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Website Conversion: LiveEdit to WordPress CMS

Pilates studio website

Kristi Galante owns and operates a pilates and yoga studio in Gig Harbor. Her old website was powered by the LiveEdit Platform – a CMS that offers integration with many third party services, including MindBodyOnline, a popular studio service.


The old site suffered from some performance problems. Overall page size was 1.3 Mb, below the 2016 industry average of 1.9 Mb, but well above Google’s recommended benchmark of 300 Kb. Additionally, performance testing via Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, and WebPageTest showed the site loading in the bottom 65% tier of sites.

Performance Benchmarks WordPress Site LiveEdit Site
Google Mobile Speed:  69 50
Google Desktop Speed  88 57
Pingdom  88
faster than 82% of tested sites
slower than 64% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index  1,416 6,076
YSlow  80 69
Web Page Size 387 Kb 1.3 Mb
Web Server Requests  25 48

Average web page size in 2017 = ~2.1 Mb
WebPageTest median Speed Index = 4,493; top 10% = < 1,388

Contributing to the performance lag were images not optimized for the web, slow server response, and the lack of header expirations.

When we opened the studio in October 2014, we anticipated high client interaction with the website (registration for classes, payments, etc.). We found that potential clients are attracted to the studio by the design of the website, but prefer to do most of their scheduling and transactions in person. LiveEdit offered integration with MindBody, but client logins were often problematic, and we saw little need to continue paying for the API at LiveEdit when the MindBody consumer mode works well for the small number of clients who continue to schedule and pay online. Plus, MindBody has continue development of their mobile app, and more clients are booking through their mobile devices.

From the beginning the template-based design at LiveEdit was cumbersome. Design elements were not flexible, and it was not easy to simply go in and change calls-to-action or pictures. Mobile responsiveness was not satisfactory, and we grew increasingly frustrated with LiveEdit’s technical support. The service was no longer worth the monthly fee, and we decided to upgrade our hosting plan with A2 to handle both of our websites. Now we have a design that is portable, flexible, easy to update, and cost efficient to maintain.

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Fostering Content Management for Clients Through Open Source Solutions

Ladies Musical Club website

Graphic Design: David Owen Hastings
WordPress Web Development: Scott Marlow

To celebrate its 125th anniversary, Ladies Musical Club of Seattle worked with us to redesign their static ‘fixed width’ website into a mobile responsive Content Management System (powered by WordPress – the most popular open source CMS in the world).

The new site features rich, custom photography and videography; and a public concert event calendar. Volunteers can now add and edit content, including events.

So exciting! A huge thanks to you and David for the beautiful layout, design, your knowledge and patience while guiding us through! … There is more work ahead, more to learn, but let’s take a big breath and delight in this huge milestone!  Wow, just wow!
Claudia McCormick-Kester, Vice President of Communications

The new site also loads among the top 10% of tested sites.

More site features are planned for the future.

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Bicycle Association Selects WordPress to Manage Content

bicycle association website

Visual Design by: Gravity Communications
E-Commerce and Members-Only Features by: IvyCat
Mobile Responsive WordPress Development by: Scott Marlow

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, BPSA – the U.S. bicycle industry trade association – launched a new mobile responsive website.

Bicycle industry manufacturers can now join the association and order products online. An RSS feed allows members to stay updated on the latest industry news. Exclusive members-only features will be rolled out over time.

And, of course, the Content Management System is WordPress – an appropriate open source CMS solution for any nonprofit organization.

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Great Design + Responsive Development = Successful Websites

screenshot Moore Ink

Copywriting & Photography: Moore Ink.
Graphic Design: David Owen Hastings
WordPress Responsive Web Development: Scott Marlow

A 3-column, mobile-responsive WordPress website, complete with responsive professional photo galleries. Continue reading

WordPress 5.0 is coming!

[Queue: Game of Thrones theme song]

As you may have heard, with this pending 2018 major update, Automattic plans to release its new ‘rich media’ Gutenberg Editor. By default, this new editor will be enabled, replacing the ‘Classic Editor’ – a WYSIWYG HTML Editor, built on the open source TinyMCE editor used by many Content Management Systems. If you haven’t heard – well, this is considered the biggest change to WordPress in over a decade – possibly ever.

Opinions about the new editor are mixed, to say the least. The pre-release Gutenberg Editor Plugin currently has only a 2.5 star rating. Pre-release anxiety and tensions are high due to possible Plugin and Theme conflicts that could impact tens of thousands of sites.

The new editor aims to provide in-Page/Post layout flexibility by editing site content via ‘blocks,’ which can be manipulated. In the hands of a competent visual designer, Gutenberg offers flexible tools for creating page layouts inside Theme Templates. Layouts that were previously available only via code-bloated Page Builder Plugins (e.g. Visual Composer), Premium Paid Template Themes, and other third party tools.

Critics complain that the new editor takes more time to use. That its click-based User Interface originates from phone and touch devices vs. desktop computers where most content is created. Ultimately, that Gutenberg’s ambition moves away from the WordPress ‘Code is Poetry’ simplicity model – breaking semantic SEO-friendly HTML, and not being as inclusive for visitors using assistive technology devices. In the hands of less skilled content creators, could WordPress morph into the next Microsoft FrontPage? Remember MySpace websites? Some contributing developers have even spun off a new branch of WordPress that excludes Gutenberg.

My own opinion is that the editor is a move in the wrong direction: an attempt by WordPress to compete with popular DIY, template page building products – such as SquareSpace, WIX, Weebly, and others. This is particularly true for non-brochureware, content-rich websites because the editor requires more steps to enter and edit each ‘block’ of content.

From your WordPress entry Dashboard, you can already take the new editor for a ‘pre-release’ spin by installing and activating the Plugin. Administrators take caution, particularly with some third-party Plugins and Themes that may not be compatible with Gutenberg. Be sure you have full backups of your sites. Note: all of my custom sites are based on Themes that adhere to WordPress’ coding standards – so *theme* conflicts should hopefully be minimized. For those of you who do choose to experiment with the new Editor, I would greatly appreciate your candid feedback.

For most clients, unless not satisfied with the existing editor, I will recommend they “install the Classic Editor” to continue using the traditional Visual/Text editor. At least until more real world data is gathered. WordPress remains the *most popular Content Management System in the world,* powering ~30% of websites (~75 million). Comparable CMSs can require up to 20 hours or more of training to use. With over 56,000 open source Plugins in its repository, WordPress’ value is not going away tomorrow, or with the release of WordPress 5.0.

Feel free to connect if you have any questions.

Learn More

  1. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/
  2. https://wordpress.org/plugins/gutenberg/
  3. https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/
  4. https://deliciousbrains.com/wordpress-gutenberg/
  5. https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/wordpress-gutenberg.html

WordPress. Fast. Affordable. Effective.

Pinpoint Strategic Communications marketing firm screenshot
: Pinpoint Strategic Communications

Scope of Work
Content management
Front-End web development
Performance optimization
Security hardening
Search engine optimization
Visual design

Team: Pinpoint Strategic Communications, Scott Marlow

My latest website collaboration with Tami Vileta of Pinpoint Strategic Communications – a Seattle-based marketing agency specializing in brand development, loyalty marketing, event promotion, email marketing, collateral development, and integrated campaigns.

The new marketing firm website features icon fonts, image galleries, online forms, responsive grid layouts, social media & sharing integration, and SSL protection.

Performance Metrics

Performance WordPress Site Benchmark
Google Mobile Speed: 71
Google Desktop Speed 85
Pingdom 91 faster than 87% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index 1,350 median = ~4,493
top 10% = <1,388
YSlow 74 average score = 70
Web Page Size 1.1 Mb In 2017, average page size = ~2.4 Mb
median page size = ~1.9 Mb
Web Server Requests 53 < 40 – 60 recommended

Cushy CMS to WordPress CMS Conversion

Dumas Bay retreat center screenshot

Client: Dumas Bay Centre

Scope of Work
Accessibility Improvements
Copyediting and content migration
Front-End web development
Performance optimization
Security hardening
Search engine optimization
Visual redesign

Team: Cipalla Communications, Scott Marlow, Joan van den Berg

Dumas Bay Centre is a unique event & retreat venue owned by the City of Federal Way.

Before the website redesign, center staff were limited to editing existing website content using Cushy CMS, a WYSIWYG HTML editing tool. To add new content, city IT staff needed to upload files to the web host.

The website was migrated to a new host and WordPress was configured to allow full rich-content editing. The new mobile-friendly site features a more modern look, with image galleries, oEmbed video support, site search, SSL protection, and feedback and rental inquiry forms. All implemented with accessibility in mind.

Performance Metrics

Performance WordPress Site Benchmark
Google Mobile Speed: 68
Google Desktop Speed 81
Pingdom 87 faster than 87% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index 1,017 median = ~4,493
top 10% = <1,388
YSlow 81 average score = 70
Web Page Size 526 Kb In 2017, average page size = ~2.4 Mb
median page size = ~1.9 Mb
Web Server Requests 27 < 40 – 60 recommended


Affiliate WordPress Website

Seattle Cares Mentoring Movement affiliate website screenshot

Client: Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement

Scope of Work
Custom Photography
Front-End web development
Performance optimization
Security hardening
Search engine optimization
Visual design

Team: Cipalla Communications, van den Berg Design, Rebecca Sullivan Photography, Scott Marlow

Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement, one of 58 city affiliates, provides school-based mentoring programs for black youth, under a King County Best Starts for Kids grant. The organization needed to quickly re-launch a mobile-friendly website in preparation for a January gala, attended by Major Jenny Durkan and other city of Seattle stakeholders. The new site also had to coordinate with National CARES existing brand identity.

The new nonprofit website, powered by WordPress, was refined over several months. Features include: an event calendar, online mentor forms, rich custom photography & videography, social media & sharing integration, and SSL protection.

Performance Metrics

Performance WordPress Site Benchmark
Google Mobile Speed: 78
Google Desktop Speed 88
Pingdom 77 faster than 64% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index 1,147 median = ~4,493
top 10% = <1,388
YSlow 76 average score = 70
Web Page Size 884 Kb In 2017, average page size = ~2.4 Mb
median page size = ~1.9 Mb
Web Server Requests 58 < 40 – 60 recommended

Seattle WordCamp 2017: Nov 4 – 5

The annual Seattle WordCamp conference is coming up Nov 4 -5 at WA St Convention Center.

This is a great opportunity to improve your WordPress website skills. If you are available, here are some WordPress presentations from the schedule you may find interesting:

Saturday, Nov 4

10:00    Workshop: Learn to Use your WordPress Website
1:00        Mobile Accessibility
1:00      Get Google To Love Your WordPress Website
3:15      Design Tips for Non-Designers
4:15      User Research on a Budget

Sunday, Nov 5

10:00    Gutenberg & the Future of WordPress (covers the new Visual HTML Editor to be released this winter. Important!)
11:00     Content Doesn’t Grow on Trees – An Introduction to Content Strategy
1:00      Workshop: 8 Ways to Make Sure You Keep Blogging, Week After Week
1:00      Out of the Box: Designing and Developing for Accessibility in WordPress Templates
3:00      Practical WordPress Marketing for Nonprofits

I’ll be there all weekend, as a Community Sponsor.

Stopping Slow Websites One Nonprofit at a Time

Homeless nonprofit website screenshot

Client: DESC

Scope of Work
Front-End web development
Performance optimization
Security hardening
Visual design
CMS Training

Team: David Owen Hastings, Scott Marlow

The Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) provides integrated services including housing, emergency shelter, crisis intervention and healthcare to thousands of homeless people.

Our goal: to redesign www.desc.org into a custom, mobile responsive, modern website that showcases the organization’s updated brand identity with bright, bold colors.

Performance Metrics

Performance WordPress Site Benchmark
Google Mobile Speed: 73
Google Desktop Speed 94
Pingdom 81 faster than 87% of tested sites
WebPageTest Speed Index 875 median = ~4,493
top 10% = <1,388
YSlow 84 average score = 70
Web Page Size 340 Kb In 2017, average page size = ~2.4 Mb
median page size = ~1.9 Mb
Web Server Requests 30 < 40 – 60 recommended