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:
My old friend and sous-chef from my days working at strandclub Doen! in Scheveningen, Ahmed, has his own restaurant BY AMI in Rotterdam. On the Kop van Zuid, of all places. Fantastic! Because so many friends are helping him out with the restaurant, I decided to build him a brand new website. He’d already parked the domain so it was easily linked to WordPress.com for reliable hosting and protection.
Ahmed is a new-age chef, using many Internet and online services for his restaurant, so WordPress was a no-brainer rather than hosting your own wordpress.org package somewhere. It will also be trivial integrating Lightspeed HQ POS services into the site and making scheduling for employees an easy online activity.
Complete overhaul of an outdated Drupal website. Tracked down the host (TCOhost in UK) through whois and contacted them. Hosting packaged was paid up for three years, so they assisted me promptly.
Created a new site online in WordPress.com and reorganized the site in accordance to the in-take discussion with the client. Main activities are horse riding tours for cruise ship day tourists, riding lessons for locals, inhabitants and expats and the pet farm for children of all ages.
Main improvement is the streamlining of the order process. All pages are linked to a central booking for where the customer fills out the activity he or she is interested in and the request gets sent to booking office at Seaside Nature Park where it can be followed up.
Should a PayPal for Business be added, this setup can be easily extended to include payments and reservations.
Future improvements are daily or weekly blogging by the staff to showcase their passion for the park and their jobs and improved sales funnel to help guide potential visitors towards their purchase.
I’m very proud to show you the new website for the Nature Foundation of St Maarten!
The old self-hosted WordPress.org site is still live and used but totally reworked. I made an export and imported it into a staging site on WordPress.com. Once satisfied, I exported that, cleaned up the self-hosted site by deleting all pages and importing the export file. Once the same theme was set, all that was left to do was customization.
Three focus areas are highlighted:
Pages were put into one of these areas and (blog) posts also categorized into the same. This way, their work is visibly contribution to at least one of their focus areas. By going in and manually tagging blog posts, search engines and AI can (in the future) gain a lot of semantic information from the posts and pages, hopefully resulting in more organic traffic.
Divi theme was removed in favor of a free lightweight theme. Plugins were optimized or removed to make the site load faster. Backups are scheduled weekly and security increased, for self hosted WordPress sites are a common target for automated scans and hijacking. Eventually, I recommend the Nature Foundation move to WordPress.com and avoid having to do maintenance on software at a slightly higher cost. But it saves them from having to find a webmaster and either pay him or ask to do it “pro bono”.
Very proud to have gotten the chance to speak about coffee in Sint Maarten on the morning show of the popular island92 radio station with Dr Soc! There is so much that goes through your head on such an occasion that I’m pretty satisfied with how the interview went, although there are a zillion things that I’d change the next time!
Local newspaper on Sint Maarten, the Daily Herald, writes another nice article about the supermarket Market Garden and how they are attracting new customers and generating new business.
The Double Dutch Café functions to lower the threshold for people to come in and see the fresh fruits and produce and tries to entice them to try and buy from a whole range of ready-to-eat products, starting with excellent coffee.
… although the coffee alone is a reason to stop by in your daily routine…
Article mentions my name, Christian Peper, as a barista for their Double Dutch Café! So proud that was able to switch myself around and start doing what I love. Making the best coffee on the island for people.
Double Dutch Café, inside Market Garden supermarket, has hired barista Christian Peper to bring third wave coffee to the island of St Maarten.
The cafe wants to make the best coffee available on the island of St Maarten and odes so by raising the standards to make coffee. It’s no longer about adding hot water to ground coffee beans but about choosing the right water, using the right water temperature, picking a light to medium roasted bean, setting the best grind level to achieve 25 seconds brew time and serving it instantly.
After two weeks of set-up and soft opening, I’m proud to say that I’ve been busy creating an excellent coffee corner inside the Market Garden supermarket in Simpson bay, Sint Maarten. My mission is to show that excellent coffee is possible, even when you grind beans on-demand.
I have helped them design the shop’s workflow and set-up. I told them where to place the machine for best customer contact and how much room a barista needs to work efficiently and comfortably. They bought an espresso machine in the US but didn’t know how to configure the machine. So I calibrated the amount of water, ground coffee, found a sweet spot and frothed milk from the many different milk or milk-substitutes that the supermarket caters. I asked for a Mazzer Super Jolly grinder but they were impossible to get on time, so I’m making due with what I’ve got. The Baratza Forte AP with ceramic burrs is a great machine though!
I am currently sourcing some espresso beans on the island to try and make a damn good espresso. The cafe will be working with Starbucks beans and they’ve already sourced too many to get rid of, so that’s what it is. However, it’s fine for Cappuccino and other milk coffees, iced coffee and frappuccino. Given the island’s taste, that is what sells the most anyway. But for the few coffee gourmands and espresso fans, it’s trivial to get a couple of kilos of great medium roast natural processed beans and please them too. And who knows… maybe I can convert a few of them 🙂