Tip of the Week

Make it Smart Phone Pretty

wordpressHere’s a very simply way to make your WordPress site format beautifully on any smart phone whether it is an iPhone, Android or Blackberry. Simply activate the WordPress plugin WPTouch and you’re done. Yes, there are a lot of settings that you can adjust; but I found that out of the box WPTouch is ready to go without any tinkering.

Your WordPress site will automatically detect the smart phone and format accordingly. Smart phone users also have the option of switching back to their Web browser by simply turning off WPTouch at the bottom of the page.

A simple solution. That’s what makes WordPress, well, WordPress.

 

“How am I Doing?”

WordPress users often ask “How am I doing? Who’s visiting my site?” Out of the box, WordPress doesn’t give you that information. But there is an easy-to-use plugin called “Counts Per Day” that will graphically show you how many visitors you have by day/week/month; where the visitors are from; what posts and pages they are reading and how long they spend on your site. Here’s a screenshot of what some of the data looks like:

See the easy-to-install steps below to start using Counts Per Day.

Equally important is how to drive people to your site. Think of your WordPress site as a store on a dead-end street. Just because you open the story doesn’t mean customers will flock to it. You have to get into your mattress costume, go down to the corner with all the traffic, wave and hold up your sign. You can do this by including a link to your site in your email signature, add it to paper newsletters, tell parents about it at conferences or when running into parents in the produce aisle at the super market.

You can also use the Post Notification plugin to send an emailed link to your registered users every time you publish a post.

How to set up Counts Per Day:

1. From your WordPress Dashboard, click on Plugins.

2. Scroll down and find Counts Per Day. Click on “Activate”.

3. There are a myriad of settings for this plugin, but I didn’t even look at them. I just kept all the defaults.

Now that the plugin is installed, you will find Counts Per Day on your Dashboard just under Dashboard and Home at the very top-left. Click on Counts Per Day and view your data.

You can also put a Counts Per Day Widget on your site. I did that below left to show you what it looks like. Just go to Widgets under Appearance on your Dashboard, find the Counts Per Day Widget and drag it to the appropriate Widget area.

Happy counting and be sure to send me an email when you get to 10,000 visitors.

Khan Academy: Scale of Earth and Sun

Here’s an example of how you can embed a Khan Academy video into your WordPress site:

1. Find the video on the Khan Academy site and right click on it and select “copy embed html”.
2. Create a new WordPress post and paste the copied embed code into the post with the HTML tab selected.
3. Adjust the height and width of the video by changing those values in the html code.

What’s in a Post Name?

Apparently not commas. Depending on how you have WordPress configured (see below), using a comma, period or perhaps some other punctuation marks in your post name will break the link to the post. It seems to be just good practice not to use a comma or period in your post title and to avoid any unnecessary marks as well including colons, quotation marks and slashes.

To see how you have WordPress set up to create the links to your posts (and pages):

1. Go to the Dashboard and click on Settings.
2. Under Settings click on Permalinks.
3. If you have Permalinks set to include the name of your post, either change it to some other format, or be cautious when creating post titles and avoid unnecessary punctuation.

Two more suggestion:

1. Make each post name unique. Having all your posts named “Room 25 Newsletter” doesn’t say anything about the content of the post and it doesn’t help user find posts when searching.

2. Make post names short but expressive. Using action verbs in the name makes it more interesting. A post name of “Science Projects” might be improved with “Science Projects Dazzle Parents”. The name for this post might have been “Commas Can Break Your Links”.

Adding an Insert More Tag

If your post is rather long and would require the reader to scroll to continue reading, you might consider adding an “Insert More” tag to jump to the full story. Here’s how:

1. Compose your post then find the point where you’d like the jump to occur. Place the cursor there. If you have a picture or graphic with your post, put the “Insert More” tag at least below the picture so it stays on the front page.

2. Move to the edit window menu bar and click on the “Insert More” button. You’ll see the line appear where the cursor is blinking.

