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Blog Exercises: Which Stats Matter

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.In this ongoing series called Blog Exercises, let’s explore the stats that matter, the ones you should be paying attention to on your site and off.

On your site, you should be paying attention to:

  • Most Popular Posts: Are your most popular posts related by topic? If so, there is clearly a driving interest in that topic. Consider writing more. If not, then what about these are interesting enough to keep bringing in traffic on a regular basis? If they aren’t consistent over time, why are they your most popular posts? Analyze them to help shape your future posts.
  • Click-Throughs: What links on your site are they clicking to leave your site? Where are you sending them? Why? Is it for more information because you haven’t helped them enough, or is it because you are the key referring source to help them further? Analyze your clicks and evaluate where people are going after leaving your site. If it is intentional, fantastic.
  • Where are They Coming From? Where are your readers coming from? Which country? Which language? If enough of your reader aren’t fluent in your language, consider how you write for them.
  • Search Terms: What search terms bring people to your site from search results, and what words do they use to search for content on your site? Are you serving up content on these topics?

There are many stats that don’t matter unless you are currently developing your website. Honestly, no one cares which browser your visitors are using, the size of their screens, or operating system. What matters is if a good majority of your visitors are using smartphones to access your site. Then your site better be mobile-friendly, then you can forget about that stat again.

Bounce Rate is a funky stat to fuss over. Many digital marketing experts emphasize monitoring this stat, an indicator of how long someone stays on a web page before they leave. The longer someone stays on your site or on a web page might be important, but not if they opened it, got a phone call and wandered off, or left the tab open and forgot about your site. If you are an online delivery service, you want the shortest bounce rate EVER. After all, what does someone want to know from an online delivery service? Where’s my package and when will I get it? The faster the site delivers that information, the better the customer feels, thus a tiny bounce rate is the goal. Look at the bigger picture. If you publish a post with the goal of sending people to a valuable resource, you want a short bounce rate. Always explore this stat with common sense and a bigger picture understanding of your goals.

Learn which stats on your site matters, then explore stats from beyond your site.

Stats you should be paying attention to that don’t come directly from your site but from your industry and the blogging, social media, and web publishing industry in general, include:

Here are some articles to help you learn a little more about the stats on your site.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise is to learn more about the stats on your blog and off your blog and integrate them into your decision-making process for your blogging.

If people are coming to your site for specific information, serve it.

If the industry in which you blog is shifting and changing, follow the trend. Be ahead of it if you can. Bring those topics to your post content.

Where are people in your industry hanging out online? Are they on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, or where? Go there. Check out what they are saying. Interact there. Share your insights on your blog. And bring them back to your blog, your sandbox, to play.

There is much data found in web stats. Which matters to you? Which influences your blogging? Which do you need to help you achieve your goals?

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is an ongoing challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles. You may join us at any time, but I recommend you take a moment to visit past blog exercises to help invigorate your site.


Blog Exercises: Blog a Conversation

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.In this ongoing series called Blog Exercises, today you will blog a conversation.

“I don’t want to.”

“Sure, you do.”

“Nah. Don’t want to.”

“This is a chance to improve your blogging.”

“Uh-huh.”

“This is a change to improve your writing skills.”

“Nope.”

“You will do it because I said so. Got it?”

“Okay.”

Writing dialog brings conflict and conversation to your blog. It could be a conversation with someone, multiple people, or an inner conversation, a debate between you and yourself.

There are many ways to incorporate dialog into your blog posts. Above is one example. Another is incorporated into the narrative.

Dialog improves the pacing of a post, adds conflict, drama, and, if presented well, can actually speak for your reader.

Here are some tips for writing dialog on your blog.

  • Punctuation Matters: The spelling cops aside, punctuation is how you add inflection. Don’t force it with italics or bold. Use question marks and exclamation points when necessary to add emphasis to dialog. The statement “I hate you” is changed from a cold hiss to an angry shout with an exclamation point.
  • Don’t Tell the Reader How the Dialog Sounded: Use of the word “said” is good enough for the most famous authors, and good enough for you. ‘”I hate you,” she said.’ That’s a strong statement. You don’t have to tell us that she shouted or shouted angrily – repetitious as shouting usually indicates anger. Show us how the person is speaking by their motions, their body language, and the words you put into their mouths. Use vocal descriptions, known as dialog tags, sparingly, like spice in a recipe.
  • Use Italics Sparingly: By using italics, you are instructing the reader how to read. Use these carefully. Italics represent air quotes and emphasis in English on the web, and too many spoil the emphasis. ‘She said, “He went that way.”‘ This example tells a story with its emphasis. “I don’t know!” This is overemphasis as the exclamation point is enough to show us how they said that word. Too many italics, it might sound like too much Valley Girl speech for most readers, like?
  • Dialog is Conflict: The best writers know that conflict must be in everything they write, fiction and non-fiction. Same applies to blogging. The more interesting a post, the more likely it is to offer conflict. Conflict is exciting. It can happen between characters in your post, between you and yourself, between you and another blogger or website, or between you and the reader. Find moments to create tension and energy between characters in the dialog. Look for disagreement, differences, debates, argument, and places to get offensive or defensive on a topic.
  • Dialog Has a Goal: Your site isn’t a place for talking heads. Make the dialog matter. Make it make your point. Make it have purpose and goals. Ask yourself if the post makes sense if the dialog is removed or does it need it to convey your message? Does it strengthen or weaken your argument or position? Does it help? If it doesn’t, get rid of it. If it does, tighten it up to ensure it makes a difference.
  • Start in the Middle: Dialog doesn’t need much storytelling to get to the point. Start in the middle and skip all the irrelevant stuff (“How are you?” “Fine.”). Put us in the middle of the conversation with just enough information through their words to let us know what is happening.
  • Let the Characters Tell the Story at Their Pace: Dialog gives you the opportunity to provide information to your readers at a different pace. It might be fast or slow, but let your characters set the rules. Hand information over slowly, with each spoken revelation. Consider even teasing the reader a little before your characters tell all. Don’t drag this out. Do let them set the pace of revelation.
  • Make Your Characters Sound Different: Nothing is more boring that two talking heads. Make sure your characters in the dialog are known and recognizable. This doesn’t mean one has to speak with a lisp or accent. Words are a part of a person’s character, the words they choose, the way they are presented and spoken. Make sure the readers know who is talking, and who is talking to whom or what.
  • Dialog has Rhythm: There is rhythm and pacing in dialog. There is also pattern. One person may talk more than the other. One may have a stronger tone, the other a softer tone. One thinks rationally, the other might not. Sentences may be long speeches or short staccato snaps. Look for repeating patterns, the vocal music of the dialog. Say it out loud to hear it, and ensure the rhythm and pattern are there.
  • Keep Dialog Concise: Long soliloquies are not usually appreciated, nor read, on a blog. That’s your job. When you choose to convey your message with dialog, keep the spoken paragraphs short, the descriptive narrative even more concise, and let the words tell the story.
  • Dialog is a Virtual Play: Act out the scene with the dialog. Say it out loud. Does it feel right? Do you know who is speaking? Which character has an ulterior motive? Which one is telling the truth as they know it? Where are they? Is this a bedroom or courtroom? Even with a few words, make the reader see and hear the action before their eyes.
  • Leave the Impression of Dialog: This isn’t a real speech or discussion. It is one that tells your story, helps to make a point, adds some spice to your blogging techniques. Don’t write it as if it is real. Give the impression of sincerity, of authenticity. The more it sounds real, the less it probably is, but the faster the reader will understand and appreciate it.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise is to include dialog in your next post.

