The Buffalo Co Restaurant website
Some years back we built the first website for Emergency Dental in Omaha–the original Emergency Dental that opened in 1996 by Dr. Michael Obeng and then sold to Jared Derr. Jared commissioned us to build the simple site highlighting their urgent dental services. He since expanded his properties to include more dental clinics, a dental assistant school and an established restaurant he bought called The Buffalo Company or simply, Buffalo Co. The pizza, wing and sub shop had a dated website. Jared was making some changes to the menu and contacted Vamonos to build a new site.
About this time we had completed two new WordPress sites for our client Aqua Palace using responsive themes from ThemeForest. The main advantage to these themes is the infrastructure already being in place to achieve the look and functionality we desired for the site, especially in its ability to adjust that layout for a variety of browsers and viewing devices. My proposal to Jared was to build the new site with another responsive theme I discovered called Lezzato’s by Designesia, modeling an imaginary Italian restaurant. I thought this theme would look and function great for our casual eatery. The responsive layout would be ideal for people finding and searching the site on their tablets or mobile phones. We came to agreement on price and went to work on the new site beginning with buying the theme.
Another reason why I liked the Lezzato’s theme was for the full screen food images on the home page to capture a visitor’s attention. The client already had beautiful high-res pictures of the restaurant’s food, e.g. pizza, chicken wings and sub sandwiches. These would look awesome on that home page, as well as on the menu pages. Making a trip to the restaurant I was able to meet the manager, take some notes and grab a menu to use on the project.
On each WordPress website we built this year I took more responsibility for the content management and page build-outs. I had my graphic artist do work as I needed for logos and other graphics. My my friend and web developer Steve Morse helped with getting the infrastructure in place and completing some needed programming. This Buffalo Co website was going pretty much an all Dan Miller production. The logo and graphics were already provided. By this point I learned enough WordPress skills to take on this site from the very start. Of course it helped knowing I was only an e-mail or phone call from help with Steve. And it didn’t take long to make use of my hotlines.
I think we were spoiled by the good instructions and ease of building the last two WordPress themes as I soon became frustrated with vagueness of this theme’s instructions. Fortunately Steve had worked on enough WordPress projects to fill in between the lines and advise me on completing some initial steps in set up. After establishing the site menu, the first page I began building was the home page “slider” that rotates your images. I loaded up the pictures anticipating this wonderful display of food images only to get a blank page with a logo and spinning circle. I was stumped. But this time I went to the Designesia theme developer. They responded back quickly asking for access to examine the situation. The designer fixed the issue and told me something I did wrong that I never heard of before. And this was just the home page!
The theme included a menu program with option to display description, price as well as image of each food item. I went to work typing in the food items for my categories. Everything went in OK, but as I came to the bottom of the restaurant’s menu I noticed the recently typed items were displayed at the top of the web menu page. It was all the items… in reverse of order! Did I have to start over and type from the bottom of restaurant menu page working on up? Once again I went to the designer who recommended a plug-in, which essentially is a mini-program to work with the big program. The plug-in would allow me to rearrange the web page and put the items in the right order. I found it, installed and it worked like a charm arranging my menu pages in correct order.
That left only one other quirk this possessed on the menu pages. Some menu food items have more description than others. The web menu page displays two items per row. But if one of those items has a longer text description than the other the theme program adds a much bigger space between rows. So you had this big gap and no way to cut it smaller. That looked odd. My only solution was edit menu descriptions either by taking things out–or add some wording–to make the items on the same row equal in description length. That took some work but finally evened everything out.
The theme explanation also failed to leave out an important detail to a novice like me–that these large beautiful, high-res images would dramatically slow down page load-up. The home page with my three big images was taking like 40 seconds to load on my desktop–and I gave up waiting for it to load on my mobile phone. I knew about this file size limitation before–just didn’t think of it for this site till trying to view it! Now what? This time I researched the web and found my solution. I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop that let me cut these large images down to 75 dpi each. When I was done… it was a much faster load-up time of the pages.
The Contact Page was unique in that it included a contact form for the bottom of the page plus a map viewer at the page top which only needed the Google map code. In between the two I was able to type in address, hours and credit card info. I added an About Us page which involved putting a link on the footer menu since I ran out of space on the top main menu. Steve helped me with that.
Jared was loving the new website. But like any good website client, asked for something that was not in the original request. I get used to that now–and of responding with my price tag to do it. Jared wanted a printable pdf version of the menu. That was a good idea! I figured out how to do this. I’d type, copy & paste the web menu to a word document. If that wasn’t already time consuming, the real trick to this right was figuring how to take six web pages of menu and condense it down to two pages of printable menu. By going to small fonts and wisely using all the space on a document page I converted the menu over to a pdf, accessible by a link in the footer menu.
To help complete my search engine optimization for the new site I installed SEO by Yoast which worked great in getting the meta tags written for each page. As the page description displays in the search results, I feel it should be written to entice the reader to want to click on that page.
All in all, this web project went OK. Some challenges, but no nightmares. And the website looks great! I call the Buffalo Co site my web project, even with a little help from the outside. As I see it, my career goal is not to be a programmer. I just want to learn enough WordPress to help me talk to new prospects about what can or can’t be done–as well as how to better estimate building time and cost. I don’t anticipate a project where I won’t need some expert programming assistance. This is as far as I go and I’m OK with that. Best of all, being my first endeavor to build a client WordPress site, Jared was happy too. Now enjoy The Buffalo Co.