Websites for Luxury Brands

I recently consulted with a company about strategy for marketing their high-end “luxury” products.  They’ve been selling their products for the past two years using direct mail, targeting people who have recently purchased homes at a top end price point. It has been working for them but their website doesn’t reflect the quality of their products and it needs to.

The owner and I had some interesting conversations about marketing luxury items online. He is worried that a website will devalue the experience of their products. His inclination is to keep their marketing very exclusive and make it hard to get information about their products online unless you have a special invitation to visit the website and a password that would get through to content behind a splash screen.

The definition of exclusive is something that leaves people out, or excludes them. When you think about it that way it sounds rather harsh, since excluding people is not very nice, but by being exclusive, products, restaurants, and resorts become all the more desirable.

My point of view is that [Read more…]

WordPress For Big Dogs Too

Big DogHere at New Tricks we have always created websites for Young Pups (people and companies just starting out) and  Working Dogs (established small businesses or new businesses who want and need to look like the experts that they are).

But more and more we are seeing  Big Dogs  (larger companies who have big needs for e-commerce, career management, employee directories, many service sectors or practice areas) making a decision to go with WordPress.

When we first started out in 2009, we had to explain to clients why using WordPress was the best solution for their website and convince them to use it.  Now, most companies, regardless of size, know they want to use WordPress, and come to us because of our extensive experience with WordPress.

Unfortunately,  going with WordPress doesn’t ensure you will have a great site, no matter what the size. It is easy to do a WordPress site but, then again that makes it easy to [Read more…]

Using a Blog to Honor Your Life and Tell Your Stories

mercer-wordmark-ffffff-594x120 I am going to be a  speaker for an event at Mercer University, for seniors (as in the older people, not the graduating 18 year-olds). The class series is called,  Honoring Your Life; Telling Your Stories.  My session is on blogging as a a way for someone to chronicle their life and share their stories.

Blogging is a great way to write, categorize and share your stories and memories for others to read. I recommend for those just starting out to get a free blog.  Set your blog to public and watch your traffic grow or set it to private and allow only certain people to view your posts.

Why a Blog?
[Read more…]

WordPress Goodness for Food Bloggers

I am here at the 2014 Food and Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida where Renee Dobbs and I gave a short talk on using WordPress for Food Bloggers. Before conference organizer Isabel Laessig  introduced us she polled the audience about how many people were using WordPress. Most of the 200 people in the room raised their hands. I remember the days when we had to really sell WordPress to our clients. Now, people come asking for it.

Here are the slides from our talk that goes over whats good about WordPress and we share some of our favorite plugins for Recipes, Social Media, Calls to Action, and Security.

Beginners Guide to using Caching and CDN to Speed Up Your Site

Speedy dog- Speed up your websiteWe all know it is good to have your site load fast for two big reasons: we don’t want people to leave our sites before they get there and Google incorporates page-load time into our site’s search rankings. I recently wrote a post about the effect that image size on your site loading times since learning to resize and optimize images is one of the first steps to improving site loading performance. Now we will go on to more technical methods, Caching and Content Delivery Networks that can improve speed of loading as much as 350%.


When you first visit a website, all of the content on that website (images, text, etc.) have to be loaded onto your computer from a web server in order to display that content. What caching does, is after you visit a website for the first time and all of the content is loaded from a web server, the static content is then saved on your hard drive in your cache, so when you visit the website for a 2nd or 3rd time your browser is able load the static content from your computer’s hard drive which is much faster than loading it again from a distant web server.

The whole concept of caching can be rather mysterious to us non-geeks. It is difficult to understand and even more so to explain. I found a pretty good metaphor by Zack Tollman from a talk on this subject at a WordCamp. Zach describes the process of caching by asking us to think about the process of gathering the ingredients (images, text, etc.) we need to prepare a meal (load a website).

If we aren’t using any caching, we would make a separate trip to the store for each ingredient we need for each meal we prepare, but that would be such a slow and tedious process we probably would not cook very often. The better alternative is to go to the store and buy all of the ingredients we will need for the week and store them in a place where we can easily grab them off the shelf or the refrigerator when needed.

The process of buying groceries and storing them in our kitchen is similar to caching objects in web development in that you are moving items necessary to have a webpage display from a place of difficult access (a web server) to a place where it can be accessed faster (the computer that is accessing the website’s hard drive).

W3TC Plugin

The W3TC  plugin works to cache your site’s static pages and database queries so they are easily and quickly uploaded to your site’s visitors. Caching reduces the load time of your site so your visitors don’t have to wait for each of these things to load from scratch.

The W3TC is a very powerful plugin with many configuration options. If you are a beginner you will need to take your time and get some thorough advice on how to set it up. A fellow who goes by the name of Zemalf has a very thorough, free 45 page step by step tutorial  which will show you what settings to choose on every screen. Be aware that if you set it up wrong you could risk getting your site suspended.

What is CDN

  [Read more…]

WordPress 3.6 is Out

Here is a peek at some of the new features of WordPress 3.6. Everyone says the installation is going very smoothly so I’d say it is safe to go ahead and upgrade now.

Some of the highlights include:

  •  A new default theme that was made for bloggers that is a colorful theme with a single column.
  • The revision feature has gone through an overhaul and now you can scroll through line by live to see who changed what and when.
  • Safety feature, autolock,  for more than one person trying to edit a post or page at the same time.
  • There is a built-in HTML5 media player for to play audio or embed videos without needing a plugin.
  • Changes to the menu editor to make it easier ( it was pretty dang easy before) to understand and use.

And so much more. Go ahead and upgrade. Remember to make a backup first:-)

Customer-Centric Web Design: What Makes A Hero?

Super HeroOne of the most common challenges I face as a web designer is the task of helping my clients create a site that targets the messaging to their ideal client’s needs while setting themselves apart from other businesses in their industry who provide the same services.

Most of the time, the companies I work with want to tell the visitors all about themselves and why they are great. I understand the urge. You probably do have the best products, in the best location, with the best service. The problem is that customers see this type of content as [Read more…]

8 Tips To Keep Your Site Hacker Safe

Keep Your Site Hacker SafeThis week there were several scares from hacking attacks on WordPress sites or plugins.

One of these was a well known and much used plugin, Social Media Widget which had some code put into it by someone who was working on it  (accidentally or on purpose, we don’t know.) The code injected links to a spammy PayDay site that you would not have seen, but Google could have black-listed you for.

This was re-mediated fairly quickly and sites could continue to use this plugin after updating it which removed the injected link code.

The second problem was a bigger issue, a brute force attack by bots [Read more…]