How may I help? Blogging News, Blogging Tips, Web Browsers, Writing, Web Design, WordPress News, Classes, WordCamps, WordPress Events, WordPress Plugins, WordPress Themes, WordPress Tips, WordPress.com
How may I help? Blogging News, Blogging Tips, Web Browsers, Writing, Web Design, WordPress News, Classes, WordCamps, WordPress Events, WordPress Plugins, WordPress Themes, WordPress Tips, WordPress.com
In this ongoing series of Blog Exercises, I’ve covered much about the philosophy of blogging, and the challenges that come with blogging over time. One of the most common excuses to pause or stop blogging is “life happens.” Examples include:
We’ve also talked about how to choose and maintain the focus of your blog topic. Sometimes when we lose track of what we are blogging about, and our purpose and goals, we lose interest, and life creeps in easily.
As with everything, we teach best what we most need to learn.
Over the past few years, my life has been consumed by teaching WordPress and web publishing at workshops, classes, and in college. I love teaching. It is my life, my passion to share the joy of self-publishing and having your say on the web. I adore it. I adore my students who challenge and test me constantly. Yet, it is exhausting. Not the teaching, the bureaucracy of it all. The forms, the meetings, the evaluations, the rules, the judgments, the decisions without cause nor explanation, the demands of time and patience pushed to the extreme, and the lack of communication and support that leaves so many teachers swinging in the wind of self-doubt and frustration. As a freelancer and contractor, I’ve controlled my life and work exclusively. The past five years or so has reminded me of how creativity is squashed by arbitrary decisions and decision-makers. Those who can find creativity and self-fulfillment through the rigors of bureaucracy, I applaud you.
As I’ve plowed into that new career path, I’ve learned much along the way, and I’ve shared much of it on this site, but it also has taken me away from this site more than I like as life does while you are making other plans.
Has this happened to you?
Is there something you’ve been passionate about, enjoyed zealously, and relished each moment you do it with a glow about you, a sweet smile on your face? Something that drives you to keep returning back to it, no matter how challenging it gets, no matter how many times people tell you that it isn’t worth it or a waste of your time, but you can’t help it? You just love doing it that much?
It’s time to talk about policies in Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course. While every website, personal or professional, requires some policies, learning how to publish policies on a WordPress site involves learning about WordPress Pages as a content type, customizing the navigation menu, using jump links, creating lists, customizing links in Widgets, and a good lesson in content structure and organization.
In general, working with policies teaches you about where to put what when in WordPress.
Policies are the guidelines, rules, regulations, terms of service, and self-protection for your site. Policies may involve legal terms and references and be supported by the laws of your community or country, or respected by international laws, or may just be the rules for your virtual sandbox, instructing your readers how to play in it.
Noted blogger Paul Boag said:
Polices and procedures are not about control and limitations, but about ensuring that nothing is missed and quality is maintained.
Typical website policies include:
Website policies differ based upon the purpose, content, and demographic needs of the audience. Policies define rights, access, security, liability, responses, moderation, control, and protection of the site.
Sites representing a specific business or industry have policies related to their business such as a medical office, which would require publishing their HIPAA, insurance, and other medical-specific policies. Businesses working with a government are required to comply with policies as set by their government agencies and laws.
In our WordPress School course, we are going to focus on the four most commonly used policies. You will publish each of these on your experimental site to learn how to structure and organize the content within the site.
I will be teaching Words and Pictures: Photoblogging and Web Publishing for Photographers at Newspace Center for Photography for 4 Wednesdays, May 11 – June 1 from 6:30-9:30PM in Portland Oregon. This is an intimate teaching location and limited seating, so register now for your spot.
Teaching WordPress at the client, college, and workshop level for 13 years, I’ve found that once people get a handle on how WordPress works, they don’t know how to make it work for them. After the novelty has worn off, it’s down to the business of web publishing and blogging, and they’re lost.
My class “Words and Pictures” puts the magic back into the publishing process, teaching you to enjoy the experience of sharing your words and images with the world. While this course is specifically designed for photographers, it is open to all wishing to take their site to the next level.
The course explores your online persona and various ways words are incorporated into a website, and how to choose reader and SEO friendly words, in the site title, tagline, purpose, mission statement, categories, tags, and header, sidebar, footer, and content areas. In depth information is covered on preparing images for upload and incorporating images and video into your content and site.
We discuss various storytelling techniques including standard article formats, editorial, tutorial, commentary, interview, general storytelling, galleries, slideshows, and audio and podcasts. Legal policies are also covered, critical to every professional site.
The course also explores writing for social media basics including calls-to-action and links, and offers tips, tools, and techniques for research, planning, scheduling, and publishing your work.
