Website: Confidential Acquisition Corporation

Sometimes I get the opportunity to work on a project that remains confidential for various reasons. Maybe the client is desiring a private label product or some other special business situation. I was recently approached by a company to help them with the design of a Microsoft PowerPoint “pitch deck” that could be used to secure financing. They described it as a printable presentation deck that could be handed out during pitch meetings with potential investors. They also needed a logo and some other corporate identity bits and pieces that I designed in Adobe Illustrator. In the following screenshots, I’ve removed the real content and replaced the logo with a generic one since the project will remain confidential.

Website Home Page Design
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WordPress Plugin: Advanced Custom Fields

I’ve been using the Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin for a few years now and I can’t imagine building a website without it. It allows you to take full control of the WordPress admin so that it’s much more intuitive to manage your site’s content. Instead of one big editor, as if you’re writing a long blog post, ACF adds smaller form fields (text, textarea, radio buttons, checkboxes, etc.) that more closely match smaller sections of content. My clients have really enjoyed the simplicity of maintaining their own site as well. Plus, when it’s been a few months, or longer, since I last updated a website, it’s nice to be able to immediately understand how to edit the content. There’s a “pro” version of the plugin with additional features, including repeatable fields, media galleries, and more.

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Learning to Develop WordPress Plugins

I’ve been learning how to develop WordPress plugins over the past week or so (in between big website projects). So far I’ve completed 7 simple but useful plugins! I’m by no means an expert software engineer, but I’m really pleased with the results after a relatively short amount of time. Plugins make repetitive content management tasks a whole lot easier and they’re not theme dependent (you can switch themes and they’ll stay in place). I’ll do some proper write-ups on a few of the plugins soon, but here’s a preview of what I’ve developed so far.

Note: For now, these plugins are just intended for my learning purposes, so I’m not releasing them to the general public. Plus, they mainly satisfy development needs that are specific to my website projects, so I don’t know how useful they’d be for other developers. Perhaps in the future I’ll develop some plugins to be included in the WordPress plugin repository.

Screenshot of Michael's WordPress plugins, including author bio shortcode, custom login, custom post types, placeholder shortcode, slider shortcodes, social media, and welcome panel.

WordPress Plugin: MPG Author Bio

If you have multiple authors on one WordPress blog, you can create accounts for each of those authors and add some biographical information in their user settings. However, not all authors prefer to provide personal info to the public. This plugin creates a simple shortcode that you can manually include on individual blog posts that includes the author’s bio and photo, as well as icon links to their social media accounts.


WordPress Plugin: MPG Welcome Panel

After installing a fresh copy of WordPress, you’re presented with a default WordPress-branded welcome panel at the top of the admin dashboard. I’ve recently learned that you can replace that panel with a version of your own. In my case, I’ve always wanted to give my clients a more useful panel that will encourage them to reach out to me if they run into problems while maintaining their site’s content.

This plugin is very easy to configure. Update the plugin’s HTML and CSS to match your brand’s logo, colors, and messaging. Upload your logo image to the WordPress Media Library and include the URL in the plugin’s anchor link. When I’m doing freelance work for other agencies, I can customize the welcome panel to match their branding and colors.


WordPress Plugin: MPG Custom Login

I’ve been learning how to develop WordPress plugins lately. I have studied this topic before, but decided to really dive deep and create one for my own use. The first plugin I made allows you to easily customize the WordPress login screen, including logo, background, and form colors. It has a settings page (under the Settings menu in the WordPress admin) and you fill out a few fields in a short form. Here are some screenshots of what it looks like in action. I still have a lot to learn about plugin development, but I’m really looking forward to developing a few more simple plugins. I’ve got some ideas that I think could work.


WordPress Plugin Training Course

I’ve been steadily going through the WordPress: Plugin Development training course by Jeff Starr on LinkedIn Learning. I’m really impressed with the quality of instruction in this entire set of videos. I’ve learned a lot and it’s really helped me fully understand how to plan, design, develop, and publish a complete WordPress plugin. If you’ve wanted to dig down deep in the subject, I’d recommend taking a look. There are a couple free introductory videos, as well as a course outline, that will give you a good idea of what the course is all about.

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Responsive Web Design: A Gentle Introduction

Are you new to the whole responsive web design thing? Have you been required to build a responsive website at work, but you’re not sure where to start? Are you somewhat skeptical about fitting a responsive workflow into your organization? Whatever your situation happens to be, you’ve come to the right place. In this video training course we explore the topic of responsive web design—what it is and how it’s done. We also take a detailed look at a responsive starter kit that can help you get started in your own responsive projects. Finally, we discuss some ways to explore the topic further with some helpful resources and additional training.

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Mobile-First Responsive Web Design

We previously wrote about changes in workflow and basic techniques of responsive web design, so now let’s dive into something more challenging: optimizing website performance for mobile. While we’re adding complexity, let’s go ahead and add a dash of legacy browser support as well. This may seem like an odd mix of requirements, but let’s face it: Sometimes we find ourselves in a position where we have to simultaneously forge ahead with modern technologies while ensuring that we don’t forget about site visitors with less capable browsers.

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Responsive Web Design – The Basics

In a previous post, we discussed how responsive web design can require changes in workflow and strategy. In Ethan Marcotte’s groundbreaking article published on the blog A List Apart, he helped us think about the web in a more flexible way, where the display of all-important content can adapt to the capabilities of devices instead of being boxed in by fixed-width, inflexible layouts. Let’s take a look at each of Ethan’s three original technical ingredients and see what they can do for us.

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