The value of a good course

I recently encountered a puzzling challenge on a client’s WordPress site. They wanted to make a design change, and all the usual methods didn’t work. For example, one simple change they wanted was to have the date removed from their blog posts. They don’t write a lot of content, and very little of it is time-aged, so treating them more as resource articles with enduring value than as contemporary news and info that goes stale after a few days or weeks made a lot of sense to all of us.

All the usual methods to remove dates failed to extinguish the full image-plus-date data. I checked the Codex. I read through forums. I finally asked questions on tech sites. Nothing worked.

“What is going on?” I yelled at myself inside my head. I’ve customized and hacked at lots of sites before, and always enjoyed that sense of triumph when I got something to work the way I wanted, but this one? No joy.

Eventually, after talking to a few (read: trying to hire) other developers who all said they didn’t like working on anyone else’s custom designs, I went back to the original developer, who had, it turns out, subbed the project out to someone else. That someone then took about two weeks to agree to make the edit, then billed me for four hours for what (I think) should have taken 5 or ten minutes. (At least, that’s all it’s ever taken me to do in other sites…)

So, I decided it was time for me to get deeper into the code and learn how to build a site from the ground up so I won’t be quite so stumped the next time. I’m a communications person, not a hardcore coder, but I didn’t want to go through that again.

I found this: Building WordPress Sites from Scratch (I liked it so much I signed up as an affiliate!).

The instructor, Geoff Blake, is cheerful, thorough, friendly, and detailed. There are 115 videos, which sounded terrifying until I realized that each video probably averages about 5 minutes long. Some are barely 3 minutes, and I think the longest is about 8:20. It’s the only one that surpassed the 7:33 mark set by the second-longest video; most hover around the 5 minute mark. I used CODA, MAMP, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Firefox during the course.

In fact, I learned a lot more about Photoshop and Illustrator than I ever expected in a course that wasn’t billed as an Adobe course, which was a delightful bonus! I followed his instructions in detail, step-by-step and lesson-by-lesson, and was pleased when everything “just worked.” The only time something went awry was when I got a little sloppy in my typing (oops! but easy to do at midnight…heh…)

Now, I hope never to have to resort to talking to the original developer about an un-removal date tag. At least I have the tools to backwards-engineer how someone else has built a site, and get ‘er done.

Sometimes, a well-chosen course makes all the difference, even if taken late at night with droopy eyelids, makes all the difference to how things go on the job the next day.


PS: Here is the result of my paint-by-numbers effort:

What do you think? (Think it’s any “prettier” than the instructor’s? <grin>)

About Erin Anne Beirne

I use storytelling and "content marketing" to promote my clients' work. I develop and implement communications strategies using all the on- and offline tools and media at our disposal, publish books and ebooks and market them internationally, or even just simply create a new website and teach the client how to run it. If you have something interesting to say, a valuable service to offer, or an important cause to promote, I'd love to work with you, too!

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