Reya, which means “hope” in Tibetan, is a “small, family run business with roots that run deep on the Tibeta Plateau of China.”
Sightings of and information on websites powered by ExpressionEngine.
Reya, which means “hope” in Tibetan, is a “small, family run business with roots that run deep on the Tibeta Plateau of China.”
The silence here isn’t because I don’t care about you anymore. Oh, quite the contrary. Things slowed down because I was traveling the last 8 days in Toronto and teaching two ExpressionEngine classes to a group of enthusiastic web developers.
Teaching ExpressionEngine and seeing how people new to the CMS positively react to it and what it can do reminded me that a lot of what we take for granted day in and day out is still a big deal. At the end of the day ExpressionEngine solves problems for people creating websites. It’s always good to be reminded of that.
While in Toronto I was able to take in some local sights and food (and beer). I also had the good fortune of attending the local Toronto-ee meetup. They kindly arranged it close to my hotel and we spent a couple of hours sharing stories, drinking beer and eating food. Usually EECI is the only time I get to see other EE people (that don’t live here in Austin), so this was a real treat.
Thanks to Sean Smith for organizing it and for everyone who attended.
Built on ExpressionEngine, of course, Mark’s new site was designed by my local pals Trent, Reagan and Dave at Paravel.
Really, really nice!
Jeremy Girard wrote a nice overview of EE’s best tricks in his blog post on how EE makes it easy to update your website.
At Envision, we have selected ExpressionEngine as our CMS of choice. We selected this platform for a number of reasons - one of which is the ease of use for our clients when they need to maintain their own content. Here’s a look at how easy it can be to manage website content when you have the correct tools at your disposal:
Read the whole thing to learn about the features Envision likes best about ExpressionEngine.
My friends at A List Apart recently launched a site redesign and as part of the new ALA they added embeddable comments. Embeddable comments? Yes. It’s like embedded tweets but for comments.
Here’s a blog post on ALA as an example. Scroll down to the comments and see the small Embed buttons. Click it and you get a code snippet that lets you embed the comment elsewhere, like this:
Terrific article. Your assessment of UCD’s ignorance to business realities is often one of its most frustrating aspects. As a business manager, I’m trying to bridge the gap between those realities and what I want to accomplish (a usable design). Thanks.
The ALA team is now making this code available so anyone can use it. You can also see a an example of how to use this with ExpressionEngine comments (which is what ALA runs).
Six Pony Hitch launched a great responsive ExpressionEngine site for Montana CDC. We had a chance to catch up with Michael Zens, Interactive Director for Six Pony Hitch, to learn more about what went in to this site.
Recently we completed a full rebranding of the Montana CDC website to better reflect the changing nature of the organization. We focused on highlighting inspiring client stories to tell the story of their services and used clean design, icons, and infographics to communicate the specifics of this non-profit lending organization. We also optimized the site for mobile devices using responsive design so that users on any platform will have a great experience with the site.
We love EE and feel it is a great fit for most projects. The customized content channels allow us to collect data in a user friendly way but still create pixel perfect front-end templates. And the built-in features and add-ons available for EE make any project easier.
I enjoy the clean design, focused on photography and story telling. Thanks to Michael for giving us some insight on the site.
If you have a site you’d like us to feature, contact email@example.com
Long time member of the ExpressionEngine community, Marcus Neto, launched his redesigned business site: Blue Fish Design Studio. This responsive site, powered by ExpressionEngine, does a great job of showcasing Marcus’ skills.
I’ve always enjoyed the branding of the site, and this latest design iteration is great. Nice work Marcus!
Every web person I’ve come in contact with enjoys some Mumford & Sons. Perhaps that’s a stereotype of being a web worker, but regardless, I enjoy them.
This week appears to be the week of site launches:
All this has gone live and it’s only Tuesday! Keep up the awesome!
We redesigned and rebuilt Evernote’s app library, The Trunk, in just over two months — complete with beautiful custom graphics, cutting-edge front-end development techniques, and a content management system that makes a complex set of data easy to update and maintain.
Read their case study on the project Looks amazing!
Last week I received a mention on Twitter that thanked this site for the motivation to upgrade their site to the latest version of ExpressionEngine. I hadn’t heard of the site before and was intrigued. It’s called Jackass Letters. Written and run by Christopher L. Jorgensen, Jackass Letters (JL) archives letters Christopher writes to companies and notable people and also posts the replies he gets.
Here’s the idea in a nut:
Jackass Letters is dedicated to examining correspondence with real people and companies. It is equal parts spoof, satire, parody and criticism. New letters are generally published once a week.
