Category: Uncategorized

BLOGGING AND VIDEOS ON DJ SITE

A few months ago, I launched a site for my mobile DJ company, Dynamic DJ Entertainment. I decided to base the site around a weblog, which I had hoped would allow our company to:

  • interact with visitors to the site, clients, and potential clients
  • share our experiences, our stories, and the things we learn- about DJing, sound design, equipment, and running a small business in a unique niche market
  • show visitors what goes into DJing an event (start to finish)
  • display a “human” aspect of the business, allow potential clients to get to know us better

These are some the benefits of blogging that I thought of specifically for my DJ business. You can find numerous lists and examples of the business benefits of blogging by simply Googling the topic.

It may be a little early to gauge our success on these points, as we have only had the site up for a few months. Anyway, it’s good to keep this in mind as this is the direction the site is headed.

Videos

Last year, I made a video for my digital video production class at school on DJing, and it was a semi-documentary that followed us from start to finish on one of the middle school dances that we DJed. I still haven’t uploaded this video to YouTube, and it’s a bit outdated in terms of the equipment we used, but I liked the idea of filming the events.

There are a number of other DJs that film “gig logs”, in which they film events that they DJ at. Most notably on YouTube are briansredd and ellaskins of djtutor.com. They have many great videos on a wide range of topics related to DJing, but I have neither the time nor the knowledge to film videos and make tutorials as extensive as theirs.

However, my friend and co-DJ Dustin and I have really enjoyed filming our last few events. Dustin has even uploaded a few tutorials, which I then blogged about. While our DJ site is not becoming the premiere site to visit to learn about DJing, the new videos and the new content has received a good positive response.

We have received a number of new inquiries in the last few days through the site. I will keep you updated about the DJ site and any new technologies that we try out. If you are interested, the videos are available on Dustin’s YouTube channel or on the DJ site with my commentary.

E-COMMERCE WITH WORDPRESS AND PAYPAL

I recently completed work on a new website, Petra’s Jewelry, which is a online store for a woman who sells handmade beaded jewelry.

To create the store, I used WordPress and the the WP e-Commerce plugin. This plugin allows you to add products, maintain your listing of products and product pages, and submit payment through PayPal Express Checkout.

The creators of WP e-Commerce describe it as

an industrial strength elegant easy to use fully featured shopping cart application suitable for selling your products, services, and or fees online.

I found installation a little difficult, however most of my issues came from the fact that in creating the site’s WordPress theme I did not include the wp_head() function (info on wp_head), which this plugin uses to include the Javascript files.

Pages created

Once I had the theme finished and successfully installed the plugin, it automatically created a few pages:

  • Browse Products: This is the main page of the store. As some other people have noted, the URLs that are created for product pages and category pages are not good (for example, http://petrasjewelry.com/products-page/?product_id=2).
  • Verify your Order: This is the page you see when you click “checkout,” and before you are directed to Paypal for payment processing. The page works well and the form is well-designed. It calculates shipping and sales tax based on preconfigured rates by location.
  • Transaction Results: I think this is the page you return to after Paypal.
  • Your Account: This page lists a purchase history. I did not find this page particularly useful. Also, I did not find anywhere for users to create a login.

Javascript shopping cart

The plugin provides a PHP hook, nzshpcrt_shopping_basket(), that inserts what the creators call a “Sliding Shopping Cart”. It uses AJAX so that, for example, when you click the “Add To Cart” button, it appears in the shopping cart box without reloading the page (learn more about AJAX).

I thought this was a nice feature, and I inserted the shopping cart box in the sidebar of the site. However, I don’t know how good this is in terms of usability, as the plugin references quite a few JavaScript files in the header. I would think this would slow down the load time.

Product images

Most of this plugin’s administration interface is straightforward, but something I was concerned about when I was searching for an e-commerce plugin was the image handling. This plugin allows you to upload an image and it uses some server-side resizing to generate a thumbnail at whatever size you tell it. When you click on a product image, the plugin uses an implementation (it appears) of the Lightbox JavaScript technique to display the original version of the image.

Final notes

When I was creating this site, I was designing my own theme for WordPress and wanted something that was simple, usable, and easily maintainable. I was also looking for a free WordPress plugin.

I think that my attempt at creating a functional e-commerce store was successful, and I think the store works pretty well. I will be working with my client soon to add products to the store. I would also like to add a gallery (maybe using Lightbox JS again) that showcases jewelry created in the past (and not currently for sale) to give customers an idea of what is possible for custom orders.

After finishing this project, I have come across several nice alternatives, including Shopifyand Big Cartel. If I create an online store in the future, I would like to try these alternatives to see if they are any simpler.

LINKS: TECHMEME AND DOODLE POLLS

Two innovative sites (new finds for me) that you may find useful:

  • Techmeme: this site aggregates posts from multiple influential blogs related to the latest in technology; an online resource for understanding hot topics of discussion in the blogosphere
  • Doodle: this site can be used to poll or survey your friends on a single question. For example, if you wanted to determine the best time for a group of people to meet (see this example), your friends would visit the link you send them and respond by selecting the times that they are or are not available. A table is produced showing everyone’s responses.

DYNAMICDJ.ORG LAUNCHED

I recently launched a new website, DynamicDJ.org. This site is the homepage of Dynamic DJ Entertainment, the mobile disc jockey company that my friend Dustin and I founded in 2006. We specialize in school dances and also frequently disc jockey parties and local events.

The site is built on the WordPress open-source weblog platform (the same system that powers this site) and uses the Tarski theme. The site is based around a weblog chronicling the growth of our business. There are entries highlighting events that we disc jockey and reflecting on other aspects of running a mobile disc jockey company.

Before the launch of this site, I had several entries on this site that dealt with disc jockeying and music, and I moved those posts to the new site.

Pages included

The site is primarily a weblog, but there are a number of other pages (equally important) that help visitors learn more about us and what, specifically, we do:

  • About: summary of company, list of types of events we have performed at, short history
  • People: brief bios of us and our company email addresses
  • Equipment: photo of our standard setup, with numbers on the photo. Each number corresponds to a piece of equipment that is described below the photo. I am definitely planning on adding a new photo, but maybe I could redo this in Flash or JavaScript (mouseovers?)
  • Music: I think this page is important. I talk about what kind of music we can play (which is pretty much anything), give some sample songs in each category, and talk about icebreakers and requests.
  • Contact: a contact form

There are a few pages that have yet to be added. These include a videos page, client login page, and testimonials page. Look for these pages in the coming weeks.

NEW WEB HOST

Just a quick note to announce that I have changed web hosts. My previous web host, Steelpixel, who hosted me from August 2006 through October 2007, announced that they are going out of business since all their control panel data was lost. I must note that Josh of Steelpixel did a good job finding a host willing to take over the business and honor my previous hosting terms. You Can Read About Webhosting in 2019

The new host is RailsPlayground, a web host which is geared towards developers… [specifically] Ruby on Rails/Ruby, PHP 4/5, Perl, and Python developers. They have fairly good customer service; they responded to support tickets through their nice account center (the ticket center mirrors email correspondence between you and support).

The MySQL databases and HTML files were not lost, so I was able to access the old server through SSH and transfer my files to the new host. They use cPanel (this is the first time I have tried out cPanel v.11), which works well. I am looking forward to working with them in the future.