I’ve recently completed a WordPress implementation for two psychologists on Sint Maarten, who needed an experienced but fresh look to give advice on their proposed site map. While able to make the site themselves, there was already so much to do that they would be launching quicker with my help than they would be able to do by themselves.
My experience with creating websites and analytical skills also helped create their main menu and page content. This way, they just need to add content and be done with it.
The two friends and colleagues both share an “inspirational” love for their profession and I wanted to emphasise the no-nonsense approach of the two ladies. The language is very personal and direct and the site has ample opportunity to showcase their work with individuals as well as provide businesses with consultancy.
Most businesses have had websites for years if not decades. Designs and content changes all the time. Web Standards, Accessibility, foreign languages or multi-lingual sites. The work never stops. For last decade, mobile apps have added yet another channel by which to serve your customers.
Apple’s App Store started that movement in 2007 with the first iPhone and iOS apps are known to find a loyal following of customers. Google’s Play Store for Android apps have quickly become the leading (in numbers) platform but not for revenue generation. The fragmented Android landscape (the different versions that co-exist for customers and phone makers) makes it very difficult for developers to create stable apps that work for most if not all users and their mobile phones.
App generation, machine coded native iOS and Android apps, from a visual creator platform have existed as long as smartphones have. Capabilities vary but the power you get without ever touching a line of code is astonishing! That said, these generators are not suitable for all. A real developer is still needed for interfacing with remote systems, back-office servers or a diversity of applications that may exist in your enterprise.
That said, for 80% of the small business out there, these platforms for building mobile native iOS and Android apps serve a real purpose for an owner or general manager who’s tech-savvy enough not to require an administrator or developer and still reach his customer base.
I have recently played around with 2 apps for some local customers here in Sint Maarten that each have unique needs and goals. I was impressed with the tools offered by AppMachine to scan an existing website. It creates a set of artifacts or “portfolio” of content that you can include in the default app or edit out (or adapt to suit your needs). Social media links, YouTube channels, contact information, these things are already crawled into the App for nothing right from the start.
Add a Product block with the top 10 selling items from a store or restaurant, a default delivery fee, include a CheckOut block with PayPal integration, et voila… you have an app that lets customers order your best selling products without a need for a phone call, order form or menu and payment integration means the order is already paid before it even leaves your venue.
It was a pleasure creating the website for the best place on St Maarten to get Buffalo Wings. Talking with Victor gave a lot of energy to help set-up a website where people can find menus, see photos of the dishes, get to know the product line that Buffalo Wings SXM has to offer and find a clear location and opening hours of the restaurant. This is a rare thing on St Maarten and something that more venues should do for their prospective visitors and guests.
Buffalo Wings Restaurant | Bar | Sports
After having established himself as the go-to place for buffalo wings and creating 24 homemade sauces to match any style, flavor or texture you might be in the mood for, Victor is expanding his product line with delicious burgers, wraps, arepas and Venezuelan parilla. But he also wants to let people make their own famous buffalo wings by selling deep frozen, marinated, ready to cook wings and ribs for backyard or poolside birthday BBQs, family gatherings, company cookouts or beach picnics.
The website was set-up on WordPress.com for reliable hosting with high uptimes, automatic WordPress software upgrades, great security features, free SSL certificates with each domain and best-in-class antispam functions to fool contact form spammers.
I integrated Google My Business and Search Console, so that Victor has a good understanding of how people end up on the website or what they searched for to get there. This will help him create better focused social media ads and which promotions were successful and which not.
When a friend needs your help, you go and help. So when my friend told me about her passion and hobby to make high-end custom hand and clutch bags for friends, family and customers but didn’t know how to update her website, I jumped in.
Kalli studied Arts and Design in Philly and started making bags right away. First for herself, you know how that goes, but soon all her friends wanted one too. Her trademark – signature – is the “Evil Eye” which is a Greek symbol.