Is my motivation greed? Am I just clamoring after free stuff? No. Free stuff is cool, but I enjoy the process, enjoy the responses more than any of the swag. Daily I made the trip to my mail box only to see it stuffed with junk mail and bills. Now I look forward to getting mail again!
I started clicking around the site, reading letters, laughing and generally amusing myself with the responses from some of the companies Christopher contacted. JL is a utilitarian site that is solely focused on publishing letters and the replies.
You could see this as a meaningless endeavor. I could understand why. I see it as a fun experiment that captures a snapshot of the corporate culture and humor of some of the biggest names in the world. From Best Buy to Budweiser, Apple to the AARP, and Nike to Nissan, Christopher has written dozens and dozens of letters and eagerly awaited a response. He’s reviving the dying art of writing a letter.
I asked Christopher if he would do an interview with EE Insider so we can learn more about the site.
EE Insider: When did you start the site?
Christopher Jorgensen: I started the site in 2008. Originally the idea was to see if I could just get free stuff from companies just by asking. The first company I wrote was Apple. The reply that came back irritated me. It was boring boilerplate marketing and made no mention of anything I’d written in my letter. It was basic facts any Apple fan would already know. So I wrote them back and complained about the reply and they sent me a pen.
At this point I realized I enjoyed the letter writing more than the free pen and Jackass Letters was born.
In college my roommate and I wrote a few letters to companies complaining about things like insect infestation in our boxed potatoes, but it never occurred to me to make those letters public. (This was before most companies had websites. ‘92 or so.)
EEI: Why did you choose ExpressionEngine for this site?
CJ: My first dynamic site was a blog run on a used Apple G3 iMac in my basement using a version of pMachine. When EE came out I migrated to it with a new project.
I’ve used other CMSes, but I am a dabbler, so attacking another learning curve is not something I get excited about. Even going from EE 1.x to EE 2 was a major task for me. I doubt I would have done it if I wasn’t also interested in doing a redesign. I’ve used Wordpress, Joomla, and a couple of others, but have seldom been tempted to switch to something other than EE.
EEI: Wow, so you’re a senior member of the community. Are you using any add-ons or special configurations with the site?
CJ: I’m running a pretty much out of the box installation. I used the first third of your book ExpressionEngine 2: A Quick-Start Guide to get going, but once I felt like I knew enough to do what I wanted I just dove in!
I have an amazing amount of “Advanced Conditionals” set up to deliver different content depending on the URL structure. I have about a dozen templates running the entire site and this counts my site map and RSS feed.
There are a lot of plugins I would love to have, but the site costs me about $600 a year to run. I spend about $150 a year in postage alone! Maybe if the site ever makes money I’ll consider adding some more bells, but I often take the hard way to save a little money (like manually creating my site map template and hand rolling my .htaccess).
EEI: Do you accept donations for postage?
CJ: I do accept postage donations. I also accept donations to my legal defense fund, to the illustrator charity fund, and to the girlfriend/editor/typist dinner fund. (I don’t really have a legal defense fund.)
I couldn’t do my site without the help of others.
Jackass Letters hasn’t gotten me sued yet, but one of my letters got me set up with a lawyer. He gives me advice from time to time when I have questions about whether I can legally put something online. I don’t always listen to him, but he makes it so the girlfriend can sleep at night.
I also have a great illustrator who works with me because he likes to be part of what I do. He’s named Anthony Imperioli. I make donations to his favorite charity rather than actually paying him.
EEI: What’s your favorite thing about ExpressionEngine?
CJ: The flexibility. One of the things I’ve recently started to do is to try to use my own content more efficiently. I’ve started writing my letters directly within EE. I created a print template only a logged in Admin can see. I print the letter, set a future post date in EE for 3 months out, then if it’s answered I move it to the main channel. If not it posts to the Unanswered channel.
I plan a video/podcast shortly and intend to do that within EE. If I can imagine the page there seems to be a way to do it. I’m still learning, and I am intimidated by all the things the design pros do with EE. I do all my own templates and CSS and such, but I am not a programmer. Yet I still manage!
EEI: Is there anything that you’d change about ExpressionEngine?
CJ: I would love the ability to autoupdate. For someone like me that is more focused on the content side the actual maintenance of the site can get in the way. If the database backed up and the site stayed up to date, I could let it get out of my way and just produce!
I’ve often thought there should be either first party or third party templates, but for some reason these haven’t caught on for EE. It would be nice to do a “Newspaper” install or select “Web comic” or one of dozens of design options; blog, store, magazine, etc.
EEI: Are you working on anything cool for the site?
CJ: One of the things I am currently working on is a script that will pull all the content of an EE category and cURL the contents into a directory, then zip it up as an ePub and rename it. I have it working fairly well for text only posts at this point.
My first test will be to create an ePub of all the content at jackassletters.com/unanswered.
I still have another 100+ letters to input there before I can pull them all back out, but this still beats doing all that formatting by hand. I want this to eventually be a cron job that fires off daily and creates an ePub of “The Worst of Jackass Letters” or “The Best of” or whatever.
I have a lot of plans for books this year. I am currently writing all the Governors & Premiers in the US and Canada. I also have a woman in Malaysia writing letters on my behalf to companies she likes interacting with. I am outsourcing my labor for a book I am going to call “Jackass Letters: Outsourced.”
We’ll see how long it takes me to do this. I feel like I am close to getting “Unanswered” finished.
If someone made an add on that easily allowed for ePub creation I’d buy that in a heartbeat. It’s not as easy as you might think though.
Two sites recently launched on ExpressionEngine that I want to tell you about. The first is a site for locating dog walks in the UK.
It’s called Walkiees and was built by an officer in the UK Border Agency. He previously had no web development experience but learned as much as he could about EE and just went for it. He wrote about the site in the EE Forums:
A buddy of mine, who is a web designer, said that they had recently switched all their site builds to EE, and that I should look into it.
I started consuming as much tutorials, podcasts and information as I could. […] I’ve never touched EE before, and I had VERY limited knowledge of HTML/CSS, but with the great support that I received here, Solspace, gwcode, and many many more support forums, I finally managed to get the site ready for its initial launch.
The site uses Solspace User and Favorites, Navee, SEO Lite, CP Analytics Settings, Accessible Captcha and more. Read the forum post for all the details.
He also notes:
I doubt very much that I have put the site together in the most efficient way, and its somewhat simplistic at the moment, but I think I have a good base to keep working and developing on.
Well, that’s how everyone starts. My first site is an embarrassment. Hell, there are things on this site that I wince at. Welcome to ExpressioneEngine and congrats on the launch!
The second site is Gallery System, a site that sells picture hanging systems. The site was developed by Versa Studio. In a forum post they listed the following add-ons in use: Structure, Wygwam and Matrix. UltraCart powers the e-commerce part of the site.
Interestingly, this site was originally done in EE1 but completely rebuilt in EE2. From the forum post:
The site was a from-scratch rebuilding of the previous EE1 site. Since we were changing a lot of information, we found it easier to start fresh than try to adapt what we had, especially since we switched to Structure for the new site.
I missed this somehow when it was released in late March, but Viget redesigned their site and it is, of course, running ExpressionEngine. Front-end developer Trevor Davis wrote up a comprehensive article on how the site used EE to manage the blogs.
A couple of snippets from the article that I found interesting:
Well, we went from EE 1.6.2 to 2.4, and it was 100% seemless. Not once did we encounter an error. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
That makes me a bit more confident about a planned upgrade I have on my to-do list.
I can’t even count the number of EE sites I’ve built, but to me, the best way to define your channel structure is to use a whiteboard.
The best way to do anything is with a whiteboard!
They used a lot of the add-on you’d expect: Freeform, Wygwam, Low Reorder , Matrix, Playa, Template Variables, CE Image, Smartdown and more. The entire list is in the article.
Viget Design Director Tom Osborne also has an article from mid-March on the new Viget design.
A belated congratulations to the Viget team on the launch!
This one is personal to me because I worked on the project that first brought paidContent to ExpressionEngine. Today WordPress announced that paidContent re-launched on WordPress and their WordPress VIP service.
It’s definitely strange to see them move off of the ExpressionEngine platform after almost 6 years. I only worked on the initial launch and I know they had a lot of custom development work done in the years after.
So, why the move? paidContent is now part of the GigaOm network and GigaOm sites run WordPress and use the WordPress VIP hosting service. WordPress VIP is a service that host some big, big name blogs.
Over the weekend a group of designers and developers particpated in the Overnight Web Challenge, which is organized by The Nerdery. At this year’s event there were 18 different teams who all took on the task of redesigning and rebuilding a non-profit website…overnight.
One of the groups was Twin Cities EE, a “collective of local developers specializing in ExpressionEngine development.” The group included EE developer Brian Litzinger and Sarah Hicks, who wrote up a report of the event on her blog.
The Twin Cities EE group was assigned the non-profit Franconia Sculpture Park (old site).
The developers on our team gave them the moon using the Expression Engine CMS. Not only can the public book a tour online or view an interactive sculpture map, they can view BIG photos of the park. Everything at the park is BIG. There current site doesn’t give them enough credit nor come close to offering a BIG presence as so many of their beautiful sculptures do.
Read Sarah’s entire write-up to learn about the event, including photos and the finished product.
Nice work, everyone!