Web Multimedia Blog

Multimedia Web Design Advice, Photography, Video, music, Mobile Websites, and Company News.

Important Magento Resources - links

Joel Reinke - Monday, May 14, 2012

Here is a collection of important links for Magento that I personally use as my bookmarks/favorites.  They are meant more for designers and developers and are a handy bunch of resources:

  • Web Design
    • Magento
      • Important Note: I've been using Business Catalyst for longer than I've been using Magento.  The main reason I started using Magento is because I took on a client who was using Magento and I was able to customize it for him based on my knowledge of PHP.  Business Catalyst has proven to be much more easily designable than Magento but I have found various situations where a client will want some deep customization that can't be done in BizCat and that's where Magento can come in.  So each has its place. :) Also eCommerce for Wordpress can be nice for some simpler store setups (more later)
      • Make Magento Theme from Scratch - this is probably the best written guide to getting started with designing in Magento
      • Customer Groups Extention for Magento - this unlocks a lot of Magento's potential by allowing access to only certain user groups (like Wholesalers vs. General Public)
      • Importing Newsletter Subscribers - points out that this is just like importing Customers, which is different from previous versions of Magento
      • Intro to Magento Development - a good start
      • Creating Custom Fields - without any development, you can add new Fields to products in Magento, this is a nice feature that makes a difference over other eCommerce systems.
      • Moving the Site (Test to Live) - please note, this didn't work very well.  I find it hard to move the site in Magento which is a detractor.  It would be better to create a test site and a production site and modularly move components over and then move over data... this is my point in bringing this link up for now, hopefully better info/methods will come along.
      • Magento: How to show products on Home page - it is not the default so knowing how to do this is good.  Fairly easy.
      • Move Magento to another Server - using SSH, not just a lite move.  This is the better way to try to move Magento, but still wasn't adaptable to moving it from one directory to another.  Still working on that.
      • Affordable Magento Hosting with an Upgrade Path - looks to be a good way to go (Please note: I have not worked with this company at this point and do not vouch for them - it just seems like a logical type of host for Magento)
      • Magento Cloud Hosting - add cloud flexibility to the equation. Also have not tried but looks good.
      • Another Magento Host - read the subtext: Magento should probably not be run on a shared hosting type account, its too memory/processor intensive!  Unless its just a casual store, get a good host! (VPS/VDS or DS or cloud?)
      • Display Category/Subcategory List - I used this as a basis for starting to build a cool, unique navigation structure on a site.  You'd think this stuff would be more natural for a system but its not with Magento.  Not to be down on it, just giving you a realistic impression on what you have to look forward to on Magento. :)
      • Max File Upload Size - one really nice thing on Magento is you can have File Uploads on products sold.  So, for example, someone could send a picture with their purchase and that could be printed on a mug, etc.  I haven't seen this as a standard thing for other eCommerce systems (I haven't tried them all of course).  This link will talk about how to limit the size of the uploads to avoid someone trying to crash the server, etc.  Wow, there's a can of worms.

Common Web Design Layouts

joel reinke - Sunday, March 20, 2011

From my last Blog Post, How to Make a Website: Planning Stage, there are 10 parts. I will now go into more detail on step 2 by giving more examples for types of common webdesign layouts...

Please note, as I am building a lot of materials for Edmonds Web Design, for any Edmonds Website, there should be at least 1 ferry boat in your design somewhere! :)  (Ok, sorry, It's an Edmonds Kind of Joke)

From last episode:

2. Sketch Homepage

Don't worry: No artistic skill required, just draw boxes on paper and label them. 
(GLOSSARY OF TERMS at bottom of article)

  • Take a sheet of blank paper. 
  • Think up an ideal layout that matches the image of your business (see below for examples)
  • The Homepage sometimes has a more graphic layout than the rest of the pages, but it can be the same format as the rest of the pages too.  Some standard layouts for web pages are:
    • Header with Left Sidebar,
    • Header with Right Sidebar (common for blogs),
    • Left Sidebar Navigation,
    • Header + 3 columns. 
    • Option for all of these: have a footer or not
  • Some other, less standard formats are:
    • Fixed Footer Navigation,
    • 3D Layout,
    • Flexible Size Format

As a better reference for this important step, I put together small images for each of these layout types to help give you a better idea of what are standard web site layouts:

Header with Left Sidebar

A common layout. The left Sidebar is often for Navigation, but it can also be for other things and sometimes the navigation is in the Header. The Header often contains the Logo, tagline of the company, sign-in area, search bar, and important Links.  Often there is a Footer but its optional. The content section changes for each page but the other elements of the page stay the same for most of the website.

 

Header with Right Sidebar (common for blogs)

Just like above but the Sidebar is to the right.  Because the emphasis is not as strong with the sidebar on the right, the CORE navigation isn't usually in the Right Sidebar but blogs use it for things like Archives, Tag Clouds and more.  It puts more emphasis on the Content which can be good.



Left Sidebar Navigation

No Header! You have navigation in the left sidebar and a logo above it. Content start at the top of the page. Again, footer is optional.




Header with 3 columns (Left and Right Sidebars)

Like some of the others but the content is between a left and right sidebar.  Usually for web sites with a lot going on and many different categories of content.




Fixed Footer Navigation

The Footer on this one is the key.  Not as common of a layout, but useful for multiple reasons.  The Footer is locked to the bottom of the webpage and never moves.  It should always be visable.  The navigation is all in the Footer. It's kind-of like the layout on an operating system like Windows. Another advantage is the Content comes first. Disadvantage is it might throw visitors off.



Header + Content

Super basic but common layout: Just a Header then Content below. Can be a great layout, just didn't need a picture to explain that one.

3D Layout

A fun creative layout that uses 3D to create a new, unique browsing Experience. Unlimited possibilities but you have to be careful to not throw off your visitors.  Too many possibilities to go into here.


If you have other layouts you know are very common that I missed, please comment to let me know of those other types and I'll add them.


Glossary of Terms

  • Header - Top section of each page on a website that can include: logo, tagline, links, navigation, etc. Not absolutely needed for a web page but very common
  • Footer - Bottom section of each page on a website that can include: links, copyright info, address, map link, widgets, or anything you like
  • Left and Right Sidebar - Verticle section of webpage that is next to the Content that includes links, graphics, tools, widgets, content summaries, or just about anything.  Usually repeats on all web pages on a web site.
  • Content - Section of the web page that holds the important info for that page. It usually changes for each page on a site, whereas the other elements stay the same (like the header, sidebars, and footer).
  • Website - All your web pages for your site, as in everything at www.your-domain.com
  • Webpage - One, individual page on your site that has content plus a header(optional), footer(optional), sidebars(optional), etc.

Wordpress as C.M.S. (Content Management System) - Pros and Cons

joel reinke - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Blog Popularity has led to an evolution for Wordpress:

If you don't know about Blogging: Wordpress has taken a lead in creating an easy to use platform for serving-up content.  So much so that their easy to use Dashboard/Control Panel can also be used as a way to keep the rest of your website up to date.  In addition, there is a simple way to adjust Wordpress so that the blog page doesn't come up first: your 'Home Page' does.  You can make a menu system so the whole blog-run website looks and feels like a website with a blog, not just a blog with some extra pages tacked on.

This means Wordpress can be your complete, C.M.S. (Content Management System)
(Not Client Management System - at one point this got me too)
If CMS still means nothing to you, this is a simple way to think of it: you can edit your own webpage easily with no coding needed (at least after it's initially set up)

Now I'm not going to go into how to set that up, there are many other blogs online about how that works.  What this blog will focus on is how I've implemented this for some of my clients and the PROs and CONs of using Wordpress as your CMS.


What are you looking for in a web authoring platform? AND How tech savvy are you?

 

First obvious thing: You want a Blog.  If you don't, there are some better options out there for CMS's
 
These questions can be a good start for helping determine if Wordpress will work for your website.  For example, there are a lot of free templates out there for Wordpress.  I think these would work fine for a casual blog but a blog for a serious business would want to customize the template (or theme) or start from scratch and build a completely new theme.  Skills required: CSS, php, graphic Design, etc.