This is an ideal class for artists, crafters, writers, authors, photographers, and anyone wishing to rekindle their creative spirit on the web. It is about you and what you wish to share with the world. Each course is customized to the needs of the students to help them learn how to publish easily and with courage.
Please join us for this unique and creative course at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon.
While you are at it, check out their amazing list of classes in photography, both analog and digital. Newspace is one of the last places in the world with a real darkroom, so if you are into black and white photography, or photography in general, this should be top on your resource list.
In this Blog Exercise, it is time to start building a community around your blog. If you have one, it’s time to re-evaluate it to ensure you keep it.
We will start with defining your community.
Your blog topic should give you a clear indication about demographics of your online community, but it might not yet be clear enough.
Have you defined the community into which your site fits? If you are a knitter blogging about knitting, it is obvious that knitters would be your community. Let’s skip the obvious assumptions and dig deeper.
What is it about knitting that inspires you and motivates you to keep knitting? Is it the people? The lessons learned and skills developed? Is it the patterns? Building things from patterns or designing your own? Is it making things for yourself? For others? Is it about the need to keep your hands busy? Is it the texture, the feeling of the yarn slipping through your fingers? Is it really just the yarn itself that fascinates you? Is it the process of yarn creation from animal to sweater that fascinates you? Maybe the spinning, weaving, and dying process?
Whatever the purpose of your site, ask yourself the deeper questions about what interests you. Just as it isn’t knitting but some deeper part of the process that motivates you, what is it about the cars, travel, quilting, business, hobby, whatever that keeps your fascination alive?
By clearly defining your purpose and motivators, you can take the next step and find like minds interested in the same things.
It isn’t your job to cover everything about a topic. It is your job to hone your topic down to what thrills you, what gives you the kick in the passion seat, and makes life and blogging worth living. By understanding what it is that you enjoy, you will attract others who enjoy the same thing.
If you are following along with Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course you’ve been writing posts as part of the article series assignments and other assignments. Go to the front page of your site in the Twenty-Eleven WordPress Theme and take a look.
Do you see long posts, one after another, and have to scroll, scroll, and scroll more to get through them?
Let’s fix that.
Update the post and view it. Do you see changes?
Go to the front page of your site. Do you see changes there?
That is where the changes happen. What do you see?
You should see a link that says Continue Reading or Read More or something similar. Each Theme has the option to customize this, and some WordPress Themes allow the user to customize the words that encourage a reader to click the link to continue reading the post.
Click the link.
It takes you to the single post pageview and jumps you down in the browser to the point where the “More” feature truncated the content on the front page of the site.
This is called an excerpt.
An excerpt is a small section set manually or written explicitly as the introduction or summary of your post.
By default most WordPress Themes display full length posts on the front page of the site. To avoid the long scrolls down the front page, the author has the choice and ability to set excerpt lengths to improve scanning of long web pages – most of the time. Some WordPress Themes feature a customized front page that only permits excerpts, created by the Theme not the user, though sometimes this may be overwritten by the user with the More feature.
A well-written post title and opening paragraph as an excerpt compels the reader to click through to complete the post. There is an art form to writing a good opening paragraph, so pay close attention to what you put into it.
The excerpt is visible when set on the front page of the site as well as in the other multiple post pageviews found in WordPress. A multiple post pageview is a generated web page with more than one post displayed. This includes the search, categories, tags, author, and archive pageviews that feature many posts.
In WordPress, there are two manual ways to create an excerpt, and one automatic way set by the WordPress Theme.
Posts have excerpts, Pages don’t. In general, WordPress Pages are not featured on multiple post pageviews, only posts, though WordPress searches do display Pages, and they are excerpted per the WordPress Theme features for multiple post pageviews. There are other types of post content WordPress that may be featured on multiple post pageviews, and those would be subject to excerpt functionality as well.
Let’s explore these excerpt types in WordPress one by one.
Located on the post editing toolbar on both the Text and Visual Editors is a button called More. As you’ve discovered, once used, it creates a stopping point in the post when viewed on multiple post pageviews such as the front page of the site. A link is added that says “Continue Reading” or “Read More” that encourages the reader to click and complete the post.
The link is a jump link. It opens the post in the window and jumps the reader down to the spot where they left off reading.
The placement of the More feature is up to you. In general, after the second or third paragraph is normal, though if there is a heading in that area, make the excerpt above or one paragraph or mid-paragraph below the heading.
There are some general guidelines to using the More feature.
For more information on using the More feature in WordPress, see the Excerpts — Support — WordPress.com instructions that apply to all versions of WordPress.