3. Publish or Update your post and then view the post to see how it looks. Not where you want the “Insert More” tag?

Continue reading

WordPress Custom Menus

Using the basic WordPress set up allows you to have pages appear on your site as a menu. Most themes do this by default. When you look at the 2011 WordPress Theme (which is the default for new sites), pages appear across the screen below the large graphic header. Any new page you add will appear there as well.

But what if you want to have a menu that includes posts, categories, Internet sites or even documents? Or maybe you don’t want to have all the pages show up on the menu. That’s where WordPress Custom Menus comes in. Here’s a very quick How-To on using this feature of WordPress.

To create a custom menu:

1. In the Dashboard scroll down to Appearance and then click on Menus.

2. Click on the + tab just above Menu Name in the top-middle of the screen.

3. Give the menu a name and click Save Menu.

4. On the left-hand side of the screen you can select from existing pages on your site by putting a check next to one or more pages then click on Add to Menu. You can also add a post as a menu item. How cool is that?!

5. You can add custom links by entering a URL and giving the link a name. Click on Add to Menu and you’ll see your link appear on the menu.

6. You can order your menu items by dragging them up or down to reposition them.

7. Be sure to click Save Menu before proceeding.

To add your  new menu to your site:

1. Click on Widgets under Appearance in the Dashboard.

2. Find the Widget area where you’d like the menu to appear. Open that Widget area and drag the Custom Menu Widget to that area.

3. Select the menu you’d like to use (assuming you have more than one), give it a name and save it.

Now you’re all set. Go to your site and see what chaos you have wrought!

Tip of the Week: Adding a Table

Sometimes one column just isn’t enough. You might have a list of 20 things to add to your post like some links you want students to use for a project. Putting them in one long column isn’t a very good use of space. You can add a table to a post in several ways:

1. By far the easiest way is to simply cut and paste these 9 lines of HTML code into you post with the HTML tab active. Then switch back to the Visual tab and you’ll see that your table is ready for entry:

<table style=”text-align: left; width: 590px; height: 32px;”
border=”0″ cellpadding=”2″ cellspacing=”2″>
<tbody>
<tr>
<td align=”left” valign=”top”></td>
<td align=”left” valign=”top”></td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>

Your table should look like this:

MS NBC News
ABC News
LA Times
The Nation
New York Times
 News Hour Extra
Front Pages from Around the World

You can adjust the width of the table by clicking on the HTML tab and changing the width to a smaller or larger number depending on the size of the center column of your site.

2. A second way to create a table in a WordPress post is to use the plugin WP Table Reloaded. Although this plugin takes a bit more effort than using the HTML code, it also provides a few more bells and whistles. You can see an example of the WP Table Reloaded plug in at List of Bethel Bloggers. WP Table Reload is a plugin ready for you to activate in all Bethel Blogs.

The Importance of Categories

Selecting one or more categories when you create a post is critical to how your WordPress site is organized. Categories allow visitors to your site to easily find what they want. Perhaps you have a category called “Parents”. Parents visiting your site can click on that category and see all posts in the Parent category in chronological order.

“Uncategorized” is the default category and doesn’t say anything to visitors (other than you forgot to give the post a category).  Not only should you select the appropriate category (or categories), but you’ll need to uncheck “Uncategorized” as it is selected by default. Continue reading

Adding a Single Image to a Post or Page

If you are just adding a single image to a post or page, here is the simple how-to:

1. Login to your Dashboard.
2. Create a new post or page.
3. To add the image, click on the small photo icon just to the right of “Upload/Insert” in the menu bar of the post or page:

4. You’ll be asked to browse and upload an image. Find the image on your hard drive then click Upload.
5. You can then set the size and justification of the image before clicking on “Insert into Post”.
6. Once the image is there you can drag it to any place in the text you’ve created.
7. To modify the image, click on the image and then click on the small image icon that appears.
On the left of your Dashboard there is “Media”. That’s where your image is now stored and where you can add more images or documents for later use. You can edit your images here as well.
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