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AWSOM News Announcement updated to 1.4.6, WordPress 2.7 compatible

December 12th, 2008 by harknell

Hi Everyone, I’ve just updated the AWSOM News Announcement plugin to be WordPress 2.7 compatible. Please replace your current Plugin Files with the new version available from the AWSOM.org website. The biggest change is the new location for Managing your News Announcements–this is now under the “Posts” section of the Admin menu. This is now true for all versions of WordPress.

Please let me know if you run into any problems with the Plugin for any version of WordPress.

Posted in AWSOM News, Critical!, Software Updates, Website Administration, Wordpress Plugins | 5 Comments »

dont-update-too-fast
Don’t Update Too Fast

December 5th, 2008 by harknell

This is becoming a standard cautionary statement I post now with every WordPress release: Don’t rush to upgrade to 2.7. They have made some major changes to the Plugin architecture which will cause many Plugins to break. As far as I can see, 2.7 is not a critical security update so you can afford to wait a bit and do some testing first. As has been more and more typical I hear that many people now always wait until the .1 release of WordPress (so in this case 2.7.1) before they upgrade because they expect many issues and bugs to be present. Personally I’m not a big fan of the “we need to release software by X date” method of development since it typically causes these types of problems. Things should be released when they reliably work.

Oh Well.

Anyway, If you are using AWSOM News or AWSOM Pixgallery you will have issues editing or deleting entries through the admin interface in 2.7. Once the official release is available I’ll update the Plugins to correct the issues. So if either one of these Plugins are critical to your site I again suggest you wait awhile before upgrading. You might avoid a huge hassle.

Posted in AWSOM News, Software Updates, Website Administration, Wordpress Plugins | 1 Comment »

automattic-youve-just-got-to-stop-this-crap-now
Automattic: You’ve Just Got To Stop This Crap, Now!

November 20th, 2008 by harknell

Ok, I have to admit something. I’ve purposely been avoiding looking at WordPress 2.7. After all of the mess that’s been characterized by the last few releases of WordPress (and by mess I mean the constant interface changes, constant Plugin structure changes) I really didn’t want any more negative opinions about the direction things are going with WordPress.

But I went and downloaded the Beta 3 version today.

Goddammit, why do you have to go and do these things Automattic? The admin interface is a damn mess now. WHO THE HELL ARE YOU PAYING TO GIVE YOU THIS BAD ADVICE ON DESIGN?????

Seriously, is the intention to make it harder and more inconvenient to administer your site? Every update to the admin interface places things in more and more difficult places. The idea that you need to scroll vertically to get to things seems to be ingrained now. Guess what guys, most laptops now are WIDESCREEN, and a large percentage of your audience is using them primarily as their main computer. Placing links across the top of the screen makes way more sense that way down a page vertically.

And changing the jargon, terminology, and placement for sections every release is a plain crappy idea. What will we be calling Manage, Design, Appearance, etc. next release guys? Or will we actually have Manage again or now keep pages and posts separate?

Sure makes it real easy for us Plugin developers to maintain compatibility between releases guys–and yes, there are reasons why people don’t update fast or ever, and they aren’t all bad reasons.

I’m really tired of this mess. While I’m obviously capable of making the changes to the code needed for these constant interface changes, It’s becoming less and less worth it to me to do it for anything but my own sites and not bother updating general release Plugins like the ones I host here.

Here’s a clue: Plugin structure is meant to be a set up to allow people to reliably make additions to your basic system that will last over time. You don’t break this idea every release arbitrarily. If so, then that’s called a new version release, not a point release (so 3.0 is okay, but 2.7 is definitely not).

This is basic stuff. Please, let’s get with the program and not keep roiling users, Plugin creators, and Theme editors constantly, it’s getting a bit old now.

Posted in Critical!, Software Updates, Website Administration, Wordpress Plugins, Wordpress Theme | 8 Comments »

fashionably-obstructed-the-problem-with-many-online-clothing-retailers
Fashionably Obstructed: The Problem With Many Online Clothing Retailers

November 18th, 2008 by Onezumi

Shopping online for clothing is risky business since you can’t touch or try anything on. It never ceases to amaze me though that most clothing retailers know this and still go to great lengths to prevent their customers from seeing their clothing based on their site design and pictures.

That’s like buying a car, filling it with dirt and seeds and growing weeds out of the sunroof.

The worst offenders are businesses who seem to think that they are awesome. These are the niche trendy fashion lines and retailers of club wear. We are all in agreement that fashion is about selling an image. The problem arises when the mechanism for delivering the facts to the customer are nothing but smoke and mirrors showcasing how “cool” the website’s models look on camera.

