These are posts by wendy.

Ignite Presentation about Emailing

How to get a CMS to read code

A recent problem I’ve had with working in WordPress and Magento has to do with their code ‘helpers’.  If you write a post in WordPress or a Page or Block in Magento, you may have discovered the same thing that I did:  These CMSs let you view the HTML, but they don’t always actually read it or show it.  For example, I recently needed to edit a page (that I didn’t originally make) on Magento.  Unbeknownst to me, there were empty divs for design purposes that Magento didn’t show to me in the HTML view.  (I’m guessing because they were empty.)  I made my little change to a link, must have backspaced an ’empty’ space and saved…. Voila!  The front page is now missing its main photo.  I had no idea where the main photo had been saved, what it was called, or even why it disappeared to begin with.  Needless to say, I stressed for a little while.

I finally figured out what had happened when I decided to add an empty div to place the photo back in place, only to not be able to see the HTML I had just typed in after I saved it.  Thank you Magento; your design helper for HTML illiterates is so helpful!

I had seen this problem before in WordPress.  In the past I’d tried to recreate a page in WP by copying and pasting an entire page of code.  When I did that, I realized that everytime I had hit ‘enter’ while typing in a normal editor, WP had interpreted that into a paragraph or break.  (and didn’t show that to me in the HTML.  You can only see how many paragraphs or breaks it’s adding by viewing the page source after it’s live.)  However, when I wanted to code in a ‘break’, it completely ignored it!

What is the point of letting one ‘view’ the HTML, if it is going to hide some of the code and ignore other bits?  I know there are plug-ins for WP to let you override the HTML ‘helps’.  However, I don’t want to have to add the plug-in on every single site I work on and I also don’t think there is an equivalent for Magento.  You’re so unhelpful, ‘helper’!

Processing

In general, I’m a results driven person. I like seeing what my goal is, figuring out what steps I need to take to get there and then putting the first foot down for the first step. Then, ideally, the second foot for the second step and so on. I don’t really mind if I get to a point where I think my original plan won’t work and I have to rethink the steps I need to reach my goal. What I do mind is if I have trouble coming up with the steps in the first place.

This sometimes happens in design work for me. For example, if I’m told ‘the favicon isn’t showing up on certain pages: fix it’, then I have a list of things I know to check for to find out why it isn’t showing up. If, however, I’m told ‘the front page of the website needs to look simpler’, then I have more trouble. This isn’t because I don’t have any ideas about what would make it look simpler; I think this is because I have trouble determining what is the most important thing to change first. I can’t see a clear line from not simple to simple.

At this point I either jump right in and try changing the first thing which comes to mind and continue at random until I feel like I’m completely wasting my time or I try to make a list of my ideas until I have trouble beginning at all. Lately, I’ve been trying to change it up a little, though, and I’ve learned a few things about the process.

First: Don’t be afraid to ask other people’s opinions. I’ve found that having sounding boards is the surest route to success. If I stop every 30 minutes and ask someone’s opinion of my latest idea I narrow down the options and cut some out altogether.

Second: Take a break! Time, not coffee, will help you see your own results more clearly.

Third: Relax. I often feel that if I work faster and harder I will come up with a good idea faster. It’s not true. But if I relax and have more fun trying out my ideas, I will certainly come up with a better one.

Is ping pong work?

I was recently questioned by a member of David’s family about ‘how it was going working for him.’ I told him that ‘we worked hard, but had fun.’ He countered that we may work hard and have fun, but ‘did we get anything accomplished?’

It has also been insinuated that all we do in our office is play ping pong.

Now, it is true that we have a ping pong table. It is also true that we play often. It is also true that I win. A lot.

Does it affect the quality of our work? You bet it does! Every time I take 10 minutes away from the computer to smack that little ball around I refresh all the synapses in my brain, which helps me to see my current problem more clearly. I also build on my relationship with the person on the other side of the table, which helps me to work with them. And the adrenaline from winning? Well, that just makes me feel good.

So I answer: Yes, we do get some things accomplished and it’s because of the ping pong.