WordPress

Holiday Website for Hazelwood Park in South Devon

Exeter based Design Credo have just helped Hazelwood Holiday Park launch their new WordPress based website and it seems to have hit the ground running,

The hits have gone massive now and the brochure requests have gone mad too. We don’t normally get this many. Juliet Chenery - Hazelwood Director

Employing the re-worked visual branding developed by us and previously used in the company brochure, the new WordPress website now completes the family.

Why WordPress?

Hazelwood’s previous website was self-developed. Design Credo sought to build on the strengths of the existing site whilst making improvements including,

  • Stronger and more appropriate visual branding
  • Simplified navigation
  • More prominent routes to the booking system
  • Ease of use for the team at Hazelwood

By setting up the site well for them, the team Hazelwood are able to make maximum change for minimum input. The news section is used to update the site with regular categorised updates which then get filtered and also appear on the relevant pages throughout the site. Further to this the news can be relayed via Twitter and Facebook both of which employ graphics provided by Design Credo. Of course by design WordPress is very ‘pushy’ and offers tremendously quick response times to appear on Google searches. There is little point in late news.

User Friendly is a Must!

Hazelwood Holiday (Devon) website by Design Credo of Exeter

At Design Credo we have regularly met clients who have purchased website with content management systems that they quite simply cannot use resulting in a static websites that never get updated.

We feel that WordPress offers a user friendly interface. As part of the process Design Credo coach their customers in the WordPress platform and after the site-launch offer ongoing support. However in this instance the proof of the pudding was when the customer commented that we ‘hadn’t noticed the new pages (that they had created).’ A number of the pages on the site including the pricing page were created by Juliet Chenery without any input from Design Credo, and this is our desired end-game, the customer taking ownership of the site. Ultimately the site belongs to the customer not us.

As part of the launch of the site Design Credo have provided suitable re-directs to ensure that previous Google search listing are not wasted. In addition we advise on how to get the maximum SEO benefit from appropriate page post writing. Hopefully we can save money on the Ad Word spend too.

I guess the bottom line is that we view a website as a machine that should work for you.


Update

It’s always nice when people say nice things about you;

Hazelwood Holiday Park has worked with Andrew over the last year redesigning our print and web media. A website redesign is what we required but it soon became apparent that our image needed an update. We are extremely happy with the results – our new logo, corporate stationery, brochure and website. Within hours our new website was out performing the previous one with more brochure requests in a day than we used to have in a week. We have full control over the content of our new wordpress website including a blog which helps with our social media posts.
Juliet Chenery – Hazelwood Director

Web Hosting from Exeter’s Design Credo

Exeter based Design Credo have once again brought web-hosting in-house.

WordPress website design specialists DesignCredo have made this move in order to ensure high quality stable web-hosting and security for their sites.

Website technology continues to move forward and with it the hosting needs develop. As with any website, WordPress sites work best if kept lean and trim. But, by their very nature, they frequently offer a huge amount of functionality and on occasions this does require slightly more complex hosting needs to ensure all of the plugins and add-ons work appropriately.

Protect Your Assets

It is easy to get caught unprepared; In the last year we have helped customers out who have lost their websites due to their existing suppliers ‘going to the wall’. As matter of course we regularly back-up sites for our customers and on more than one occasion this practice enabled upload a replacement site to temporary space when the existing hosting had vanished. We have also helped people out who have lost their domains through the years.

Whoever is hosting your site we would urge you to ensure you regularly back up your website and any databases that the site may rely on.

