All my work tools

I never thought I’d be this person, but I use so many tools for my work – mainly online – that it’s a little ridiculous when viewed in a list.

Here, let me show you: Continue reading “All my work tools”

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Photo resizing hack (for images from the web)

Please note: Two days after I wrote this, screenshots and all, Fotor launched a new user interface to their website. Oops! So, some of the steps might look slightly different but it should still work the same. DML

Often images are the bane of the website content manager’s existence. Finding them, making sure you have credit for them, resizing them properly… It’s all quite tedious and often can take longer than the actual written content!

So when my colleague showed me how he resizes images using the Fotor collage creator, I got pretty excited. He uses the collage creator not for its intended use but I think it’s going to save me a lot of time. This is especially useful when you’re working on a site where you need to upload the exact same size image. In this case, it’s best to set up the Fotor collage creator once and then leave it open, ready for your use throughout the day.

This hack can work for images saved on the computer but as far as I’m concerned part of the fun of this hack is that it works with images from the web without having to download them first to your computer!

Here’s how to do it. I’ll use a Facebook image for the example:

1. Find the image you want on Facebook, right click on it and save the image URL.

image resizing hack august 2015 1

2. Go to fotor.com and click on MAKE A COLLAGE.

image resizing hack august 2015 10

3. On the left hand side of the screen are a lot of settings. Scroll all the way to the bottom. Click on the lock button so that the height and width can be edited independently and put in the dimensions you need. Click “Confirm.”
image resizing hack august 2015 2

4. In the collage area, delete all the extra boxes until there is only one left.

image resizing hack august 2015 3

So it ends up looking like this:

image resizing hack august 2015 4

5. The border will be automatically set at 10. You can change it to zero also on the left hand side.

image resizing hack august 2015 5

6. Click on the down arrow next to “Open” and the click on “Web,” the bottom option.

image resizing hack august 2015 6

7. Paste the image URL which you saved in the field that pops up. Click “Open.”

image resizing hack august 2015 7

8. You’ll see it load in the bottom right hand side of the screen.

image resizing hack august 2015 8

9. Drag your photo into the collage space and drag it around until it’s situated the way you want.

10. When you’re done, click on the save button which looks like a floppy disk.

image resizing hack august 2015 9

Done. Do you have any awesome ways you edit photos for web? Please share in the comments!

En dash, em dash, hyphens—how to use them and how to create them in WordPress

How many of you writers differentiate properly between the usage of the hyphen, the en dash and the em dash? Not yours truly! Until today, that is. I hereby vow—well, not exactly, of course—to explain to you how to use these three little beauties properly in your writing and to then use them properly myself.

Photo source
Photo source

According to this piece on Get it Write Online

The hyphen is used like this:

Twentieth-century
or
Well-being

The en dash (which is the width of the letter N) is used like so:

7:00PM–9:00PM
or
August 17–September 2

And the em dash (which is the width of the letter M) is used like this:

I went to the store—the one on Keren Hayesod—and I bought the damn apple.
or
The apple turned out to be rotten—or so I believe.

Now how do you create en and em dashes in WordPress?

Aha! This is the second most exciting part of this post. Turns out WordPress is all ready to go with en and em dashes. I learned from this post that if you simply write two hyphens next to each other, without spaces, you’ll get an en dash and if you do the same with three hyphens, you’ll get the em dash.

– this is a hyphen
— this is an en dash
— this is an em dash

Finally…

All this being said, is this whole topic passe or do you think it really is good for writers to make sure to use these punctuation marks properly?

P.S.

According to this piece, the official way to create en and em dashes is like this:

In any software program that handles text, the em dash can be typed on an enhanced keyboard as Alt + 0151—that is, hold down the “alternate” key and type, using the numerical pad on the right side of the keyboard, the numbers 0151. The en dash can be typed as Alt + 0150.

