Author Archives: amywebdesign

SugarCone Biotech


SugarCone Biotech is a local Biotech R&D Consulting firm, owned by Paul D Rennert and based in Holliston. Paul originally had a Blogger blog and a separate Google Site, and I helped him consolidate all his online activities into one website. This was my first new project of 2014. The website is designed in WordPress using a customized version of the WordPress theme Twenty Thirteen. The color scheme was inspired by Joen Asmussen’s green color theme for Twenty Thirteen. The Twenty Thirteen theme is fully responsive and looks good on any device. The site was designed so that the client can easily post new blogs and make text updates to the website himself.

This was the first time I tried GoDaddy’s new “Installatron,” which automatically backs up your WordPress database at a regular interval specified by the client. It also saves multiple backup versions, so if something goes wrong, you can easily reload your site using Installatron from your GoDaddy account. WordPress 3.7+ automatically makes minor software updates in the background, so it is nice knowing a recent backup is available on GoDaddy, in case something unexpected happens with an update.

These are some new WordPress plug-ins that I tried for this site and that I would recommend:

  • Add Meta Tags By George Notaras | Visit plugin site – Allows you to add all kinds of custom meta tags, including Twitter cards, open graph, as well as the traditional title, description and keywords.
  • Collapsing Categories By Robert Felty | Visit plugin site – If your post category list is too long, this allows you to collapse subcategories and only show the primary categories, with a [+] to expand them. It comes with a variety of customization options.
  • Display Posts Shortcode By Bill Erickson | Visit plugin site – Allows you to display a list of posts on a page, similar to what is already available with blogs. It comes with a variety of customization options.
  • TablePress By Tobias Bäthge | Visit plugin site – Paul uses data tables frequently in his blog posts. TablePress allows you to easily import a table from excel and offers a variety of display options. Tables however are not very mobile-friendly and if they have too many columns they do not display as nicely when viewed on a smartphone. However, I still think it is a great plug-in.

Cronin Signs & Truck Lettering

Screenshot - Cronin Signs

Cronin Signs & Truck Lettering is a local custom sign business owned by Jeff Cronin and based in Watertown, Massachusetts just outside of Boston. Jeff is easy to work with and had a lot of great photos of his work, which made the site easy to put together.

The website is designed in WordPress using a customized version of the WordPress theme Twenty Eleven. The Twenty Eleven theme is fully responsive and looks good on any smartphone or tablet. The home page slideshow is made using the Meteor Slides plug-in, which functions really well and looks nice, but I find it a more time-consuming to set up than Portfolio Slideshow.

The Galleries posts are made using the default WordPress Add Media > Create Gallery function, which is very easy and intuitive to use. My one complaint about the Create Gallery function is that although it allows you to sort and rearrange the thumbnails, when you open an image to get a closer look, the Previous/Next navigation sorts the photos in the order in which they were uploaded and this cannot be changed. So I had to be careful to upload the photos exactly in the order I wanted them to appear in the navigation. So if we add any new sign photos going forward, they will automatically go at the end of the navigation, unless we re-upload (and re-caption) ALL the photos in the new desired order. So while I generally recommend default Create Gallery for its ease of use, if you have a photo-heavy site and plan to frequently add new photos to your galleries, it may not be the right choice for you.

Creating a WordPress Child Theme

If you are creating a WordPress site for yourself, before you make any style customizations to your theme, it is very important that you create a Child Theme. If you don’t, the problem is that if you make any changes to your theme’s styles, the next time your theme or WordPress comes out with an update, the update may override your changes and you’ll have to add them back. This is assuming you made detailed notes of all the changes you made in the first place. WordPress updates generally fix bugs and make improvements, so you’ll want to stay current with WordPress updates. Always back-up your database before updating, in case anything goes wrong.

Instructions for how to create a WordPress Child Theme can be found at: You will need FTP access to your site and your FTP login information (different from your WordPress login), which you can obtain from your hosting provider (such as GoDaddy or BlueHost). After you create and activate your child theme, it is important that you leave the parent theme installed, because the child theme will take most of its data from the original parent theme. You should keep your parent theme updated to make sure you have the latest bug fixes and improvements.

Dark Chocolate Sorbet Recipe

Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Dark Chocolate Sorbet

4 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cups brown sugar
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

  1. Combine the water and sugars in a 3 1/2 quart non-reactive saucepan and place over medium heat.
  2. Whisk until the sugar dissolves
  3. Whisk in the cocoa and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from the heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  6. Stir the chilled mixture and pour into the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker. Let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. (If too soupy, you might want to freeze for a little while before serving.)

This recipe came with my Cuisinart 2-Qt ice cream maker. It is rich and dark and perfect for hot summer evenings! It is low calorie compared to ice cream, only 138 calories per 1/2 cup serving. It is also milk-free, egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free and peanut-free.

Craving Something Healthy


Craving Something Healthy is a local blog by Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Anne Danahy. Anne created the website herself using the WordPress theme PureType by Elegant Themes. The only help she needed from me was to create a child theme for her, so any tweaks made to the stylesheet would be saved next time WordPress or her theme was updated. I also helped with minor layout changes, such as making the sidebar larger to accommodate ads and making the header image fit better on the page.

Cider Mill Quilts


Cider Mill Quilts is a website I made for local quilter, Jean Bertschmann in Hopkinton. I completed this website in 2013. The website is designed in WordPress using a customized version of the WordPress theme Twenty Twelve. The Twenty Twelve theme is fully responsive and looks good on any device. The photo gallery and photo upload interface on Twenty Twelve is wonderful. The site was designed so that the client is able to update the website text and add quotes and photos herself. Jean had a lot of great photos of her quilts, which made the website easy to put together.

Hootsuite Social Media Management

Hootsuite is a great social media tool. It allows you to manage several social media profiles with one login. The best feature is being able to schedule social media posts in advance. For example, schedule posts about events or sales for the appropriate time, instead of having to be online at the exact right moment to post to Facebook or Twitter. The free plan allows you to manage up to five social media profiles, but you can upgrade to the pro plan for a low monthly fee to add additional social profiles. I have been using it for over two years.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great free service, which allows you to track the number of visitors and other detailed statistics for you website. I install it on all new websites. If you have a Google account, I will share your site stats account with you so you can view them online anytime you want. Whether or not you have a Google account, I can set Analytics to send you a monthly, quarterly or yearly report of your website statistics.

5 Star Sweets: Cake Pops and Chocolates

5 Star Sweets5 Star Sweets is a local bakery in Hopkinton that specializes in Cake Pops and Chocolates. I created this website for owner Barb Fischer in 2012. The website is designed in WordPress using a customized version of the WordPress them Twenty Eleven. The site includes the WP e-Commerce Shopping Cart by The site was designed so that the client is able to update the website text and add photos herself, as well as add new products.

This was one of my favorite websites on which to work. The cake pops are so creative and delicious. The wonderful photographs by Vicki Francis made it easy to design an appealing site. Having great photos to work with is a key factor in designing an attractive site.

Miss Tanya’s Family of Nursery Schools

Miss Tanya’s is a family of nursery schools in Westborough, Massachusetts, including Miss Tanya’s Nursery School, Longmeadow School and Woodland School. I originally designed a site for them in 2007 using Dreamweaver and then updated it for them annually to add their new calendar and class/camp offerings. In 2012, I converted their site to WordPress, so that now they can update the site themselves. Their site is designed using a customized version of the Twenty Eleven WordPress theme.