Zeek Speaks: WordCamps Orange County, Los Angeles, and Nashville 2016

We love WordCamp, so we get involved as much as we can. A WordCamp is a weekend event in cities all over the world where people get together to talk about how they use WordPress. You’ll find members of our team organizing WordCamps both here in Orange County (20152016, and 2017) and in Chicago (2013), and speaking at as many WordCamps nationwide as we can.

This summer, Zeeksters spoke at WordCamps in Orange County, Los Angeles, and Nashville.

WordCamp Orange County

In Orange County, Steve Zehngut, me, and David Arceneaux all served on the organizing committee, and Jacob Arriola and Aaron Holbrook presented on WordPress development.

Jacob’s topic was “Getting Started with SVGs for WordPress Theme Building.” He showed WordCampers how to use vector graphics to maximize page load speeds and to make the site look its best on retina screens.

Watch Jacob’s presentation on WordPress.TV:


Aaron led a discussion session on how to improve WordPress search, focusing on his work integrating Elasticsearch to replace WP’s native search functionality.

WordCamp Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, Jacob Arriola flexed his knowledge of Flexbox page layouts in his presentation. He walked the audience through a starter theme he developed. You can view his GitHub code repo here to learn more.

Our founder Steve Zehngut organized the conference’s Sunday business track. Presenters spoke in two groups of three, with each group first giving talks on a business topic, followed by more than an hour of panel discussion. I spoke in the first group on Sunday morning about how to use the rules of improv comedy in project management.

WordCamp Los Angeles 2016 presentation by Sarah Wefald
Sarah Wefald’s presentation on how to use the rules of improv comedy to manage web and mobile app projects

WordCamp Nashville

The very next weekend, Steve flew to Nashville to deliver the keynote talk at WordCamp: How to level up as a WordPress professional.

We love going to WordCamps to share what we know and learn from others in the community. If you haven’t been to a WordCamp yet, we can’t recommend it highly enough, no matter how advanced or beginner-level your skills may be. If you don’t have a local WordCamp, you can host your own. Check out WordCamp Central to start a camp or to find a camp near you.

Chris Lema joins Zeek’s Board of Advisors

Steve Zehngut and Chris Lema
Me and Chris on a cigar safari

Chris Lema has been a trusted friend and informal advisor to me and to Zeek for several years. Today, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve made it official: Chris Lema has joined Zeek’s Board of Advisors.

The WordPress community already knows him through his vast library of blog posts, e-books, WordPress presentations, and even the occasional dinner. His reputation for being a kind but no-nonsense executive and coach is well-earned.

I founded Zeek more than 20 years ago. We’ve done a lot of amazing work that I’m very proud of, and we’ve built our agency around the WordPress community. No matter how far you’ve come, there’s always further you can go. We know Chris has the insight as well as foresight to help us “level up.”

Thanks for joining us, Chris. We’re proud of what we’ve done with your unofficial advice, and we can’t wait to see what we can do with your official leadership.

Ultimate Media Ventures launches first of three websites

Ultimate Media Ventures is an eSports agency that works with some of the top brands in gaming, producing events and crafting brand identities. Ultimate contacted us to help them create three sites encompassing their lifestyle, culture, and community commitment to gaming: their corporate site, an e-commerce site, and a news outlet. We’re proud to have launched the Ultimate Media Ventures corporate site in time for their appearance at Pax East.

ultimate

Design

When your events feature highly detailed, impressive production, and your clients are the top brands in gaming with console-quality graphics and strong identities, your corporate identity has to match. We brought in Robert Nienhuis of Nien Studios to collaborate with the Ultimate team to create a modern, cutting edge design that reflects Ultimate’s highly relevant and on-trend work.

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Prudential Lighting launches redesigned website

Prudential Lighting is one of the country’s most sought-after custom lighting companies, specializing in architectural fixtures. They contacted us to create a new website to feature their many products and serve as a central point of communication between them, their customers, and their sales agents.

prulite-desktop

Redesign

Prudential puts a great deal of thought and effort into the design of their products, and they wanted their website to reflect their sleek, modern design principles. Robert Nienhuis of Nien Studios delivered a cutting edge user interface that allows their product photography to shine.

