MIGHTYminnow creation RocketDogRescue.org named Best Online Adoption Site

Beast Bay 2015RocketDogRescue.org has won Best Online Adoption Site in the 2015 Beast of the Bay Awards hosted by Bay Woof magazine, beating out many national pet adoption websites. Each year devoted dog lovers in the Bay Area select winners for 56 fun categories from best dog-friendly politician, to best dog-friendly bar.

The minnows at MIGHTYminnow are so excited for our dog loving clients at Rocket Dog Rescue for winning best online adoption site, as well as being runner-up for best rescue group, and runner-up for best thing to happen to Bay Area dogs in 2014, with the recent opening of their Urban Sanctuary & Adoption Center in Oakland.

MIGHTYminnow has had a long and loving relationship with the team at Rocket Dog Rescue and this website has been made with all the usual web development ingredients (WordPress, custom plugins, graphic design & really cute dog photos), but this website has also received a big dose of love from the MIGHTYminnow team. So this win is very near and dear to our hearts. Cheers!

Donate Your Old Devices to Our Device Lab

Mm-Device-Lab-Sm

The satisfaction of working and playing on the latest technology is hard to beat, and we love getting new gadgets. But what should you do with the old devices that are being replaced?

We’ve found a way to give those old devices a second life by creating an Open Device Lab at our office in Oakland. We use our Device Lab internally to test all of the client sites that we build, and as a service to all the freelancers out there we’ve opened up our Device Lab so that any developer or designer can come in and test their work on our collection of devices for free.

So far we’ve collected about 10-15 various old iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, Android phones, and Windows Tablets, but our collection is far from complete. If you’re interested in helping out our developers and all the freelancers out there, we would sincerely appreciate the donation of any old devices that you are no longer using.

We’ll gladly take anything you’ve got, and you’ll be helping us in our mission to create websites that are functional on all devices and helping the Bay Area freelancing community. Our Device Lab is currently missing Windows phones, retina display iPhones & iPads, Chromebooks, and newer Android tablets, but every new addition to our Device Lab is an important new way to test our work and we’ll happily accept any device that you’d like to donate.

To donate a device you can use our Device Lab Contact Form or e-mail us at info@mightyminnow.com.

And if you’re a freelancer and would like to come in and use our Device Lab, please do! We encourage you to reach out to us at any time and take advantage of our Device Lab and the other services that we offer to the web development community.

– MIGHTYminnow

New Mm Theme: Trestle

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Trestle

A handy boilerplate child theme for serious Genesis developers.

Trestle takes a lot of the grunt work out of building sites using the Genesis Framework, providing quick and easy-to-implement solutions to common problems and repetitive tasks. We’ve taken Genesis’ rock-solid foundation, integrated mobile-first CSS, responsive navigation, a full-featured settings panel, and much more. Download. Install. Enjoy.

View Demo » Download »[/box]

Features

Trestle: A handy boilerplate theme for serious Genesis developersTrestle includes tons of helpful features such as:

  • Centralized control panel (Genesis → Theme Settings)
  • Responsive navigation menu
  • Mobile first CSS
  • Custom control over post info and meta
  • Multiple page layouts
  • Auto-generating primary navigation
  • Ability to auto-install your favorite plugins
  • Helpful theme jQuery
  • Compatibility with Genesis Extender plugin
  • Optional link icons
  • Built-in shortcodes (columns, buttons, Font Awesome, etc)
  • Front-end styles appear in editor as well
  • And more!

Still to come. . .

There are some features still on the horizon as well (feel free to add a pull request if you’re interested in contributing):

  • SASS support
  • Direct logo implementation (non-CSS)

Mm Plugin: WP Hotkeys

WP Hotkeys

WP Hotkeys provides time-saving keyboard shortcuts to help you quickly navigate the WordPress dashboard.

Download Now »

WP Hotkeys helps you navigate your dashboard as quickly as possible with fully customizable keyboard shortcuts. After installing WP Hotkeys, you will see the default hotkey hints display in brackets next to each standard menu item in the admin. Typing a hotkey will access the associated top-level admin menu item (e.g. Pages), and will display any submenu items and activate their associated hotkeys (e.g. All Pages, Add New). At any point you can use the arrow keys to navigate between menu items (left/right will enter/exit submenus), and the enter key to navigate to the active (underlined) menu item.