Let one or more characters make your point. Not the whole point of the post, but enough to start it out with some chatting, discussion, debate, argument, or difference.

There are many articles on the web with tutorials on writing dialog in fiction and storytelling to explore if you need more help.

Remember, we need to know:

  1. Who is speaking.
  2. The purpose of the dialog.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is an ongoing challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles. You may join us at any time, but I recommend you take a moment to visit past blog exercises to help invigorate your site.


WordPress School: What’s the Difference Between the Display Posts and Archive Shortcodes

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.In Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course, we’ve been exploring shortcodes. In this tutorial, let’s take a look at two shortcodes that appear to be the same on the surface.

WordPress has long had the ability to generate a list of posts in a Page or post with a bit of code in the archives() template tag. This and the Display Posts code are available as shortcodes on WordPress.com and WordPress self-hosted sites using the Jetpack WordPress Plugin.

What’s the difference?

The Display Posts Shortcode

The Display Posts Shortcode allows you to lists posts on a Page or post based upon specific parameters.

This is an example of a list of the last 10 posts published on this site. The list will change as more posts are added.

[display-posts posts_per_page="10"]


The Display Posts Shortcode allows following parameters, the elements used to generated the content:

  • author
  • category
  • date_format
  • ID
  • image_size
  • include_content
  • include_date
  • include_excerpt
  • offset
  • order
  • orderby
  • portfolio_type
  • post_parent
  • post_status
  • post_type
  • posts_per_page
  • tag
  • taxonomy, tax_term, tax_operator
  • wrapper

The Archives Shortcode

The Archives Shortcode creates an index list of your posts based upon its parameter options.

Here is an example of the archives shortcode listing the last 10 posts I’ve published on this site. This list will change in the future as I continue to publish more posts.

[archives limit=10]


If handled right, this list should match the first example above.

The parameters for the archives shortcode are:

  • type (yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, etc.)
  • format (drop-down menu, unordered list, etc.)
  • limit (number of entries)
  • showcount (post count of each archive entry)
  • before (show text before each entry)
  • after (show text after each entry)
  • order (sort order ascending or descending)

The archives shortcode offers fewer options than the display posts shortcode, yet, you can make both shortcodes do the same thing.

If they work the same, which one should you choose to meet the needs of your site?

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Archives is a simple structure. It permits display of posts in a list set in chronological or reverse chronological order. You may group the list by type, sorted by year, month, week, etc., or change the format from an HTML list to a drop-down menu, but there isn’t much more you can do.

Display Posts allows more control over the display of the posts. Yes, you can duplicate the list to match the archives shortcode, but you have more choices.

Both shortcodes are dynamic, changing as you add new posts to your site.

If you have multiple contributors on your site, you can list posts by author.

If you are working on an article series, consider using the display posts shortcode to list the posts for the unique tag you are using to represent the article series.

If you want to create a site map on a Page, you may offer it sorted by category, tag, and with or without the featured post image and excerpt. See the example use of both shortcodes on my Site Map. Can you tell which shortcode examples I used?

The archives shortcode produces a list. Display posts shortcode can reproduce that same list, but adds more flexibility in the programming options.

Let’s explore a few more possibilities with the display posts shortcode, which you cannot do with the archives shortcode.

NOTE: The above shortcodes list posts only. To list Pages, see the List Pages Shortcode and Site Map Shortcode.

Display Posts with Excerpts

The display posts shortcodes takes the simplicity of the archives shortcode and extends its features and abilities. For example, this is a list of the most recent five posts I’ve published in the Blog Exercises category featuring an excerpt, the first 100 words or so of the post.

[display-posts category="blog-exercises" posts_per_page="5" include_excerpt="true"]

  • Blog Exercises: Which Stats Matter - In this ongoing series called Blog Exercises, let’s explore the stats that matter, the ones you should be paying attention to on your site and off. On your site, you should be paying attention to: Most Popular Posts: Are your most popular posts related by topic? If so, there is clearly a driving interest in […]
  • Blog Exercises: Blog a Conversation - In this ongoing series called Blog Exercises, today you will blog a conversation. “I don’t want to.” “Sure, you do.” “Nah. Don’t want to.” “This is a chance to improve your blogging.” “Uh-huh.” “This is a change to improve your writing skills.” “Nope.” “You will do it because I said so. Got it?” “Okay.” Writing […]
  • Blog Exercises: What Do You Mean By That? - Standing with a group of bloggers at a conference recently, someone said something and another blogger asked, “What do you mean by that?” I don’t remember the topic, but I loved the response. This was a person who wanted to know more. They didn’t want to just assume they knew what the other was talking […]
  • Blog Exercises: Are You Trending? - In social media, trending are topics attracting the attention of most of the people, thus popular. Unfortunately, trending topics are self-feeding, an accident along the highway where everyone wants to slow down and take a look. Then they want to tell others about it so they can look. Walking by a student glued to their […]
  • Blog Exercises: Ingredients of a Well-Designed Site - I was asked by a student in my WordPress class recently what defined a “professional blog,” one that met all the criteria for a well-designed, well-formed site that met web standards. What a marvelous question! We brainstormed all the elements that make up a web standard site, and mixed in personal preferences of the students […]

If your WordPress Theme and your site uses featured post images, you may add the parameter to display the post image next to the post title and/or the excerpt, creating a magazine effect.

[display-posts category="crafts" posts_per_page="-1" image_size="thumbnail" include_excerpt="true" wrapper="div"]

WordPress - Display Posts Shortcode with featured images and excerpts in divs.

In the above example, notice that the thumbnail images are not the same size or shape. One of the images is vertical rather than horizontal, and others are smaller than the thumbnail size specifications. If you choose this option, ensure your featured images are standardized sizes for a consistent look.

Also notice that one of the parameters adds a DIV around each item in the list. By default, the shortcode puts the list in an unordered HTML list. By changing the wrapper parameter to div, the bullet is removed and CSS may be easily used to style the post excerpts and images.

List Related Posts by Tag

Wish to add a list of related posts to the bottom of a post? Find the tags related to this post on your site and include them in the display posts shortcode such as:

[display-posts tag="tag1, tag2, tag3" posts_per_page="10"]

This is an example of using the display posts shortcode to showcase posts by related tags.



Assignment

Lorelle's WordPress School Assignment Badge.Your WordPress School assignment is to experiment with simple uses of the display post and archive shortcodes.

Listing posts within the context of a post article or on a Page for reference is another way of easily promoting related content, article series, categories, specific tags, or other groups of content.

Your options include:

  • Create a list of related posts by tags at the bottom of a post.
  • Create a site map on a new Page on your site.
  • Experiment with either list to add excerpts and featured post images. Remember, the post must use the featured post image to be visible in the list.

I’ll have more on various ways to use the display post shortcode in a future WordPress School exercise, helping you explore all the various ways to showcase your content on your site with a few bits of easy-to-use code.

This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:


Blog Exercises: What Do You Mean By That?

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Standing with a group of bloggers at a conference recently, someone said something and another blogger asked, “What do you mean by that?”

I don’t remember the topic, but I loved the response. This was a person who wanted to know more. They didn’t want to just assume they knew what the other was talking about. They wanted to know, they wanted to understand, and if you heard the tone in their voice, they needed to know more.

“Know more” is a treasure box for a blogger just waiting to be opened.

In this ongoing series called Blog Exercises, let’s explore the concept of that question from a blogger’s perspective.

Bloggers Want to Know More

For the past twenty years or more of blogging, I’ve found a common personality trait in those who persist over the long term in blogging. They always want to know more. It’s a psychological need. There is always more information, more data, more statistics, more people to talk to, more to learn about a subject. They are never happy with surface information. They want more. They need more.

