A Taste of Paradise

Lake Wenatchee is a natural dreamworld in the Lake Wenatchee Forest on the eastern slopes of the Cascades in Leavenworth, Washington State. It has a very active community of some 600 full and part time residents. Summer and Winter activities for all occasions attract visitors all year. The site is managed by a hands-on group of volunteers and me.  We have been building the site for several years and it is continually evolving, both in design and content.

Site visitors average around 600 a day and peaked at 20,000 in August 2015.

Features of the site include the home slider showcasing some of the best photos submitted by the community, daily webcam updates from a dozen cameras on and leading to the estate, event calanders, managed advertising from sponsors and a lot more.

Some of the challenges have been to find solid and high performing plugins to work seamlessly together and to make the site with so many images and so much function consistently perform well. We have managed to achieve that.

With the help of Godaddy support we managed to cope with the peak in visitor traffic in August last year on the shared server plan without any noticeable performance issues.

Site URL: http://www.lakewenatcheeinfo.com/

Theme: Thesis

Podere Sant’Angelo

The 2015/16 trend to use full screen slider images to fill the most valuable real estate on a site is not always the best oprion.  In this case I was fully supportive of it. 

Graham Bradford needed a site  to advertise his holiday homes in exotic Tuscany (http://www.poderesantangelo.com/).  He had found the Nation theme that was 70% suited to his requirements, but not totally. The theme was built with specific features coded into the theme PHP files and in my opinion not meant to be customized by anyone without PHP experience.

My first inclination was to redo the site completely in a more open theme, but Graham liked the 70% so I customized the theme to fill in the blanks. I also created custom post types so that Graham can easily modify key elements of the pages without going back to template files.

Interesting Features of the site include:

  • Online Booking Enquiries
  • Checking availability of the locations through ICS and iCal interfaces.
  • Use of Multiple WordPress Featured images per post/page. These are used in a rotating slider on the room pages.
  • The site is multilingual … English, Dutch, German and Italian

Carol Read

This is another example of a unique site where the landing view tells you exactly where you are and what the person and the site is about.  To me it is the essence of hooking the visitor at first sight.  Carol Read is a publisher, teacher and an engaging speaker.

Carol is part of the IATEFL network and past president of the organization and this was one of the first sites that I developed in this network.  Carolread.com is not officially in the SIG network and the site therefore has its own personality.

Tasteful adult membership

I have worked with Michele Lisenbury Christenson for  several years to get to the current version of her site.  She is a business and personal consultant, a graphic designer and very detail oriented. Always looking to improve she has redesigned the site several times to reach the current version.

I was fortunate to have started building the site in Thesis. It is the only theme that was flexible enough to respond to her changes.  We joked once that tattoos would be something that to avoid forever.

MaWSIG in the IATEFL Group

The IATEFL group consists of a network of Special Interest Groups (SIG’s) for English Teaching.

It is a very active organisation with enthusiastic members sharing ideas and techniques for effective teachnig.  Each SIG has its own focus area.  The organisation has branches throughout Europe for teaching English to foreign language students.
After getting involved in one of these sites I was engaged by others through referrals and my portfolio now includes a number of these sites.  While they have a consistent theme, each site also has its unique identity and content.

Common Theme is Canvas from Woothemes.

Sliders with a lot of information

Divergentvc.com   is a venture capital firm in Seattle.  The professionally designed slider tells what the site and the firm is about without taking up all the real estate of the landing view. The slider is obviously not just a pretty picture pulled from a stock farm and it sets the site apart from all others that fill the viewing space with irrelevant stock images and sparse information.

Simple can be very effective

I like this site for its effective simplicity.  When you land on the home page you instantly know who, what and where and it promises a touch of fun.  

From the banner to the opening paragraph you get a consistent and clear message:  Sylvia’s English online is by Sylvia who uses brain friendly methods to teach English online.  If that is what you are interested in, you will definitely read further.

Sylvia is also cunning.  The site targets a specific audience and the use of acronyms is intentional. If you do not know what they mean, the site is not for you. 🙂


A Big Thesis Theme Site

The Shawn Stevenson Model.com is the main site for the Model Health Show. It is hosted by Shawn Stevenson, one of America’s foremost nutritional specialists. It is a big site in many respects.

Shawn 0

  • Thousands of tips on health and nutrition.
  • Hundreds of videos on various subjects of health and nutrition.
  • Hundreds of podcasts hosting celebrities and experts.
  • Posts on health foods, habits, exercise and weightloss.
  • Thousands of Facebook Likes and thousands of daily visitors.

Shawn is a dynamic speaker and a fantastic talk show host.

I got involved in the site a few years ago when the site aged with new WordPress and Thesis releases.

Some of the plugins and the Marketer’s Delight skin did not work with the newer releases of the core technologies, so I converted the Marketer’s Delight skin using ‘vanilla’ Thesis function.  The site is now fully maintainable and with almost no effort stays up to date.


A straight forward site for a highly rated firm of attorneys in the Seattle area.  The site colors were chosen to fit the profession.  It needed to be serious yet approachable. The landing layout also spells out exactly what the site is about and the menu leads the visitor quickly to relevant information.

The site is optimized for SEO.  SEO presents a challenge in this case.  As a local business, the keywords are highly targetable but the search volumes are low, so a carefully managed adwords budget works best.

SiteURL: http://attorneyskitsap.com/

Theme:  Thesis