The company has a large product offering, so we paid special attention to presenting the information in a way that’s useful to the user, as well as supporting marketing messaging.

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What do you mean when you say ___? A Glossary of Terms

“What do you mean when you say ___?” Speaking with developers and development agencies can sound like a different language. When I start working on a new project with a new partner, my first order of business is to establish a mutually understood vocabulary so we can communicate as effectively as possible. Some partners come to us with less of a technical background than others, and that’s more than okay – we are happy to help, and we don’t judge.

This article is a list of some terms we use and what they mean in plain language you can use, even if you don’t know your HTML from your MySQL.

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Best of NJ launches new website

portfolio_bnj_desktopBest of NJ called us with a vision of turning their editorial feature and events listing site into a directory of everything happening in their home state of New Jersey. Phase 1 has just launched with their high quality features and events, with a Phase 2 launch of locations and directories coming very soon.

Redesign

Robert Nienhuis of Nien Studios created a custom, full-width site design that makes Best of NJ’s wide breadth of content easy to navigate. His extremely modern user interface is visually stunning, making it appeal strongly to users, subscribers, and advertisers portfolio_mobile_bnjalike.

Events

Anyone can list an event on bestofnj.com, but members get added perks like nicer page layouts designed by Nien Studios. We modified Events Manager to handle submissions of events from the general public and for members. Once logged in, the submission process determines the user’s membership tier and creates an event using the appropriate page template.

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Using the WooCommerce API in mobile development

WordPress is (in my opinion) the best content management system to be used as a backend for developing mobile apps. Some app projects utilize Adobe’s PhoneGap, which is a technology that combines HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in a web browser view to connect a phone to the WordPress install. While this does the job, PhoneGap does not deliver a true native app. At Zeek, we emphasize native and hybrid code that interfaces with WordPress through various APIs. This enables us to deliver a high quality product that functions better than its PhoneGap counterparts might. However, we recently ran into problems creating an iOS app with eCommerce.

We selected WooCommerce as our eCommerce platform, as it has become the gold standard for WordPress storefronts. WooCommerce has a JSON API, but as we have discovered, it appears that it was designed primarily for administrative purposes. It has very little usable functionality to offer a customer-facing mobile app. I was brought in to help implement parts of the API that weren’t in the WordPress or WooCommerce JSON APIs.

WARNING: This post is about to get real. And by “real,” I mean “technical.”

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Zeek celebrates 20 years

Zeek Interactive launched on June 1, 1995 in Orange County as a the next great CD-ROM game company. And CD-ROM games died on June 2, 1995. (Google it. That’s the actual date. Not really.) We learned quickly to adapt with the times. We have been a Shockwave game company, a Flash developer, a kiosk developer, and a web developer. Now, 20 years later, we focus on 2 core competencies: mobile and WordPress development.

WordPress developers Orange County meet-up
Full house at a meetup of the OC WordPress group

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Introducing Heisenberg, our starter theme for WordPress

Heisenberg WordPress theme imageYou may have seen our fearless leader Steve Zehngut’s presentation at WordCamp Orange County last year about how we use Auttomatic’s Underscores and ZURB’s Foundation as the basis for the custom WordPress themes we produce. Since Steve’s WordCamp talk, we’ve continued to iterate our starter theme. We’ve packaged it together and released it on GitHub — please allow us to introduce you to Heisenberg. Now, let’s cook.

This starter theme uses the Sass version of Foundation because it gives you a more robust ability to control your theme not only through Foundation’s presentational classes, but also through its mixins.

How to get started

Install Foundation Sites and Gulp Modules via NPM

  1. Clone or download the project onto your themes directory (.wp-content/themes)
  2. From the theme directory, run npm install. All of the theme dependencies will be installed into node_modules
  3. Run a find-and-replace to remove the heisenberg slug/string throughout with your project/theme name
  4. Run gulp

Follow the project on GitHub

We’re actively developing the starter theme, so the best way to stay current with instructions and such is to view the project on GitHub.

Issues

If you run into any issues or have questions, please don’t hesitate to open a support request and we’ll get to it as soon as possible.

Want to Contribute?

We love contributions! ? ? To contribute:

  1. Clone the repository
  2. Create a new branch off of master
  3. Commit your changes
  4. Open a pull request