I’ve found that those that lean into the “more” in their blogging not only persist longer, but they are often blogging their passion. Anyone can talk about anything for a while, but to talk about it daily for five or more years, you have to have a passion for the subject matter.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise today is to discover what’s in your treasure box that makes you want to know more.

What do you never find boring? What topics do you enjoy discussing, sharing, investigating? Think big and small.

We all have tiny passions, hobbies, special interests, things that keep us interested for a while. But what persists? What turns your head when mentioned in a crowd? What gets you excited a little more than usual, eager to talk about?

Ask yourself what you could talk about every day for five years and not get tired of talking about. What would that be?

Then ask yourself, “What do you mean by that?”

See where the answer leads.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is an ongoing challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles. You may join us at any time, but I recommend you take a moment to visit past blog exercises to help invigorate your site.


Blog Exercises: Are You Trending?

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.In social media, trending are topics attracting the attention of most of the people, thus popular. Unfortunately, trending topics are self-feeding, an accident along the highway where everyone wants to slow down and take a look. Then they want to tell others about it so they can look.

Walking by a student glued to their computer, I asked, “What are you looking at?”

Without lifting her eyes away, she replied, “What everyone else is looking at.”

That’s a good definition of trending.

You might think that today’s blog exercise is to find a trending topic and blog about it. You could, but the exercise today is to look at your own trends.

In a lovely response to my blog exercise on naming your favorite things, the author of Tony’s Texts wrote about his favorite things. In response to my appreciation for his essay, he responded with “it made a nice change from the darker posts I’ve been writing.”

Tony, who calls himself “Honest Puck,” noticed that his site was trending towards the darker side of the force. He admitted he was attracted to that blog exercise as a safety rope, grabbing on to move towards the lighter ways of the world, more fun, silliness, laughter, and joy.

As I work on the ebook of these Blog Exercises, I can spot my own moods even though I worked hard to keep “me” out of the equation. You never really can, but I tried. Still, I could see the ebbs and flows of life events shadowed in my choices, my own emotional trends.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise is to check your site for your own trends.

Are your emotions telling on your site? If you want them to be obvious, that’s fine. If you don’t, can you still tell what mood you were in when you wrote that post?

Sometimes we publish posts filled with happiness, a bit of joy in the world, yet in our hearts we are grieving, fearful, or experiencing an emotion counter to the desired expression we need to convey. This conflict might be invisible, or might be shouting to the world that you are in two minds about the emotional context of the post.

Sometimes we run along a track of the same crap mood every day, day after day, and it shows, in our work, and our blogging. For a short while, most people accept such emotional drifts, but after a while, even the best get boring.

Check your site’s trending moods recently and in the past. Consider editing some posts to mix up your moods, or notice when they are trending a little faster to adjust so you aren’t playing the same note over and over again.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is an ongoing challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles. You may join us at any time, but I recommend you take a moment to visit past blog exercises to help invigorate your site.


WordPress School: Shortcodes

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.

WordPress shortcodes are abbreviated code placed into the WordPress Visual or Text Editors that expands into a larger code structure. As we continue with Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course, it’s time to explore the basics of WordPress shortcodes.

The following is the embed code for a Google Map, pointing to one of my favorite local museums, The Rice Northwest Rocks and Minerals Museum in Hillsboro, Oregon:

<a href="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d2792.809130780463!2d-122.94987648443889!3d45.57427677910247!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x54950456e76e254b%3A0xdfad5d11bde5b6cc!2s26385+NW+Groveland+Dr%2C+Hillsboro%2C+OR+97124!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1502560000052">https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d2792.809130780463!2d-122.94987648443889!3d45.57427677910247!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x54950456e76e254b%3A0xdfad5d11bde5b6cc!2s26385+NW+Groveland+Dr%2C+Hillsboro%2C+OR+97124!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1502560000052</a>

When the post or Page is saved, WordPress.com automatically converts it to the embed code for Google Maps like this:

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d2792.809130780463!2d-122.94987648443889!3d45.57427677910247!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x54950456e76e254b%3A0xdfad5d11bde5b6cc!2s26385+NW+Groveland+Dr%2C+Hillsboro%2C+OR+97124!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1502560000052&w=600&h=450]

This is what you see in your Visual or Text/HTML editors. Doesn’t look like a map, yet, does it?

When the post is previewed or published, you will see the map like this:

The map is not a screenshot. It is interactive. Zoom in and out and move around on the map. The Google Maps shortcode taps into the Google Maps API allowing a live section of the map to be embedded on your site to help people find locations and directions.

Google Maps are a great way of providing instructions to the location of a store or company on a Contact web page. They are also fun to embed in a post about a favorite park, hike, fishing hole, vacation spot, or even create a custom map that charts your travels, hikes, or a specific route for shopping or exploring.

NOTE: Google Map embeds are tricky. You need to search for the exact address and use that embed code. If you search for a business name, you may get an invalid server request from Google Maps. Also note that WordPress.com has made it easier to use shortcodes by skipping the extra code and converting links and embed codes automatically to shortcodes. This may require saving your post as a draft twice before you can see the results on the front end preview of the post or Page.

Shortcodes allow the user to add content and functionality to a WordPress site without knowing extensive code or digging into the programming of a WordPress Theme or Plugin. With the shortcut of a shortcode, WordPress users may add all sorts of customization features to their site.

There are a variety of shortcodes in the core of WordPress. WordPress Themes have the ability to enable or disable these, and add more, as do WordPress Plugins.

Let’s experiment with the Archives Shortcode.

  1. Add a New Page to your site. Title it “Site Map” or “Archives.”
  2. Type in [archives].
  3. Preview, then publish the post when ready to see a listing of all of the published posts on your site in a list.

Check out my site map as an example of what’s possible.

What You Need to Know About WordPress Shortcodes

Shortcodes come with WordPress out of the box, and also with WordPress Themes and Plugins. These snippets of code allow the user to add functionality to their site without touching the code.

The PHP code that enables the functionality, and adds the ability to use the abbreviated code to generate that functionality on the site, is called a function.

At its core, this is the function found to generate all WordPress Shortcodes:

//[foobar]
function foobar_func( $atts ){
	return "foo and bar";
}
add_shortcode( 'foobar', 'foobar_func' );

The attributes, represented in this abbreviated version by $atts, are the instructions as to what the shortcode is to do.

In the expanded form with functionality, I’ve called the shortcode “elephant” and set up two attribute values, “trumpet loudly” and “stomp.”

// [elephant foo="foo-value"]
function elephant_func( $atts ) {
    $a = shortcode_atts( array(
        'foo' => 'trumpet loudly',
        'bar' => 'stomp',
    ), $atts );

    return "foo = {$a['foo']}";
}
add_shortcode( 'elephant', 'elephant_func' );

Depending upon what “foo” and “bar” represent, the results would be “trumpet loudly” and “stomp.” What these represent are HTML code, modifications to HTML code, and initiates the programming such as generating a list of all the posts you’ve published as an archive list.

Right now, you aren’t at the stage where you can program shortcodes and add them to WordPress Themes or create WordPress Plugins, so I’m not going to dive into these much deeper. You need to learn how these work and how to use them on your site, and the more you use them, the better feel you will have for what a shortcode can do on your site.

WordPress.com offers a wide range of shortcodes to add functionality to your site. To learn about how to use these, see Shortcodes — Support.

Here are some examples of shortcodes to experiment with on WordPress.com.

More Information on WordPress Shortcodes

Assignment

Lorelle's WordPress School Assignment Badge.Your assignment in these WordPress School exercises is to experiment with WordPress shortcodes, specifically the ones available on WordPress.com.

