Category Archives: WordPress Basics

What to learn more about the basics of how WordPress works and how to use WordPress? You’ve found them.

These are written and published by students of the ClarkWP WordPress and related courses to help each other learn more about how to use WordPress, and you benefit from their learning and sharing.

Interview: Cheri Calvert, WordPress Web Designer, Web Developer, & Incredible Artistic Talent

WordPress gives women a voice. WordPress gives women an opportunity to better integrate meaningful income-producing work into their family life. I especially enjoy helping young mothers grow a business out of their talents and passions.

WordPress supplies Artists of all kinds – from authors, musicians, and actors to painters, photographers, and sculptors – with a platform to showcase their work and preserve their memories. WordPress enables graphic designers to include complex functionality at an affordable price through the use of its vast assortment of Plugins. Cheri Calvert

The Interview

It was the first significant rain and wind storm this fall: Mother Nature was angry, and I had the greatest opportunity to meet with Cheri Calvert, Web Designer, Developer, and Artist, at her breathtaking Hayden Island work office. The wind was whipping my scarf around my face and rain pelted my glasses as I approached Cheri’s front door.

After a soft knock, Cheri opened the door; her friendly face appearing with a smile. She was so stylishly outfitted as well as accessorized with a beautiful black and silver scarf.

Andrea: Cheri, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to meet with me! This is such a pleasure, and your view is amazing!

Amazing view from Cheri's home office on Hayden Island on a very stormy day.
Cheri’s home office view onto the Columbia River on an especially stormy day.

Andrea: How long have you been working with WordPress, and do you have any other experience with non-WordPress website design?

Cheri: I’ve worked with WordPress for the last 8 years, but I started out hand-coding an HTML site back in 2002. I purchased Adobe Suites shortly thereafter, and worked in DreamWeaver and Flash. I worked for a couple of years for a company that was a pioneer in the field of virtual tours. One of their contracts was to film and create virtual tours for all the Best Western properties in the US. One of my jobs in 2006 at VRNational was to research blogs along with some of the cutting edge virtual environments of Second Life. This was my first blog, still published on Blogspot (she said to me as she pulled the website up on her computer).

Andrea: Why do you prefer WordPress, and what is your favorite feature?

Cheri: I really like the WordPress culture; it was created to share. It is affordable: a platform for the people, not designed just for corporate elitists. It is a supportive International Community that works together to create something that is bigger than merely the sum of its parts. I once had a question that I posted within the WordPress Community, and a young man in Belgium responded to me immediately with a solution.

Andrea: How did you get into Web Design and Development?

Cheri: As the world changed, I felt I needed these new tools to effectively market my own artwork. I fell in love with the creative possibilities and loved the fact that I could keep all my messes tidily on a couple of hard drives. I foresaw the freedom it would give me to earn a higher hourly rate, work from just about anywhere, and make my own schedule. When the sun comes out and it’s a glorious day, I want to be able to take a “Sun-Day” off and go out and worship our amazing Earth! I’ve found that living in the Pacific Northwest, Mother Nature usually supplies me with sufficient inclement weather for me to make a living. When it’s rainy like this (as she indicates out the window), it’s perfect weather to cozy up to my computer.

Andrea: How do you go about generating new business?

Cheri: I have participated in BNI, networking groups, several Chambers of Commerce and done numerous pro bono work for non-profits. However, most of my work comes from Word of Mouth. Existing clients have recommended friends from across the country that I have never met. I think any group that you are consistently involved with creates a feeling of trust. If you let them know what you love doing, they will seek you out if that need arises for them. In the past few days, I have had four new projects come in. One is an Artist who just moved here from Hawaii and has seen some of the work I’ve done for our HOA. Another is an Actor who’s appeared on Law and Order and Grimm who is in my cardio class at the Marshall Center. Another is a single Mom who is growing her personal chef business. My daughter is her food photographer and recommended me.

Andrea: How do you deal with clients that are difficult or resistant to change?

Cheri: I just let them go. I know the relationship won’t work, and perhaps there’s someone who can better accommodate them.

Andrea: How do you make a website mobile-friendly?

Cheri: I let the Theme do the basic heavy-lifting and tweak it with a Child Theme’s custom CSS. To ensure compatibility on all mobile devices, I test them out on my Windows desktop, Apple Notebook, Tablet, and Android phone.

Photo of Cheri Calvert with a Windows desktop, Apple Notebook, Tablet, and Android phone.
Cheri Calvert tests her sites with a Windows desktop, Apple Notebook, Tablet, and Android phone to ensure compatibility.

