web building

Flat Design: Armchair

arm chair flat design leoraw.com
What do you see in the above illustration? Does this look like a flat design armchair? (I looked up armchair – it is truly one word). Does it remind you of any particular profession? What does it evoke?

I have been redoing my website, the main part of my site in which I sell my web services such as WordPress training and small business web development. I decided a little illustration would be nice for my new Services page. Of course, the illustration itself is the hard part … I already fussed a lot over the illustration for the home page.

So one idea is to have little balloons or circles with flat design illustrations that represent some of the businesses or organizations for which I do websites. Maybe one might look like this:
arm chair flat design
Or like this:
flat chair in a balloon

I may just toss the circles all together. Meanwhile, I need to come up with a few more flat icons / illustrations to put together in one illustration. Ideas: pen and ink, camera, piles of books, light source from a lamp …

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been fussing over today (in between helping various clients with various issues). The main question for you is: Does the arm chair illustration remind you of any particular profession? Or can you think of any professions I might illustrate with a simple flat design of some sort?

Review with Swirly Gigs

swirly gigs
Swirly Gigs created in Illustrator – for the sole purpose of putting some swirls on a post

I’m not sure what the above represents – does it need to represent anything? I’ve been practicing swirls in the software program Illustrator. You can also create patterns with Illustrator. Maybe what this design needs is some nice patterned wallpaper behind it. Stay tuned to see if I play around with it more.

On My Blog

Interview with Debra Walk

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

  • Thinking and praying for Michelle as she writes about her breast cancer. Her surgeon said mastectomy, but “the good news is that there probably isnโ€™t any invasive cancer and that this is treatable by removal.”
  • Ilana-Davita has been reading some scholarly posts – check out this one on Hapax Legomenon (and don’t let the title scare you – it’s not hard to understand).
  • Lorri has been reading and reading some more – read her review of The Life of an Unknown Man.
  • Laura posted Asian Roasted Broccoli – yum, great picture.
  • Update: a bloody artsy post has gone up … by the kids of Mrs. S.

Header for Ilana-Davita

Ilana-Davita's new header
Today was the first full day Ilana-Davita had her new header (that I designed) on her blog. And she wrote the post above to introduce the header.

Thank you, Ilana-Davita, it was a pleasure to have you as a client.

Red Texture, Red Pattern

red and lavender grunge texture
Will this make a nice textured background for a web page?

flower pattern
Would this make a nice patterned background? Maybe if repeated with smaller flowers or leaves in between the larger flower. I think it would need to be toned down for a background or it would be too busy. Perhaps it would make a nice, simple header for a blog.

The textured pattern was taken from this shot:
roof of Dairy Deluxe
Shown is the roof of Dairy Deluxe, the ice cream place we visited on this Ice Cream Bliss post.

The flower was taken from this photo:
wall of flowers in Cape May Historical Village
The wall is at Historic Cold Spring Village in Cape May, New Jersey.

For more photos with red, visit Ruby Tuesday:
Ruby Tuesday

biz.leoraw.com with style

In between everything else in life (I am awaiting the films for the Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival, getting ready for the Jewish holidays, planning a bar-mitzvah, spending much of my late afternoons doing homework with a second grader, and updating various other websites) I found a theme for http://biz.leoraw.com/ and modified the theme so it would fit the look of the rest of https://www.leoraw.com/.

I hope to write two posts in particular on the new site:

  1. Choosing a theme, why I chose the “Panorama” theme, and how I modified the theme
  2. Permalinks: what is the best SEO strategy for permalinks for one’s blog?

There is a lot that goes into setting up a new blog; perhaps I can make a post with a checklist of what one might consider in setting one up. When I feel “Websites for Small Biz” is ready for prime-time, I will link it up with the rest of my site and start tweeting some of the newest posts.

Coming next week (at about this time) to this blog: an interview with the creator of NJ Playgrounds.

Interview with Hannah Katsman of CookingManager.com

cooking manager 2010

What made you decide to set up this new blog? What goals do you hope to achieve?

Over the years I’ve met experienced homemakers who don’t save leftovers or store food safely. And many people never learned how to cook from scratch. I’m lucky to have learned kitchen management at home from the most efficient cook I’ve ever met–my mother Touby z”l.

Cookbooks are usually about buying a set of ingredients and following instructions. I like to look at the whole picture–starting with what you have in the house, then choosing recipes and meals according to your specific needs. I want to teach people how to get from menu planning and shopping through cooking and cleanup without becoming exhausted or throwing away half the food at the end.

I see CookingManager.Com as a legacy to my mother, who died almost twenty years ago. She developed a chronic illness that forced her to work using the minimum number of steps. My mother believed that resources, including time, money and energy, should never go to waste. Originally I thought about a book or a website, but since I’ve been blogging for several years I decided on this format.