I’ve listed some examples of shortcodes on WordPress.com above, and you may find more in the WordPress.com list of Shortcodes.

Your assignment is to use shortcodes to add features to your site.

  • Create a Page called “Site Map” or “Archives” and add an archive list shortcode.
  • Add a Google Map to a post or Page using the Google Maps shortcode.
  • Add a gallery to a post or Page with the gallery shortcode, testing the various options (parameters) to get the look and feel you like best.
  • Add a recipe to a post using the recipe shortcode.
  • Find another shortcode with a variety of features to experiment with. See how many ways you can change the look and feel of the content. If you wish, blog about your discoveries with screenshots or examples in the post. Let us know about it in the comments below so we can come inspect your work.

This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:


Blog Exercises: Ingredients of a Well-Designed Site

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.I was asked by a student in my WordPress class recently what defined a “professional blog,” one that met all the criteria for a well-designed, well-formed site that met web standards.

What a marvelous question!

We brainstormed all the elements that make up a web standard site, and mixed in personal preferences of the students along with lists from a wide variety of online articles that attempted to set the criteria for what defined a well-designed site.

Here is our list, related topics grouped by the students.

  • Readability:
    • Clean easy-to-read, original content.
    • It is both a pleasure to view and read.
    • Consistent topical content.
    • Content is well organized, grouped by categories and tags.
    • Headings within the content are used well and simply designed.
    • Paragraphs are short not long.
    • Black colored font (not gray or shades of gray or black).
    • Black letters on white background or white letters on black background, or black letters on pastel colored backgrounds ONLY.
    • Content fonts at least 11 pt. tall.
    • Lists are clearly identifiable with bullets or numbers.
    • Nested lists are well-designed with appropriate whitespace indention.
    • Little or no unrelated content.
    • Avoid too many links. You don’t have to link every word longer than 6 characters.
    • Citations and blockquotes are designed to separate others’ words from the author’s.
  • Identity/Branding:
    • Original content.
    • Clear purpose, goals, and mission.
    • The design and branding is consistent across every page of the site.
    • The first, second, and third impression convey the same information and message on what the site is about.
    • The branding (header art) is the same on every page.
    • Calls-to-action are clearly identifiable and lead to no more than 3 clicks to conversion.
    • You want to get to know this person or company and do business with them.
  • Multimedia:
    • Images are original, in focus, and not FX’d up.
    • Images are aligned within the content so the words either wrap around the images or the images stretch across the content column with words above and below.
    • Images are large enough to SEE without overwhelming or competing with the content.
    • Image file sizes are small for fast downloading, but appropriate to viewing without distortion.
    • Images complement content and design.
    • Images are original, not stock photos.
    • No gratuitous or useless images. All images must be relevant.
    • All images created by others feature proper citations and credit links.
    • Videos and music does not autoplay.
    • No more than three videos on a web page.
    • Video plays on the page and does not force the visitor to go to another page.
  • Design Elements:
    • Familiar, easy-to-read fonts.
    • No more than 3 font styles on a web page, two is better.
    • No clutter. Every pixel counts.
    • Design complements content.
    • Consistency, in design, layout, content structure, and graphics.
    • None or few ads.
    • Colors are complementary, not clashing, and few, nor more than four colors to a web page.
    • Minimalism, a clean, open design with whitespace and no crowding of content.
  • Usability:
    • Navigation is immediately recognizable and easy to use.
    • Key navigation follows standardized forms and web standards.
    • Sidebars are clutter-free and everything in them is important and critical to the purpose of the site.
    • Visual hierarchy, navigation that shows us menus and submenus without clutter or confusion, and specific and related categories and subcategories.
    • No pop-ups or interstitials.
    • Loads fast.
    • Content loads first, then branding, then images.
    • Responsive and mobile friendly.
    • Familiar layout. You know where everything is and you don’t have to hunt for links to key information.
    • Designed to not make us think.
    • You know where you are and who you are with at all times.
  • Web Standards:
    • Legal policies are in place and easy to find.
    • Links open web pages. They do not force web pages to open in a new window or tab.
    • Links are in properly formed HTML structure for readability, not link dumps, pasted in links.
    • No autoplay anything or movement.
    • All downloadable material is clearly marked as what it is (PDF, MP3, DOC, etc.), with instructions on how to download it.
    • The About web page tells us what the site is about and who the author is, and why they are doing this.
    • The Contact web page features an easy-to-use contact form for connecting with the author, and there is not a single email address to be seen.
    • Compliance with web accessibility with clear and specific link anchor text, images with descriptions for the blind and visually impaired, and browser keyboard shortcuts for common navigation areas.

It’s a great list. Not complete, but organic. It really reflects many of the most desirable and hated elements in a web design.

Most Important Characteristics in Web Design

A few points the students fiercely debated are worth separate discussion from the list.

Room for the reader: There must be room for the reader. While harder to identify, the students agreed that anything that got between the reader and the website content had to go. That meant ads, interstitials (pop-ups), busy designs, too many colors, too many fonts, etc. Clutter and interference.

Harder to identify were the tiny things that get between a reader and the content, as well as the goals of the site. Many thought it was the lack of whitespace, resting places for the eyes and the reader’s thoughts compared to crowded content and designs. Others thought it was the details that mattered, the little things that lack consistency or become cluttered such as poorly pasted content from word processors, misspellings, grammar errors, not cleaning out comment spam, inconsistent use of headings, using bold for headings instead of the headings tag, forcing font styles and colors, too many bolds, too many italics, little things that add up to a message that says the reader isn’t paying attention to details and doesn’t care enough to keep their site clean and proud.

“Pride.” That word kept coming up as we dove deeper and deeper into what made a web design worthy. “It looks like they care enough to do their best,” a student explained. “If they care, we care. When we care, we feel a relationship with the blogger. When they care, we know they are thinking about us.”

Boring: The students realized that boring was better. All the glam, glitz, special fonts, bright colors, animated gifs, all the busy so many inexperienced web designers add to their site aren’t worth it. Keep it clean and simple, easy to read and easy to use.

People want information. They want entertainment. They want to read, watch, or listen. They don’t want to have their senses assaulted. To quote another student, “So keep the design boring, dude, and the content exciting.”

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise is to review this list, and possibly find your own lists on the web that clarify a well-designed site.

How does your site measure up?

If you are too close to your site, too vested in the design and layout, ask some friends to be honest. Or ask people you don’t know well to give you feedback. Show them the list and ask them to check off which elements apply and which don’t. Get feedback on how you are doing.

Every single one of these design elements and content considerations are choices. There are no requirements. But if a bunch of college students studying web development, design, and blogging are thinking these things, and other experts are offering this advice, shouldn’t you take it a bit seriously?

Make a list of the things you need to change on your site to make room for your readers and to keep it a bit boring.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is an ongoing challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles. You may join us at any time, but I recommend you take a moment to visit past blog exercises to help invigorate your site.


How to Avoid the New WordPress.com Interface

WordPress.com New Interface - Access to WP Admin.For the past three to four years, WordPress.com users have been “experimenting” with the what is known as the “new” WordPress.com interface. A drag-and-drop-meets-wysiwymg interface (What You See is What You MIGHT Get), it is designed to make interaction with WordPress easier. I’m still waiting.

What it continues to do is make my students and clients have fits of frustration, hair-tearing, and tears.

Let me be clear. I am not personally or professionally against improving the interface of WordPress called Calypso. It needs improvement. Unfortunately, during the development stage, the majority of work is done in the “classic” interface known today as the WP-Admin. People become familiar with it, trust it, and enjoy the simplicity once they learn a little of the lingo (what’s a Page, post, and media), yet, when they encounter the new interface, they are confused, frustrated, and lost.