 

Andrea: How do you feel about Web Accessibility?

Cheri: In 2003, while working for Lewis-Clark State in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop introducing the importance of accessibility issues. Although the screen-reader technology was rather crude back then, it was a good tool to help understand how information would be extracted for the visually impaired.

Andrea: What would you change about WordPress?

Cheri: Nothing. I can’t think of anything I’d want to change.

Andrea: It seems that this line of work requires constant education to keep up with all the upgrades. How do you go about continuing your knowledge?

Cheri: WordPress Meetup Groups, WordCamp, Online User Groups, solving problems through researching. When things don’t work, I try to look at it as a game. I’m “Cherlock” Holmes, searching for clues to solve the mystery. When something breaks, it is oftentimes trying to determine what is different. Sometimes I find that it’s just a comma in the code…

Andrea: What do you enjoy most about your career?

Cheri: Flexibility. Plus, there’s always something new to learn! I am an introvert (meaning that groups of people drain my energy). I need solitude, like a nutrient, to keep me balanced. Web Development gives me a voice and allows me to connect with the world from the comfort of my own office!

Andrea: Do you have any advice for those who are pursuing the same line of work?

Cheri: You’ve got to love it!


Cheri’s Story

Cheri is not just a Web Designer/Developer, but she has also worn many, many hats. She went from processing crab in the Aleutian Islands in the 70’s to Head of Wardrobe for Bobby Vinton and the Glen Miller Orchestra at the Blue Velvet Theatre in the 80’s, and spending the majority of her time as a self-employed artist. 

She had her own line of sheepskin outerwear and hand-laced deerskin clothing. Cheri used the scraps to create hand-sculpted dolls, with faces made of deerskin. These dolls were featured on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens and Early American Life. She sold these little dolls, as well as elves and Santas, while featuring them in illustrated booklets.

Screen shot from Cheri Calvert's theleatherdoll.com.
Cheri Calvert’s Woodland Fantasy Elves, photo courtesy of http://www.theleatherdoll.com.

In the 90’s Cheri developed her own line of hemp clothing called the Cannabis Collection. She created beautiful clothing and bridal gowns, all made of hemp.

Cheri continues to play with the creative features of WordPress, which fits well with her Artist clientele. Her current favorite Theme is Elegant Themes DIVI to create fun special effects and layouts. One of the biggest joys of her career is being able to help promote her fellow creative-types and their work.

 

WordPress News: Custom Post Types for No Ordinary Website

By default, WordPress Themes provide a variety of post types. They always include Post, Page, Attachment, Revision and Nav Menus. Depending on a website design objectives, themes may also include the more specialized Portfolio, Testimonials and Products post types. In Adelina Tuca’s post on September 15, 2015 on Tesla Themes, she reminds us to consider the flexibility available in using Custom Post Types.

Custom post types are awesome. Because they let you add amazing things on your website, things that, in most cases, make the difference between an ordinary website and a well crafted one.

Being a skilled web developer is not necessarily required. While Adelina confirms the coding to create a Custom Post Type can be very challenging, WordPress Plugins are available to simplify the process.

When considering unique design objectives,  get out of the box and  use Custom Post Types to build extraordinary websites.

For more information:

WordPress News: Image Optimization

A box with a grey outline, arrows pointing inward at all four corners, with grey text, ClarkWP: Image optimization

When you decrease the file size for images before you insert them, uploads and pages will load faster. – WordPress.com

It is important to optimize your images before using them on your WordPress site. The benefits of optimization would include better quality images, faster loading times, efficient data usage, and accessibility; while making the site’s images more attractive overall. For some users with smaller images, it will be significant enough to upload an image and choose from the WordPress default sizes allocated. Images that are set to display as a thumbnail, it doesn’t compress the image. That’s why it’s always better to optimize your images before uploading them.

Optimization is achievable by using photo editing software such as Photoshop. It’s imperative that you don’t take images from your camera and upload them immediately to the web, as images that come from your camera are set for print rather than web. – Visit abrightclearweb.com for more information

Software Recommendations

You can use a slew of programs to edit your photos such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Paint Shop Pro. Unfortunately these are paid or subscription software programs, so below is a list of free software recommendations.

Example

If you upload an image that is 1080 x 720px and set it to a thumbnail, it will still take just as long to load as if it was set to full size.