What links should open in a new tab and how to do that in WordPress

Sometimes when you click on a link it opens in the tab you’re in and other times it opens in a new tab. Here I’ll explain when to choose each option and how to make a link open in a new tab in WordPress’s editor and menu. These instructions work for both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Which links should open in the same tab?

All regular links within the same website should open in the same tab. That means that if on the deena.co About page there is a link to My Writing, it should open right here, where you are.

And now the above paragraph has two examples of links opening in the same tab because this piece is in deena.co and so are those links.

Which links should open in a new tab?

All external links should open in a new tab. So, for example, if I now mention that I have a new post on habitza.com, the link should open in a new tab. Here is a link to Dear Introverted Man,.

Also, links to media should open in a new tab. For example, if my friend’s catalogue page includes a link to the catalogue in PDF format, when you click on the link to the PDF, it should open in a new tab.

These rules apply for menus as well.

How to make a link open in a new tab in WordPress

In a regular editor

1. Click on the link you want to edit.
2. Click on the Insert/edit link button in the WYSIWYG:

linking1

3. In the popup check the box “Open link in a new window/tab”:

linking2

4. Save and check your changes.

In a menu

1. Click on Appearance > Menus
2. At the veeery top of the page, click Screen Options:

screen options1

3. Make sure Link Target is checked:

Screen options2

4. Minimize Screen Options.
5. Go to the menu item that should open in a new tab. Click to expand this item. Click on Open link in a new window/tab:

menu new tab

6. Save and check your changes.

Good luck!

Dear WordPress client, those aren’t categories. WordPress lingo 101

Lingo shmingo and yet one cannot deny that if we all take a moment to speak the same language things will go that much more smoothly. WordPress clients often call items in the menu “categories,” which is understandable. The problem is that the word category has a very specific use in the WordPress Universe.

photo source
Please take my hand and I’ll tell you all about it. photo source

The main menu/main navigation and menus in general

You know those items at the top of the site with lots (or just a few) links to other places around the site? That is called a Menu. The main one that shows in the header on every single page of the website is called the Main Navigation. But it is made of a WordPress Menu. (Tip: WordPress Menus are created and edited in the Dashboard at Appearance > Menus.)

WordPress has the most easy-to-use menu system. You can create countless menus and stick them in different places around the site. You can also create one menu and use it in multiple places.

Here are the main places where you would use WordPress menus:

  1. One main menu in the header
  2. Possibly a second minor menu in the header
  3. A list of useful links in the sidebars
  4. A list of links in the footer

Tip: Menus are entered in the sidebars and footer using Widgets (stay with me! you can do it!).

Got it? So the main menu in the header is called a Main Menu or a Main Navigation.

Pages

Pages are static items on the site like the About or Contact page.

Pages can be related to each other as parents and siblings.

parent_pages

For example, under the About page can be Our Staff and a Mission Statement. About is the Mama Page and Our Staff and Mission Statement are the beautiful children. What a lovely little family!

In order to give the WordPress website owner ultimate control (evil laugh) relating one page to another within the page editor (see screenshot just above) does not automatically make it show up that way in the main navigation. It makes sense that you very possibly will choose to have Mission Statement show under About in the drop down under About but it’s totally up to you. (Tip: Again, this is edited under Appearance > Menus.)

Categories

Categories. OK, you ready?

Every WordPress site comes with blog functionality built in. This can be used as a standard blog or as a news section or, with a creative web developer, it might be used for other things as well.

Posts are individual pieces in a blog. They are time marked and they can be organized by category.

For example, this post which I’m writing right now is about WordPress and so I am going to put it in two categories: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Check it out:

categories

These are categories I created on my site because I know I write enough about WordPress that it warrants a category (in my case, two). You will create whichever categories you need.

And check it out, at the top of this post you can see that WordPress.com is a link. Click on it and you’ll get to all my content on WordPress.com.

Categories are general areas of interest covered on your site. You create them as needed and categorize your posts before publishing them.

How do categories connect with menus?