Those starting to use WordPress need quick access to Themes, Widgets, Settings, Pages, etc., and the new interface, unless you are careful with what you click, may switch back and forth between the new and the classic interface seemingly without warning, causing no end of confusion. Once they get the site set up, the new post interface is “good enough” for them, as most of my students admit, though they rush back to the classic interface as soon as possible.

It makes no sense to them. It takes longer to load, doesn’t work well when not connected to the Internet, It might be a “clean” interface, but they can’t find categories, tags, post scheduling, preview links, and sticky post buttons without hunting around the screen. Younger and older people HATE the lack of contrast in the font and screen colors. If they are working near a window or in a bright light situation, they complain they can’t find their way around the screen because they can’t see it. Older people complain they get headaches working with it because it is so “dim” – their word not mine. If there was a higher contrast alternative, the complaints might be fewer.

Having met some of the designers behind the new interface, I understand their intentions and goals. I adore their passion and commitment to improving WordPress. I just wish they could wear Vaseline-coated glasses, work in brightly lit rooms, and approach WordPress from the perspective of someone having never seen it before.

Until then, I have to deal with frustrated clients and students, and you must know there are alternatives.

UPDATE: I’ve just been informed by a WordPress.com moderator that the WP-Admin link does not appear at the bottom of the My Sites menu for “new” users, only “old” users, which means that WordPress.com now offers different interfaces for the new and classic interface and the length of time you’ve been using the service. Makes no sense to me but I’ll be teaching a new batch of students in a few weeks, and we’ll see how they do.

Use the WP-ADMIN

The classic WordPress interface is now called WP-ADMIN.

To open it directly use example.com/wp-admin/.

I recommend you bookmark it and add it to your visible bookmark toolbar on your browser or memorize it. If you get lost, just type in wp-admin at the end of your URL and hit enter. AH, back to familiar lands.

To access it through the new interface:

  1. Click My Sites to access the dashboard screen or bring up the right side drop down menu.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the right side menu. Look for WP Admin, and click.
  3. It will force open a new window or tab.
    • If your browser is set to switch immediately to a new tab or window, find the previous tab you were just on and close it.
    • If your browser is set to open new tabs and windows in the background, close this tab and switch to the newly opened tab.
    • If all this tab switching and forcing makes you crazy, and it does, right click on WP-Admin instead and choose to Open Link in New Tab.

Forcing links to open in a new tab without warning the user is a violation of web standards and international laws, but the small box with the arrow shooting out to the top right is a long-held standard indicator that a link will force open in a new tab or window.

Still, it is a useless thing to do and leaves people unfamiliar with how a browser and links work with multiple open WordPress interface tabs, which leaves them confused and lost, not knowing where they were when they switch away and come back. Personally and professionally, I believe the link to the WP-Admin should open in the same page. Those who wish to force open new tabs already know how to do so, so let them.

To avoid accessing the new interface, stick with the WP-Admin access and NEVER click the EDIT link on the front end of your site. It automatically redirects to the new interface now.

Also, ignore all nag screens that tell you to switch to the new interface. For a while, such a switch made it difficult to switch back to the classic edit interface, so don’t. Seriously. Don’t.

If all this tab-switching and clicking is too much work. There is an alternative.

Using a Browser Script

Browser scripts are bits of code that react when you visit a web page or site. They will not work on other sites unless programmed to do so. For example, there are browser scripts that stops autoplay of the most common videos. There are browser scripts that stop autoplay of music on websites that annoy us. There are also browser scripts for Gmail, Facebook, and more.

And for WordPress.

Among them is a script called WordPress.com edit post redirects that automatically redirects the new post edit interface to the classic when you click EDIT from the front end of the site (the design view that other people see).

To use the Edit Post Redirect, install Greasemonkey Add-on for Firefox or Greasy Fork Add-on for Chrome first. Restart your browser if necessary. Then install the WordPress edit post redirect. It will automatically install the one appropriate for your browser.

When you land on the new post edit interface, it will redirect automatically to the classic post interface. It is fairly instant for cable users, and takes a moment for dial-up Internet users.

For more specifics and step-by-step instructions, see “How To Force A Redirect To The Classic WordPress.com Editor Interface – Diary of Dennis.”

Be warned that you may have to reinstall the script from time to time as WordPress makes changes in their redirect process for the new interface.


Blog Exercises: I Don’t Have Any Comments

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.I hear this complaint frequently from new and long time bloggers.

“I don’t have any comments. How can I get more comments?”

First of all, let me explain something.

You don’t want comments.

Yes, that’s right. You do not want comments. At least not comments from anyone.

If you just want comments, be content with comment spam.

If you want good comments, be specific.

What you want is a discussion. You want interactivity. You want the social intercourse, to share your thoughts with others and have them reciprocate. You want dialog.

Now that you know you don’t want comments, how does that change things on your site?

How are you going to publish content that encourages interactivity? That opens up the conversation to become a dialog?

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.We’ll talk more about how to do this later, but your exercise today is to figure out how to change your post content to encourage more interactivity.

Be brave. You can do it.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is an ongoing challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles. You may join us at any time, but I recommend you take a moment to visit past blog exercises to help invigorate your site.


Blog Exercises: Unfinished Business

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.In this ongoing series called Blog Exercises, let’s tackle your UFOs.

In quilting and sewing, UFO stands for Unfinished Objects. We all have them, in our work, our personal lives, and on our blog.

Do you have a to do list hanging around your desk or locked in your phone regarding your blog? It’s time to dig it out and work on it.

If you don’t have a task list, it’s time to start one.

Think of all the undone things or tasks you tacked to the back of your mind at the beginning of your blog with a large round tuit. You know the tuit. The thing that holds things until you get a round to it?

These are a few of the things often overlooked or set on the tuit pile.

  • Site Title: You’ve been blogging a while. Does your site title still work for you? If not, put it on the list to change it.
  • Tagline: Does your tagline, your site’s subtitle, still represent your site’s purpose and identity?
  • Admin Email: You may have meant to change the administration email to a better email address, possibly a more professional one now that you’ve established yourself. The email sally938 might not be working for you today. Check it to make sure it is still accurate, and consider changing it to a professional sounding one.
  • Editor Login: To enhance the security of your site, it is recommended that you create a second login as a safe user account to use when you are traveling or at an insecure Internet access point. Use your admin login only when you need to make changes to the design.
  • Two-step Authentication: Most WordPress sites offer two-step authentication to keep your site’s login access a bit more secure. Do it if you haven’t. Yes, it can be a pain when you forget your username or password, but this extra step can alert you to hackers and illegal attempts to access your site.
  • Post Updates: Has technology changed or is their new news associated with an old post you wrote. Has that been nagging you? Add it to the list to update with the new information.
  • Gravatar/Profile Image: When was the last time you updated your profile image? Still using the photo from 1999 with that bad haircut? Or the one in 2010 when you thought it would be cute to hold the camera over your head to take your selfie? You’ve been meaning to change it, so get it done.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise is to go through your task list and finish all your unfinished business.

Check your drafts. Do you have some posts you started but never finished? Complete them or delete them.

Check your idea notebook or whatever you use to track ideas for potential posts. Are there some posts in there about ready to be written up and published? Get them done.

Also check for items you may have published but forgot to remove from the list, as well as ideas that have passed their prime and probably won’t serve you in the future.

Then look deeper, into the back of your head where the nags spend most of their time. You know what I’m talking about. The nags that say: “I really should write about this.” Stop feeding the naggers in your brain and get those things out of your head and done.

