Clergy Malt Club

Image by Ersler on iStock

After the last Christmas Eve service, in church rectories and manses across the world, many clergy will sit down and pour themselves a glass of single malt whisky, take a photo and post it to social media with the hashtag #clergymaltclub.

This year, in collaboration with my good friend, the Revd David Meldrum in South Africa, we now have an official website to advertise it:

https://clergymalt.club.

SEC digital calendar website is now mobile first

How the new SEC digital calendar website looks on a Google Pixel 2XL smartphone

This week I launched a mobile-first redesign of my SEC digital calendar website which is a resource for the Scottish Episcopal Church to enable anyone to integrate this year’s church calendar and lectionary with their digital calendar (e.g. Google Calendar).

Continue reading SEC digital calendar website is now mobile first

New website for Pittenweem Properties

Pittenweem Properties: self-catering in the East Neuk of Fife
Pittenweem Properties: self-catering in the East Neuk of Fife

Over the last few months in the evenings and at weekends, I’ve been working on redesigning the Pittenweem Properties website for friends here in Anstruther. The site launched a couple of weeks ago.

Pittenweem Properties offers high-quality self-catered holiday accommodation and property management services in and around Pittenweem. They currently manage properties in Carnbee just outside Anstruther and Pittenweem. But their portfolio is growing and for good reason — the properties they own and manage are to a very high standard and in a beautiful part of Scotland: the East Neuk of Fife.

WP Booking System

The site was quite fun to build.

We used Trello for communication and project planning, WordPress (of course!) as the content management system, and the Divi theme from Elegant Themes which allowed me to very quickly design and build the site. I also changed the built-in projects custom-post-type to properties using the method I blogged about in March: changing the Divi projects custom post type to anything you want.

For the booking calendar we turned to a premium theme: WP Booking System which we found intuitive and offered most of the features we needed:

  • Multiple booking calendars.
  • Submit booking requests via form.
  • Display anywhere (on page or within widgets) using a shortcode.
  • Customisable display features, including splitable legend for check-in and check-out).

If this plugin had also allowed online payments, say via PayPal, then it would have been absolutely perfect but as it is we’ve been really happy with the functionality and usability of this plugin.

There is a free version of the plugin, but it offers only one calendar and has customisation limitations. The premium version costs only US $34 (approx. GBP £21.50).

Next…

While the site is now live there are still a few bits and pieces to do, such as keep an eye on analytics data and try to improve search engine rankings.

Websites are never really finished, are they?

It was a fun project to work on. Time to focus on optimising family finances and admin, and cracking on with writing my book.

Workaround to get a /blog site on WordPress multisite

The following words are reserved for use by WordPress functions and cannot be used as blog names: page, comments, blog, files, feed

Last month I said that I would soon be redesigning and re-architecting my website, including this blog. It has now begun!

Losing the subdomains

Something I want to do is standardise the URLs used on the site. Once upon a time I had an idea of using subdomains for all my mini-sites, so

  • www.garethjmsaunders.co.uk
  • blueprint.garethjmsaunders.co.uk
  • mahjong.garethjmsaunders.co.uk
  • psion.garethjmsaunders.co.uk

I got as far as setting up my blog on a subdomain and I changed my mind. (Or got lazy, I can’t remember now.) 11 years later I have now decided to bite the bullet and move from www.garethjmsaunders.co.uk to garethjmsaunders.co.uk/blog. It’s potentially going to involve a lot of work (and a little .htaccess wrangling) but it will be worth it in the long run.

WordPress doesn’t like blog sites

My plan was to create a new sub-site called “blog” but when I set up a WordPress multisite installation on my local machine to test how this would all work I encountered an unexpected problem. When you try to create a new site called “blog” WordPress multisite returns this error message:

The following words are reserved for use by WordPress functions and cannot be used as blog names: page, comments, blog, files, feed

Ah!

Workaround

The workaround I worked out, however, is pretty simple:

  1. On the WordPress multisite default site, create a new page called “Blog”, with the URL of ‘/blog’. (On my localhost test site this has a URL of http://garethjmsaunders.shed/blog/.)
  2. In Settings > Reading set the posts page to be your new “Blog” page.
  3. Now import your blog into this site. (I imported it category by category, one at a time as I have a lot of posts.)

Of course, if you want your blog to use a different theme than the rest of the default site pages you will need to use a multiple theme plugin.

The cobbler’s shoes

Something that has been on my task list for the last few years has been to redesign and re-architect my website garethjmsaunders.co.uk. It has been a perfect case of the cobbler’s shoes: I’ve spent so much time making and fixing websites for other people that I’ve not had time (or energy) to do anything with my own.

Enough is enough. My last site design was in 2003, I think. That was over 10 years ago. In 2003 Internet Explorer 6 was the dominant web browser, the war in Iraq began, Concorde made its last commercial flight, Apple released Mac OS X Panther. A lot has happened in the years since then: web standards have been embraced, the mobile web is on the move, and table-based layouts are so retro!

Issues

The last time I built my site I hand-coded everything using 1st Page 2000 (how I loved that application) before eventually moving to Dreamweaver 4.0 as it automated asset-handling and rewrote paths more quickly than hand-coding everything. I had only just learned CSS 2 and was eager to put it into practice. My site still suffers from a very bad case of both ‘divitis’ and ‘classitis’.

And there’s not much room for expansion. When I created a mini-site to support my Blueprint CSS extras I couldn’t integrate it into my site. The same happened with my original SEC Calendar site.

And last but not least, there is a mild hotchpotch of URLs: a mix of sub-domains (www.garethjmsaunders.co.uk) and directories (/mahjong, /psion, /writing).

The way forward

After a few months of procrastination and mulling things over, I now realise that I have a number of projects that I want to work on, but as each requires that my website be up to date it is now time to bite the bullet and re-architect.

My current plans:

  • Move to a new host.
  • Standardise URLs, which will also mean that after 11 years on a sub-domain this blog will move to www.garethjmsaunders.co.uk/blog.
  • Mobile-friendly sub-sites.
  • Use a content management system or two.
  • Delete a lot of content.

Having delayed this for a couple of years it will be good to finally get these ‘shoes’ fixed!