Mar
13
2017

Another WordPress course training in Newcastle

WordPress training courses in Newcastle upon Tyne

A popular service since I introduced them many years ago, my WordPress training courses have trained people of all abilities and technical knowledge levels on the various components of the WordPress content management system.

I’ve trained people from bespoke one-on-one tutoring to small group sessions for company departments. I’ve also had the pleasure to run my WordPress courses for clients in Newcastle, Gateshead and County Durham, as even staff at larger institutions such as the University of Edinburgh.

Last week saw me run yet another WordPress training course for a client here in Newcastle upon Tyne, and taking the client through the content gave me a chance to think about how the courses have evolved over time. Initially, the WordPress training courses covered the very fundamental elements of WordPress, largely related to formatting content, and looking at WordPress’ key features.

This is all very well and good, but our newer courses now think more about an organisation’s requirements, and how we can help that organisation

Traditional WordPress training courses

WordPress logo

Traditional WordPress training courses tend to cover standard features of WordPress, including:

  • Adding and editing page and post content in WordPress
  • Formatting content, from bold and italic formatting to internal and external links, headers, lists and tables
  • Managing user accounts and post comments in WordPress
  • Planning your website’s hierarchy and using menus in WordPress
  • Customising your pages and posts by changing page templates, adding widgets, and more

This is a great introduction to the fundamentals of WordPress, but if your website is designed as a promotional tool for your business or organisation, I felt like something was missing.

How I improved our WordPress courses

Our simplest improvement was asking our training course delegates what they wanted to know to help achieve their aims for the website. These ranged from “feeling confident in adding new content” (something I aim for everyone attending my WordPress training) to “generating more sales enquiries”, and this latter point lead to a big change in focus for later sessions.

As such, we’ve adapted the courses over the years to introduce an introduction to search engine optimisation for WordPress component which has proved very popular with website managers. The SEO content provides extra insight in to how search engines look at a website, and guidance on best practice for structuring your page content.

If you’d like to talk about a WordPress training course and getting you up to speed on optimising content in your site, please do get in touch.

Nov
29
2016

Technically reviewed Magento 2 Theme Design book

Magento 2 Theme Design book

I recently received a copy of Magento 2 Theme Design book by Fernando J Miguel.

Magento 2 Theme Design book cover

The book is designed to be a guide for web designers and developers wanting to get started with building Magento 2 themes. As author of Magento theming books for Magento 1 (mostly recently, Magento Responsive Theme Design), I’m credited on the cover, and I acted as technical reviewer on the book.

Table of contents

  1. INTRODUCTION TO MAGENTO 2
  2. EXPLORING MAGENTO THEMES
  3. MAGENTO 2 THEME LAYOUT
  4. MAGENTO UI LIBRARY
  5. CREATING A RESPONSIVE MAGENTO 2 THEME
  6. MAGENTO 2 STYLES DEBUGGING
  7. MAGENTO UI COMPONENTS
  8. MAGENTO LAYOUT DEVELOPMENT
  9. MAGENTO 2 JAVASCRIPT
  10. SOCIAL MEDIA IN MAGENTO 2
  11. THEME DEVELOPMENT BEST PRACTICES
  12. MAGENTO THEME DISTRIBUTION

Nov
1
2016

Peacock Carter is 10 years old

Newcastle web design agency Peacock Carter is 10 years old

My web design agency, Peacock Carter, is 10 years old today. There’s a more formal post over on Peacock Carter’s website, but here’s some reminiscing for the softer-at-heart.

In some ways, the time has flown by, but when I look back over the 10 years, both the company and myself have

10 years of clients

We’re a small web design agency, and we’ve pulled in some great clients you may have heard:

  • Directgov (back in the days before Gov.UK was launched!)
  • NHS Direct
  • Business Link (again, back when it existed)
  • the NHS (once again!)
  • the International Life Sciences Institute
  • City & Guilds
  • University College Dublin
  • the University of Edinburgh

Alongside the bigger names, we’ve had a lovely range of smaller clients, some of whom have grown with us; it’s always great to see the work we do make significant contributions to the success of our clients!

10 years of landmarks

  • We started as the rather pompously-named Peacock, Carter & Associates. That didn’t last too long before we adopted the shorter “Peacock Carter”.
  • We’ve moved around a little bit: starting in a bedroom in Durham, we moved in to offices in Gateshead a year afterwards. From there, we moved in to Newcastle upon Tyne near Central Station.
  • Our time and money has done a lot of good around the North East, and wider UK. Causes include the fantastic Fairy Bricks and that stunning icon of the North East, Durham Cathedral

 

Jun
23
2016

3 things you learn as Magento developers

Being a Magento web developer puts me in a fairly small minority of web developers in the UK. From endless Xmen jokes to sharing Magento’s love of XML, here are some of the things I’ve come across as a long term Magento developer.

1. You definitely will get sick of people calling it “Magneto”, and X-Men jokes

I’ve heard just about every X-Men joke possible. If you spell Magento wrong, it does look like an X-Men character. I get it. Every Magento developer gets it. We’ve heard it a million times! ;)

I’ve worked with Magento since 2008, so even if I wanted to spell “Magneto” instead of “Magento” it takes a lot of concentration these days.

At least Google accepts you’re trying to spell Magento these days, though!

2. Magento loves XML

Configuration. Layout in themes. Everything that could potentially be done in XML, is done in XML in Magento.

As a Magento developer, you will come to love XML.

3. Developers fear Magento (?)

A more serious point: a lot of web developers seem to fear the unknown. They’ve heard that Magento is has a steep learning curve, but haven’t tried it to assess for themselves. Magento definitely does have a learning curve (especially up against platforms such as WordPress), but these days there is plenty of great documentation on Magento for developers.

Jun
16
2016

Now organising Ecommerce North East meetup

Speaking at Ecommerce North East

One of the things I love about living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne / the North East of England more generally is the way the region punches above its weight in terms of tech and digital meetups.

I already organise the WordPress North East and Magento North East groups, and love bringing people who are passionate about those topics together – as well as learning a lot about the topics too from the depth and breadth of speakers they attract.

One of the many meetups out there is the Ecommerce North East meetup. The group meets monthly at Campus North here in Newcastle upon Tyne on the first Wednesday evening of each month, as well as using the online community of around 250 members to discuss issues and best practice in between meetings.

Tony, the previous organiser, has done a fantastic job building a community of store owners, businesses, web designers and marketing experts all interested in ecommerce, but had limited time to continue organising the meetup. I jumped at the chance to help, as it fits closely with all of the Magento design and development projects I work on already at Peacock Carter. Alex, another attendee, also promised his help, and we became joint organisers – with a good grounding in both ecommerce web design and development, and with Alex’s experience in running an ecommerce business too.

Our plans for Ecommerce North East

After a quick discussion with Alex, we have a few plans for Ecommerce North East over the coming months and years to help maximise our impact for attendees, including:

  • Making more use of social media via Ecommerce NE’s Twitter account, and a Facebook group for members too.
  • Plans to provide workshop-style content for popular topics such as Amazon fulfillment and listing optimisation
  • We’ve launched a new website for Ecommerce North East to help provide an archive of previous topics, where slides and notes from speakers are available
  • Growing attendance to create an even more diverse, stronger community of people with an interest in ecommerce in the North East of England

If you’d like to come and learn more about ecommerce – or come and tell us about your ecommerce passion – it’d be great to see you at a future Ecommerce North East meetup. You can join us at meetup.com/ecommercene – it’s free to sign up (and you’re notified of future events too that way), and there is no charge for events.