It’s time to get busy and get finished your unfinished business on your blog.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is an ongoing challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles. You may join us at any time, but I recommend you take a moment to visit past blog exercises to help invigorate your site.

Also check out Lorelle’s WordPress School for a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up your site with WordPress.


What I Wish Hillary Clinton Would Say Tonight

I’ve been asked repeatedly to make my views on the US 2016 Election public, even though it goes against all this site stands for, an unbiased educational site to support WordPress users and bloggers. In light of current events, and the impact the web has had on those events, the time has come for my own voice to be heard on the subject.

Like millions of others, I’ve given much thought to tonight’s Presidential Debate in Nevada, and what I want to hear from the candidates. Correction, what I want to hear from only one candidate. I think we’ve heard more than enough from one of them.

I want to hear Hillary Clinton say something like this:

Mr. Trump, you are no American. You are no farm worker. You are no construction worker. You are no nurse. You are no computer programmer. You are no taxi driver. You are no teacher. You are no cafeteria worker. You are no janitor. You are no scientist. You are no home schooling parent. You are no truck driver. You are no gas station attendant. You are no orchard picker. You are no flight attendant. You are no grocery clerk. You are no – the list of things you are not is long. Let’s just sum it up and say you do not represent America nor Americans. Saying otherwise is an insult to the fine and decent people of this country.

America is a land of immigrants. Each wave resisted and resented, but persisted, believers in the American Dream, determined to be better and do better than what they left behind. Your grandparents were among them. Hated for being “foreign” and German, but determined to change their names, adapt, and find their way in the New World. And they did. Be proud of them and their courage. Stand up for your immigrant grandparents and the America that helped them create you.

The American you are is one who walks through a once natural and vital land to see what you can consume and destroy with the same enthusiasm and greed you started with in your business: The determination to be biggest. Who cares how many heads you stepped on and crushed on your way to the top, or how you abandoned the building industry for fantasy television and brand building – you are a success. You are the American Dream, but you do not speak for the Americans I know, the ones who didn’t grow up in an upper class family, had Daddy spend millions to rescue you, or con your way to and from the top.

The Americans I know have slid their fingers into the soil to carefully tend their garden, adding food to their tables. They’ve repaired the lawn mower by themselves because they could, and baked cookies for the bake sales to raise funds for schools, churches, and non-profit groups within their communities. They’ve saved up for an oil change on their old battered rigs. They are the people who tithe to their churches and give generously and regularly to charities that help others in their communities and internationally. They’ve scrubbed floors and toilets not only in their homes but in their workplace, holding down two or three, sometimes four, jobs to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. They spent sleepless nights wondering how to pay the next electric bill, find twenty dollars for their kid’s field trip, and how to scale back on birthday and Christmas presents because the mortgage is due. They’ve clawed their way out of gangs and drug and alcohol abuse, often violent living situations, then fret and cry over their children falling into those same destructive holes in the fabric of our society.

Mr. Trump, I’m here to talk to these people, not you. I’m done with the false accusations, exaggerations, the fact-checking, the reality-show tricks, foot-stomping, tantrums, scare tactics, and the lies. I’m done with your view that America is a place of violence, unrest, and evil, with secret plots more fiction than reality. Yes, there is collusion, greed, corruption, and backbench deals in the world, and Mr. Trump, you should recognize them well. There are laws in place for those, and legal agencies to handle them, which you are very familiar with, so please report your accusations and witnessed testimonies to the proper authorities.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I’m here to talk to the majority of women in this country who’ve suffered the indignity of being treated like an object, denied equal rights and opportunities. I was in college when Title IX passed, outlawing discrimination based on sex, and I saw the before and after that decision, a struggle women face against discrimination even today. As wife of the Governor of Arkansas, I was judged for being a working woman and mother. Today, we have a man running for president who says things like “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” offers advice to women wanting to raise money to start a small business to find a rich husband instead, and states pregnancy as “an inconvenience for a business.” Women, we’ve heard those lines before, haven’t we, and the law states clearly that such statements violate the US Constitution. They represent the out-dated views of my opponent, and they have no place in this country today.

I want to talk to the men who’ve never participated in such demeaning and degrading “locker room talk.” Thank you. I also want to talk to the men who have. You need to change. We all do. I want to live in a land where we treat each other with the respect we deserve, in the home, in the schools, in the workplace, and, yes, Mr. Trump, in the locker rooms.

I’m here to address the legitimate concerns of everyone in this country opening the mailbox to find stacks of incomprehensible invoices and charges for what should be a routine checkup. I want to talk to the people facing the alphabet decision over their health care options, and living scared or delaying health care actions for months waiting for the next sign up date because their employer let them down, laid them off, or they retired. or because of the costs. I want to talk to the people so confused, frustrated, and betrayed by the medical system in this country, they delay even going for that checkup. These people are becoming some of the most vulnerable in our society, lost amid the bureaucracy and high cost of what should be basic health services like the price of the EpiPen. I want people to trust their health care providers again, and not live under the fear and weight of health insurance decisions.

I’m here to talk to the people impacted by changes in the workforce, be it technology, economic demand, or the export of the business to a state or country with a better deal. You may shout about NAFTA and TPP, but let’s also talk to states about the wheels and deals they do to entice businesses to move across state borders, abandoning long-standing workers and communities. I want to celebrate companies that stay in the United States as well as those who choose to diversify their workforce across state borders, keeping jobs in their home state while expanding their companies and projects around the country.

I want to talk to the people whose jobs are changing or being lost. I want to talk to them about educational opportunities to help them redirect their energies, use their expertise and experiences to help train and retrain themselves and others into new jobs. How many remember the telephone operators who helped us place calls? What about secretaries, receptionists, maids, housekeepers, what about those support jobs, now replaced? It is part of the economy of the world that jobs will come and go as technology and demand changes, so we adapt. We learn. We change. And we can. Instead of forcing companies to hire intellectual foreign workers because they can’t find them here in our country, we need a WPA-like project that focuses on education, making the United States the source for employees as the first choice for an American company as well as global companies. Let our American ingenuity and brilliance shine again around the world.

I want to talk to the citizens afraid there will be no country, nor planet, worth inhabiting in the future. We need to invest in the ingenuity of this country to create smarter and healthier ways to live and work, whatever that looks like. Solar power, cold fusion, wind, ocean currents, we need to focus on renewable energy sources and stop relying upon fossil fuels because we are running out of them and time. Sure, we can invest more money to dredge out drips and drops to keep the oil companies running, but maybe they need to do a better job diversifying their own energy portfolios. Right now, we only have one planet. We must encourage the science, and benefits that come from that science, of space exploration, more now than ever, but we must also learn how to treat our planet better because there is no escape route. We need to literally clean up our act, and get smarter about how we treat the air over our heads and the ground under our feet, and the precious water that makes up 65% of our bodies and 70% of our planet.

I’m here to talk to the parent who chooses a charter or home school path for their children rather than public education. Yes, the American public school system has problems. There is no denying it. Let’s work together to fix it, and fix it right. This isn’t about a “no child left behind” game. This is about not leaving America behind in the educational systems of the world. It is about rising up, not lashing out, and working together to make education fair and equal to everyone, but also encourage greatness in thinking, celebrating their brilliance. Even if you are a ditch digger, we need you to be the best ditch digger, to understand the geology of the ground you dig, to understand the structural and stress lines of the trench, the mechanics of the machines you use, and how to dig the best ditches in the world with pride.

I’m here to talk to those who dream of starting their own business. The startups, kickstarters, risk takers who need everyone’s help to make their dream a reality. Not every business succeeds, but every risk teaches us how to risk better the next time. I want to team up with organizations like SCORE, Small Business Association, Chambers of Commerce, and other national and local business mentoring programs to encourage more local Startup Weekends and kick starter style programs to train and support people to make that dream come true. America is the land of opportunity and ingenuity. My colleague is an example of that. Let’s kick start that again and make the United States an exciting place of opportunities.

I’m here to talk to the people facing the decision to have a child. We need more education when it comes to parenthood and preparing Americans for the risks and responsibilities that come with making new Americans. We need to build stronger support around families, community day care programs, health programs, block watches, and make our communities safer places to raise our children. We need to expand the concept of Pro-choice to include the pro-women and pro-family choices women must make with their bodies and with their children. Mothers face hard decisions before and after pregnancy, throughout the lifetime of their motherhood. How to feed and care for the child, what vaccines to get when and where, child care, physical and mental health, school, how to pay for it all…We need to support community health care and social service programs that do so much to help women, and their families, make those decisions, and care for them throughout the entire process.

I’m here to talk to the parents who go to work only a few days after a child is born or adopted into their family, spending eight to twelve hours a day away from their new addition. The government needs to work with companies to ensure a healthy start to the family by encouraging longer recovery times and maternity leave for both parents.

I’m here to talk to the people who’ve come into this country legally and illegally. In spite of the rhetoric of my opponent, we want to help you. Yes, we do not want nor encourage illegal entry into this country. We need to ensure the safety of our society as well as our borders. But that doesn’t mean we are haters or isolationists. We are so much more than that. For centuries, the United States has held welcoming arms wide open. Mr. Trump, did your grandparents go through an intensive and rigorous vetting process to get into this country? In the past 75 years or more, we’ve restricted that embrace, as most countries have. The reasons for this are many, but today, I pledge to Americans that we will continue our hard work to ensure our borders are protected and immigrants are processed through tough security checks. Immigrants already on our soil for decades live in terror under the radar, imposing those fears on their family members who are now legitimate citizens. We must have compassion for you, and I need to talk to you, too. You are as much a part of America as those here legally. You are not forgotten.

I’m here to talk to big business and big banks, the ones my colleague has been on intimate terms with for the past 40 years. The ones he’s negotiated with to move their offices inside his buildings. The ones he’s bargained with for loans, and then renegotiated the loans when bankruptcy loomed. I bet there are some citizens here who wished they had your savvy experience with getting away with bankruptcy and financial ruin to save their homes and businesses. The financial industry is critical to the survival of this country. It can be said that the backbone of America is Wall Street. I am both glad and sad about that statement, because your industry must change. Failures and inappropriate actions in your industry almost brought down the global economy only a few years ago. How soon we forget about the millions of Americans who lost their homes and jobs due to your careless regard and greed. Cons and inappropriate incentive and quota programs designed to scam the consumer must stop. I want to work with financial agencies to bring back the trust and respect for handling America’s money, and if that means imposing sanctions and increased regulation – or worse – see, we have much talk about to ensure people have confidence in the financial industry again.

I’m here to talk to those determined to destroy America from within. Yes, you are as much a part of America as the rest of us. I want to talk to those who feel America has gone to hell in a hand basket, and those who feel public acts of resistance, protest, and violence are a choice to protect what you believe is the true definition of America. You are a part of us, a part of the whole. You remind us of how scary this can be for each one of us, not knowing, not trusting, terrified of change. You want to protect yourselves. You want to protect us. I understand that, and I’m not just here to talk to you, I’m here to listen. You have something to say. I hear your words through my opponent, but talk to me. I’m the only one listening with the power to make change happen.

As your president, it will be my job to talk to you, to tell you how things will change, to incite change, and to restrict it when I feel it isn’t in the best interest of all Americans. It is my job to report to you throughout my tenure on the state of the union. It is my job to protect you, individually and nationally. It is my job to represent our country to the rest of the world, through war, peace, and trade, but also stand for American rights and values on the international stage as an example of how we are getting things right, and sometimes wrong, as one of the most powerful countries in the world.

But that is just me talking. That is the smallest part of my job.

The most important part of my job is to listen. I promise to listen to your representatives in Congress, so make sure you vote to ensure they speak well for you. I promise to listen to you, the people, too. Let me know how you are doing, and tell me what you want and need. I’m not going to promise you “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” I am going to promise you open heart and ears. I’m not going to get everything right, but I’m going to work harder than everyone else in the room for you.

You are heard, my friends. Today, we live in a world where you have more forms of communication and sharing than ever in the history of the planet. Let your voice be heard. Share your opinions. Share your thoughts. We are listening. That is our job. We are your government. We are your elected representatives. We can’t fix everything immediately, and certainly not in a hundred days, maybe not even in eight years. The inner workings of the government move slowly. It is time to give this country an oil and lube job to get those gears moving faster, working for you.

Before or on November 8, vote for leaders who will break the deadlock in Congress. Vote for leaders who will get the job done. The job you want done, for you and the country. Vote for leaders who represent you. Don’t just vote for a name. Look beyond the political ads and the voter’s pamphlet. Who are these people? What have they done? What skills and experiences made them choose to run for office? Who supports them? Who doesn’t? Meet them. Ask them questions. Make them listen to you. Do you feel heard? Do you feel like they are the right people for the job? Then vote for them to help make change in our country. Put change leaders into place who speak for you, and will vote for you in Congress.

In the recent Vice Presidential Debate, the men were asked to talk about when their personal beliefs conflicted with their political beliefs and decisions. Both spoke of the inner conflicts that face everyone in every job, making the right decision even when you don’t personally agree with it. Throughout my political and legal career I’ve had to face difficult decisions and struggled with my conscience, going alone with decisions that went against the grain. That’s the job. As President Obama said yesterday, “If you start whining before the game’s even over, if whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else, then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job, because there are times when things don’t go our way — or my way.”

The job of President of the United States is not about me. It is about you, the people. It takes someone who will listen. It takes someone on your side. It takes someone who will tell you truth, whether or not you want to hear it. It takes someone with the calm, patience, strength, and confidence as your representative to make the decisions to protect and support you.

In 1970 as college student, I could have interned anywhere. I chose to spend a summer interviewing families in migrant worker camps, asking them about their working conditions and education and health of their children, and seeing it with my own eyes and heart. It changed my life. In 1972, I did another intern project gathering data on school segregation, uncovering the insidious discrimination that still exists today. With the Children’s Defense Fund, I went door-to-door in Massachusetts on behalf of children denied the right to attend school because of disabilities. Think back to life before the early 1970s. Children with mental or physical challenges were kept at home, rarely able to enter a classroom, or able to participate in society as an active member. Buildings did not have wheelchair access. Why? Because the school refused to build a ramp. Really? Something so simple yet a wall all the same. It broke my heart. Teachers weren’t trained to identify students with dyslexia or learning challenges. Parents either kept their children at home or found the money to pay for private schools and special training. Today, it may seem unbelievable, but I was there. It not only changed me and my life, it made me want to change the world. I realized that to drive real progress, you have to change both hearts and laws. Our work convinced Congress to require equal opportunity access to education for everyone. Today, teachers are getting the education they need to handle their diverse population of students. Today, everyone can get an education. It took an army of people coming together to make this happen, and many years, and there is still work to be done to make our communities more accessible. Today, we don’t hide these children away, we rejoice in them and celebrate them as part of our community, as we do all children, encouraging them to grow up to be proud Americans.