Called the Excerpt in WordPress, the manually set excerpt is often referred to as the Custom or Explicit Excerpt. This is an excerpt written by the author describing the post.
The most common usage of this excerpt is for white paper or academic sites, spelling out the details of the post in a summary before the reader clicks through to read it.
NOTE: Not all WordPress Themes honor this excerpt. The 2011 WordPress Theme is one. You may add the excerpt but it is not visible on the front page or other multiple post pageviews on the site.
To set the excerpt in WordPress:
Again, like the usage of the MORE feature, the explicit excerpt must be written in a way that compels the reader to click through to read the rest of the post.
A WordPress Theme generated excerpt is found on Themes that support excerpts on multiple post pageviews. The user does not need to use the More feature or a custom Excerpt. The Theme does the work for them, and it designed to only feature excerpts on multiple post pageviews.
While this is set by the Theme author and developer, a rare few WordPress Themes offer the option to change the settings to permit either summary or full post views on multiple post pageviews.
Themes that force excerpts within multiple post pageviews do so typically for the benefit of the front page design. We will cover more on front page designs in our module on Site Models in WordPress.
By default, the WordPress excerpt template tag cuts off at about 55 words. This maybe modified in the WordPress Theme’s functions template file.
For more information on setting the excerpt in the WordPress Theme, see:
The following articles offer you more information about using and creating excerpts in WordPress.
Your assignment with this tutorial is to ensure all the posts have excerpts set manually.
Edit each one and set the expert placement appropriately and click the MORE button to set the excerpt length.
Experiment with placement. How much is too much, how much is too little? On posts with images, experiment with placing the MORE too close to the embed code of the image. How does it look on the site’s front page? Move it around to find a better placement.
Join us in our discussions on this assignment in our WordPress School Google+ Community to talk about how, where, and why we use the MORE feature.
This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:
I’ve been teaching at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon, for a year and it is one of the most fun programs and educational institutions I’ve worked with in a long time.
Newspace Center for Photography is more than a gallery, though it is an outstanding gallery with powerful exhibits often based upon Pacific Northwest or related issues and topics. It is one of the last photography studios for both analog and digital photography offering a wide variety of workshops and classes every quarter. It also hosts one of the last film processing labs in the country if not the world for black and white. Their darkroom classes often fill fast if you are interested.
The caliber of instructors is humbling to know that I’m one of them. These are well-vetted and experienced teachers, and many are leaders in their industry as well. The offer classes on a wide range of photography aspects including lighting, equipment, darkroom, digital, and an extensive list of youth programs for both families and individual kids. They also offer a series of educational lectures with many free to the Center members and only USD $15 for the public, exploring a wide range of photography topics.
Currently, I’m teaching two classes with the occasional workshop, and we are exploring more for the fall. The next classes coming up are:
Introduction to WordPress: April 6-April 27, 2016, 6:30-9:30PM, on Wednesdays. Four weeks to learn the basics of WordPress focusing on photography. Set up a free site on WordPress.com and learn how to publish, add images, and make wise design decisions about your site and content. We also cover the basics of social media integration, writing for the web, legal considerations, and how to build content and community on your site. Requirements: Familiarity with web browsers and Internet sites in general. Familiarity with graphic programs like Photoshop highly recommended.
Words and Pictures: Photoblogging and Web Publishing for Photographers: May 11 – June 1, 2016, 6:30-9:30PM, Wednesdays. This unique program is specifically designed for photographers but applies to a wide range of bloggers with a focus on imagery and graphics. We cover the basics of writing for the web, developing an online persona, different web publishing formats and techniques, and how to incorporate images and imagery into your content through creative storytelling. Requires a website and familiarity with web browsers and Internet sites in general. Familiarity with graphic programs like Photoshop highly recommended.
The class size is limited for both of these courses, about 12-14 people. Newspace specializes in intimate educational experiences with hands-on help from the instructors.
You are welcome to use their computers (Mac) or bring your own laptop (recommended if not familiar with Mac).
Check out the Newspace Center for Photography Spring Class list for more information and to register, and find out what other great programs they offer.
UPDATE: WordPress.com reports that they have fixed the issue but it will take time for the images to process as there have been millions of images uploaded during the past 12 hours. They recommend waiting patiently. Some sites may update immediately, some may take 24 hours, though it is likely to be less. Just keep doing what you are doing and the images will appear, as if by magic.😀
This is also a good time to check to see if you have been adding your ALT (alternative text) description. If you have, the image will appear as an empty box with the words that describe the image for the blind and visually impaired as required by most international countries for compliance with web accessibility laws.
