How to transition your Toronto business online

Hello! Without a doubt, the covid-19 pandemic has caused a massive disruption to the global economy including a fundamental shift to how small, medium and large enterprise businesses can conduct their day-to-day operations. The impact of social distancing and other quarantine strategies as dictated by the various health regulatory bodies have had a staggering impact on brick-and-mortar businesses without a doubt. This shift, albeit temporary or more longer term, has put an onus of importance on establishing or improving an online presence. Many grocery stores, butchers and other essential retail businesses have transitioned to an online e-commerce ordering system to accommodate the ability to delivery grocery and goods to their customers. Having an online business can be the deciding factor as to whether you can actually continue operating as a business. Your front doors to your showroom may be closed, but your customers still will be able to browse and […]

What is good web design?

Hello! Trends in web design have come and gone over the years, however there have been some recurring indicators that have manifested as good web design in different iterations as styles change, web development technologies change and the internet changes. CSS, HTML and Javascript frameworks have all come a long way in terms of front end development and the tools that the different technologies bring to the table that allow us to implement modern, interesting, artistic, clean and beautiful websites. But what makes good design? That’s the million dollar question! At Shift8, we have offered web design in Toronto for hundreds and hundreds of businesses across all niche markets. Each marketplace or industry has their own unique challenges, however there are common elements and expectations that we have noted happens for the most part across almost all of our projects. I will attempt to break down these challenges in order […]

Web Design for Toronto Businesses

Hello! If you are operating a local business in Toronto, one of the most important things you need to do is maintain a web presence. Whether your business is a startup, business services or restaurant : your web presence is key to the fundamental survival and operation of your business. What does it mean to have a web presence? Well the most important aspect that reaches across any niche market or industry, especially in a local market like Toronto, is having your address and phone number indexes properly as a local Google business. We have put together a checklist of steps to ensure that your business is positioned as best as possible and as visible as possible. In a dense city like Toronto, it is more common than not to have very high competition for even basic visibility.   1. Create a Google My Business Account You need to create […]

WordPress plugin to remotely manage and automate multiple WordPress sites

Hello! Being a Toronto based web design and development agency means that we interact with a significant number of WordPress sites. This tends to happen when a project starts (obviously), but often continues after a site is launched. This is something that we offer along the lines of “post launch maintenance”. By no means once a site is launched is our job done, and I’m sure a lot of other people in the industry can relate. If you follow the WP Vulnerability database notifications (if you don’t, you should), then you will see many notifications per day with various plugin or core vulnerability announcements. For this reason, among many others, we found ourselves struggling to automate and streamline the management of many client websites. We’re a fan of automation and have published articles on our efforts to integrate WordPress with Jenkins. With that particular plugin, we were able to automate […]

Read and auto populate fields in WordPress Gravity forms with jQuery

Hello! When designing and implementing Gravity forms there may be occasions where you would want to auto populate multiple fields based on a preceding field selection. This was the case in our scenario where we wanted to populate the selection of a drop-down box based on a Google Map location field within Gravity Forms on WordPress. What we wanted was for the person to enter their location in a Google Map location field (within gravity forms) and based on that selection, read the respective City within that location and based on that selection, populate a drop-down box. Gravity forms already possesses the ability to implement conditional logic, however it largely is designed for the purpose of revealing/hiding/activating input elements based on preceding choices. We need to actually inject an input selection I’ll try to walk through the process to implementing this type of logic specifically with Gravity Forms. Get the […]

How to use PHP to recursively transfer files in parallel over HTTP

Hello! There may be some scenarios where you might want to clone your site or push files to a remote location completely and 100% using PHP as a web service, without touching the command line. There are many console or command line utilities to help complete this type of job such as rsync, scp, ncftp, ftp or any of the wide assortment of network file copy utilities that are available today. But what if you want to have a system in place that migrates your site files on a web host where the console or command line is not available? For example someone on a shared hosting plan with Godaddy or a similar service will not be allowed command line access to linux utilities like rsync without paying for a VPS or similar plan that affords such access. Rest easy, there are ways to synchronize your files even on a […]

How to customize WordPress search results page

Hello! When designing websites, especially websites that have an active blog, it is often necessary to style, customize and design the WordPress search results page. When styling the search results, we typically like to modify the way the results are presented as well as append a few custom CSS container classes in order to ensure the results resemble the way content is arranged throughout the rest of the site. In addition to the CSS containers, we would also manipulate the results containers with responsive CSS @media queries in order to ensure that the results are displayed efficiently and responsively on mobile and tablet devices. Typically we like to keep things clean and minimal, so the data presented and styling are styled as such. Typically in most WordPress starter themes such as underscores, you will have a standard search.php file which will be our starting point. Modify your theme’s search.php file […]

Creating custom post types and pulling them into a custom page template in WordPress

Hello! Occasionally in WordPress it is necessary to push, what is primarily a blogging content management system, to its limits in order to create a dynamic website. The reason why it may be necessary to create a custom wordpress post type is in just that scenario where you need to create custom and dynamic types of content that go beyond what a wordpress blog “post” by default will allow you to modify. For example you may want to create a car website that lists all sorts of different cars and has a multiple car listing page and single car listing pages. Each car could have many fields like color, make, model, year, engine, features and so on. Doing this in a wordpress blog post just wouldn’t work because out of the box you only have fields like post title, categories, tags and post content. While it is possible to simply […]

Load testing your web application

Hello! These days with so many (buzzword) cloud services, the standard vanilla LAMP stack is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Or at least more obfuscated / confusing. Its important when building your web application to consider things like analytics, metrics, reporting, capacity planning and scaling. You need to be able to scale your web application outwards, but you also need to be able to have a methodical system in place through which you can identify the weak points or bottlenecks in your stack. Identifying the bottlenecks are important because they help you determine what your “ceiling” for the maximum number of requests your web stack can handle before it buckles under the load. Typically these types of bottlenecks appear in the classic or common end points within a standard web stack : web and database services. Identifying bottlenecks With apache or nginx , there are many tools available […]

Detect browser type or device type and assign custom CSS in WordPress

Howdy! With the advent of responsive web design in recent years, developing “mobile only” websites has somewhat become a thing of the past. That is to say we no longer need to maintain a separate version of a website for mobile devices as we once did. All that said, it is sometimes necessary to address things on specific devices or specific browsers. A potential scenario could be that a particular jquery plugin, sticky header menu or HTML form may not work in Safari (for example) where it works fine in IE, FireFox and Chrome. There are quite a lot of differences between all the major browsers that any web developer or web designer should be aware of. A scenario we recently had to deal with here @ Shift8 was a particular WordPress sticky / fixed header menu that was overlapping content only on iPhone devices using Safari. A user on […]