Proof of Concept: Choose Your Own Adventure Dashboard Widget

Ultimately, WordPress is a tool for publishing stories, right? I’m trying to explore how to use WordPress to tell stories. WordPress backend interfaces and dashboards are extremely personal and intimate spaces, and as far as I can tell, largely unexplored as a medium.

I’ve created this plugin to test a “choose your own adventure” story in a dashboard widget using a simple switch statement and query strings. I borrowed the story from a Kingdom of Loathing PDF, which can be found here.

Click here to download Kingdom of Loathing: The Home Game: Pirate WordPress Dashboard Widget Edition

MyChap

Did you know that there was such a thing as corporate chaplains? Before I took this job, I didn’t. For this project, I teamed up with The Eastco Group* to do something I’d honestly never even considered before: build a WordPress site and turn it into a phone app. And then also a database app.

This is one of those projects that’s full of really awesome stuff that you just can’t see. On the face of it, it’s a little reference tool that displays the contact information of assigned chaplains by code number, and it remembers your code for the next time you need to reference it. This site also automatically updates it’s listings from a remote database and writes it’s own reports. It also features a heavily-modified backend so that a user can make updates by hand and context-appropriate database information and it’s just one of those sites where just about everything got touched. The front end is kind of ridiculously simple, but to make that go required crazy complex stuff.

*:  They got the client, came up with the crazy idea, implemented the design, and ported the whole thing to mobile. Basically they got to do all the sexy stuff and I got to write code.

SmartBlogs

SmartBlogs, the bloggy little brother of the venerable newsletter company SmartBrief, ran their sites on an absolutely enormous WordPress Multisite install. Being that SmartBlogs is essentially a very successful experiment, they’ve been working slightly seat-of-the-pantsy for the last few years. When Editor Doris Nhan contacted me, she needed a geek to go in and address the handful of bugs that had crept into the site that, on their own, were relatively minor, but had managed to scale in size with the rest of the site. Fixes for this site ran the gamut from finding unclosed tags in the loop to hacking core to introduce novel, if subtle, new features in WordPress thumbnail processing.

That was fun, but the real excitement came when they wanted to completely restructure the entire site, and go backwards from a Multisite to a single WordPress install. This required a bunch of things: several weeks of building an entirely new database by hand so as to preserve all of the data, meta-data relationships, and authors, building a location-aware theme to deliver different branding based on subject, exhaustively reprogramming all of their advertising code, and building a fleet of custom widget plugins to display all the new data we liberated for them.

“A great weight was lifted off my shoulders since I started working with Meredith. She is incredibly flexible, reliable and professional — I couldn’t have asked for better. Mer goes above and beyond what I would have expected from a freelance developer to make sure that I’m happy and comfortable with any changes. What would have been an otherwise difficult and stressful redesign process has been a dreamy breeze.” — Doris Nhan

I Am The WordPress Website Unfucker

Hey folks!

My name is Meredith, and I go by a lot of titles, depending on who I’m talking to. If I’m talking to another business owner, I usually call myself WordPress Developer. If I’m talking to someone who may not be all that tech savvy, I just call myself a programmer. But, if I’m talking to other techy types, particularly other web pros, I get real honest:

I’m the website unfucker.

Yeah, I know, I’m not you’d call squeamish around strong language.

Here’s the thing: WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. This means that everybody everywhere knows at least a little bit about how to use it. This means that most geeks out there have a specialty technology, and they also do WordPress, too, and most employees of companies that have WordPress sites can do quite a lot of tinkering with their existing site. Most of the time, this is just fine, but sometimes, this can lead to all sorts of problems.

It also leads to business owners across the world screaming “Please, someone unfuck my website!”

And that’s where I come in.

It turns out that, while WordPress developers are in high demand, what people need more is advanced website support. Clients don’t necessarily need developers to code up projects for them, they need someone with all the same skills as a developer to dive into their existing site and unfuck it up. Clients have often already invested large sums of money into their website, and they would rather fix what’s broken than spend all that money all over again. And, increasingly, they’re coming to me.

WordPress unfucking is bit more complicated than you might think, and this is why you really need a skilled developer to do it. Most of the time, the problems are in the theme, so you need someone who speaks PHP reasonably well, is fluent in all current and deprecated WordPress functions, who understands HTML, and who can word with CSS. Sometimes it’s not, which usually means more PHP and frequently means that the problem is in the database, so you need to know MySQL and you need to have an understanding of how WordPress uses it’s database. These aren’t wildly uncommon skills, they’re all useful for a developer, but they’re all critical for a successful website unfucker.

Here’s where I get to brag a little. I’ve unfucked leading news and information site SmartBlogs.com, I’ve unfucked best-selling author Patti Digh’s website, 37Days.com, I’ve unfucked the site of leading strategy and consulting firm, EblinGroup(.com), and I’ve unfucked marketing and brand expert Mary Ellen Slayter’s site, RepCapitalMedia.com.

If you like, I can unfuck your WordPress site as well. I’m available! Just fill out the form here, and I’ll get in contact with you. Fair warning, I charge $90/hr, and I don’t offer discounts. Don’t let that scare you, though, one of the reasons I can charge that much is that I can get a lot of unfucking done in an hour.