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Thoughts on SquareSpace and WordPress

I just published 2 new websites, but you won’t see them in my portfolio. They aren’t original designs, so I don’t feel like I can take credit for them.

Over the years I’ve designed and developed websites using a gaggle of different content management systems. I’ve probably used WordPress more than any other CMS, but I just finished a project using Squarespace. Picking a template was easy enough, they have probably 25 nice looking templates. You can add custom CSS and Javascript easy enough and there’s a developer mode to really get under the hood. I didn’t use the developer mode, the store or even any Javascript so I can’t really comment on those things.

The website came together pretty fast, less than 100 lines of custom CSS to get the right look and feel and we were off and running. I would think
Squarespace would work great for someone wanting to get their feet wet with a new website. Check out the final SquareSpace website here.

The 2nd website was a redesign for a custom website I designed and coded in 2014. Revel Salon picked the theme from Theme Forest and asked me to set everything up.

Setup was pretty typical, I downloaded the theme and installed it. Getting the theme installed wasn’t bad, but If you are new to building websites, there’s going to be a learning curve. Once installed, there were a lot of options for the theme at the site and page level. And that might also be a little daunting for people unfamiliar with WordPress or content management systems in general. The website came together pretty fast, less than 100 lines of custom CSS here as well. Anyway check out the final WordPress website here.

A person with minimal skills could probably get a SquareSpace website off the ground and published relatively quick and I believe it would be easier than getting a WordPress website off the ground. For the control freaks like me, tinkerer’s, and those who just want to learn, it’s just hard to beat WordPress.

Making websites more accessible

I passed a blind lady this morning on the steps, navigating the stairs with her cane. It really struck me how much I take my health for granted. According to the US Census of the 291.1 million people in the 2005 population of the United States, 54.4 million, or 18.7 percent, reported some level of disability.

There’s a good chance that some of our website visitors may have some form of disability, with that in mind I try to make sure sites I design meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Some of the tools I use to check accessibility are.

I try to be empathetic in design since I was born with Protanopia, doesn’t that sound awful? It’s not really that bad I’m just red-green color blind and with me being a designer, I guess it’s kind of weird. You will notice I always use a limited palette and for new colors, I will use color tools. I’m pretty safe designing when using a computer, just don’t ask me to paint using traditional tools, my paintings always come out looking like mud:)

Sharing local files

When starting a new project I’ll usually set up a domain on my localhost something like “new-project.local”. However, it presents a problem when trying to show your work to clients, either you publish to a live website or you can use this cool tool with a funky name NGROK.

Just drop the NGROK file in your folder, and type a few commands and bam, your localhost has a public address — something like “https://random-string.ngrok.io” that you can show the world, keep in mind your computer needs to be up and running for them to see. So if you send them a link be sure to tell them it’s temporary.

I’ve also just started playing with code-kit it looks promising and has some great features built in like compiling SASS and JavaScript and external addresses for sharing.