do not want other to register them, and need to protect by yourself. I will send you an application form to fill out. Then we will use it to reject Matas export trade Limited’s application and help your company to register it. If you think that it is not influences your company and give up it, we will help Matas export trade Limited to register it according to the registration procedure.

That’s when my customer got me involved. Here’s my response to him, and my take on the entire situation.

“My opinion is that the best way to deal with this is to ignore it. It’s meant to scare you into hasty action. Note the wording. He’s contacting you with an offer to PROTECT you from this other company infringing on your brand. What’s that sound like? Yep, Vinny and his cousin are standing in your store, saying what a shame it would be if there was a fire.

Those domain names are – in my not-so-humble opinion – less than useless to someone UNLESS they are going to actually develop it into a website.

If I just buy “.biz” and stick a single web page on it, it’s not going to show up on the search engines and it’s not going to do any good (or harm).

My advice is to either:

  1. let it drop.
  2. buy up all those domain names at $15 per name per year. It’s not THAT much if it’s really going to concern you. If you do, I would only buy the .net, .org and .biz variants. The ones he’s listing – .cn (China), .hk (HongKong) and .tw (Taiwan) are really less than less than useless.

The talk I gave for the Ohio Business Broker’s Association was a hit, and I’m grateful for the chance to speak to a group of thoughtful, interested folks. For links to some of the resource material I mentioned, you should check out my earlier post (yes, I’m directing you to another part of the site!).

Meanwhile, if you would like a copy of the presentation, it’s attached to this post as a PDF document:

OBBA_20120229

To those who attended: Thanks again for making the time to listen, and I hope to have a chance to work with you in the future!

I’m giving a talk today for the Ohio Business Broker’s Association, thanks to a generous offer from Peter Vadas of MBA Business Brokers, Inc (one of my new clients). The subject of my talk? Websites and Social Media (and we’ll probably get into a little SEO along the way).

There are a few online items I will probably reference, so if you attended the meeting and you are looking for those links, here they are:

  • The ClueTrain Manifesto – “… learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.”
  • Seth Godin’s Blog – Outspoken, driven, passionate, and visionary, Seth is the master of the “short form” blog post, boiling ideas down to their most potent essence and delivering them in a writing style that is clear and readable.
  • SEO, Lies and Video Tape – A series on Adatosystems.com that reveals the truth about Search Engine Optimization. It’s not all that hard, it shouldn’t cost thousands of dollars, and you don’t have to hire an amoral pantless weasel to do the job for you.

A friend recently asked if I would help him set up a website (I get that a lot). He is unable to participate in a traditional work environment, but has some wonderful knowledge and skills that he wants to share online, hopefully for profit. Here’s the email I sent him, which I thought you might find beneficial as well. This isn’t the answer I give to EVERY customer who needs a web presence. It’s just one answer. As usual YMMV.

– Leon


I apologize for the delay. Here are some thoughts, ideas, pointers and – most of all – the start of our conversation.

1) homework.
Here’s some online reading you can do. First, there’s http://www.parrotsecrets.com/ which we talked about

Next, there’s http://www.cringely.com/2009/03/parrot-secrets/, which was written computer pundit who writes about computer geek stuff, and it’s where I originally found out about Parrot Secrets and the secret behind Parrot Secrets.

Now on to: http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/ and more importantly this downloadable PDF: http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/overnight-success/. You need to look at EVERYTHING this guy has done. He’s built a “following” in less than a year, and makes about $45,000 a year from his site where he does little more than travel, write about travel, and write about writing about travel.

Yes, that’s a lot of writing. And I guess that’s a point. If you don’t want to do a lot of writing, online may not be the way to go. The internet is about connections and community. If people don’t feel connected to you (and to an extent to each other) they won’t feel like they are part of a community and they won’t buy stuff. Unless you are Amazon.com. And even there, do you notice what they do? Customer reviews, feedback, recommendations, etc. They are building community too.

Last stop is my new site: http://www.edibletorah.com. Once again. A lot of writing. And I’m not even selling anything. Yet.

2) web site basics
Nope, I’m not teaching you web coding. I just want you to see how some of the basics work. First, check out: http://www.adatosystems.com/websites.php and look at all the links on the lefthand side. There’s a HUGE variability of what you can do with a web site.

Next, check out these sites: http://www.openwebdesign.org, http://www.oswd.org/ and http://www.freecsstemplates.org/. These are HUGE clearinghouses of free designs. Eventually, I’m going to tell you to go dumpster diving through those designs and pick one. I can change the color, size, shape, etc but I like to use these as a starting point. Want to know how much I can change? Check out this template: http://www.freecsstemplates.org/preview/balanced Does it look familiar? It’s what I used for the basis of http://www.edibletorah.com.

Eventually we’re also going to talk about web applications – blogs, forums, shopping carts, etc. But for now, we just have to decide what we want the site to look like. And THAT is determined by what you want to do there. Meanwhile, keep in mind that www.parrotsecrets.com is really nothing much to look at. But it rings in over $400k per year.

