New Year

After a year or so off of any blogging, I’ve decided to get back to it again. It’s a new year and I am feeling a good bit of momentum behind the vision for Merriam Creative right now. Things have never been more active with the company and my client list continues to grow. In 2017, I’m really excited about some new opportunities that are working out and already I’ve had some incredible clients to work with this first few weeks of the year.

So, with that in mind, I hope you are finding your new year’s resolutions not only exciting but attainable! Here’s to a year of growth and meeting some amazingly creative thinkers and entrepreneurs.

If you need any assistance this year in kickstarting your new business or just updating your current brand, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let’s see what we can craft together in 2017.

Step Back

projects
projects
Proofs, samples and finished pieces strewn about.

Do you ever take a step back and look at your desk and say, wow, I’ve got a lot going on right now? As I was packing up the other day to go home from the office, I looked around my desk and noticed all of the different pieces that I have in production at the moment.

All of these pieces are related to the Georgia CALLS project that I’ve been working on and getting ready for the grand opening. Seeing all of the pieces laid out on my desk gave me a sense of satisfaction to see the brand developing consistently across the different media.

So, in the midst of crunch time, make sure you take the time to step back and get a fresh look at your current projects … you might be pleasantly surprised at your accomplishments.

Why I’m Switching Back

iphoneI’ve been an Apple freak since 1983 when my dad bought us an Apple IIe and learned how to write my first code on that thing when I was in the 4th grade. Flash-forward 30+ years and I still use Apple products every day. But, after some serious back and forth in my mind about getting a new phone I jumped ship and tried an Android out. GASP.

I bought an LG G2 last December and I really feel I’ve given it a fair shot but I can honestly say that I’ve missed my iPhone. I miss the simplicity in the UI. I miss the super-easy configuration, the consistency in the UI across apps, the tactile feel of the device and lastly the seemless tie-in across devices.

Sure, the Android is way more configurable and I can modify all kinds of settings that I can touch on the iPhone but as excited as I was about those tweaks when I got the phone I can honestly say that at this point it’s more of a hassle than anything. I just want it to work and want it to look clean. I want everything to be where it should be and this is where Apple excels.

So, come fall I’ll be returning to my roots and recertifying my Apple junkie card. Goodbye LG and welcome back iPhone.

Toughest Marathon

For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been directing a heartfelt video of my dad’s continuing battle with cholangiocarcinoma. I’m so excited to see it all come together and get it out to the world. It’s a story of hope and about taking life day by day, living it to the fullest and appreciating relationships.

We crafted the story around Bill’s passion for marathon running and as he says, he’s a “cancer patient with a running problem.” For anyone that is facing cancer or knows someone who is, I know this will give you a little hope as you take on this beast.

@font-face in your Face

I got this jewel of an error this morning while checking a site in IE10 that I hadn’t run across before.

CSS3117: @font-face failed cross-origin request error

Of course, it was glaringly obvious that the site hadn’t loaded the fonts I intended for it to load so the connection wasn’t being made. I did some quick searching and the “cross-origin” request in this case was that I hadn’t yet specified whether or not the site was to be only ‘www’ or non-www so the discrepancy apparently was enough to flag a security problem in IE. After adjusting the .htaccess file to route all traffic to the ‘www’ subdomain, all is working fine.

Hope that helps someone else out there.

Launching in 3, 2, 1

After building and launching websites now since 1998 (yeah, I’m old), I thought I’d break down the essential checklist for that exciting yet nerve-wracking event called go-live. These are just my standard checks and are tailored for a WordPress installation so your mileage may vary.

Step 1

Check all your links to make sure they’re relative to your live server. Chances are that coming from a development environment you’ll end up with some absolute links to your dev domain so you’ll have to either make the change in the database via a MySQL find/replace query or using a WordPress plugin called Velvet Blues Update URLs that I ran across last year, or another good one called Automatic Domain Changer.

Step 2

Enable Google to search the site. This one is crucial if you ever want anyone to actually find the site in Google. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to tick that box in the process of going live.

Step 3

Make sure you’ve got a sitemap.xml file for Google to find. This is how Google will find the pages throughout your site so it’s not something you want to forget.

Step 4

Hook up Google Analytics so you can track starting from day one. You’ll want a good baseline to see how much traffic your site is getting compared to the old (if applicable) website.

Step 5

Make it happen, then verify! This is the moment of truth. After you make your DNS switch and push the site into the public realm the first thing to do is to click through everything. Go through every page and look for missing images, broken links, php errors etc. If you were careful in your theme customization and updated your domain as in step 1, then you should be ok. What I always do is to install the plugin Broken Link Checker to make sure everything is ok. It’ll find any remaining links (internal and external) that aren’t resolving and walk you through fixing them one by one.

That’s the gist of my go-live routine. The fun always lies in the surprises and delays in DNS propagation, which can sometimes take hours. Typically, I see DNS propagation these days in a matter of minutes versus hours but there is always that one time where you might see the new site and the client sees the old. As a precaution, I always have my clients close their browsers and do a force refresh of the page to avoid any stubborn caching issues.

Good luck!

Excluding Posts from Blog Page in WordPress

Ok, this one seemed to trip me up quite a bit when I had a client ask to exclude a certain category from the main blog page in WordPress. For example, if you have a category of “news” or a category of “events” that you don’t want to show up on your main blog page you’ve designated in WordPress just add this snippet to your theme’s functions file at the bottom before the closing php tag “?>”,  if there is one in your theme.

// Exclude news and events category posts from specified blog page

function exclude_category($query) {
if ( $query->is_home() ) {
$query->set(‘cat’, ‘-6 -7’);
}
return $query;
}
add_filter(‘pre_get_posts’, ‘exclude_category’);

Note that in this case, category 6 was my “news” category and category “7” was my “events” category. So, in this query I’m simply prefixing the numerical id with a minus to exclude it from the results.

The full details can be found on the good ol’ WordPress Codex here – http://codex.wordpress.org/Class_Reference/WP_Query

Hopefully that’ll help some poor soul searching for this seemingly simple task out there.

Cheers!