Social Research Unit

The Social Research Unit is an independent charity that seeks to increase the use of evidence of what works in designing and delivering services for children and their families. I built their website using WordPress.

Social Research Unit

To keep costs down I based the design on a premium theme called Avada. This theme already includes features such as a blog section, and elements for constructing the home page. I customised the theme to match the SRU’s branding and content.

Social Research Unit blog

Bellenden

I built the Bellenden website based on a design by Macsima. The site is mobile responsive, meaning that its layout automatically restructures and adapts itself to the size of the user’s device, whether phone, tablet or desktop computer. Unusually for me, this is a business rather than a non-profit’s website.

Bellenden

The site makes good use of the ability of WordPress to insert galleries of images into pages, in order to publish staff and consultants’ photos. Also, staff can be associated with particular pages so that visitors know who to contact.

Bellenden

Law for Life

Law for Life is a charity dedicated to ensuring that people have the knowledge, confidence and skills needed to deal with law-related issues. I designed and built their website using WordPress.

Law for Life


Register of Professional Turners

The Register of Professional Turners is an association of woodturners who offer a professional service to the public, and whose work has been approved by competent assessors as being of good quality. I built them a WordPress website, which puts lists of woodturners onto maps so that the public can find them easily.

Register of Professional Turners home

The CustomPress plugin was used to help create a directory of woodturners’ contact details, and categorise them according to their specialities.

The MapPress plugin enabled us to integrate Google Maps into the website, so that woodturners could be displayed on maps. The public can find woodturners in their area, and see lists of pole lathe turners or bowl turners near them.

Register of Professional Turners map

The TeamPB blog

TeamPB is a website jointly run by The Prostate Cancer Charity and Breast Cancer Care.  They provided the visual design and I made it all work in WordPress.

TeamPB home page

There are some nice touches to the design. For example the blue and pink colour scheme that both mirrors their logos and makes it clear this is an issue that affects men and women. I like the way that text has a white space margin to its sides, but photos don’t.

TeamPB about page

The main feature of the website is its blog, which keeps marathon runners and supporters informed. There’s also a Twitter widget in the right column, which they keep very up-todate.

TeamPB blog and Tweets

When the website first went live it also had application forms for the marathon. I built these using the Gravity Forms WordPress plugin because it enables complex, flexible online forms to be created with a minimum of fuss.

The TeamPB website can be seen at www.teampb.org.uk


Social Impact Analysts Association

This new Association needed a website to promote their organisation, sign up members and advertises their conference and other events. I designed their website and built it using WordPress.

Social Impact Analysts Association website home page

Complex online forms

The website’s most important feature is perhaps its membership forms. The Association is on a drive to expand its membership and has three separate forms.  They’re all quite long, so we split the forms into sections, filled in over several pages. When the forms are submitted they send an email notification to the Association; they also send the data to a client relationship database called Salesforce.  A WordPress plugin called Gravity Forms enabled us to build such complex forms.

SIAA membership form

Displaying staff and trustees’ details

SIAA wanted their staff and trustees’ names and short biographies beside a photo, which was easy for them to do in WordPress by simply left-aligning the thumbnail images and putting a horizontal rule below each person’s biography. A added sprinkle of CSS code made it look smart.

SIAA trustees

Visit the website of the Social Impact Analysts Association.


Artwork for a craftsman’s DVD cover

I designed the cover and inlay for my Dad’s woodturning DVD. A quick and simple task, especially since he was able to provide a selection of eye-catching photos to choose from.

Woodturning DVD coverThe artwork was sent to the company printing the DVDs, following their guidelines on dimensions and quality.

I also built a landing page on Stuart’s website to advertise the DVD, with a PayPal form to take payments.

Whenever he tells people about the DVD, or advertises it on the Internet, he gives the address of this landing page instead of his usual website address.


Backing up your WordPress website

Backing up your website is an essential, regular task but one that often gets overlooked or taken for granted. Should you assume that your hosting company does it for you? Or your website designer? Or do it yourself? I automate the task using a WordPress plugin called BackupBuddy.

Many WordPress plugins are free but BackupBuddy is a premium plugin

For an annual fee of US $150 I can use it to back up an unlimited number of clients’ website, which makes it great value. I simply wouldn’t have time to backup a couple of dozen sites manually every week.

Once installed on your website, BackupBuddy checks that the hosting server’s settings are conducive to doing a backup, and if there are problems, gives you advice on how to resolve them. In practice, I’ve found that only about one in four hosting packages needs tweaking in some way.

The plugin also runs a check for malware – handy, because if your site has been hacked you can revert to a previous backup.

Unlike some plugins, Backup Buddy backs up everything

That includes your MySQL database, WordPress core files, theme, uploaded images and documents. And it saves it as a single compressed file. If you want to exclude one or more folders, you can.

You can set up a schedule – I tend to do weekly backups but the can be daily, fortnightly or monthly – and BackupBuddy will automatically do the backup and send you an email to tell you it’s ready. Then you can login to WordPress and download the backup. Even better, you can have the backup sent to your Dropbox account, or sent by FTP to another location for safe keeping.

I’ve seen some problems arise but they’ve all been fixable

I’ve got the plugin to work on every single website, on hosting from several different hosting companies. In my experience, on two out of three websites Backup Buddy works correctly first time. Here are some of the more common problems that can arise.

WordPress directories may need permissions changing to 755. Backup Buddy will tell you whether they’re right or not, you’ll need to have FTP access to the website, or know how to login to your hosting control panel to change these folders’ permissions.

Sometimes the amount of memory your site is allowed to run PHP code, has been limited. This can be fixed by adding a line of code to a WordPress file – but it isn’t always so straightforward. Occasionally a website’s PHP.ini file will need to be found and edited, depending on how your hosting company has configured it.

One website wouldn’t back up at all, despite all the server settings looking correct. Switching to Backup Buddy’s alternative method of zipping files, fixed that issue.

All in all, it’s a great plugin. It may need some configuration but usually works with minimal tweaking. It’s a reliable solution to keeping your website safe and secure.

Alternatives to Backup Buddy

VaultPress is a competitor product to Backup Buddy. I’ve not used it but heard good things about it. It’s more expensive, and simply not an option for someone like me with 20+ websites to backup. But if you run only one or two websites, it’s probably the better WordPress plugin to purchase.

A manual backup is preferable to an automated one. Some website professionals would only ever do it manually and don’t trust plugins. Even if you use a plugin to backup your website, schedule the occasional manual backup too.