No one cares at all how cool a shop owner’s friends look. That’s awesome for them that they seem to only accept pretty people as friends, but this tells me nothing about the vital statistics of the merchandise being sold and it’s real world use.

When a customer comes to a fashion retail website, they want to know:

- What are the measurements of the piece?

- What does the stitching and fabric look like? Is this made of thin fabric that will fall apart? Does it stretch? Is it soft?

- Do you have a line drawing of how the piece is cut so the customer can extrapolate how it would fit on them, or at the very least on a person who is standing normally and not with an arched back? It’s about your customer, not “look at me I’m cool”.

- Do you have a good return policy if it doesn’t fit?

Fashion is represented so poorly on the internet that I haven’t found many places that I would buy from simply because I have no idea what I’d get in the mail from them. It is a shame that such a tough field to succeed in is being made unnecessarily tougher by some of the people who hope to market their designs.

If you own an online clothing store, what have you done to make your customer’s experience better? Are there any innovative tricks that people should know about that you have found work well?

Posted in Onezumi's Column, Website Administration | 1 Comment »

customers-are-awesome-so-design-for-them
Customers Are Awesome, So Design for Them!

November 10th, 2008 by Onezumi

The real purpose of an art, comic, music, or blog website is to give a reader information about you in under 7 seconds that tells them why they should stay and keep reading you from now on.

There it is – the Meaning of Life. The Lost Scroll. The Fate of Atlantis. Master this and you have Real Ultimate Power.

Art and design is largely about “image”. While this is true, many artists fall prey to Too Much Image when it comes to designing their website. I believe that a website should be the frame for your brilliance. It shouldn’t eclipse your work. It also shouldn’t take excessive time to load or otherwise alter the user’s browsing experience. Today, I am going to talk about some guidelines for making the best impact with your website.

1. Avoid Flash: I personally don’t like Flash unless it is specifically for a flash cartoon or game that you have made. I have never sat through a Flash intro to a website and said afterward, “Gee, I really liked sitting there waiting to get to this website I have never heard of before.” Never. Most people will not wait.

Flash also doesn’t display on an iPhone and most other mobile devices, so if you must use Flash, make sure there is a non-Flash option.

You might say, “What idiot only uses an iPhone to browse the internet?” Well, that idiot would be me. I work hours that would make a large man (or even David Hasselhoff) cry. I rarely am able to get to my own desktop computer. A Flash only website is enough to prevent me from seeing it entirely. I do not have time to “surf the net” in the few hours I have at home each day. Also, I am not alone. Our culture is going mobile in a big way.

2. Don’t have music that auto-plays: There had been some debate about this in the case of bands. Some bands insist that the best way to get their work to their customer is to have their music auto play. I disagree. It is important to quickly get your work to that person’s ears, but politeness toward your customer always supersedes any sales tactic.

Always.

These bands aren’t considering people who are browsing at work or school. Just looking at my personal web traffic, I see that most of my readers come right when they get to work or school. I think the entire internet would be empty if you removed this type of traffic. At worst, that MP3 file is an embarrassment to the person who hasn’t had time to adjust the volume on their speakers to prevent the whole planet from hearing it. At best, it’s annoying to the person who was already listening to iTunes.

Both of these scenarios happened to me. Both of them resulted in my immediately closing my browser and never coming back.

3. Don’t change the user’s browsing atmosphere: Changing the end user’s browsing atmosphere is similarly rude and jarring. Things like changing their cursor to a cross hair or forcing you to view their website full screen so that you can’t see your OS’s navigation menus are just plain inadvisable. Most people react with fear to new things. This is no exception.

4. Take different browsing scenarios into account: Will your website run on a computer that has a 800X600 resolution and a dial-up modem? How about on both Mac and PC browsers? Does it display on an iPhone, Palm OS, and on Windows Mobile?

As I said before, the range of ways someone could be browsing the internet is wider than ever before. While you can’t test for every single device or browser, do at least some testing to make sure things aren’t totally blown looking on something, especially if the something is very popular (even if you don’t like/use it personally).

5. When in doubt, don’t do it: If a feature doesn’t speed up the delivery of your work to the person loading the website – it should not be used. Trust me, if your work isn’t good, no amount of “cool” features are going to get you a sale. When in doubt, don’t add the feature. Focus on content first, then add whiz bang stuff later.

So there you have it – some basic guidelines about how to design for your customers so that you can optimize those valuable first 7 seconds and keep a new visitor for life.

Like all guidelines, there may be some special case where some of them can be broken. Have you used any of these features (or others) and made them work for you? Or, have you see a hideous offender of poor web design that sends customers running? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in AWSOM News, Onezumi's Column, Tutorial, Website Administration | 5 Comments »

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