Why did you set it up with self-hosted WordPress (as opposed to using Blogger or WordPress.com)?
Self-hosted WordPress is used by most successful bloggers. Blogger has little flexibility and WordPress.com’s free service doesn’t allow advertising. You have to pay for self-hosted WordPress, but you own your own content.No one can close you down, as has happened on free platforms. And WordPress is superior when it comes to getting traffic from search engines.
The difference between Blogger and self-hosted WordPress is like the difference between renting and owning a home: Owning is a responsibility and sometimes a headache, but a good investment and ultimately more satisfying.

Who is your target audience for your new blog?
Anyone who wants to save money and time when making home-cooked meals. It can be for people setting up a kitchen for the first time, growing families who find they spend too much on prepared food, or people on special diets who cannot use processed products.

What was the hardest part of setting up the blog?
I’m still intimidated by coding, design and technical details. Keeping up with my post schedule has been a challenge over the busy summer.

The fun parts?
Writing, and interacting with my readers. I love to help readers with their specific problems, like what kind of pressure cooker to buy or how to use meat drippings to flavor future recipes. One mother of eight wrote that she learns something new with every post. I am still finding my voice on CookingManager.Com, so if you have questions come join the conversation while my audience is still small. ๐Ÿ™‚

If someone wants to set up a professional blog, how can one get advice on doing so?
Most people offering professional advice also have a public website. Before spending money, spend time on a few different sites to see if the style and focus is right for you. I highly recommend Leora, who advised me on setting up the WordPress blogs and designed the banner for A Mother in Israel. I also like Problogger.net, DailyBlogTips.com, and Nice2All.Com.

Don’t worry about missing a great offer as there will always be another one. If you don’t want to spend you can find hundreds, if not thousands, of free WordPress marketing articles and tutorials including WordPress.org, an active forum that helped me numerous times.

Has using Twitter helped promote your new site?
I haven’t developed my Twitter account much yet,( twitter.com/cookingManager), but I plan to. In the meantime I use it mostly for posting links to new posts. You can follow me both there and at @mominisrael, where I tweet more often.

Are you looking for guest posts for your site? What kind of posts would you like?
Mimi at Israeli Kitchen contributed a delicious chick pea recipe, and I would love to have more. I’m not a “foodie,” but I’ve realized that readers appreciate simple recipes too. And a few have sent me their own recipes to publish. See the tab “Submit Recipe” on the front page.

What are some of your favorite posts on the new site? Why are these your favorites?

Leora, thank you so much for the interview. I’m looking forward to feedback from your readers.

•  •  •

Leora’s Note: This post was updated with Hannah’s new header and blog layout. The header was designed by Leora.

Keyword and Link Challenge

Do ever check your blog statistics and say, huh? That’s what people searched for and found my blog?

One of the most common search terms on my blog seems to be dogwood. OK, so at one point I took a couple of great shots of my neighbor’s dogwood tree in bloom. But that’s the most common search term? Another highly ranked search term is hawthorn tree. I’ll have to accept that one; I did spend a fair amount of time photographing and researching the lovely red berry tree I found around the corner until I was informed it was a hawthorn.

Do you want a little more control over your best keyword, your best link? Here’s an idea that may or may not work.

In the comments, post your favorite link on your blog. Or your favorite link on my blog. Or on your friend’s blog. (You have my permission to post more than one link – but three would be spamming – just to set limits to this little game).


list 3 keywords that you actually searched for in Google (or some other search engine).

Or do both the link challenge and the keyword challenge.

Next week, I will craft a post (or two or three) that includes a few of those posts. I will then write up some descriptions that have keywords that are in those posts. It will be interesting to watch one stats to see if this has any effect. Of course, if others do the same (if you take three of the posts people liked and write up a post about those posts, including keywords in your title tag and your description), we may see better results. If you do decide to write a post to emphasize certain keywords, please use those keywords in the title tag. Title tags are one of the most important sections in a post that search engines use to determine relevance and ranking.

Regarding the three keywords that you used to search in Google, it would be fun to craft a post based on those keywords. A bit like paper bag dramatics, no?

Images in a Table

A continuation of A Layout for Images

In these two posts, JPIX and Good Evening New Jersey, I used <table> code to set up a page with many thumbnails. Why did I choose <table> tags? The JPIX post best illustrates the reason; one gets a lot of control over how the images and linked text will appear.

Here’s an example. Let’s say I wanted to post these four autumn thumbnails in one post, and I wanted to put little linked captions under each one:
Orangey Tree       Yellowy Tree
Buncha Leaves       Tree on Raritan Avenue

Do you see the problem here? Those captions are not lining up neatly under their photos. So I’m going to put each photo with its caption in a cell (the cell tag looks like <td>), and all these cells will be placed in a row (<tr>) in a table. I could create more than one row, but for this example, one row is enough.

