PHP

Redesigning and Learning

Blog post

My idea book

It’s been a bit quiet here the past few weeks, but as you might have noticed, this blog has a fresh, new look to it! About a month-and-a-half ago, I set out to rebuild the WordPress theme for my blog from scratch, and I have busy finishing it up these past for weeks. I built the original theme over a year ago, and have learned a ton since then about front-end development, design and getting the most out of WordPress. For a while, I had been bugged by the many mistakes I made in creating the theme, so I decided to do something about it. Read MoreRedesigning and Learning

CMS Developer

After completing my internship with 50onRed, I was offered a position as a CMS (Content Management System) Developer for the company.

As a CMS Developer, my responsibilities involve building and maintaining marketing sites for the company’s core products, and several viral content sites. All of the sites run WordPress, so the majority of my duties involve regular WordPress maintenance: updating core/themes/plugins, selecting and installing plugins, and assisting the content writers with any technical help.

I have also had many opportunities to dig into the more advanced aspects of WordPress. I have modified existing themes to extend their functionality or appearance, and have created new themes from scratch. An examples of these include redesigns of both the blog and careers pages of the company website. I have also developed several WordPress plugins for use on our sites. These include an AB testing plugin, an ad unit manager, an OpenGraph tag manager, and a custom integration with the Jazz (formerly Resumator) API.

In my work, I focus on making sure the sites perform well. I use several plugins to manage the minification of assets and compression of images. Our sites are hosted on WPEngine, and I take advantage of the tools they provide to help our sites perform well. I also take pride in the cleanliness of the code I write. I am regularly refactoring for readability and documentation. I choose to write PHP in an object-oriented style, which helps with organization and maintanability.

The Hair Saloon and More

Project

Hair Saloon Screen Shot

This is a brochure site for a hair salon in our area. It is essentially a custom WordPress theme. I chose WordPress as a CMS, because it was an easy way to allow the business owners to update the content if needed. The header is a scan of the business card, and the colors/fonts were selected to match it. The slideshow on the front page uses the slides.js plugin.

My process of building the site has been documented here.

Diving Deep into WordPress

Blog post

WP Admin Shirt

So, as I mentioned in my last post, things have been going well at 50onRed. I am now working full-time as a CMS (read ‘WordPress’) developer for the content team. I manage three viral content sites, and the majority of my work is diving into depths of WordPress.

WordPress was part of my beginning experiences building for the web. Not Your Mommy’s Blog, The Hair Saloon, and this blog are all WordPress sites. Soon after building these sites, I began to work with Hangify, CodeForPhilly/YadaGuru, and then landed the internship at 50onRed. The these experiences had been focus away from WordPress: full-stack JavaScript with node, Angular, and Python/Flask. I think it is safe to say that I ‘grew up’ as a developer outside of the world of WordPress. Read MoreDiving Deep into WordPress

Not Your Mommy’s Blog

Project

Screenshot of Not Your Mommy's Blog

Not Your Mommy’s Blog uses a custom WordPress theme called ‘Tiles,’ which I created. The theme is responsive, and features my first attempt at a slider/carousel to display recent posts.

This is my first start-to-finish project for another client, though the client is my wife, so I am not sure if that counts.  :-)

This theme is built from scratch, and contains only features and elements needed by my wife. Perhaps in the future, I might modify the theme, and submit it to the WordPress Theme Directory.

Update: This theme was redesigned in September of 2016. I used the Roots Sage starter theme, which I chose because of its integration with Bootstrap CSS. The overall layout contains many of the same elements, but with a cleaner design.

I also introduced a few tools into my personal setup with this project, including SASS pre-processing, Gulp task runner, and VVV for developing locally.

Building for a client – The Hair Saloon and More

Blog post

Hair Saloon and More

Prior to my latest project, most of my projects have been built either for myself, my wife, or friends. While I was confident with my abilities at this point, I had not yet had the opportunity to build something for someone who I would consider a real “client.” Recently, I had this opportunity, and wanted to document my experience in building a website for an actual client.

I regularly get my haircut at a small business local to me called The Hair Saloon and More. About a year ago, I decided that I would keep my hair cut very short. While I am happy with the look, I have the unfortunate problem of rapidly growing hair, and have to get my haircut about every 2-3 weeks to maintain it. I’ve gotten to know the owners well, and enjoy my regular visits. Read MoreBuilding for a client – The Hair Saloon and More

Learning Laravel

Blog post

Laravel Logo

I recently decided to start to learn Laravel. I had heard a great introduction to server-side languages and frameworks on Episode 6 of the StartHere.fm podcast, and decided it was about time I figured out what this ‘framework’ thing was all about.

I was originally gravitating towards learning Node.js, since I have been spending more time with the JavaScript community by attending the PhillyJS Meetups. I started on some Node tutorials, but got quickly lost. I felt like I was in over my head, and that I was missing some fundamentals of JavaScript. I downloaded Eloquent JavaScript, and was working on the exercises, but I lost interest, as I felt there wasn’t anything immediately applicable there. Read MoreLearning Laravel

How I Got Here – Part 3

Blog post

After creating a few projects for others, I decided it was time to create a website for myself. I was unknowingly going through a bit of an identity crisis at the time. I hadn’t figured out the difference between a web designer and a web developer. I guess I always assumed that both jobs were done by the same person.

I also had thought about the possibility of freelancing at this point, so I purchased the domain derricowebdesign.com (which now just redirects to this blog). I then created my fourth project, a landing page/personal business site: D’Errico Web Design:

Read MoreHow I Got Here – Part 3

How I Got Here – Part 2

Blog post

In How I Got Here – Part 1, I had just created my first web app, and discovered it to be a fun and satisfying project. Before we go on, here is a little bit of my back story…

I prefer to focus on the positive in the writing of this blog, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that I have not been necessarily happy teaching. This was something I think I knew all along, but hadn’t come to terms with until recently. As a child, I had always wanted to be a band director. Being a music educator had become part of my identity. The education world is the only world that I know. The thought of not teaching seemed very unrealistic to me, so I buried this unhappiness.

This led to several job changes in my teaching career (I’ve worked for 5 different school districts in 12 years), with hopes that each transition would leave me in a better place, and I would finally enjoy teaching. A year after my last transition (which was in early 2012), I once again began to realize how unhappy I was, but this time, I began to realize that teaching was just not for me. I also was starting to think of other careers, and knew I wanted to do something in the tech sector. At the time, I wasn’t even really aware of what types of jobs existed… I just knew that I wanted to work with computers and technology.

Read MoreHow I Got Here – Part 2

The Rhythm Randomizer

Project

The Rhythm Randomizer Screenshot

The Rhythm Randomizer is a web app to aid in learning to practice and sight-read musical rhythms. Users select various options, such as duration, time signature, notes, and rests, and the app will randomly generate a rhythm within the specified options.  The generated rhythm can then be clicked to generate a new rhythm with the same options.

This project is my first web app.  I created it to help teach my students at my job as a public school band director. The original version of the app was created in a weekend in April 2014, using nothing but HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. In August 2014, after learning PHP and MySQL, I redesigned the website to move the logic and data to the server side. Javscript (and jQuery), are run client side for AJAX requests and UI animations.

In the future, I plan on adding more options for users, clearer UI elements to allow the user to better use the app, and a feature to allow the app to remember options from one session to the next using both session cookies, and a user login account.