Please be aware that WordPress.com is aware of the issue that images uploaded in the last 12 hours or so are not appearing on your WordPress.com sites.
DO NOT keep deleting and uploading images.
DO NOT blame the Theme, your browser, yourself, or anything else.
DO NOT call, email, or text me with your terror. It’s okay. Relax.
This is just a rare and temporary glitch in the system and they are on it and fixing it.
Go have a cup of tea or take a walk. It will be okay shortly.😀
I’ve just finished five years of teaching non-stop college and community education workshops and programs on WordPress for beginners, novices, experts, web designers, web developers, web programmers, and those who think they know everything but still realize they have a lot to learn. I love that last group as they are willing to learn and grasp everything with both hands and a foot.
Along the way I’ve learned a few things about WordPress, too. I’ve learned how people use it, abuse it, torture it, and get frustrated when they apply their preconceived notions to the publishing platform.
Many years ago I saw a sign that read something like:
Battling dragons is easy.
It’s stepping in chewing gum that brings me to my knees.
Over and over I find people grasping the big picture aspect of WordPress. They understand SEO (write like a human and use nouns not pronouns). They quickly understand that social media is just another term for networking and marketing. I’m delighted how quickly most of them get that choosing a WordPress Theme design is about studying the bones of the design and the features, not the paint job.
What surprises me most is how often the chewing gum breaks them.
Yes, over the past year, WordPress.com’s new interface has brought many users to their knees with frustration. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m taking about the little tiny things that people bang their heads against.
So let’s talk about them.
Whatever you think about WordPress, know this: It is a giant data entry form.
Everything you add to WordPress, each word in the content, the site title, tagline, the time zone, content and settings in Widgets, your profile, everything goes into a database to be stored. How that data is generated and displayed on each web page of your site is the true magic of WordPress.
With functionality in the core of WordPress, along with some special coding by the WordPress Theme and Plugin developers, requests are made to the database to extract that data and display it within the site’s design and structure.
WordPress.com sent an email alert out to WordPress.com users today stating that there was a technical issue with sites set to be hidden from search engines. Unfortunately, they’ve assumed that this is not what someone would want and they’ve turned on the site visibility to ensure search engines will find the site.
We recently discovered that an error in our system caused your site, [site url], to be hidden from search engines by default.
We’ve updated your site for you so that search engines can now find it and include it in search results. But if you prefer to stay hidden from search engines, you can update your site’s visibility in your Settings.
My students and clients create sites we call sandbox or experimental sites on WordPress.com to learn how it works and experiment with content and design. It is essential that these test sites remain hidden from search engines as their job is to be broken and horrible looking and be filled with crap content for testing purposes. This is the process of learning.
Therefore, I feel it is a wrong decision by WordPress.com to assume that these sites wish to be indexed by search engines. It would have been better to inform them of the issue and request the user check their site visibility settings rather than make the sites public.
If you get such an email, log into your site directly on WordPress.com:
If your site’s visibility to search engines was turned on, don’t stress. It is likely that the site wasn’t indexed well enough or soon enough to encourage visitors, if you acted immediately. If you find this months later, don’t worry. Simply change the site’s visibility status and continue using the site for experimentation, if you desire. There is much more that goes into the process of exposing a site and its content to the world than being indexed by search engines. Just relax.
As for WordPress.com and Automattic, I recommend that you always err on the side of conservatism and don’t assume for your users. I understand that such assumptions are part of the responsibility of site maintenance and management, but trust them to be able to flip a switch as they wish and to protect their privacy before their publicity.
I know most of you in the Portland area will be heading to OMSI for the Maker’s Fair, but do that in the morning and spend the afternoon with us at one of the most exciting photography galleries and educational centers in the Pacific Northwest for an afternoon of learning the basics of WordPress.
I will be teaching about how to use WordPress to create a photography site, but more than just a portfolio site. We will be exploring several site models for photographers in WordPress.As a long-time professional nature and travel photographer and instructor, this brings my two favorite worlds together, photography and WordPress. I’m so excited to be working with Newspace. Expect more WordPress and photo-blogging workshops to come out of this relationship in the future.
There are a few seats left, and this course will be small and intimate, a great opportunity to dig into what WordPress can do for a highly visual site.
Register online immediately for a seat in this half-day workshop.
In “9 Truths That Computer Programmers Know That Most People Don’t” by Macleod Sawyer, he quotes Ben Cherry and adds the following after:
“Under the hood, most critical software you use every day (like Mac OS X, or Facebook) contains a terrifying number of hacks and shortcuts that happen to barely fit together into a working whole. It would be like taking apart a brand-new 747 and discovering that the fuel line is held in place by a coat-hanger and the landing gear is attached with duct tape.” – Ben Cherry
That’s the funny thing about code, the website or program may work beautifully, it may run smoothly, and it may be absolutely beautiful on the front-end side (what the user sees). But, behind everything that makes it work it will have so many errors, and work arounds that barely work and that shouldn’t work, but do for some strange reason.
While this may apply to computer programming, it also applies equally to the web.
In March 2013, a study at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was conducted to evaluate the most common errors beginners make when learning HTML and CSS. Louis Lazaris of Sitepoint analyzed those results recently. He quoted from the survey a conclusion that explains the reasons most errors persist in HTML and CSS:
When a beginner writes code that has many errors but still renders as desired, they receive positive feedback in the form of the properly formatted web page. These errors are latent, remain unresolved, and reinforce faulty understandings that can become difficult to overcome.
This explains the statement by Ben Cherry. Web browsers work overtime to display whatever we throw at them in the code. Doesn’t mean it is right, deprecated, or totally wrong. The goal of the web browser is to display content on a web page. So remember, just because it looks right on the web page doesn’t mean it is right.
There is much about HTML and CSS that works perfectly with little or no effort. It makes sense. Then there are parts of HTML and CSS that make little sense. HTML5, the latest version, was supposed to clean up many of the inconsistencies and strange behavior, but it has its quirks, too. Things that should work, don’t. Things that shouldn’t work, do. We must understand not only how to code, but how the browser interprets that code. This is why I started out these two mini-series with the web browser before talking about HTML and CSS.
Welcome to programming.
I’ve put together a list of some basic guides and helpful sites for you to add to your resources and maybe learn more about how HTML and CSS work. This is a course about learning WordPress, and HTML and CSS are the basic building blocks. It is not a course for learning HTML and CSS. Hopefully the recent posts in this mini-series on HTML and CSS gave you a taste and will help you understand more about how a WordPress Theme works and how to modify it in future lessons.
As we round up the mini-series on HTML and CSS basics as part of the ongoing Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course, and to prepare you for working with WordPress Themes, it is important to understand how to find the right design element to change on a website, specifically within a WordPress Theme.
We’ve been mostly working on a test HTML file to learn the basics of HTML and CSS. In this tutorial, we are going to apply those lessons to WordPress.
If you are just joining us, please catch up by reading the tutorials in this mini-series on HTML and CSS basics so you understand what is being discussed in this tutorial:
Designing a site doesn’t always start with a fresh clean slate. It often begins with tweaking an existing design, changing that tiny thing that annoys us or that we wish were different in some way, a different color, size, shape, or position.
In this tutorial we are going to look at how to identify and style specific sections and areas of a web page. When you begin to modify an existing WordPress Theme with a Child Theme, finding these HTML and CSS elements are critical. Honestly, it is just one of the aspects of web programming that makes me feel like a detective, a Sherlock Holmes of web design.
In the previous tutorial on CSS positioning, you learned how to set the
img HTML tag for images to float to the right or left. If we set all the images on the web page to float to the right, it would force all images to the right within the context of the web page. We only want certain images to float to the right, others to the left, others in the center, and other images exactly where we want them. By assigning them a specific ID or CLASS to identify the image we wish to modify, we can pinpoint where each image should be positioned.
<h3> HTML heading tag in a WordPress Theme. It may be found in the post content, sidebar widgets, comments, and other areas within a website’s design. If you style all the headings to be the same throughout the entire site, that might be acceptable, but if you want the
<h3> tag to look different in the content area than in the sidebar widgets, how would you know which one is which and how would you style it accordingly?
In Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course we’ve been exploring HTML and CSS basics to help you prepare for working with WordPress Themes coming soon. The information in these tutorials is essential for the WordPress user to learn for the most simple of tasks, from controlling how content displays in your posts to adding HTML code to WordPress Widgets to tweaking your WordPress Theme, and someday maybe even making your own or at least creating a Child Theme, a design that modifies an existing WordPress Theme.
This tutorial explores CSS positioning, how to put things in their place on a web page, following up on the previous tutorial on the CSS Parent-Child Relationship.
There are many ways to position design elements on a web page. In the previous exercises, we moved the paragraph “down” within its container by adding padding to the inside “space” of the
div. Margins and padding move things around and position them within the CSS Box Model, but you have other alternatives for more specific positioning.
Here is our test code for this tutorial:
<div class="position1"> <p>Hello world!</p> </div>
Below is the CSS to add to the
head in the styles. In this example, the position of the wrapping DIV around the paragraph is set to absolute 100 pixels from the top left corner down and 80 pixels in from the left edge of the parent container edge.