The problem to any interruption of service is that there may be a knock-on effect with search engines such as Google. These search engines regularly visit sites to see if they have changed, if so the sites are re-indexed (it’s a bit like a massive stock check.) The problem is that if Google visits your site and your hosting has failed the search engine will probably assume that the site has disappeared, as such it will no longer be listed in search engines. If this happens the lead time to getting a site re-listed can be weeks, running into months. Of course Design Credo have a few tricks up their sleeves to expedite this process but it is one situation where even we would be loathed to offer a firm guarantee.
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WordPress Plugins Baby

WordPress plugins are third party add-ons that can easily be added to your blog to make it ‘do more’. Some examples of doing more include;

  • Spam catchers
  • Picture galleries and Slideshows
  • iPad – iPhone friendly plugins
  • SEO and Google analytics
  • Sidebar widgets

I need to remind myself that this blog started as a way for me to test WordPress out and learn. I described it recently as a bit ‘cobbler’s shoes’ and there are some shortcomings that I do need to sort out. It was described a recently (by a new customer) as being “a bit male”, not unlike me then?

This site was intended as a test bed and I regularly try out ideas and plugins, prior to using them elsewhere in my work. It is tempting to be a bit plugin crazy but beware, no one hangs round for a slow site. Many plugins bring their own stylesheet and probably JavaScript too. Most of this needs to be loaded at the off and a quick Google Page Speed test may end up showing a sorry tale. If the site is stable and fully developed it may be worth getting your coding fingers dirty and at least minifying the individual CSS and JS files. Ideally they should be combined, or at least called only when needed. I recently gained a large speed increase on this blog by simplifying the stylesheets, that is, removing spaces and comments. But, this is a test-bed, and although it has ousted the main site it continues to be tinkered with.

Let’s look at some examples that I use,
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My Blackberry or My Crappy Point and Shoot!


I have previously mentioned people’s assumption that good images are synonymous with top spec cameras. I’m sorry but for me that is wrong. I’m not knocking technology, there is no doubt that it can make things a lot easier but what I am doing is celebrating vision.

The images above are a small selection from Caleb Butler’s WordPress blog. Caleb is a student and the title to this article is his answer to my question “what are you shooting this stuff on?” That’s it, there is no top tech here, it’s all about the looking, the seeing, dare I say it, all about showing an interest.

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New WordPress Website for Schimmer Child

Schimmer Child WordPress SiteDesign Credo of Exeter, Devon have created a new WordPress website with Schimmer Child of Stroud, near Gloucester.

Schimmer Child specialise in 3D design and have a history of design and manufacturing spanning over twenty years for companies and organisations including,

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WordPress Support: I Can’t Get Out of Maintenance Mode

wordpress_logo

WordPress Support Pages

Design Credo of Exeter have been offering WordPress training and support for some time now and plan to develop this as we move into 2011. Existing support items can be found in the WordPress design page here: this list will be regularly updated.

Can’t Get Out of Maintenance Mode

WordPress is great but occasionally even great things go wrong and usually things going wrong cause un-necessary panic and anxiety. I suspect I won’t be alone in feeling worried when my lovely blog was replaced by a white screen and simple text saying.

Maintenance Mode – SITE is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance. Please try back in…

So what causes this and how do we clear the block?

WordPress is constantly being updated, both the core platform and the add-on plugins. This is sometimes annoying but overall it is a good thing, it is all part of a dynamic and organic entity constantly evolving. Generally updates are done via the ‘dashboard’ (the WordPress user interface) although in most cases updates can be performed manually using FTP.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a way of sending files from one computer to another, in this instance, from your computer to the server where your WordPress blog is hosted. If you don’t have an FTP program there are many available, we have previously highlighted how Firefox can be added to, allowing it to perform full FTP activities.

Whichever way you choose to upgrade, WordPress disables the site whilst files are being upgraded, and puts itself into Maintenance Mode. This avoids a viewer trying to access a file on the site that is in the process of being replaced, potentially causing a ‘crash’. If the process stalls whilst in Maintenance Mode your blog will continue to be inaccessible. However this is really easy to rectify.

Access your WordPress blog root directory using an FTP client and simply delete the ‘.maintenance’ file (this is an ‘invisible’ file so you will need your FTP client to be set to ‘show invisible files’.) As soon as the file has been removed the blog will once again appear. However you will probably find that the upgrade hasn’t completed so you will need to try again.
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