The following image was uploaded to WordPress in full size. (1080 x 720px) The file size is 924.9k which takes 168 seconds to load just this image at 56.6 kbps.
A picture of the maid of the mist, heading toward Niagara Falls.

This image was re-sized in Photoshop to the same size as allocated by the large image option in WordPress. It is 156.3 kb which takes 29 seconds to load at 56.6 kbps.
A smaller sized picture of the maid of the mist, heading toward Niagara Falls.

Image Formats

The following image formats are supported by WordPress functionality.

  • JPG – This image format works well when displaying an image with a lot of detail or a photograph.
  • GIF – Used when an image needs transparency and logos, line art, and illustrations with type. GIF however, only supports 8 and 16 bits of color.
  • PNG – Also is used when transparency in an image is needed but supports more color than a GIF file. PNG images are larger so attempt to use the GIF file format first to see if it works for your image.

More Information

GPL: Share and Share Alike

The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or GPL) is the most widely used free software license, which guarantees end users (individuals, organizations, companies) the freedoms to run, study, share (copy), and modify the software.
Wikipedia – GNU General Public License

The usage of a GPL can actually be beneficial to both the developer and the client, as Josh Pollock outlines in his article published in Torque Magazine. Josh explains that as you develop a library, after creating numerous software solutions for various clients, it will become extremely beneficial for you to reuse some of that code. This is how the GPL can help the developer, and especially a WordPress developer who is making either a theme or Plugin that they hope multiple clients will use in the future. However, the client will also be concerned about liability, in the usage of the code you have written for them, as well as their ability to hire another developer, should they want to expand the software later. This is how GPL can benefit the client.

Sounds like Socialism

While it may sound like a “hippie-commune” mentality when you say that you want to open your work so that it may be taken and used by others, but as the statistics show, most developers prefer the GNU GPL license. Just look at the rankings for the license market share for the SAAS community:

Statistics of license market shar among the SAAS communnity

So why are developers okay with their work being open to be used by others? Well, the simplest way to say it is that coding is an impossible feat for any one person, regardless of the time invested. In a way, coding anything requires that you have a large amount of work already completed that gives you a framework to build around. And this required framework is enormous. If coders didn’t share their work, we wouldn’t have the majority of the code-dependent technologies that we enjoy today. It would be like a car-manufacturer having their cars built one at a time, with only one person working on each car. Making the paint from base-materials, smelting the metals, hand-tooling the custom parts. It would be an unsustainable system.

The Better Road

So in the end, the GPL not only provides peace-of-mind and freedom for the client, but it also protects the developer and ensures that they can focus on the client’s specific needs, instead of reinventing the wheel every time. And when a developer solves a problem for a client and licenses it under the GPL, they are in a sense, solving the problem for everyone in the future that requires that particular solution.

The web has an immense amount of work to accomplish in it’s future, and The GPL is just one facet that we as society need to utilize, if we are to get it all done in a timely manner. If you’d like some more information about the GPL and what is involved in its rules, head over the official GNU GPL page to read the actual license for yourself. Over there they will go into more detail about the limits and rulings of the license.

Additional Information

Web Accessibility: Designing & Developing for Older Users

As of April 2012, 53% of American adults ages 65 and older use the internet or email. Though these adults are still less likely than all other age groups to use the internet, the latest data represent the first time that half of seniors are going online. After several years of very little growth among this group, these gains are significant.
Pew Research Center

Within that 53% of American adults of at least 65 years of age, 70% use the Internet on a daily basis.

Since these statistics were recorded in 2012, it is believed that the numbers have risen significantly. It is important for web designers and developers to factor this information into their designs to cater to this group of regular Internet users in these ways:

Text Size

Select a larger font and allow the text to be resized up to 200% by the user without creating an issue with the function of the website.

Legible Text Style & Layout

Create a site that is easy to read by selecting a legible font, spacing your lines accordingly, and keeping your lines short.

Contrast & Color

While some color and contrast looks great to young eyes, older eyes can lose the ability to see text on a high-contrast page. At a minimum, your contrast ratio should be 4.5:1 with the involvement of images and text.

A screenshot of a very high contrast website.

Multimedia

With older adults, eyesight and/or hearing can rapidly decrease. By offering multimedia with subtitle options as well as visual and audible, your website visitor will be able to enjoy the presentation.

Text-to-Speech

Some elderly people rely upon speech synthesis software when browsing websites. To make your website accessible, you’ll want to use more text instead of  images, especially on call-to-action buttons.

