Blog—Random Web-Related Ramblings

Welcome to the blog. Here you'll find web design and graphic design-related articles, tutorials & resources. Dig in and enjoy!

Updated: 08/03/2011 – Added a live example of blocked non-ad images.

Note: This post is not condoning tricking users by trying to slip advertisements past ad-blocking plugins. The purpose of this article to to help keep actual content from incorrectly being labeled as advertisements, and thus hidden from visitors.

As someone viewing websites on the web, ad-blockers filter out adverts for “enhancements”, and a bunch of flashing, ugly advertisements. Not only this, but ad-blockers can help protect you from potentially sneaky and malicious code.

This is why one of the most popular downloads for Firefox and Google Chrome is ad-blocking extensions.

However, have you thought about the reverse? What is the effect of ad blockers on your website or the sites you design for clients?

Is my coding style or design choices limiting what’s viewable to visitors because it’s being incorrectly identified as advertising content by ad-blockers?

Choose Your Class and ID Names Carefully

You may reason, “I don’t have to worry about ad-blockers because I don’t have any advertisements on my website”.

While you may not have a single ad on your site, the names you give your classes and ID’s matter.

Classes and ID’s containing keywords like banner, ban, ad, advertisement, etc may get flagged incorrectly by a visitor’s ad-blocking plugin.

Important sections of information may never show on the screen because of this.

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{openx:8}Problem: You are creating a new WordPress-powered website for a client. Let’s say you have 25 pages that make up the site’s page structure. Normally, you’d have to create 25 new pages. This is a tedious and time-consuming process even if all you do is create the pages and leave the contents blank.

Solution: Use the nifty Simple Add Pages or Posts plugin.

What It Does

Simple Add Pages or Posts does exactly what you would expect. It adds multiple pages all in one go. All you do is enter the titles of the pages (or posts) in the plugin’s text area–1 per line–and the plugin creates the blank pages for you.

You can even create nested pages and generate the site’s entire structure at once:

Parent Page 1
-Child Page 1
-Child Page 2
-Child Page 3
--Grandchild Page 1
--Grandchild Page 2
Parent Page 2
-Child Page 1
Parent Page 3
Parent Page 4

Simple, huh?

You can even add multiple pages to a site with existing pages. Just select a parent page and all the generated pages will be added in relation to the parent.

What It Does Not Do

Simple Add Pages or Posts will not automatically generate page content or allow you to select the categories of posts. It also will not let you change any attributes (other than page/post author and page parent) such as page templates or keywords.

However, if you are wanting to just setup the page structure, then it’s an excellent plugin that will save you lots of time.

Remember to use the Simple Add Pages or Posts plugin to quickly add multiple pages (or your whole site structure) on your next new WordPress site.

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BigCommerce Shopping Cart Review

Disclaimer: This is not a paid or sponsored post.
I am an Authorized Reseller for BigCommerce and this review does contain links that pass my referral info. However, I try to be as objective as possible and highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of BigCommerce.

When I first decided to try out BigCommerce (a hosted e-commerce shopping cart service), I was hopeful, but honestly a bit skeptical.

Over the years, I’ve tried several different full-fledged e-commerce systems—Magento, Zen Cart, PrestaShop, CubeCart—as well as a couple WordPress-based e-commerce plugins.

They all had at least 1 major issue that made it difficult to recommend them to clients.

Some were resource hogs and had terribly inefficient control panels. Others were a nightmare to customize (table-based layout) and produced incoherent URL’s. Some were glitchy and unstable, while others were not kept up-to-date or promised features that simply were not fleshed out enough to be used on a production shop.

That’s not to say that these shopping cart systems are unusable. Many will work just fine depending on your requirements. However, finding a good, solid e-commerce system that you can recommend to clients is sometimes a daunting task.

BigCommerce: Not Perfect, But Closer Than Most

First off, if you’re looking for the perfect e-commerce system that will work for 100% of projects, you might as well stop reading. If I’ve learned one thing over the years about shopping cart systems, it’s that you will never find a system that works for every single store.

That said, BigCommerce is far more likely to work for the average shop than other systems out there.

What BigCommerce Does Well…

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Every profession has their own lingo and specialized terms. While terms differ from industry to industry, they all have one thing in common—no one outside their field understands what they’re talking about.

For web designers, we have terms like web standards, progressive enhancement, search engine optimization, stylesheets, and mockups. We also have clever little abbreviations like HTML5, CSS, XML, and UX.

When we try to talk to our clients and use these terms, most don’t have a clear understanding of what we’re talking about.

But even beyond these specialized terms, there are concepts we talk about that our clients don’t completely understand.

For instance, a client may wonder why it could take 24-48 hours for their site to transition from one host to another. How do you explain how propagation works?

Let’s look at 4 ways we can help our clients understand us better.

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Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

There are many places to look, both online and off. The important thing is to not limit yourself to just one source of inspiration.

Online Design Galleries

Many new designers begin looking for design inspiration from online galleries.

While there’s nothing particularly wrong with online design galleries, they do seem to showcase similar sites. One gallery finds a design they like and before long there are dozens of other galleries showcasing the same design.

Another problem I find with online galleries is that they often showcase designs that follow a certain trend. Trends are fine, but when everyone is following a trend, where’s the innovation? Where’s the variety?

The online galleries that are the best places to look are ones like Creattica that showcase more than just website and logo designs. Creattica, for example, features designs in categories like business cards, skateboard and snowboard art, posters, motion graphics, book covers, icons, tshirt design, and more.

However diverse they may seem, you should not limit yourself to just online design galleries.

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