Swivel Studio

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

SkyKick Open to Partners

SkyKick found success right out of the gate, marketing Office 365 automated migrations to Small Businesses. With that success, a bigger demand presented itself from IT professionals whom wanted to partner with SkyKick. This redesign encompasses the shift in audience. Reception has been stellar.

skykick website

With the updated website, potential partners learn all the benefits SkyKick’s technology can offer – increasing margins while making migrations safer. Partners can also research product details, while making their decision. Product details outline the SkyKick Applications Suite, as well as a Typical Timeline Infographic and What We Migrate checklist table.

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AvaTax User Interfaces

In the second half of 2012, I worked with the NW company Avalara creating design interfaces and front-end development on their AvaTax Web Application. Working closely with the Senior User Experience Designer, Ed Lisieski, we worked on translating wireframes into updated interfaces with rich interactivity – simplifying and clarifying the user experience.

This was a great project to cut my teeth in Bootstrap – which allowed me to rapidly prototype out a variety of user interactions, all with stability across the browser landscape and ease of CSS styling.

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Plugins, Not Created Equal

Plugins are a big selling point for WordPress sites – but very few follow through on the promise of making development better or easier. Just finding a decent plugin can take hours of searching and testing, and then it might not work right. You install it, then it breaks or breaks when you update. I’ve become weary of the lure of plugins as a solution most of the time. (Simple additions to the functions.php file are much preferred, with lots of less baggage.)

But wait – not all hope is lost. Plugins can save tons of development time in certain instances. There are a handful of plugins that truly do a great job and should be standard. Here’s a list that I will revisit.

UPDATED!
1) JetPack for WordPress – Use this one for the integrated site stats alone. A new update has made a sweet carousel plugin straight from your native gallery thumbnails. This is created and maintained by Automattic, so this is a quality plugin.

2) WP-DB-Backup – Let’s hope I never need to resort to this, but it’s a comfort to know everything can be backed up with a click. This back up plugin is simple. Done.

3) Contact Form 7 – Easiest implementation of a contact form, ever. It just works.

4) Google XML Sitemap Generator – Got to make the sites friendly with SEO, this one creates and auto updates. Nice.

5) Google Analytics for WordPress – It can track all your outbound links, forget all that hand coding. So necessary.

6) Facebook Open Graph Meta in WordPress – I tried out a few, and I did have to edit the php of this to make it work properly with my WordPress meta in the header – but it does deliver. You can select a featured image for any page to display on Facebook as the thumbnail.

I’ll get back to this later – and spare you from the list of plugins that have failed me.

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Jennifer Loomis launch

Pregnancy/Maternity photography is well known these days – and much thanks to early pioneers in the field like Jennifer Loomis. She has photographed extensively and is an artist whom is well regarded with an international following.

We worked with Jennifer to plan, design and develop a WordPress site for her. Our planning and UX work aligns with Jennifer’s plans for how here business can grow. Extensive SEO and social planning was part of the package. The new website is a great brand refresh for this established photographer.

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Readers to Eaters launch

Recently launched the Readers to Eaters website, in time for their first published book to hit shelves. Readers to Eaters is a book publisher focusing on books around growing, cooking and eating food. Swivel worked closely with Readers to Eaters to bring their vision to life. Our process began with a logo and wordmark, moved into branding and interface design, and then site development. We also collaboratively worked on the messaging and simplifying the copywriting.

The site is developed in WordPress, which will allow the publishing house to keep in touch with their audience. They can update their book catalogue, post their newest reviews, and announce upcoming events in a blog format. A great project overall. Go see what Readers to Eaters is all about.

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Future of flash

Nothing changes, that’s the news. Adobe will cease developing it’s Flash Player plug-in for mobile browsers, as reported on CNN/Wired.

Adobe will continue to support the desktop computer with continued plugin support. They have effectively pulled out of the mobile marketplace, but they never really entered it. On the desktop and in Apps, Adobe Actionscript will still play a role. Adobe plans to put more more weight behind HTML5 – as you could guess with the release of Adobe Edge.

Flash has allowed the creation of rich interactive sites that functioned and appeared consistent across all browser platforms. But now browsers have support for CSS3 and HTML5, Javascript libraries, and support for typography. Mobile is a different beast, and Flash is not suited for that platform. I’m looking forward to the evolution of development cross-platform. Exciting times.

Here’s the best article on this subject, by Adobe’s chief of developer relations Mike Chambers.

So for Flash sites, really nothing changes. All sites will continue to function as they have.
And I will continue to maintain all the Flash sites I’ve developed (along with their non-flash mobile versions).

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WordPress + Facebook

There are a lot of options for cross-pollination here. Now testing out the Wordbooker plugin, to post to my Swivel Studio fan page. This plugin has a lot of options to customize and control the feed. It adds a couple custom fields to your wordpress post as well; wordbooker_extract and wordbooker_thumb. It seems like an ideal way to save time and integrate the two.

There are a few last minute elements such as this to add before the official launch of the new site (even though it’s live!). A few more images shoot and add as well.

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It’s out the door

Last thing on the list tonight is to test the WordPress iPhone app out. After a few rounds of wacky Internet Explorer bugs, I finally launched the new site!

Tech note: IE doesn’t like single pages without the Template name. Problems started with a Custom Post type page: single-work.php, which didn’t have the Template name at the top. But I had to add a Template name to the default single.php as well. Huh!

Adios amigos. Miller Time.

Oh. And this app is pretty righteous.

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The Outtakes

Every dog has it’s day. Finnigan’s was August 25th because he needed a portrait for the website. He’s a natural, going for that introspective look – confident yet inquisitive. The secret is holding the lamb treats up above your head while taking the shots.

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