If you are really going to attempt this method, I suggest you familiarize yourself with HTML table code. You can start with this table tutorial or read the W3 Consortium page on tables. Also, look at the source code for the posts I mentioned at the start of this post that use tables (in Firefox, one can see source code by selecting View – Page Source).

If I haven’t scared you away yet, here’s how the code will look for a table of three of those thumbnails in a row, with captions under each photo:
<td><a href=”http://s421.photobucket.com/albums/pp294/eema3kids/?action=view&current=fallen_leaves038.jpg”><img src=”https://www.leoraw.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/th_fallen_leaves038.jpg” alt=”red tree” title=”th_fallen_leaves038″ width=”160″ height=”120″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-3746″ /></a>
<a href=”http://s421.photobucket.com/albums/pp294/eema3kids/?action=view&current=fallen_leaves038.jpg”>Red Tree on Raritan Avenue</a></td>
<td><a href=”http://s421.photobucket.com/albums/pp294/eema3kids/?action=view&current=autumn018.jpg”><img src=”https://www.leoraw.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/th_autumn018.jpg” alt=”yellow leaves” title=”th_autumn018″ width=”160″ height=”120″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-3745″ /></a>
<a href=”http://s421.photobucket.com/albums/pp294/eema3kids/?action=view&current=autumn018.jpg”>Bunch of Yellowy Leaves</a></td>
<td><a href=”http://s421.photobucket.com/albums/pp294/eema3kids/?action=view&current=autumn014.jpg”><img src=”https://www.leoraw.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/th_autumn014.jpg” alt=”leaves” title=”th_autumn014″ width=”160″ height=”120″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-3744″ /></a>
<a href=”http://s421.photobucket.com/albums/pp294/eema3kids/?action=view&current=autumn014.jpg”>Red ‘n Yellow Leaves</a>

And that produces:

red tree on Raritan Avenue
Red Tree on Raritan Avenue
fallen leaves
Bunch of Yellowy Leaves
red and yellow leaves
Red ‘n Yellow Leaves

Other image layout solutions:

A Layout for Images

A number of readers asked if I could explain how I arranged the images for the JPIX carnival.

Step one: Gather the images
When there was an image that I wanted to use for JPIX (many of the posts, even if submitted, had multiple photos), I right-clicked on the image and saved it to my hard drive. I tried to name the jpg (the common file format for a photo) by both something in the photo and something in blog’s name.

last roseFor example, I named the photo at right lastrose_id.jpg, with the lastrose part being a reminder that post was named “Last Rose” and the id part as a reminder that it is Ilana-Davita’s photo.

After saving a bunch of photos in this way to my hard drive, I had quite a collection, but in some cases I still had to hunt when I got up to the part where I linked the photo online, because some blogs had lots and lots of photos in one post. So in those cases one also might want a reminder of the placement of the photo in the post (middle, 6th, or bottom might be examples to add to the name of the file).

Step Two: Sizing Those Images
So how big to make each of those images? At first I thought to make each one 150px high. After uploading about twenty at 150px high (this was a mistake, I should have just done three and tested those), I decided I preferred 115px high. You will see on the carnival that most are this height (to see the height of a photo, right-click and select Properties), but some were other heights.

In order to resize a photo, you open a photo editing software package and change the height size to 115px. The software should proportionally scale down the width for you.

Step Three, easy: Arranging the Photos
First, I’m going to tell you an easy way. Just upload each photo to your post, line up three on a line, and link each photo to the original post. It might look nice to put a space between each photo. I often do this in code by typing: &nbsp; Here’s an example:

dancers on roof pomegranate shadow in sukkah

Step Three, complicated: Arranging the Photos with Blog Links
Since I wanted the blog to have the blog links directly under each photo, I used table tags. I will discuss table tags in another post, next week.

To be continued

Email Notification Added

I added a little WordPress plugin called Subscribe to Comment that allows you to check a little box on the comment form so you can get follow up comments in your email. A reader asked about it, so I decided to implement the plugin. Feel free to try it out (I always enjoy your comments, in general, all of you!).

I found a recommendation for the plugin on this WordPress blog called WebDesignerWall. If you like funky, beautifully designed web pages, it’s worth a peek.

There are a multitude of WordPress plugins, and some seem quite fun. Simple Recent Comments is one I must do soon. Maybe I’ll add it to the bottom, along with a list of archives of posts. I should try out some simple stats package, but those you won’t see. Unless I tell you. Oh, yes, I could tell you…another post idea!

And here’s an experiment with a blockquote that has a different border and background than the one I standardly use. More fun with WordPress.

As an additional experiment, I am going to set this post to be published at 3:15 am EST.