Web Designer’s Guide to WordPress (A Review)

wordpress coding, responsive web design, book review 

Web Designer's Guide to WordPressI’ve always known I’m a WP hack, but didn’t know how much of one until I read
Web Designer’s Guide to WordPress by Jesse Friedman.

My old WP theme was modified from the default template so there were many things I didn’t understand and left alone for safety.

Now I know wp_head() action hook in header is necessary for trigger some plug-ins, same goes with wp_footer().

My favorite is the WP_Query() section–the secret of getting any post data the way you want it. (See another useful post about using wp_query from Smashing Magazine)

This book also helped me clean up my code now that I’m braver about writing my own functions in functions.php. The sections on [shortcode] is a good trick for text you have to repeat from time to time in a post.

For people who wants to build a responsive site to work on both mobile devices and on computers, the code to test for the device is way easier than what I’ve read in HTML5 and CSS3 books.

It may be too hard for a complete newbie (to WP and PHP) but if you have played with WP code and you need to do some serious WP theme building, start from Web Designer’s Guide to WordPress to learn how it works and how to work it.

Showing Up for The Golden Years

book cover design, Marielle Higler, retirement 

Showing Up for the Golden Years: Resetting the Retirement Mindset

I am proud to introduce this book to you. Not only because this was my first book cover design, it is a book that intent to inspire actions in people.

Marielle Higler, the author, my client, set out to find herself after her children left home. Like many women in her generations, she was single and ready for retirement. Then she encountered blocks in all areas of life, finance, aging, self-worth and many more. This book was her journey in searching for answers. She shared her own issues and ways to get to the next level.

I have always cherish the experiences of the people who came before me. I truly believe many retired people don’t give themselves enough credit. Maybe they don’t work for a company or taking care of the kids anymore, their skills and knowledge translate to other area just the same. Only many don’t seem to realize the treasures hidden inside themselves.

If you are someone you know is wandering aimlessly through the golden years, please read this book or take a step toward being all that you can be. I ask you to Show Up for your life, the world is waiting for you!

Becoming A Freelance Graphic Designer?

book review, freelance graphic designer, contracts, accounting 

Becoming A Freelance Graphic Designer?

A few weeks back, a friend who is returning to the design field asked me about creating a contract. I had a few suggestions for her.

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer

I found it useful because it helped me set up my chart of accounts. And it comes with useful forms you can based yours from.

If you are not sure if you would be happy being your own boss, it also asks you questions to help you figure it out.

If you are already a freelance designer, you might find the markets/marketing related chapters useful, like how to put your name out there and suggestions for where to find projects.

Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers (3rd Edition)

This book was not as fun to go through but it has many useful forms you can start from.

And last suggestion was the “Standard Form of Agreement for Design Services” from AIGA. Way too long for what I do but if you work with company way bigger than you, see if you can tailor it to your own needs.

Good luck on your missions, my fellow designers!

Do What You Are [Finding Your Career Bliss]

perfect career, personality type, book review 

Author: Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron

Do you think your career deserves your time and attention? No? You might not be doing what you are.

Years ago, I left my first career not knowing what I would do next. Thank heavens, I was so burnt out, I took a long break anyway. When I was ready to move on, my sister introduced me to this book.

do what you areA week before I got the book, a friend asked me to design a set of business cards because I am better at using the computer. Everyone loved the cards and I enjoyed the whole process, so I was considering graphic design as my next career.

To my complete surprise, many things I did in a non-professional capacity were listed in the career suggestions for my personality type. Not only my first career was not among them when I found graphic designer on the list, I knew I was on the right track.

Since then every design project feels like an exciting adventure to me. However, I noticed a problematic pattern in dealing with clients; it seemed like I cared about my clients’ businesses more than they did. Of course, I knew the issue was all mine but I didn’t know why.

Last week, I picked up the latest copy for my sister, since we both couldn’t keep it on our shelves long before giving it to someone who needs it. (Keep in mind that you might do the same if you had a copy.)