The evil eye is a curse or legend believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury. Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also frequently called “evil eyes”
She also has a cool “skull” design, which reminded me a lot of the Mexican symbol used for “Dia de las Muertos“, the day of the dead. Both are really well done and the quality of her products is superb. Too bad you can only make so many bags by yourself, but she’s looking to increase production. When that happens, the site is easily expanded to include a little shop.
Best thing about this site is that Kalli already had professional photos done with her bags and dresses by St Maarten’s celebrity fashion and art photographer Yotam Sandak using her gorgeous friend Natascha as a model. It is easy to take pictures, harder to take good photos but it’s very hard to make beautiful great photos of models and products. I recognized the level of skills immediately and making the portfolio section for the sites was a joy!
Page speed is an important consideration for your SEO work, but it’s a complex subject that tends to be very technical. What are the most crucial things to understand about your site’s page speed, and how can you begin to improve?
St Maarten needs her children to be more environment aware and that’s exactly what the Green Learning Academy is going to do!
With the Green Learning Academy, another preschool is opened after Ideal Preschool and this location is better suited for French families as well, right in the heart of Cole Bay. Also convenient for boat visitors who are mooring for longer periods in the Simpson Bay lagoon and need to educate their children for a while.
The school’s motto has the environment and recycling our waste as important learning points to teach the children and that is very valuable for the future generation on this island.
The work involved setting up a basic site quickly, so she could take in new customers and showcase the professional photographs she had made. A Facebook page to match and use closed groups on Facebook to involve parents in an easy way while protecting the privacy of everyone.
Ms Mary needed an update of her existing WordPress.org website. Initial set-up was finished and she wanted to expand a little more beyond the basics. The theme has many unused features and someone had to help getting that done.
So I offered to jump in and update some texts, fill in some more blanks and dot a few i’s. I also updated the CMS and as many plugins as I could, while I was there.
Now that the website is current, we’ll see if she would like to use more web services to improve the efficiency of her business processes with (cloud) IT.
I received an image with the locations of all dive sites in St Maarten from the Nature Foundation St Maarten, who’s website I maintain. They were using a few high resolution images of dive site maps for people to download but I was wondering if there was an easy way to turn the image into a scrollable, zoomable map on Google Maps?
Turns out there is! And it was really easy. Their source was a Google Earth KMZ file, which is just a compressed KML file, which is just an XML text file with GPS locations. So I opened a new custom map in Google Maps, unzipped the KMZ file and imported the KML file into my custom map. Voila!
Over Christmas I recreated a website for my friend Ahmed. His popular restaurant needed a better style online to match the cool and colorful physical appearance of BY AMI in Rotterdam on the Kop van Zuid.
His designer had picked a couple of uncommon colors (mauve, ocean blue and gold) and finding a WordPress theme that allowed me to use those colors in a meaningful way was not as easy as that sounds.
But I found one and Ahmed is really happy with the new site. Customers are also giving him compliments over the new website, so I guess I did a good job!
The new site gave an opportunity to present and group all the different services BY AMI has in a clearer way. The menus are recreated from PDF as JPG to limit compatibility issues we’ve had with iOS 😦 and the many group arrangements are now also clearly presented in the main menu. I used the colors to highlight certain aspects of the pages to keep it a little less static and black&white. A splash of mauve or gold here and there breaks the monotony nicely.
The Port of St Maarten has made their Microsoft SQL database of the arrival times of cruise ships in Point Blanche publicly available. That is really great! Lots of businesses, shops and operators depend on knowing if and when a cruise ship arrives. Planning, scheduling, supplies, stock and personnel are all influenced by the presence of a cruise ship or two. High season, which is approaching fast, even brings three, four or occasionally even seven (!) cruise ship to the port of Sint Maarten.
Interestingly though, they did not create an easy to remember hostname for their web server (just an IP address) and they forgot to configure the IIS web server properly, so that visitors are automatically forwarded to the proper web page. (The root page shows the default IIS 8.0 landing page instead of the schedule picker page.)
Though I can live with it, I find it a bit sloppy and I decided to create a subdomain on my domain that points to their server using an easy to remember name: