WordPress for Hampshire Primary School

uphamscreen01Upham Primary School is our local village school which our daughter Tessa attends. We recently offered to develop a website for the school and naturally turned to WordPress for our content management system. The staff at the school are not very computer literate, so we thought it would be interesting to see how they would cope with the WordPress UI.

The site makes extensive use of custom category pages to run the “From the Classroom” and “School News” sections. We were particularly excited about the “From the Classroom” section since it presented an opportunity for the students in the school to contribute to the site and use it as a showcase for their work.

Feedback from staff and parents on the design and functionality of the site has been very positive so far. We have dropped in to the school a number of times to check on progress and we’ve been very pleased with how the school has just been able to get on with posting content and updates. It is a testament to the excellent work done on the WordPress project that the first experience a group of primary teachers have had with a CMS has been so positive.

A special word of thanks to Rob Schlüter and his excellent “Archives by Category” plugin for WordPress. Our jQuery gallery is delivered via Christophe Beyls’s Slimbox 2.

Hide or Remove the Info Window on an embedded Google Map

nextmap01So for the last couple of hours I’ve been grappling with a small, thorny Google Map related problem.  Since I’ve spent so much time finding an answer for this, I guess there might be others who are looking for the same solution.

When embedding a Google Map into a site you often end up with the big Info Window appearing above the place marker.  This little window is useful if you’ve got the space necessary to display it, but most contact pages just don’t have the room.

On Next Communications I had limited space available for displaying a map, and thanks to a thread on Google Groups I found a quick and easy way to embed the map without the offending bubble.

Once you have your embed code copied over into your HTML, simply add the following parameter “iwloc=near” to the iframe call.

Below is an example of the complete code I used for the Next Site:

<iframe width="200" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?q=next+communications&amp;hl=en&amp;sll=50.913949,-1.446842&amp;sspn=0.011932,0.01914&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;view=map&amp;cid=4627604284559683295

Note the “&amp;” separator when adding the parameter.

WordPress Workshop in Winchester

A quick thank you to everyone that attended our WordPress Workshop in Winchester last night.  We certainly covered a great deal of ground in the three hours, moving from a general introduction to hands-on time posting new content and trying out the admin screens.

Our practical exercise for the evening involved creating a post about our favourite band, popstar or musician.  I can reveal to the world that our line-up for the evening included Take That, The Boy Least Likely To, Fleet Foxes, Johnny Cash, The Foo Fighters and Weezer.  I’ll let the attendees claim their performers in the comments below!

Auditel very kindly let us make use of their training room and I think it made a great venue.  Looking forward to the next one.

Westgate Dental gets a facelift

westgatethumb01In 2001 Jenni and I moved over to the UK from South Africa. One of the first websites I built was for a friends dental practice in Winchester, Westgate Dental. Its taken awhile to get around to it, but this morning I’m happy to be launching a brand new site for Michael and the team.

It was interesting to go back into the old code and look at how much has changed since the site was developed. Table layouts have disappeared and been replaced with CSS reset files, divs and search engine friendly code. The Westgate site has always performed well on the search engines (try “Winchester Dentist“), so it’ll be interesting to see if we can improve the optimisation in the new version. In our experience the style of markup does have a significant effect on how well a site performs online.

We are using WordPress to drive the news area and the client testimonial highlights. Thanks again to Rob Schlüter for the Archives for a category plugin. That is one of our favourites.

How do Adwords auctions work?

One of the discussions I find myself having with new and old clients, involves the auction system in Adwords. Its an intricate mechanism involving the advertiser, the user and Google. Concepts like Quality Score, Relevancy and the importance of Landing Pages can be difficult to explain.

Luckily the Adwords team have just released a fantastic video tackling these very topics:

Thanks to @avinashkaushik for the tip off!

Auditel up for Marketing Award

fmaawards02We’ve just received news via Norman Grossman (Auditel’s PR Guru) that the www.auditel.co.uk site has been selected as a finalist in the annual Franchise Marketing Awards 2009. We’d like to thank our parents and our accountant Jim, we couldn’t do it without you.  But seriously, we wish all the other finalists good luck and thank you to the Auditel team for allowing us to work with such a great group of people!

History of the Web

Great video put together by Melih Bilgil as part of his work at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany.  The animation uses the icons Melih has developed as part of his effort to create a pictorial language for describing electronic communication.  Really worthwhile watching:

Your website is ready for launch

Job done. Time to hit the big green “LAUNCH” button and go home. Or is it? We hate to be the ones to break this to you, but the work may just have started.

Fact is you’re sending that site out into a very crowded space, its not going to make any impact on your marketplace without a little help.  If you’re sitting with a brand new site going nowhere you need to speak to us.  Sugar Web Services have the experience and the know-how on how to give your website a boost.  We can help you increase your traffic and give you insights into improving your enquiry rate.



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WordPress MU site for Auditel

Auditel (UK) Limited are the leading cost management consultants operating in the UK.  The business consists of a network of over 100 consultants who offer cost and purchase management consulting to the business community in their area of the UK.  Each consultant in the network is actively promoting the Auditel service and the company’s head office in Winchester supports these efforts with marketing collateral and other promotional material.

UI work for Yell.com

During December we were contacted by the development team at Yell.com to pitch on some UI work for ongoing site improvements.  Yell.com is the UK’s leading source of business information.  We use it almost everyday here in the office, so it was something special to be asked to participate.

We’re delighted to report that the work has been awarded to SUGAR and David has been generating layout ideas for the Yell.com team for the last two weeks.