Out of curiosity, I read it again. And the answer was right there, my personality is the reason why I am so attached to the projects, sometimes I overwhelmed myself with worries. As an Idealist I “tend to take other people’s problems to heart and can become too involved…” Wow, I finally understood what and how to fix this ineffective working pattern.

The book also said that personality type may change was we grow older, more balanced and well rounded. So, I took the test again as well. And indeed, I have changed.

Although graphic designer is still on the list, novelist showed on the list. No wonder I have been feeling the pull to move into writing but still unwilling to give up design all together.

This time around, the book is even more enlightening than the first time. If you want to look forward to work each day, you must read this book. If you want to know how to transform your weaknesses into supportive traits, you must read this book.

Dreams can come true, you just need to Do What You Are!

Facebook: The Missing Manual

facebook page, marketing, social media, book review 

Author: E. Vander Veer

facebook, the missing manual

I have been using Facebook since late 2007 but I have just started to learn about Facebook Page for business uses.

This book is useful for both beginners and for people like me. Do keep in mind that Facebook changes layout often so don’t be scared to click around to find what you need.

As always, I look for ways for my clients to promote themselves in creative and economical ways. Part 3 of this book: Doing Business with Facebook was the most useful to me. Particular CH. 11, Advertising on Facebook.

Facebook Ads can be very specifically targeted. That means your ad dollars won’t be wasted on clicks from people who are not likely to become your customers.

And if you have money, Facebook Beacon seems like a good way to track user actions on your website and share it on their Facebook wall.

I can’t wait to work with adventurous clients to see how the Facebook Ads might work for them!

Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design

web design, book review, design with css 

Author: Andy Clarke

When clients come to me for a web site, they sometimes assume a designer will just plastered everything on a digital wall and be done with it.

At this point, I ask them to write down everything they want to tell people. After we gathered the contents, I help them simplify and organize information, figure out what other functions they would need, design the navigation and back end structure, then I create the site layout.

To find out that a great web designer like Andy Clarke thinks the same way was very encouraging to me. In the book, he takes you through a content-based process, break the information down in blocks, then put it back together in a beautiful package.

In the inspiration section, he shares ideas on the creative process. He reminds you designing for a web doesn’t need to be different from designing for prints. You can get ideas from all kind of places.

And when you are done, you will have a site that is well structured and neatly organized inside and out, exactly what search engines love!

I find myself pulling this book out whenever I start a new site. I hope you will, too.

Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual

book review, mac os X leopard 

Author: David Pogue

Mac OS is always natural and easy to us for me. I never thought a book on OS X would do my any good. And I was wrong.

I hear there are changes from Tiger to Leopard but without the help of Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual I would never know how many features I would have missed.

After reading about the Time Machine and the Stacks, I was converted to the Leopard upgrade. And when I finally got to use it, I was already an old hand. For users who want a little more control, the Unix Crash Course chapter is great place to help me remember the command and syntax.

Besides providing offering useful info and tips, the book was really easy to read and follow. If you have been a long time Mac user, you can get through this in a few hours.

If you use your Mac as a web server or a test server and is looking to use PHP and Database, I suggest getting Mac OS X Leopard: Beyond The Manual as a supplemental reference.

Being a frugal person, getting the most out of Leopard makes me a happy girl. I will never look at another OS book the same way again.

Pop! Stand Out in Any Crowd

book review, copy writing 

Author: Sam Horn

“My business is going somewhere but I am not sure where it is going.”

This is a feeling I often get from my clients. Everything they think about is only in their heads. They can’t put it in words, don’t have a way to organize their thoughts, or even a way to check what they have so far.

Pop! Stand Out in Any Crowd offers me a way to extract the essence of their businesses, then present it in a logo, a brochure, or a web site.

Originally I bought it to help me with copy writing. The exercises did more than that. It helps me talk to my clients, helps us figure out what the business is really about. I even used it to start a business plan for one of my clients.

This is a great tool, especially for people who want a clear identity for their business.