CAPTCHA

Completely Automated Public Turing tests are used to decipher a live human user, as opposed to a machine spammer by requiring the user to type in the displayed text. As you can see below, the text is very difficult to read, even for those who do not suffer from vision impairments.

It is suggested to offer an audible version of CAPTCHA as a second option, but the user may have difficulties enabling the audio on their computers or have a hard time hearing it if enabled. Removing CAPTCHA from your site altogether is a much better solution, as it doesn’t deter spammers.

Screen Shot of what CAPCHA looks like.

 

 

 

 

Links

Due to visual impairments and difficulty with mouse usage, links need to be created over more than two words, as well as providing alternative text that indicates the destination of the link. Links must be underlined and have other visual indications.

Keyboard Use

Many people aren’t able to use a mouse and rely open only utilizing a keyboard. Always allow your site to be functional by the use of keyboard navigation without a mouse. Also, it is important to allow the tab function to move onto different cells within an online form.

Distractions

It is imperative to provide the ability to pause, mute, or stop movement and sound within a website to avoid distractions from the web experience. People may not always want to watch a video on a website, but would just prefer to quietly read the article around it.

Screen Shot

Use of Forms & Instructions/Time Limits

Sometimes websites have time limits to complete a form for a transaction; if the time limit is reached, the website will time out and the user will have to start from the beginning. Older people may have a difficult time understanding how to fill out forms to complete the transaction. Does your form require a time limit? If so, it needs to be increased.

Out of Date Software

Not everyone is going to have up to date web browsers and new computers, so your site needs to be as compatible as possible with older software. A warning message indicating that the visitor must download a newer version of a web browser will most likely result in frustration and website abandonment.

Screen Shot of unsupported browser error message.

For Further Information

 

 

Web Accessibility: Seizure Prevention on the Web

When designing websites it is imperative to follow the necessary standards to design a site that is safe for those who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy or other seizures.

Photosensitive epilepsy is a form of epilepsy in which seizures are triggered by visual stimuli that form patterns in time or space, such as flashing lights, bold, regular patterns, or regular moving patterns.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines state that web pages should not contain anything that flashes more than three times in any one second period, or the flash is below the general flash and red flash thresholds. Continue reading Web Accessibility: Seizure Prevention on the Web

Tutorial: How to Auto Update WordPress

WordPress has two ways to update. There is a three-step process through the WP-Admin screen, while WordPress.org has a tutorial for updating for multiple versions, as well as package you can download. There is a warning: The updates can affect your files and folders including the main WordPress installation, so backing up WordPress is highly recommended.

It’s important to update; updating WordPress applies fixes and patches. WordPress does automatic updates for security and maintenance that is done in the background.

In WordPress, you can easily update your application directly from the Admin screen. When a version is available, you will see a notification in the WP Admin area. You can choose to update the newest version from this screen. There will be an important message that provides you with a button “Update Now.”

Automatic Updates

Screen shot of update notification in the WordPress WP Admin area

The following are step-by-step instructions on using the automatic WordPress update method.

  1. From the WP-Admin screen, select Updates. If there are updates that need to be installed, there will be notifications.
  2. Under WordPress Updates from the WP-Admin screen, there will be a blue button entitled “Update Now.”
  3. Select the blue button and WordPress will update. Your notification will change to “Update WordPress.”Screen shot of WordPress updating
  4. After the update has completed, you will receive a “Welcome to WordPress” notification.

Screen shot in the WP-Amin area, welcoming the new update

For More Information

WordPress Words: DIV

A “DIV” is an HTML element that divides sections of your WordPress site.

Example: A user can customize their site by adding DIV tags around their content sections in the text editor. Then they can add custom CSS to their DIV’s by going to the Theme Editor in
Appearance–>Editor–>style.css and adding a new line in the file.

.main-grid-content {display:inline-block;background-color:#FFF;}

About the Word

The DIV tag in HTML is used widely on most websites today. By default, a DIV is a block level element, which means it will take up all of the horizontal space  in its current container. In WordPress DIV’s are used to create new sections of content within your site, that may be linked to current classes or new ones.

New sections can help you separate portions of your site to add embedded maps, special offers, promotions, contact information, images and other content.

For More Information

WordPress Words: Administrator

“Administrator is a user role in WordPress. When a user installs WordPress, it creates a new user with the username and password defined during the installation. That first user is assigned the user role of administrator. They can perform all actions on a WordPress website and have full capabilities.”

What is: Administrator

Example: A WordPress Administrator is automatically setup when installation of the WordPress platform is complete. The Administrator account manages all features and users on a specified site.

