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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 »

Blog Exercises: Life Happens While Making Other Plans

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.“Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans.”

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:

I’ve also offered a variety of tips for using an editorial calendar to keep you on track with deadlines, and how to schedule your blogging time into your work and lifestyle to keep you blogging.

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? Read More »

WordPress School: Integrating Policies

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.In this mini-series on adding policies to your WordPress site for Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course, we’re going to look at the technical decisions you need to make on how to integrate these policies. The next follow-up articles will discuss how to write and format each of the four policies we’ll cover in this course: Copyright, Disclosure, Privacy, and Comments.

There are two methods for integrating policies into WordPress, both using the WordPress Page content type.

  1. Single Page: If you do not have much to say or few policies, you may publish them on a single Page titled “Policies” or “Legal,” both web standard titles.
  2. Multiple Pages: If you have much to say or many policies, you may publish them on multiple Pages with a main Page titled “Policies” or “Legal” and each policy is a sub-Page.

Each of these techniques involve creating Pages in WordPress and linking information together for navigation within the Policies, excellent techniques for improving your intrasite linking and WordPress site structure and organization.

As your site grows, managing the content organization and structure becomes even more critical. It’s important to know the difference between posts and Pages, and how to choose which content type for publishing your content.

As Pages are only featured through the primary and other menu navigation areas, selecting the right length title, the order, and placement of Page content can get complicated with layers of drop down menus and limited real estate property on the menu bars in the WordPress Theme. Pages begin to compete with each other for space and the attention of the user, so take your time exploring how to add Pages to WordPress in these exercises to help you add other Page content as your site expands. Read More »

WordPress School: Adding Policies

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.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:

  • Copyright
  • Privacy
  • Disclosure
  • Liability
  • Comments
  • Contributors
  • Accessibility
  • Terms of Service
  • Reprint and Permissions
  • Links
  • Social Media
  • Content
  • Disclaimers
  • Event/News Posting
  • Content Quality and Limitations
  • Advertisements and Endorsements

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.

Read More »

WordPress School: The Links in WordPress

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.In Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course today we will explore the most important thing on the web: links. Specifically how WordPress automatically generates links on your site and how you can add these same links within the content and elsewhere on your WordPress site.

So far in this course we’ve covered the topic of links through the following tutorials:

As a reminder, the different types of general links are:

  • External Links: Links to content off your site.
  • Internal or Intrasite links: Links to content on your site.
  • Jump Links: Links that “jump” to specific places on a single web page from that page or from another web page on the site.

Typically, the user creates links in the content and throughout the site’s layout and design. WordPress also automatically generates links through core functionality as well as Theme and Plugin features. By understanding the links generated within a WordPress site, you can take advantage of these links throughout your site.

The list of link types generated automatically through WordPress functionality includes: Read More »

Words and Pictures Course at Newspace Center for Photography

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.

Screenshot of blog post with photo of man standing in middle of labyrinth - Lorelle VanFossen.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.

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Blog Exercises: Define Your Community

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.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. Read More »

WordPress School: Excerpts

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.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.

  1. Edit the first post in the queue.
  2. Place your cursor at the end of the second or third paragraph.
  3. The WordPress Visual Editor More Excerpt ButtonClick the MORE button in the toolbar. It uses the word “more” in the Text Editor. In the Visual, it is a button with two solid lines with a dashed line between them.
  4. Update the post.

Example of a post excerpt on a multiple post pageview in WordPress with the continue reading link.This inserts a shortcode or comment into the post at that point.

Update the post and view it. Do you see changes?

You shouldn’t.

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.

WordPress Excerpts - Visual Editor More button and More excerpt screenshot - Lorelle VanFossen WordPress School.

Content - More Excerpt in Text Editor - WordPress School

This is called an excerpt.

What is 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.

  1. MORE: The More feature in WordPress sets the excerpt length in the post from the first words to the cut off point in the post.
  2. Custom or Explicit Excerpt: This is a manually written excerpt set on the Post Edit screen before publishing. If the WordPress Theme supports it, the explicit excerpt will be displayed instead of the post content on the front page of the site.
  3. Theme Generated Excerpts: Many WordPress Themes feature only excerpts on multiple post pageviews by design.