Another positive: many hosting companies are offering Wordpress as an easy to install addition to your website.  So you don't need to worry about a complicated installation.  If your host does not provide this easy option, we can evaluate what it would take to install it on your host.

The next important thing is the content you plan to put into Blog Posts and Web Pages.   Aside from the nicely formatted header, footer, and (optional) sidebar, and cool backgrounds and designs that will be on your page: There is that content section of each page.  Like for this post, it is just the text and images for this 'article'.  Not the graphics up at the top for the menu, etc.  For just the posts or pages, will you need any special formatting?  If so, maybe Wordpress isn't right for you.  Most of the special formatting can be designed for the rest of the page, but the content section should be kept simple - text, images, movies, and whatever else you can add in - in a straight forward layout. 

WHY?  If you put special formatting into the Wordpress page using their editor, sometimes it can strip it out and you're left with a broken design until you fix it.  It especially can have problems with CSS added in (div's especially).  If you code in HTML directly you can avoid this, but if you switch back over to the graphic editor it often strips it out. 

But, you really shouldn't need special formatting in your post or page.  Design or hire someone to design the wordpress theme so it looks great with simple posts/pages and then when you're writing your posts you can go quickly and not worry about special formatting, just content.

A bit more on 'How tech savvy are you?'  - If you can use email and have ever uploaded a photo onto anything online, you can use Wordpress.  The only exceptions are if you want to customize the look and feel of your blog, you need skills in HTML, CSS, PHP, and graphic design skills or ready to use graphics.  Contact Us if you need assistance here.

There are exceptions to the 'rule' mentioned above about special formatting on pages.  See www.bodyspaonline.com for examples.  If you notice the background changes for each section and there are other formatting changes as well.  All of this was done with specialized design with PHP and CSS but the client doesn't need to worry about that.  She just makes changes or additions to pages - doesn't mess with any special formatting - and the formatting is handled behind the scenes.  The only thing that can throw a monkey wrench into it is if <div>'s get added in and/or tags don't get closed.  The point is: use the theme/design to do special formatting.


There is a lot more to it, but in summary:

Pros:

  • Free
  • Has a WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get) = easy to use tool for anyone to edit web pages
  • Some hosting services provide easy install
  • Many Free Themes/Templates that can be a good starting point (Hire us to customize them or from scratch)
  • Can easily insert images, movies, links, and much more

Cons:

  • Customization requires technical skills
  • Special Formatting in content section can cause problems
  • Won't do everything for you (Online Store, E-mail Marketing, Social Networking, :) cook for you)

Thanks for checking in.  In a future post I'll talk more about other C.M.S. options that can provide some of the things Wordpress is limited on.

Still, Wordpress is great!  It's doing way more than it was originally intended for.

Contact Mountain Multimedia if you need a custom designed Wordpress Theme or Plug-in.

Welcome to the Web Multimedia Blog

joel reinke - Thursday, February 25, 2010
Hello,

Welcome to Mountain MultiMedia Web Design's new blog!  We offer complete online solutions with online business functionality.  Its not just online Store software, its a complete package to help you build online success.

Located in Edmonds Web Design this blog is a resource for you for many needs: advice on web design, entertainment and photographs,  news about new offerings from us, and other educational resources related to online design.

Explore the rest of this website to learn about the features of this platform. Here, I wanted to point out were some great ideas about uses for online businesses:
  • Turn your idea into a business: One of the solutions offered by Mountain Multimedia Web Design is a great Online Store Platform and it is really for anyone who has an idea, hobby, full business,or passion that has marketable potential.  You could take this and have a real money stream on your hands.  Whether this is a full time job for you or something you want to run on the side, Mountain Multimedia's Joel Reinke can consult with you to make your idea hammer out into a real business.
  • You can sell e-products with this (online products with no shipping like files and programs)!  You could make your own iTunes for example.  or maybe sell photos, software (shareware), etc. 
  • Make your own subscription based service - like a monthly fee for stock photography.

    I hope I've given you some food for thought.

    Thanks, Until Next time.

    -Joel Reinke
     Certified Web Developer