Next Year, More Goals

I set a few goals at the beginning of 2011. I wanted to:

  1. Recode this site using WordPress’ 3.0’s custom post types and HTML5, plus develop a mobile theme.
  2. Complete a project in Drupal, Joomla or another CMS.
  3. Blog more.
  4. Learn more PHP.

So how did I do? I launched a new site in May, right on par with what I wanted to create. I didn’t quite build a site in Drupal or Joomla, but re-skinned a site using Blackbaud NetCommunity. Not bad. I wrote 42 posts this year, about 10 less than last year, even though it feels like I wrote more. I’m definitely more comfortable with PHP, thanks to a few WordPress projects.

The new year has me thinking about what goals to set for this year.

  1. Blog more, and better (yep, going to have to improve over last year).
  2. Learn more about HTML5 Boilerplate (and possibly add or create a new theme for my site that integrates it).
  3. Launch an Elon iMedia Community website, based on BuddyPress – something I’ve stated in 2011.
  4. Read more books on tech (first up is Designing with Progressive Enhancement then some of the books by Chip and Dan Heath).
  5. Become more proficient in project management (I know the basic principles, but want to grow my skills).

New Photo Albums Section

Update: September, 2014: I’ve moved these to this section on my blog.

I just finished a new photo album section for the site, built with a custom post type and custom taxonomies.

Matt Mullenweg’s own photo gallery inspired me, and Otto’s post certainly helped with some of the functionality. I hope to add more photos and functionality soon.

I imagine I’ll do something else with my photo blog that runs on Posterous – just not sure what. I’m happy to have tighter control over my content, functionality and presentation with this option though.

DK WordPress Theme 3.0

A few months ago, I set a few goals.

One of them was to rebuild this site using WordPress’ 3.0’s custom post types and HTML 5, plus develop a mobile theme. Well, you’re looking at that site. Thanks for the awesome work of the Automattic theme team, I’ve got a new site, coded with HTML5 and mobile ready, with responsive design.

About the New Site

I created the site with Duster as a parent theme, harnessing many of WordPress’ most recent and powerful features. Duster comes HTML5 ready and includes CSS 3 responsive design media queries. It proved to be a great starting point. Other people that deserve credit for inspiration:

The new site brings marked improvements over my old site. I used a child theme, took advantage of WordPress templates and used custom post types and taxonomies.

I learned a ton, and hope to do a couple tutorials in the future.

New Year, New Goals

Champagne image

Another year has rolled on by, and like many others, I keep thinking where I’ve been.

With technology moving so quickly, bringing with it many new applications to try and fresh techniques to learn, I wanted to make some goals for the new year. Resolutions? You could call them that.

  1. Recode this site using WordPress’ 3.0’s custom post types and HTML 5, plus develop a mobile theme.
  2. Complete a project in Drupal, Joomla or another CMS.
  3. Blog more.
  4. Learn more PHP.

Four simple goals, so we’ll see how they go throughout the year… What’s on your list?

Image by Vierdre.

Feedback Anyone?

Get Feedback image

When I launched my website, I never did any sort of usability testing, user personas or focus groups. After all, why would I? This was just my personal/professional website.

I did go through two previous incarnations before settling on this version, and I enlisted the help of several friends and colleagues along the way. I sought all kinds of feedback from them, from design to content and beyond. Obviously, the big goal of my site was to help me land a job. That worked as I landed one recently.

However, feedback is always good, and luckily a writing and editing class, geared toward both print and online mediums decided to critique my portfolio site. Check out some of the comments.

I’m glad to see most of them have been positive, but even so, some impressions of my site have made me realize, “Oh that wasn’t my exact intention.” It goes to show you that every single step in web design, web development and content strategy carries so much importance, as each turn is an opportunity to make an impression.

Image by Dominik Gwarek.

My Reasons for a Social Media Shuffle

Parking Lot

I like to explore. I get excited about new places and things. I can’t help it.

Sometimes it gets me in trouble. Like the first time I traveled to Washington, D.C. I parked in a parking garage, got excited about my new surroundings and failed to notice the address of the garage. Hours later, I couldn’t remember the exact location amid a handful of parking garages in the area. Silly directionally-challenged me.

I recently let the same thing happen with social media. I got distracted. While studying interactive media in graduate school, I dove into all kinds of social media sites. Some I found more useful than others, so some profiles lingered untouched. I thought I needed to keep all of them alive and around. Silly directionally-challenged me.

So I reevaluated the social media tools I used and the approach I took. Here’s what I did.

Less is More

  • StumbleUpon: Gone. I enjoyed the spontaneity of this social discovery and bookmarking site, but to me, it overlapped some of what I found on Twitter and Delicious.
  • Vimeo: Gone. I like Vimeo’s interface much more than YouTube’s, but I stuck with YouTube because I’ve been there longer.
  • Google Buzz: Gone. I simply turned off my Buzz account, but did not delete. I’m curious to see what will happen with the much-rumored Google Me, and how that will effect Buzz.
  • Delicious: Replaced. I joined Diigo because it has more options, like sticky notes and page captures.
  • Flickr: Replaced. Now, have a simple photo blog on Posterous in place of Flickr. Although I love Flickr, I never used it that much, and the blogging style fits me better.
  • I also kept profiles on the current standbys: Facebook and LinkedIn.

So now I’m a firm believer in less is more. I can focus more on the services I enjoy more, like Twitter, and giving more attention to my running blog on Tumblr. However, I would say to each his own. You have to find the right combination that suits you and your interests.

Tips for Organization

My advice?

  1. Use the networks you actually enjoy and/or are important to your profession.
  2. Keep your main profiles to a minimum of three to five. Have another two or three that you experiment with.
  3. Constantly evaluate. Are you using your profiles? Are you getting value? Are you giving value?

I certainly still leave room for exploration. I’m trying the new Digg, although I never used the older version much, and Cliqset stands alone as one of my favorite, lesser-known social networks and tools. So I still explore, except now it’s easier to remember where I parked.

Image by Drouu.

Here’s My Media Diet

Color Bars imageWe know that media consumption habits have changed and evolved tremendously.

But have you thought about yours lately? It’s an interesting thought, I think. The Atlantic Wire has a cool series called Media Diet, where staffers interview top thinkers about what they read.

I stumbled across one of the stories, what Jay Rosen reads, via Twitter. It intrigued me, so I decided to write my own, What I Read. So here goes…

Social Media

I check Twitter when I hit the computer in the morning. First, I just check my normal stream for what I like to call accidental knowledge. The thing I love about Twitter is the fact people help me discover neat links and information I wouldn’t have otherwise. After that, I’ll check a few of my Twitter Lists. The usual ones I check are Creative, Internet-Tech and Media.

After that, it’s on to Facebook to see what my friends are talking about and what links they’re sharing. Most of the news I get from them falls into the category of what’s happening in their lives.

Feeds

Next, I check my feed reader. I use two: Shrook and Google Reader. I love Shrook’s beautiful interface for use on my Mac. I’ve used the online version as well, but don’t like it as much. All my feeds sit in Google Reader as well, just in case I need to access my feeds when I’m away from my computer.

What I read there really varies. I check my regular news feeds first. These are NPR. New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Slate and Salon. After that, I attack feeds according to whatever mood I’m in or what kind of project I’m working on. I typically check a handful of the 200 some-odd feeds I follow. Some of the more regular ones I like to read are 10,000 Words, Chris Brogan, Nieman Lab, Romenesko, Dave Winer, Seth Godin, Poynter, Mental Floss, Neatorama, A List Apart, Mashable, The Next Web, Tech Crunch, Smashing Magazine, ReadWriteWeb, ProBlogger and Search Engine Land.

News

On most days, I catch NPR on my local station, WFDD – out of Wake Forest University. If I don’t, I try to listen online. I also check several news feeds via my feed reader. These include the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Sports Illustrated, Slate and Salon. I also follow several news outlets on Twitter, and often hear of breaking news there. I subscribe to news alerts via email from the New York Times as well. Currently, I do not subscribe to any magazines or newspapers. I also don’t watch much, if any, television news.

Television and Online Video

I canceled cable a few months before I started graduate school, and haven’t looked back. I’m enjoying all the free time I have since I avoid programs I’m not really interested in much easier now. I do subscribe to NetFlix, and love all the documentaries there. Some recent ones I have watched include Tyson, Truman and Food, Inc. I’m also a frequent visitor to Interactive Narratives and MediaStorm, always looking for cool, multimedia stories. Lastly, I like to watch my share of Jon Stewart clips.

Books

I love to write, so therefore I read a lot. I recently read Googled, and The Future of the Internet (both for graduate school, among other titles). I also just finished What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I’m currently reading Once a Runner and Bad Luck and Trouble. My favorite authors are Po Bronson and Paul Auster.

Fun Stuff

I watch some television series, thanks to Netflix. I just finished The X-Files in its entirety. I’m also into Mad Men and Man vs. Wild. And you know what, I usually can’t make it a month without watching Strongbad answer some emails. My friends fill in other odds and ends via links on Twitter and Facebook.

That’s my media diet. What do you snack on?

Image by JayLopez.

Welcome to a Brand New Site

Things have been kind of quiet around here. Man, I hate it when blog posts start that way. However, there’s good reason for the silence…

New Look

You’ll notice a brand new site design! I just completed the final tweaks yesterday, and wanted to make the official announcement.

WordPress powers the back-end, and I used Shape by Ian Stewart as a starting point for the custom theme that you see. If you’re looking for a place to dive into WordPress, WordPress theming and more, check out Ian’s site, Themeshaper and its forums. You can learn a lot by browsing around the site.

New sign

Before the redesign, I used Ian’s Thematic to power my site. However, when I decided to create a new site, I wanted to learn more about WordPress theming from scratch, rather than starting with a WordPress theme framework. Shape, this tutorial by Ian, and a few other resources helped me learn a ton.

I hope you enjoy the new site as much I enjoyed creating it.

Story Practitioner Interview

A few weeks before I graduated with my master’s degree in interactive media, Kathy Hansen of A Storied Career interviewed me via email for her series on Story Practitioners. Check out my interview, and the rest of the series for some great insights into modern-day storytelling.