Today, I did a vanity search for “Toban Penner”. As embarrassing as that sounds, I was surprised to see that I was quoted on the News and Observer site. They were asking me about Google’s “Get Your Business Online program in North Carolina”. It’s one of these “you can build an amazing site all by yourself for free” programs. Sometimes, programs like these are scary for designers like me… but then I read what I said to the interviewer, and I feel better and calm down a bit. Here’s the snippet:
Google and Intuit’s program faces plenty of competition from companies, many of them small Web design firms, that have been helping small businesses get online for years.
Toban Penner, a Durham-based web designer that customizes WordPress templates for his customers, said local firms can often personalize a webpage better than larger companies like Intuit.
“A lot of my clients start off with a company like that, and then they realize that their site doesn’t reflect their company’s look and feel,” said Penner, who has been in business for about three years. “If you work with someone locally, they’ll be able to meet with you, see your company and get a feel for what you need. They’ll be able to design a site that fits with the identity of your company.”
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/27/1886423/google-kicks-off-program-to-get.html
The fact is, if you want a website for free. No problem, you can do it! But if you want your site to reflect your business in a professional way that doesn’t harm your image, you’re going to need some design skills. That’s where designers like myself and others will come in, and I think we’ll be in demand for years to come.
My wife and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Portugal. It was absolutely fantastic! We enjoyed it so much. But unfortunately (for my clients), I was without internet access or telephone for almost 2 weeks (SORRY!). It was a much needed break. But to be honest, after a week, I was itching to get back to web designing. I guess it’s a good sign that when you are in paradise, you’re looking forward to work. My wife and I both absolutely love what we do. We’re in completely different fields (she’s a professor), but it works very well. If I had any other job, taking time off like that would be very difficult. It’s amazing how much traveling we get to do because of the flexibility of our jobs. We are very blessed.
Mantus Anchors invited me down to the South West International Boat Show this weekend to help them out with their booth and enjoy a little bit of Texas.
I had a great time. I created the Mantus Anchors iPad app which turned out really well.
I spent most of the weekend in the booth. I never thought I’d have a job as a “booth babe”… but you’d be surprised how the old rich boaters like me.
This morning I went Kayaking out in Galveston Bay where fish were almost jumping in my kayak. It was awesome.
It was a great time and it’s nice to have great clients like Mantus Boat Anchors. For today, it’s back to Durham where I will be feverishly working on all of my other clients web design needs.
I’m excited that work has been busy. I love what I do and I’ve had the privilege of finishing off and launching 3 websites in one week. All of which I’m thrilled by how they turned out.
http://activedgefit.com/ is a fitness center in Durham, just off 15-501. Bryan Diaz is a fantastic business man and runs a tight ship. I think so highly of him and his business, that I’m going to be sending my wife for some physical therapy.
http://www.sarahstacke.com/ is a Brooklyn-based photographer who wanted to redesign her site to feature photo essays. This was my first photography site I’ve ever done (officially), and it is unlike any other site I’ve worked on. Sidescrolling pages presented many unique challenges that I loved figuring out.
http://paintconc.com/ is a professional painting service based in Cary and Raleigh NC. Dawn wanted a redesign and wanted to be able to use wordpress. We had this site designed, and up and running in under a month.
WordPress is an amazing tool. It allows you to choose from thousands of themes, both free and premium. If you’re not too picky, you’ll find a theme that is perfect for you and your business. What is not easy about WordPress, is doing a custom theme. If you have a design that you made in photoshop, it’s not an easy thing to make WordPress play nice with it. So you have two choices.
- Or you can Contact me and I’ll help you get a quote for what you need.
I can take pretty much any psd and make it into a custom wordpress theme. Prices vary, but you’re looking at anywhere from $500 – $1000 (as of December, 2011) to create a custom theme from your photoshop design. If I see your design, and talk with you on the phone, I can give you a firm price. And I’ll get it done in record time.