Features

  • Works right out of the box with built-in default hotkeys for each standard dashboard menu item.
  • Hotkey hints next to each menu item help you remember your shortcuts (can be toggled on/off).
  • Fully customizable – define your own hotkeys.
  • Lightweight – less than 4kb minified jQuery.
  • Built-in warning to let you know if you have duplicate hotkeys.

Coming Soon…

  • Export/import your favorite hotkey setup
  • Define custom URL/hotkey pairings

Rocket Dog Rescue Redesign highlighted on Dreamweaver Blog

The work we did creating a new website for Rocket Dog Rescue was recently featured on Adobe’s Dreamweaver Blog. Read about how we used Adobe technology to make adopting or fostering a dog in need easier than ever.

http://blogs.adobe.com/dreamweaver/2013/12/responsive-web-design-with-heart.html?scid=social15678394

For Love. Part Two.

This is the continuation of “For Love. Part One.

The Time(s)

First, I’ll tell you that all told, making a new, responsive, beautiful (if we do say so ourselves) website for Rocket Dog took over 200 hours. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Design: Adobe Flash & Photoshop

Some time ago, we received a great Flash animation for Rocket Dog that was created by a talented designer and animator named Justin Klein. Kathy Allbright, of Allbright Design, then took that animation and created some sketches of what she thought a new website for Rocket Dog might look like, where she included Justin’s great animation in the masthead. Then time passed. Quite a bit of time, honestly, because 200+ hours (of unbillable time) is difficult to find. Unless you make it a priority. A real, concrete, front-of-the-line priority. Which is what we did, this summer. We made making Rocket Dog Rescue a shiny new website into our top priority.

The Process

Choosing Technology

Platform: WordPress

wordpress logoAt MIGHTYminnow, we like to build websites with WordPress. We do this because our clients find WordPress websites easy to maintain and we find them fun and (relatively speaking) easy to build. For some things we think other CMS’s are appropriate (or even better), but for a nonprofit like Rocket Dog Rescue, WordPress is the perfect solution. Using custom post types and Toolset’s Types and Views Plugin, it is easy(ish) for us to build in a structure that makes it simple for RDR volunteers to add dogs and success stories, place or remove slides on the home page slide show, feature news items and especially promote the dogs they have saved (and are trying to place) and highlight the adoption events they hold every month.

Framework: Genesis (plus Cobalt Genesis Extender)

On top of WordPress, we like to add the Genesis Framework. Genesis is great because it has one, two and three column layouts built in to every theme, the home page is pretty easy to lay out (especially if you add Dynamik or Genesis Extender), and many of the base themes are already responsive.

Base Theme: Genesis, but Mobile First

Mobile First Child Theme for Genesis 2.0All that said, one of our preferences is to have our responsive themes use media queries in a “mobile first” way, and therefore to have phones and tablets only load the styles that are relevant to them, with the style sheet defining the universal rules (that apply to all screen resolutions) first, then working its way up to rules that are specific to larger displays. Simply put: we like our theme to load as quickly and efficiently as possible, especially on mobile devices. Genesis has a base child theme that is great, but we decided to rework it to be mobile first. Enter our new Genesis Mobile First Child Theme. This Genesis child theme is what we used as a basis for the Rocket Dog site, but we also made the reworked version available to our community online.

Wireframing / Designopment*

MIGHTYminnow usually follows an approach to website design and development that we call Discover * Develop * Design * Theme. In most cases we first build a website with a “brown paper wrapper” type look, holding off on colors and other design elements, and instead just focusing on getting all of the blocks in the right spots on the page. That’s step one. We then take this plain Jane website (all blocked out and signed off by the client) and we send it to a designer to create a look and feel using Photoshop. We find that giving the designer an actual website to design from makes their job easier and minimizes the number of revisions we need to make, since the layout and visual hierarchy of the page are already established. Even for responsive sites, we usually just ask our designers to submit a desktop design. We then use this base design to extrapolate mobile elements and modifications during our theming phase, working back-and-forth with the designer as needed to decide how the site will reflow on different devices and at different breakpoints.

homeWe followed this process to some extent with the Rocket Dog redesign, but because we were using pre-exisiting sketches from Allbright Design and because we were doing a lot of “design in browser” or “design in Live View of Dreamweaver” to style elements that were not present in the Photoshop comps, what would normally be an un-styled wireframe started to take on a design pretty early in the process. The one place we really “wireframed” before theming was on the home page, where we used Genesis Extender to lay out all of the boxes and then start feeding in the content so that we could determine how the design sketches should be adapted to the real world needs of the client. A lot of the design elements were created in tandem with the development, using a collaborative approach that allowed us to build the features and determine the design for them as we went.

