The Art of Web Design

Last month I mentioned the new Automation Academy site I am working on. I mentioned that my daughter owns a branding company that does website work, her company set up my original website.

While I had logged into the WordPress design software before, I had not done much editing on the site itself. I do maintain this blog site, which is also WordPress, but it is much less complicated.

At the end of August I described the Anatomy of the Website and some of the different plugins and other resources that it takes to do a site like this, and I also mentioned that I had joined the Membership Academy to learn more about the technical aspects of doing this. I then went on a series of road trips to teach PLC classes. My daughter did some of the layout and setup, but over the past week since I returned it has been up to me.

Wow there is a learning curve… I program HMIs and SCADA systems, in fact I teach it. Laying out screens is much easier on an HMI, you generally know the size of your screens and unless you are doing HTML access, placing and configuring objects is pretty straightforward.

My daughter used a plugin called Divi for layout. That was one of the first things I had to figure out. It is pretty powerfull, but doesn’t work anything like the familiar GUIs for industrial automation. Since it creates HTML and CSS code behind the scenes, everything has to be checked carefully and updated, eventually also using other browsers and devices.

To make the library files protected so that they can’t just be accessed from anywhere (defeating the purpose of a membership site), I used Amazon Web Services S3 for storage. There was a whole new language that had to be learned, buckets, bucket policies, JSON files, IAM users, etc. This took a lot of time to get working.

I am using LearnDash to set up my Goal and Path courses. Again, this is a whole new platform that had to be learned. While I am getting there in how to set up the flow of the site, I learn something new every day.

Part of what I get by being a member of the Membership Academy is access to all of their resources, the icons you see in these screenshots are just part of it. Technical help on AWS S3, MemberPress other plug-ins are also there.

My First Member

An interesting thing happened last week. We accidentally left my RSLogix500 course exposed in the Shop area of my site and somebody bought it. Unfortunately we had moved it inside of the Automation Academy and you have to be a member to access it. Rather than doing a lot of modifications to the site, I just gave him a membership for several months. So Joshua of Chrystec Systems is our first official member!

I had intended to open this as a beta test on October 1 anyway, but really didn’t feel ready. I will now have more incentive to get it more presentable. Jason LaFever, you are second…

I have gained a whole new appreciation for what it takes to build a website!


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.