I was showing a client her new site. She was loving it. Everything was going very smoothly. I showed her how to update pages, create pages, edit the menu – she was in love. Everything was going splendidly. I was happy, and more importantly, my client was happy. Then came a bombshell.
“I need my site to say the same thing on a lot of different pages, and I don’t want to have to edit 6 pages that say the same thing. where do I edit that content?”
My heart sank. In my head I was thinking “I have no idea… and I told you at the beginning that wordpress doesn’t do that.” But I maintained my composure and told her I would look into it – knowing full well that this would take hours and hours of research on how to do something that I’ve never done before. She said she needed to be able to edit a page in one place and have it change across multiple pages across her site. Not possible, at least that’s what I thought.
Little did I know, but there is a beautiful plugin called “Post Content Shortcodes“. Once installed, all you need to do is create a post or page with the content that you need repeated throughout the site. Then you paste a short piece of code wherever you want that content to show up.
So if you have your store hours in 25 different places througout your site (and it’s not in the header or footer), think about how annoying it would be to change them all. It would probably take you an hour just to change your hours of operation. With Post Content Shortcodes, it will take you 30 seconds to change it in 25 places. Brilliant. I’ll definitely be using this again.
Go to your login page: http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin
You should come to a page that has this login screen:
Enter your username and password.
Click on pages Pages in the left hand column.
You will be taken to a listing of all the pages in the website. You may need to page through to find the one you are looking for. When you find the page you want to update, click on it. From here you can do most everything you need to do. Use the formatting tools to change the size of the font and to make other changes, just like using microsoft word.
To Make a Link, Highlight the text you want to make a link. Click on the link button at the top (it looks like a chain link). A box will pop up. If you are linking to an external page, enter the address in the URL box. If you are linking to another page on the website, select that page from the list. Press Add Link.
When you are ready to publish, you’ll want to find the Publish box on the top right side of your page. Choose the Update button.
It’s as easy as that.
Still having problems? Give me a call and I can help you out. 919-724-4417.
Or if you’re having larger problems:
It’s just a hobby for now, so don’t judge me too harshly. I’ve posted a new photography page here: http://pennerwebdesign.com/my-work/photography/ .
I just wanted a place to showcase my work. I’ve used flickr, and that works okay, but since I’m already paying for this hosting service, I might as well put it to good use and start uploading some pics. I’ll be posting my new photos here as I take them. But that depends entirely on what I’m doing and where I am.
For me, photography is mostly a trial and error experiment. I’m the type of person who loves to figure stuff out, stuff that some people don’t have the patience for. And in that way, photography fascinates me. Like website coding, photography provides an immediate benefit, but you have to work at it and try to understand it to get the right shot.
Enjoy them, and of course, if any of my clients need some help with pictures, I’d love to help them out.
I recently took a week with my wife, and our friend, Mary, and drove down to Orlando Florida for a week of fun in the sun. I had great intentions of creating this amazing 10 minute vacation video. But then two things occurred to me.
- Nobody likes long vacation videos
- I don’t have the time to edit that much video (at least while I’m not being paid)
So I came up with this compromise using Apple’s iMovie.
Highlights (or lowlights depending on how you look at them) of the trip include Disney World, The Holy Land Experience, South of the Border, and hours and hours at the pool.
I recently coerced my significant other into letting me purchase a DSLR camera. I bought a Canon T2i. Not exactly top of the line, but it does everything I need it to do. I’ve really enjoyed running around Durham, Raleigh, and some of my clients places such as Duke Memorial United Methodist Church taking photos and using them for the greater good. I’ve also been experimenting with the video capability. It shoots in 720p as well as 1080p. So naturally, I took a video of me cutting my hair.
The only problem with the video function of a DSLR is there really is no proper autofocus. The camera will autofocus if you want it to, but it’s so noisy and slow doing it, it’s better to just manually focus the shot… hence, the fact that most of this video is out of focus