The idea of designing as you go, especially as it relates to responsive breakpoints and media queries is an idea Ethan Marcotte jokingly called “designopment,” about which he says:

Our goal is to get beyond the pixel limitations of Photoshop, and begin building a design that can flex and grow inside a changing browser window, that can scale to different devices. So the development team quickly begins producing a responsive design: converting the fixed grid into a fluid one, discussing ways to flexibly handle different types of media, and then finally applying the media queries that adapt our design to different resolution ranges.

Ethan Marcotte

This is the approach that we took with the Rocket Dog Rescue redesign, and we think this approach works very well. We hope you agree, and we’d be happy to get feedback on our efforts (on behalf of the dogs). More about our process in part three of this post, coming soon…

« Part One

For Love. Part One.

We are a small company. MIGHTYminnow, small but strong. That’s sort of our unofficial tagline. And at our size, the bottom line is a real consideration. Rent, payroll, expenses… Estimates, calculations, hours, invoices… These mechanisms (which we sometimes find quite tedious, in all honesty) are necessary components of our day-to-day. They are the business counterparts to the creative and technical work we really love to do.

We love making websites. Especially websites that can be easily maintained and that work well on every device and at every size. But making websites takes time and expertise, and for the reasons mentioned above, this usually costs money. Done well, with proper time and care, with tailoring for devices and screen resolutions, it can cost a lot of money.

So here’s the big reveal. And we’re nervous to tell you this, but here goes.

Sometimes money isn’t our motivation. Sometimes we do things for love. (And by “things” I don’t mean sprinkling rose petals on the bedspread, I still mean making websites.) Sometimes we make websites, for love.

Enter Rocket Dog Rescue

rdr-logoMIGHTYminnow and Rocket Dog Rescue have had a long relationship. We haven’t been with them since the start, but we’ve been making them websites since 2007 and in web years (or dog years), that’s a long time. Like MIGHTYminnow, Rocket Dog has an unofficial tagline: for the love of a dog. That’s why they do what they do, and they make nary a dime doing it (in fact, we’re sure it costs them pretty dearly). Out of the depths of their giant hearts, they find the strength to get up every day and rescue – meaning save the lives of – dogs who are destined, by no fault of their own, to be euthanized. That’s huge, generous, and amazing. Rocket Dog saves, one after the other, abused, neglected and abandoned dogs, and to date their courageous and loving volunteers have saved over SIX THOUSAND DOGS. That’s truly inspiring.

It inspires us, and we feel that Rocket Dog deserves all the help it can get. We also believe that the dogs Rocket Dog is working to save *really* deserve all the help they can get. And one of the things that we feel could help Rocket Dog to save more dogs is to have a really great website where people can see the dogs that are up for adoption (or who need a foster home), read their stories, connect with their photos, and see all of the vital information about each dog. And we believe that this website should be beautiful, functional, mobile phone and tablet friendly and overall awesome.

So we made them one…

Part Two »

MIGHTYminnow is looking for a new minnow!

MIGHTyminnow is looking for a half time (20 hours a week) marketing and general office assistant. The hours are Monday through Friday from 1-5pm, although some flexibility is required. This is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience working on a wide range of duties and projects. Ideally, we would like to find someone who is interested in web development, marketing or graphic design. Here is a general description of the position.

Duties:

Office Management

  • Making Coffee for the morning
  • Greeting visitors of the office, making sure they have water/tea/coffee and snacks if they want
  • Answering the telephone and directing it to the appropriate person
  • Keeping up with weekly and biweekly fruit and water delivery
  • Placing orders to keep kitchen and office supplies stocked
  • Running errands to the grocery, bank, post office, etc.
  • Filing mail, receipts, etc.