This is the passion I bring to the office of President. This is the passion I feel in many of our Congress men and women across both sides of the aisle. They want to change the world. They want to make the world better. They believe that the United States is one of the most stable and powerful countries in the world, and that together we can make not only our country great, but the world better, a place for everyone to be respected, accepted, and part of the thread that makes the fabric of our nation strong.

Just look at Canada. They are voting for us to succeed.

This is a time to talk and listen, to be heard, and heard with your vote, too. Come January, it will be a time to roll up the sleeves and get to work, and we will, America, for you, and because of you.

Vote well. Vote to be heard. Vote to be proud. Vote to be represented. Just vote.

Comments are closed on this post. This is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of the candidates nor their campaigns. If you agree, help spread the world. If you don’t, spread whatever you are spreading wherever you spread. Thanks.

Blame WordPress For the World’s Problems

Let’s call this person “wise” using air quotes to give you a description of where they come from in life. This “wise” person confronted to me at a public event to announce that WordPress was evil and must be destroyed.

“After all,” he informed me soundly. “While WordPress says it supports freedom of speech, it clearly endorses, supports, and commits acts of censorship. How can you be associated with something so evil?”

Let me be clear, there is no “talking” to people like this. The opinion comes well-formed from whatever source and references this person chooses to follow, and nothing I say can change their mind, so I bent in that moment to one of the great minds that follow hate, fear, and conspiracy, something we have a little too much of in the world today.

To those with open hearts and ears, let me give you my answer.

Know the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com Sites

You cannot blame a web host for what their users publish.

That’s the truth and the law. There are laws and rules in place that require a web host to respond to legal actions, but these apply to all web hosts.

WordPress.org, the free, self-hosted version of WordPress, is not a web host. WordPress.com, owned by Automattic, is a web host.

Let’s define this better.

WordPress, as a publishing platform, is a publishing platform. It is a bunch of code that allows people to publish their words, images, video, etc., and have their say on the web. WordPress, the free, self-hosted version from WordPress.org, is not, nor has it ever been, responsible for what people do with the WordPress publishing platform. Their Policies and Practices state:

WordPress developers, representatives, members, founders, hosts, and volunteers (known as WordPress members) have no control over and cannot take responsibility for content published on any blog powered by WordPress. WordPress accepts no responsibility towards content or usage of WordPress software and shall be held harmless from any and all litigation, liability, and responsibilities.

WordPress members cannot disable WordPress powered websites at any time. The term “Powered by WordPress” is a marketing slogan set by default in the basic installation of WordPress and is subject to editing or removal by the user and is not a statement of responsibility.

If you find a site with “evil,” be it propaganda, in support of terrorism and violence, hate speech, defamation, libel, porn, or simply a site that has ripped off your content in a copyright violation, it is the responsibility and liability of the site owners and administrators, not WordPress. File a DMCA claim, get lawyers, or the FBI, or the equivalent in your country, and get after them. WordPress as a company, a non-profit by the way, has nothing to do with the actions of those who use the free publishing platform.
Read More »

Blogging Tools: DownThemAll Browser Add-on

Blog Resources by Lorelle on WordPressDownThemAll! Firefox Extension is another tool for your blogging toolbox.

As a reminder, most power bloggers use Firefox or Chrome web browsers. Not just because they are “better” in the terms of meeting web standards, but also because of their powerful extendable features. Browser extensions, add-ons, or plugins allow you to extend the features and capabilities of a web browser just as WordPress Plugins extend the same for a website.

DownThemAll adds advanced download capabilities to your browser allowing you to download links or images on a web page.

<lecture>Before you start screaming copyright infringement and violations, let me be clear that this tool is much like what many believe about weapons. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Anything may be used for evil, but let’s not yet throw out a fantastic tool because it might do harm. </lecture>

I use DownThemAll! Firefox Extension for two good reasons, both of them reasons why this tool should be among yours.

  1. Web Development
  2. Research

Let’s see if this is a tool you will need in your blogging toolbox.

DownThemAll for Web Development

The DownThemAll! Firefox Add-on is excellent when you are working with clients who need to have their old or original web pages downloaded and saved. Think of this as a manual style backup.

Install DownThemAll! to Firefox or Chrome.

  1. Right click on the front page of the site or on a site map page.
  2. Select the DownThemAll! option.
  3. Select the web pages, links, images, etc. for downloading.
  4. Designate the destination folder on your hard drive.
  5. Start the process.

DownThemAll! offers a variety of filters and customization to expand or restrict the downloaded files. Read More »

Blogging Tools: Jing Screen Capture and Video

Blog Resources by Lorelle on WordPressOne of my favorite blogging tools – okay, tool I use for teaching, writing, and research – is Jing by Techsmith. It’s a must-have tool for bloggers and blogging.

Jing is free. It allows capturing still images (screenshots), basic video, and animation, and allows you to share them on the web or save them to your computer for further work or posterity.

Jing features the ability to capture screenshots of WordPress, example websites, and all the browser and software tasks associated with teaching, presentations, research, artwork, and so much more.

This is the tool to show people how you do what you do with the web and blogging. It is essential for teachers teaching software and web technology. Don’t just tell them how to do it, show them. It is fabulous for screen tutorials or capturing a short PowerPoint presentation to share.

Jing - Example of WP-Admin, Media Screenshot with Jing.

Example of a screenshot of the WP-Admin > Media screen using Jing.

Download and install Jing. Once installed and started, a small ball of yellow sunshine will sit along the edge of your computer monitor. You can move it anywhere you wish along the edges if it gets in your way. The yellow half circle might be annoying at first, but you will soon ignore it or lose it among your other colorful screens. Read More »

WordPress School: Copyright Policy

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.We’ve started our mini-series on adding policies to your WordPress site with some basic information and details on how to organize and structure policies on your site. It’s time to evaluate the five different policies featured on almost all websites regardless of topic or goals in Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course. Remember, we add policies to our site for quality control and information, letting our visitors know what our terms and conditions are, and where the liability and responsibility starts and stops.

The four policies I’ll be covering are Copyright, Disclosure, Privacy, and Comments. Today, we’re tackling copyright.

By international law, if you create something and it is in a fixed state, such as a printed book, recorded album, or web page, you own the copyright and may dictate how it is to be used. You do not need to display a copyright notice or have a copyright policy, not even a © to indicate the material is copyrighted. If it is original and you published it, it is your intellectual property and you have the right to determine how it may be used, or not. You own it.

You don’t need to register it. You don’t need to do anything, however, copyright policies and notices serve to remind others that this is your work and you have the right to control how it is used, and these are the parameters for usage. A well-written copyright policy states exactly how your content is to be used to allow for Fair Use, the ability to quote, cite, and link to your content without explicit permission.

Before we dive deeper into how copyright works and what to consider when writing your copyright policy, let’s take a moment to talk about where to put your copyright notice in WordPress, if you choose to use one.

Where to Put a Copyright Notice in WordPress

A copyright notice is the © 2016 Your Name statement. You could use the symbol or the word written out as Copyright 2016 Your Name. I highly recommend that you include a link around the notice to your copyright policy created on a WordPress Page on your site, created per the instructions on how to integrate policies into your WordPress site.

If you would like to ensure your copyright notice and the link to your copyright policy is on every web page of your site, put it in a Text Widget in the sidebar or footer.

If you would like to add your copyright notice to every web page within the content area, allowing the notice to go out with your site’s feed, save the HTML link to a text file on your computer and paste it into the bottom of each post before you publish it, or, if your site is self-hosted, used a WordPress Plugin that does this automatically.

If you have a strict copyright policy, or wish to add emphasis to your copyright policy, use a Text Widget placed in the sidebar or footer with a sentence or two that clearly specifies permitted use, with a link to your copyright policy Page for more specifics. Read More »