We have all heard the term be thankful for what you ask for, and with that said I have recently been not so happy with lack of coding challenges I have had with my daily work. What I mean is doing the same mundane thing can get boring but sometimes you want to have that challenge.
I have been wanting to re-build the basic blog layout for my work and they had some caveats. Did not want blog posts but wanted the blog like effect with timed posts, like the idea of auto posting but did not want individual posts to be indexed, and last was they did not want a pinterest style grid but instead wanted a basic three row with a hard break in between.
Now this is not how to build it but to work with what you have. I had to take the theme they built the site on and dismantle it in terms of the blog section. Removed what did not need to be there and then came the fun.
I noticed that getting all the CSS in place was the easiest part but the PHP was my biggest challenge. First I needed the posts to repeat which normally comes in the basic theme #done, and then I wanted to have them just simply use the built-in bootstrap grid…..I know about flexbox and css grid but this was already there. I could not get the rows to repeat, so I reached out to a wonderful person who has assisted me when I get into a pinch and she directed me to this:
First off the simple comments in the code made it for me, and my take away was that I first need to practice PHP more 🙂 and also see the beauty of the counter and how it allowed me to get exactly what I was looking for. Another fun learning part of this was simply adding a class using PHP. I really never realized how easy it is. My problem was I needed to add a class to only the first post on the page:
And Boom there we go!
I walked away from this understanding how to successfully implement code to give me the 3 rows I needed and also how to add a class to PHP. Funny thing is I have been racking my brain to learn JS and all the freaking new libraries but sometimes a problem will pop out that is not even on your radar. This was not to show off my coding skills but instead to just highlight that it is important to be happy as a developer when you run into challenging things, and appreciate your network for assistance and learn from the guidance around you.
I was asked why did you not develop a theme and use that instead of the 2017 theme WP installs automatically. In short my response was simply it did not want to waste my time building something to showcase my talent when really I just wanted a writing platform. Funny enough though I do have plans to rebuild this to look exactly the same essentially but just built with no framework or base theme for maintenance and flexibility.
Time is of the Essence
I have come to realize we only have so much time in a single given day. Most of my day is all dribbled down on a notebook. For productivity I started writing a basic list, nothing fancy of stuff to do. It involves learning, reading, working (of course), and recently starting my own site. The brain is an amazing tool but with so many thoughts that go through the mind if you do not stop to write them down they will just be forgotten.
Less Talk More Do
This is to answer that first question. If I was to wait to get around to not working or learning to build a neat clean site, it may never get done. So instead I chose to really see what was available from WP and seem to be happy. Heck I may even pick another theme to see what bell’s and whistles come with that. I will say that having JetPack on the site and some other basic plugins it helps with getting the words on the screen with less worry.
There are hobbyist front end developers and then the worker bees like me. I will build this out one day with my own code but until then let’s see how much neat content I can churn out!
It seems that the term “on the job experience” is so true for quality learning. For a front-end developer by not having this, the motivation can wean to easily especially if you already have a job that is not challenging new front-end technologies. I current am a “corporate developer”, and what that means in my own terms is that I manage a few sites for the company I work at keeping them up to date and add new features as needed. This is great but I can’t seem to find the time to practice some of the other areas I want to grow in. The first thought would well just rebuild the current site not using a framework, or take a page and see if you can template it out with the new CSS grid, but with the red tape working on those projects are not always able to be done.
How to keep learning
Finding a good site like Plurasight or even the infamous Freecodecamp which is not only amazing but also it is a great cause. By going through these I think it is important to use tools like Codepen.io to in some way have a playground or portfolio of some kind you can look back on.
Just going through tutorials is only going to get you so far, but not having a plan to practice with will also get you stuck quick. One new tip is, I started a document where I literally just jot down code challenges for myself that I would like to complete. I have found that this is rewarding for sure, and gives me that motivation that can lack when you are just trying to learn for fun. There are so many cool neat new ways to learn code in general like codewars and also codecombat which gamify the experience. As a developer in his mid 30’s those are great to practice but that real world scenario is just not there.
What this does is also give you an opportunity to have new skills if you decide to change jobs or start a new direction in your career. For example, you may be a front-end dev like me and really just work in HTML, Vanilla JS, and CSS, but have a passion for Python. If so then having projects on the side that help defines those skills will give you an opportunity to grow. Once again you may have to make those projects yourself and staying motivated could come from just being a little more intelligent than you were the day before.
Essentially this was a rant for me to continuing to attempt to grow. I have the goal of one day having the opportunity to do more software engineering using languages such as Python or even Java. With that said keeping up with newer JS tech (VUE, React, Angular) has seemed to be just as challenging. If anyone does read this and shares the same struggle, I guess it’s safe to say keep charging forward and sometimes write about it.
It has been a long time tactic to find some strong keywords that relate to a client and have them support the outreach buy attaching those keywords to the cities they want to target. I have recently have had great success with a company that did not do any local SEO other than citations and left their content to just be either not optimized at all or just more of a national approach with no geo centric approach.
I knew they had about 4 main services that they offered in the IT / Cybersecurity space and wanted to have much more exposure to the surrounding cities they serve. Though there are many good tools out there I love to use Google Trends to help me start my search and then from there I move over to WordTracker. This allows me to see the area where the words may be stronger and then checking the normal volume, KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index), ect. From there I started with the most top level topic or service and built out a page that could act almost like a landing page for all the services for each city. With in one week we already started seeing some traction. Now the goal is to build out each Service + City to drive the rest of the traffic.
Reality Of The Outcome
There is so much to SEO in terms of properly optimizing a page with (linking, solid call to action, internal linking, and meta-data). What I saw from this particular client is that with the basics and a solid strategy you can get search success without any fancy tricks. I have used this time and time again but it still amazes me how well it works.