Marketing

  • Create email newsletters to send out bimonthly
  • Ensure that weekly blogs are written, published, and promoted
  • Post to our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn) daily
  • Write monthly reports on the analytics of MIGHTYminnow’s website

Requirements:

  • Must come in to our Downtown Oakland Office (Located 1/2 block from 12th St./City Center BART station)
  • Must have experience in social media, blogging, Google analytics, etc.
  • Must have experience with Adobe Creative Suite – specifically Photoshop
  • Must be very organized and keep the rest of the office organized
  • Must be deadline-driven and keep others in office on top of deadlines and tasks
  • Must be attentive to detail
  • Integrity and passion for your work is a must
  • Excellent communication skills both verbal and written
  • Strong time management skills
  • Ability to work independently with guidance from manager

Bonus:

  • Experience with WordPress
  • Experience with Mailchimp
If you feel you would be a good candidate for this position, please contact us so we can get your resume and cover letter. If you know anyone who would be interested, please pass our information along!

Another Successful Website Weekend!

mugsyLast Weekend, the minnows gathered with 8 eager students to take on the challenging but exciting task of creating websites for each student over the weekend! We feel that it was a great success and we’re excited that this was the third Website Weekend in a row to sell out. With it came some great new projects (case studies coming soon!) and some amazing new relationships. We love this workshop and the opportunity it gives us to empower our students to take control of their web presence and build new businesses online.

raven bike

We also had a very special student this weekend, Mugsy! Not all dogs are a good fit for a workshop like this, but Mugsy is an absolute gentleman and he was a great addition to the class.

I really enjoyed the class–I found it fascinating, and it gave me new insight into why it’s so expensive to build a website! I can’t believe how much I learned. I thought you did a fantastic job teaching the class, and splitting up your time with the different students. Not an easy task… I am really pleased with the site too. I think it looks very professional, which is what I was going for. I will enjoy tinkering with it, adding the photos and more text… Pretty amazing, that I could find you just by a Google search and come away with such a great product. I will be in touch for sure. And, I will highly recommend you to everyone I know!

Lisa L.Website Weekend Student

WordCamp: San Francisco Edition

Free t-shirt? Yes, please.

Free t-shirt? Yes, please.

This past weekend saw WordCamp SF come to town, and it pretty much rocked my socks off. Though MIGHTYminnow represented last year, it was before my time so this was my first WordCamp. I think I’m totally hooked now. Below are some highlights:

Speakers

The sheer number of hugely talented presenters was astounding: WordPress core developers, prolific theme/plugin authors, and generally a ton of high quality people working on cool stuff. Some of the sessions that stood out include:

  • Confident Commits, Delightful Deploys by Mark Jaquith Tons of useful info regarding version control, code deployment, and loads of helpful tools to check out. Bottom line: do version control!
  • (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Themes, Love, and Understanding by Ian Stewart A full-on inspiring talk about WordPress, theming, and the amazing potential that is yet to be tapped in this field. Note to self: time to start theming!
  • State of the Word 2013 by Matt Mullenweg And. . . of course. . . the State of the Word. Cool to hear the man who (co-) started it all speak candidly about the strengths, weaknesses, and future of WordPress. End result: WordPress rocks!

Learnings & Doings

It was an information-filled 72 hours, and my brain feels like it just ate way too much knowledge-spaghetti, but here are some of the noteworthy takeaways:

  • Cool tools:
    • Grunt – cool automator, I’m thinking we can use it to quickly set-up plugin and theme files.
    • Jetpack – we’ve used this do-it-all plugin for a while, but it’s time to dig a little deeper into it all of it’s features.
    • WP-CLI – sweet-looking command line tool to expedite all things WP.
  • This crazy retina image technique – TLDR: you can blow images up to 2.2x their display size and export them at low-quality in Photoshop and BAM – you’ve got retinized images. Need to play with this one some more.
  • Got introduced to WordPress Trac and submitted my first patch!
  • query_posts is not so good.
  • The new post revisions interface in WP 3.5 is niiiiiice.

Shout Outs & Thank You’s

Me with Devin Price

Me with Devin Price, the man with the plan

I have to give a huge shout out to two people who made the weekend possible: Devin Price (@devinsays) and Chris Lema (@chrislema). As of one week ago, I had no ticket to this sold out event. I got in touch with Devin (rockstar themer and plugin developer) to see if he knew anything I didn’t. Devin put word out on the twitters, and Chris Lema (author, speaker, and lover of fine cigars) came to the rescue. A sincere “thank you” to both of these gentlemen for an awesome weekend.