About the Word

The role of Administrator on a WordPress website is to manage all users’ roles and responsibilities and features on a single WordPress site. Not to be confused with a Super Administrator, which has the capability to manage everything over multiple websites instead of one. The Administrator is the only one who has the ability to upgrade the WordPress installation. However, you can add other users to help manage content such as moderators, editors, and publishers to help build your site and maintain it. It is possible to have multiple Administrators on a single website but typically there is only one.

A screen shot on a windows operating system of the admin panel.

Only Administrators that operate a single site have the capabilities listed below. If you are however, the Super Administrator for multiple sites, these features will be available.

  • update_core
  • update_plugins
  • update_themes
  • install_plugins
  • install_themes
  • delete_themes
  • delete_plugins
  • edit_plugins
  • edit_themes
  • edit_files
  • edit_users
  • create_users
  • delete_users
  • unfiltered_html

For more information on the roles, capabilities, and beginner tutorials, check out the links below.

For More Information

Interview with Andrew Telegin

Andrew Telegin is an online editor for the Independent, the Clark College student newspaper.

Q: Do you like WordPress?

A: Yes, I really do enjoy WordPress. I think it is easy to use and fun to figure out with cool features. It has been an adventure, too.

Q: The Good and the Bad about WordPress?

A: To me, the good is how is it easy for someone new to catch on, learn, and use. I’m using WordPress.com in class and the bad is that you there is less customization of the back end and dashboard. All you can change is the colors and I would like to switch around some of the functions so they are not on the side bar and I cannot do that on WordPress.com but I can with the self-hosted version of WordPress, and we are using that on the college site.

While most of WordPress is easy-to-use and semi-intuitive, I really want to learn HTML and some basic web code to know more about how all these things work. While I’m not ready to dive fully into web programming, I know the brush with the code will help me in the future. We are into the web forever and I’m riding the wave.

Screenshot of front page of Clark College Independent.

Q: Have you worked with any other Content Management Software? What’s different?

A: I have briefly worked with SquareSpace and I do not recommend it. The menu’s are very confusing. I may have problems with learning WordPress, but it was worse there. Still, it is important to experiment with the variety of options we have out there. Continue reading Interview with Andrew Telegin

WordPress Word: Subversion

Subversion, often shortened to SVN, is a system that is widely used in the free software community to manage projects, and is also utilized by Google Code. Subversion was developed by the Apache Software Foundation.
How Apache Software Foundation defines “Subversion”.

Example: Subversion is used by VIPs along with a Git clone in order to have a better SVN-repository/Git interaction.

About The Word

The WordPress project uses Subversion for code version control. Most WordPress users will never want to use Subversion, because they will only install the released versions of WordPress. However, developers of plugins and themes may want to test their software against the latest development version of WordPress, and people interested in Contributing to WordPress by testing or fixing bugs will need to have access to the code that is under development. More on this can be found here.

For a more thorough understanding of how Subversion is used.

For More Information

The First Thing They’ll See: Choosing a Good Blog Name

There are myriad criteria to pick from when choosing a blog name:

  • You want it to stand out and be memorable.
  • It needs to searchable and fairly unique, but descriptive for good SEO.
  • It needs to convey a feeling about the kind of online community you want to foster.

…and all the best ideas seem to be already taken!A multicolored jumble of discarded name badges. Continue reading The First Thing They’ll See: Choosing a Good Blog Name

Settings: No Ads upgrade

When purchased the No Ads upgrade gives a blog the ability to hide ads that would otherwise be displayed.

Using No Ads with the Custom Design upgrade gives the ability to keep the focus on the content of the blog without the distraction of unwanted ads.

By having No Ads activated means ads will not be shown on a blog. No Ads can be deactivated at anytime to allow ads to be visible. It’s as easy as that.

Turning No Ads on

Here’s how to activate and deactivate the No Ads upgrade.

Click the Settings option in the side menu this will expand the Settings menu to reveal a choice called AdControl.

no ads selection process1

Now click AdControl to be taken to the area where No Ads can be activated, and deactivated. If the No Ads upgrade is purchased then you will see the option to activate the No Ads upgrade.

If the upgrade for No Ads hasn’t been purchased then the ability to purchase it will be given by way of a link called No Ads that appears in a paragraph at the top of the page after clicking on AdControl in the Settings sub menu pictured below.

no ads selection process2

It couldn’t be easier!

Sources Cited: