WordPress and Joomla

champlainwebsites.com | Burlington, VT - WordPress DeveloperWordPress has become the most widely used Content Management Systems (CMSs) in recent years. One of many reasons WordPress rose to the top is because it’s open source. It was first released in 2003 primarily as a blogging platform. When version 3 came along, it enabled WordPress to be used for nearly every type of website including ecommerce. That’s when its popularity really took off, and the number of developers working on themes and plugins for WordPress exploded.

If you see a function you like on a popular website that you would like to incorporate into your WordPress website, there are probably already 2 or 3 plugins designed for that purpose. I have a core set of plugins I use for all basic features of any given website, but there are often needs particular to the project that need a specialized plugin. Testing and customization of plugins are a few of the many ways I can help you with your website.

champlainwebsites.com | Burlington, VT - Joomla DeveloperJoomla has been around longer than WordPress and has a loyal core of developers that number in the thousands. It is another open source CMS that, in my opinion, is better suited for large websites because of its intuitive article manager. I only recommend Joomla for large websites with several categories of organization.

Over the years, Joomla developers have created extensions for nearly every conceivable website need. With Joomla’s most recent upgrade (which some feel is a game changer), websites are able to be built natively in HTML5, bringing them closer to being “App Ready”. The biggest downside to Joomla at this point is the small number of responsive templates available, but that problem will decrease over time.

CSS3 Animations

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Featured, Tutorials

CSS3 Animations

Looking for a way to add a little something extra to your website design? If you’re looking for an easy way to grab the attention of your landing page traffic, then CSS3 animations might be a good option for you. They’re light weight, meaning they don’t require much bandwidth and load quickly, which makes them ideal for mobile website design. Subtle animations are better Don’t be that website. The one that makes visitors in their 40s remember flying toasters and blinking text from the 90s. Be the website that people will take seriously, but not be bored with visually. One CSS (with a little Javascript) trick you’ve probably seen a few times is where the images appear to load with a little bounce only as they come into view as you scroll. It’s called Animate on Scroll (AOS). It’s been around for a while, but only in the last few years have developers put together code libraries* of the CSS3 animation functions. My favorite CSS3 Animation library is called CSS3 Animate It. I found it to be much easier to replicate the demo and work with the given functions than other libraries, but I’m relatively new to these. You don’t need libraries to get started though, because animation functions are built into CSS3. You can head over to W3Schools.com and try their interactive tools. *A code library is a set of code developed for a specific, and often narrow purpose. CSS animations would be an example of a narrow purposed code library, where JQuery would be considered a broad purposed code...

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Google Mobilegeddon: Is It Time For Responsive Design?

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Featured, News

Google Mobilegeddon: Is It Time For Responsive Design?

If you haven’t heard already, on April 21st, 2015, Google will be making a change to their algorithm that will affect websites that are not “mobile friendly”. This is a fairly vague term, so Google made a Mobile Friendly Website Testing Tool that takes the ambiguity out of the equation. The tool will list the problems the website has, and suggest corrective measures you can take to pass the test. Getting a B+ on this test isn’t good enough. It’s pass or fail. Responsive design Responsive design is the most common solution to this problem. The easiest way to think about responsive design is that the “design responds to the size of the display”. This is done with CSS rules that target certain screen size parameters, so that different rules apply to the same html code on different screen sizes. Google’s mobile update change will only affect mobile search results, so before you panic, be sure you know how much traffic you get from mobile search. Go ahead and check, I’ll wait. If you are using Google Analytics, here’s where to look: Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Source/Medium: google/organic Then choose ‘Mobile (including tablet)’ for your Second Dimension This website clearly needs to be mobile friendly, since more than half of its organic Google traffic is coming from mobile users. This number also represents almost a quarter of its overall traffic. HungryBurlington.com is a restaurant directory website designed for search engines. Looking at a more typical business website we can see that the same demographic slice is much smaller. The Google mobile search audience on this website is 16%, though combined Google search is responsible for half of its traffic. Fortunately for this business, they already have a mobile friendly website, but if they didn’t, I would recommend they do it soon. How soon do I need a responsive design website? Take a look at your Google Analytics and see how much your mobile traffic has been increasing over time. Compare the last three months with the three months before that and see if the mobile share of your traffic is growing. Do this two or three more times moving back three months at a time and you will probably see that your mobile traffic is growing at about 5% – 10% every three months. If it’s growing faster than that, you should move quickly and get yourself a new website within weeks, not months. If it’s growing slower than that, I would still get it done before Thanksgiving. Can I blow this off like I did with Google Plus? No. Mobile search has been growing every year for at least the past 7 years and actually passed desktop traffic last year. Obviously every website is different, but I’ve never seen the stats of a website say that mobile use is decreasing over a three month period or longer....

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WordPress: How to do 301 redirects when the old URLs are index.php?variable=something

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in Featured, Tutorials

WordPress: How to do 301 redirects when the old URLs are index.php?variable=something

I recently had the opportunity to take over an old website for a client that was ranking pretty well for his targeted keywords. The old website was built using ModX, a CMS with which I’ve had limited experience. The developer of this site chose not to use mod rewrite to make search engine friendly (SEF) URLs, so all of the pages on the website ended with /index.php?id=123. If the website had used SEF URLs, I would have done my usual list of 301 redirects on the .htaccess file to properly forward users to pages on the new website. I quickly found out, that because of the way WordPress uses the index.php file, this way was not an option. It ends up causing an endless redirection loop as it redirects only the index.php of of the address and ignores the variable, so it essentially tries over and over to redirect to itself. I tried Googleing this one for a while, but getting meaningful results out of a search like “301 redirect wordpress index.php with variables” and other variations got me more confused than I was when I started. So, I figured I revert back to the two languages I know to see if either one could help. JavaScript offered some hope, but I’m not as strong with that as I am with PHP. I knew I would have to attack the problem as early as possible in the page serving process to keep things quick and SEO disruption to a minimum. If you’ve ever looked at the index.php file of a WordPress installation, you know that there’s not much to it. It basically points to the header.php file and the chain of events starts from there that make any given page of your website. I decided I would inject my code just before that process starts. First, I used $_GET to grab the variable from the URL and make a constant one of my own. Next, I use a series of if/then statements to assign different 301 redirects based on what the variable...

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Content Delivery Networks – The Need for Speed

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Featured, News

Content Delivery Networks – The Need for Speed

The biggest reason I decided to compare Incapsula and Cloudflare was to see which CDN could most improve page speed. My tool of choice for testing page speed is Google Developer PageSpeed Insights. Only one of the websites I tested had been optimized for speed ahead of time. That one had no real improvement on desktop page speed with either CDN, but a big improvement in mobile page speed on Cloudflare and a moderate increase with Incapsula. The other websites had modest increases in mobile page speed. Desktop page speed increases were small to non-existent. Content Delivery Networks are definitely a factor where page speed is concerned, though adding a website to one doesn’t have as big of an impact as I had hoped. See the details of my experiment regarding Bandwidth and Uptime in my article over on Champlain Host. Check out my overall views on Cloudflare and Incapsula and details on the setup of each on Champlain Marketing. Website Profiles Pre-Tuned CMS: WordPress Size: Medium Graphics: Heavy Traffic: Low For a website that was already very fast on a desktop with a score of 91 (out of 100), it was surprisingly slow for mobile with a 69. Cloudflare increased the mobile page speed by 9 percent. Incapsula increased it by just under 8 percent. Bandwidth was unaffected on both CDNs. Bandwidth Hog CMS: Joomla Size: Huge Graphics: Heavy Traffic: High This was the test I was most interested in and the one I had really hoped would show a reduction in bandwidth. No luck. The page speed, which is abysmal on both desktop and mobile (36 and 49 respectively) was only increased by less than 2 percent on both CDNs. This website is in the midst of a long overdue redesign and a CMS switch from Joomla to WordPress. Featherweight CMS: WordPress Size: Tiny Graphics: Light Traffic: Medium This tiny WordPress site hadn’t been optimized for speed before testing and the initial page speed score reflected that with a 59 for mobile and 69 for desktop. The Incapsula page speed improvements were more than twice those of Cloudflare with a mobile score of 64 and a desktop score of 75. Both CDNs gave this site over a 50% reduction in bandwidth. The Sedan CMS: Joomla Size: Small Graphics: Light Traffic: Low This responsive Joomla website started off with a mobile score of 48 and a desktop score of 57. Both CDNs only gave this site a few percentage points of improvement on mobile and desktop scores. There were no bandwidth savings. Artisan CMS: Joomla Size: Small Graphics: Heavy Traffic: Medium The initial score for this Joomla website was 53 for mobile and 67 for desktop. The modest improvements were nearly identical between the two CDNs. About 4 or 5 percentage points for mobile and 3 percentage points for desktop. There was however, a 50-30% reduction in bandwidth...

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