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.

The More

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.

Excerpts - Example of an image with an excerpt that is too short - Lorelle WordPress School.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.

  • How Much Excerpt is Too Much or Too Little? The key to a well-placed excerpt is to offer enough to tease the reader and motivate them to click through to read the rest. This isn’t so much a job of placing the excerpt in the right place as it is having the content that appears on the front page for that post create an incentive to keep reading. How much text is needed to motivate the click is up to you, and it comes with careful study, testing, and experience.
  • More Placement: Some bloggers place the MORE at the end of a paragraph. Others place it in the middle of the text. Again, it depends upon how well the writing motivates people to want to read more, and the placement maybe timed accordingly, making them eager to finish the sentence.
  • Headings: To place the MORE immediate after a heading often confuses the reader. The heading may look like a cut off post title or like the ending of the content. Depending upon the style of the heading, it might overwhelm the Read More link and people will not see it to click. Place the MORE before a heading.
  • Images: Images floating over the right or left of the text need the text to wrap around it for the look and feel of the content to “feel right.” If you place the MORE only a few words down the side of a image, it often looks odd, sometimes broken. Ensure that the MORE is placed down far enough in the content so the image has words flowing around it naturally, or place it above the image to exclude it.

For more information on using the More feature in WordPress, see the Excerpts — Support — instructions that apply to all versions of WordPress.

The Custom or Explicit Excerpt

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.

WordPress Screen Options set to display excerpt box on post edit panel.

To set the excerpt in WordPress:

  1. Go to Screen Options on the post and ensure that the Excerpt option is checked to view the Excerpt modular section.The Excerpt section generally appears at the bottom of the post content area.
  2. Go to the Excerpt modular section and enter in the custom excerpt content. Basic HTML tags may be used.
  3. When published, if the Theme permits it, the excerpt will be displayed on multiple post pageviews on the site.

WordPress Custom Excerpt shown on post panel.

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.

The Theme Generated Excerpt

Excerpts  Example of WordPress Theme using excerpts in the Theme Design - Lorelle WordPress School.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.

The Theme author sets the excerpt with the use of the the_excerpt() function and template tag in WordPress instead of the more commonly used the_content() template tag.

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:

More Information on WordPress Excerpts

The following articles offer you more information about using and creating excerpts in WordPress.


Lorelle's WordPress School Assignment Badge.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:

Subscribe to Lorelle on WordPress. Feed on Lorelle on WordPress Follow on Twitter. Give and Donate to Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress.

WordPress and Web Writing Classes at Newspace Center for Photography

Newspace Photography Center in Portland Oregon sign and classroom.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 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. Not Displaying Images

UPDATE: 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.

Web Accessibility - Example of ALT descriptive text appearing when image does not load or appear.

Please be aware that is aware of the issue that images uploaded in the last 12 hours or so are not appearing on your sites.

You may check in on the many discussions in the Support Forums, or join us on this discussion specifically covering the topic and awaiting feedback.

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. 😀


The Most Common Tiny Mistakes Made When Setting Up a WordPress Site

Battling drags is easy. It is stepping in gum that brings me to my knees.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,’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.

WordPress is a Giant Form for Data Entry

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.

Garbage in garbage out applies to any database, WordPress included. Learn how to publish well and ensure the data going in is clean and easy for a WordPress Theme or Plugin to work with. Read More »

Your Site Now Visible to Search Engines sent an email alert out to 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.

Hi there,

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 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 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

  1. Go to Settings > Reading > Site Visibility
  2. Check the settings. If you wish the site to remain hidden from search engines, set it accordingly.

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 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.

WordPress Basics Half Day Workshop at Newspace Photography Center, Portland

WordPress Educational Programs and Classes badge.Saturday, September 12, 2015, I will be teaching “Building a Website with WordPress” at the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon, from noon to 5PM.

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.

Copyright Brent VanFossen - Red-legged Frog under leaf in Olympic National Park.

Red-legged frog in the Olympic National Park, photography by Brent and Lorelle VanFossen.

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.

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WordPress School: HTML and CSS References and Resources

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.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.

There are new resources on HTML and CSS arriving on the web constantly. These are just a few I’ve found helpful over the years. Read More »