3) Search Enging Optimization (SEO)
As I mentioned, there’s stuff you can control and stuff you can’t. Once you are done NOT doing stupid things (which takes all of 30 minutes), you are pretty much finished. You are either going to show up in search rankings or you aren’t. What REALLY makes a difference? Getting listed on OTHER people’s web sites. Which means getting recommended, which means connecting to people which means (you guessed it) writing so people know you are out there.

4) What next?
Next, I want you to come to terms with the fact that a lot of this is going to rest on you, not me. I can whip off the design, set up the server, install the applications, etc. I can’t write the content of your web site for you. I can help you publish eBooks but I can’t help you write them. I can put all the technical tools in place so that people can find your web site and navigate it easily, but I can’t make them know who you are. That’s all you.

If you are up for it, so am I.

Your web site.

FWIW, IMHO, Caveate Emptor, YMMV, Objects may be closer than they appear, etc etc etc.

I’ve been building web sites as an amature for over 14 years now. Being a new member here, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and observations about blogs and websites in general . Based on what I’ve been doing and building lately, here are some (semi organized) thoughts:

First and foremost, think “channels”, not “flyers”. Web-based communication is not like publishing a flyer or newsletter. Or even like a daily newspaper. It’s more like being your own media conglomerate. The idea is to leverage as many different channels of communication and let the consumer decide which works best. Some of my readers like to receive twitter updates to their “dumb” phone. Others prefer facebook messages on their smartphone. Still others want new posts to appear in their RSS feedreader. Many will want an email in their inbox. The point is that none of these methods are wrong, and you CAN manage all of them without losing yourself into a digital circle of hell. As long as you have a plan.

That having been said:

  1. Everything you do should lead back to your web site – that one place on the internet that contains the heart of what you are doing. If you are a consultant, it’s the place where people get your service listing and rates. If you are a writer, it’s where people can get your resume and samples. You get the point.
  2. (Almost) Everything you do should not only LEAD back there, but it should be created IN ORDER TO bring the reader there. If you are writing a guest column, make sure you at least get a mention of your site, if not direct links back to it. Don’t post main articles or content anywhere else. Post it on your site and then link from other places back there. Etc.
  3. If you publish a newsletter (whether physical or electronic), consider publishing only PART of the article, with a “click here to read more”.
  4. Cross-post! Very few people are going to read your archives list (you DO have a link to your archives, don’t you?!?!). More people will look at your “top xx posts” list (and I’m SURE you have that on your sidebar, RIGHT?!?!). But if you reference your other posts within the post they are reading, those links are just screaming to be read.
  5. Cross-post (the sequel): Write guest bits for other bloggers. They will appreciate the additional content as much as you would, and you get an entirely new set of readers to see your stuff. I’ve found that even offering a repost of things that appear on my site is often deeply appreciated.
  6. Finally, whenever you create a link – whether it is to someone else’s site or your own internal stuff, use the _blank tag. This will open a new window or tab, which means your reader can get back to YOUR page without hitting the back button (which they never do). To use this, the format of the html looks like this:
    a href=”www.newsite.com” target=”_blank”

But the most important thing I’ve learned:
Create in one place, let tools disseminate. Nobody wants to have to remember to post to the blog, then create a twitter post about the blog post, and then create a similar post on Facebook. Then Stumble it. Or whatever.

This takes a bit of work, but you will be happy you did. A lot of these tricks rely on Feedburner. It’s not the only way, but recently feedburner added several features that make it VERY easy to do this stuff. Once again, caveate emptor.

  1. Make sure people can sign up for your blog via email. (in feedburner, you set this up under the “publicize” tab, then pick “email subscriptions”)
  2. As Heidi Cool writes about here, don’t hide your RSS feed.
  3. Equally true, don’t hide your Facebook account, Twitter link, LinkedIn profile, etc. Make sure that people who LIKE that stuff can connect to you via THEIR CHANNEL of choice.
  4. Make sure your blog automatically alerts Twitter about new posts (again in feedburner, you would look under the “publicize” tab. There is a “socialize” item that will let you add your Twitter account.)
  5. Set up Facebook to automatically pull in your Twitter updates. You can do that two ways:
    • if you ONLY use Twitter to promote your website, you can use this application.
    • if you post other things to twitter that you DON’T want to appear on Facebook, you can use the Selective Tweets Facebook app. Then the only things that go to Facebook are the ones you post with a #fb hashtag. Which Feedburner lets you add from it’s automatic repost to Twitter, by the way.
  6. Stumble is your friend. I’m not a big user of Stumble Upon (http://www.stumbleupon.com) but over half my hits now come from people finding my site. To add a “Stumble This” link using Feedburner, go to the Optimize Tab, “FeedFlare” option.

Hopefully this gives everyone something to chew on. To see some of these tricks at work, check out my blog (you KNEW I was going to add that somewhere, didn’t you?): http://www.edibletorah.com/.