Current section navigation in WordPress

Increasing, we’re building sites - like our own - that are completely managed by WordPress. WordPress makes it very easy to output a list of pages using the wp_list_pages function; you can control depth levels, surrounding tags, and even explicitly exclude certain pages. And with the precise classes that accompany the output HTML elements, you can finely control the output with stylesheets.

Many sites, also like ours, list pages only under the current top level page (or, put another way, pages in the current section) in a sidebar. For example, if you go to the Services page, or any of the pages inside that section, you’ll notice a box atop the right sidebar called “More in Services” that provides navigation within the Services section.

Taking advantage of the wp_list_pages function to create section-based navigation for sites with two levels of page depth is a pretty straightforward matter, as I’ll explain. But how do we efficiently output section based navigation for sites with 3 or more levels of page depth?

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“Museums in the Park” featured on WordPress Showcase

Museums in the Park, a website we developed in collaboration with our brilliant creative partners at the watsons, has been featured on the WordPress Showcase. Museums in the Park markets ten popular metropolitan museums in Chicago, and features a password protected member area where staff and board members access important documents and updates.

Museums in the Park - WordPress Showcase

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2009 - A Big Year for the Mobile-Optimized Web?

Mobile-optimized websites have been on our radar for a couple of years, and while we’ve devoted some time for research and prototyping, until now, clients rarely considered mobile an important part of their overall web strategy. But since our e-calendars virtually flipped to 2009, we’ve had several clients revisit the mobile web question, and have already queued up a couple of exciting projects.

Some of our partners have been hard at work making their systems mobile friendly. has a fabulous recently released an iPhone optimized version for their social networks. WordPress, one of our most popular content management platforms, has released an iPhone application for managing posts and offers several plug-ins for basic mobile blog views.

In a blog post about the progress of the mobile web this morning, Jakob Nielsen says that the Mobile Web of 2009 = the Desktop Web of 1998. Think about that for a minute. In 1998 there was no . Google didn’t exist yet, nor did

Seems to us, there’s work to be done.

Introducing the “Ning-tranet”

Over the last year we’ve helped several clients deploy social networks on the Ning platform. Our early Ning deployments were elegant, but traditional: we helped member organizations create rich, dynamic online member communities. Recently, we’ve been breaking out of that box.

Earlier this year, we customized an instance of Ning for FIRST Credit Union in British Columbia, creating a social network that enables their staff to meet up and share ideas online. The project included a custom design (implemented via CSS), custom home page components (via the Ning API), and some creative hiding and renaming of core features (using CSS and JavaScript).

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The Importance of the End Goal

We often receive web project inquiries that look something like this: “Please give us a quote for how much it would cost to get XYZ”. “XYZ” is usually a nice bulleted list consisting of requirements such as a content management system, online event registration, a member-only web community, a blog, a forum, integration with a Salesforce database, and so on.

We do these things really well. By leveraging existing systems and adding some custom code, we are able to deliver a great set of tools with great Salesforce integration. Just what they wanted, right?

Here’s the problem: Too often those lists of requirements are based entirely on what a CEO loosely articulated, what a competitor did last month, some blog reading, or a lot of friends with opinions. A recent post on Smashing Magazine - 7 Essential Guidelines for Functional Design - is a good read for those considering the “XYZ” approach.

At C. Murray Consulting, our best success stories consistently come from projects where we’ve had the opportunity to engage with clients at the requirements level - to put everything on the table and leave no question unasked. When we understand our clients’ needs at least as well as they do (maybe even better), we’re able to leverage our Web expertise to tell them what they really need, why they need it, and the best way to get there.

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