It’s totally possible there will be a category that is of particular importance to you and in that case you may choose to put it in your main navigation. On my site, for example, Photography is a category in my main navigation and if you click on it, you get to a mini blog, a list of all the posts I published categorized as “Photography.”

category_in_menu

And if you click on it, you get to this URL: http://deena.co/category/photography/.

An item in a WordPress menu is not necessarily a category

All this is to say, dear WordPress client, that items in the menu are not (necessarily) categories and are not called categories. There might be categories in the menu but a WordPress menu can be made up of anything: page, posts, custom post types, external links, categories or tags.

Bottom line: Categories can be in the main menu of your site but it isn’t necessary. The main items in a menu are usually pages though they can be anything.

So what do you call the different levels of a main navigation?

Because a WordPress menu can have any kind of item in them, each item is called a link. Here, let’s practice:

A link!

OK. And as far as the levels, there is the top level and then there are either the second and third levels or the first dropdown and the second dropdown. Etc. etc.

That’s it. Thank you for your courtesy towards WordPress nerds.

Sincerely,
A Wordy WordPresser

Here are the WordPress services I offer.

Why you should stop reading your readers’ comments

A very famous blogger (if only I could remember who) doesn’t allow comments on his blog. If someone wants to share their thoughts (or passionate attacks) about a piece, they can do it on Facebook, he said, in order to keep it more controlled and to keep his website clean.

Continue on, my friend. (image source)
Continue on, my friend. (image source)

Assumptions assumptions. It is assumed that having a conversation going on your blog is some great ideal. And that it’s important to interact with your readers, replying to most/all of their comments. Why? And talk about freakin’ exhausting!

I keep speaking to popular bloggers who are emotionally worn from comments left them by their faithful followers. Sometimes it’s the same reader every time who pushes the writer’s buttons. Sometimes it’s trolls (whatever that is). But does it matter? Every time, these writers spend countless joules figuring out:

  1. How to internalize the comment – what to think and feel about it.
  2. Whether or not they should reply to the comment of question.
  3. What to reply.
  4. Whether or not they should continue a conversation with the reader.

Ugh! Aren’t we writers? How did we become socializers instead?

Now, this is not only a problem because it takes up so much time and energy. It’s also a problem because of how it can affect a person’s writing.

Having to deal so much with readers’ comments has three potential negative repercussions.

  1. A feel good picture (image source)
    A feel good picture (image source)

    It could have the writer calculating what/how/how much to write too much based on the readers. This could be misguided based on one or two verbal people who have nothing better to do than try to get your attention. It could also be based on not getting comments, the thinking being that if I didn’t get comments, it must not be a good piece or maybe I’m just not a good writer.

  2. It could make the writer obsessive about what comments she’s getting and how many. It could have her returning to a post many times on the day it’s posted in order to see how it’s doing. This activity is supposedly based on the above-mentioned assumption that it’s of utmost importance to read your readers’ comments and interact with them. But this what writing is supposed to be about? I don’t remember reading about the importance of obsessing over readership/commenting in On Writing by Stephen King.
  3. It almost definitely creates a situation where the writer becomes dependent on external feedback – writing passionately after getting good feedback and hiding miserably in a corner after negative feedback. And when you’re bombarded with feedback (silence is feedback too), it’s a creativity-sucker (or a muse-muter).

I think one of the great challenges for writers is figuring out how to tap into our own feedback system and decide selectively who is worthy of our listening ears. From whom am I truly interested to hear what they think and continue developing my writing accordingly? This is a question not to be taken lightly!

For now, this piece is dedicated to the talented bloggers I know who periodically curl up in a corner because of the interactions they need to deal with online. When I hear about it, I feel like giving them a virtual slap and saying, “Don’t you see that you’re writing is good? Continue on, my friend. Continue on.”

The use of dramatic words in a not-dramatic industry

I don’t know why but I repeatedly see website development clients pushing their service providers to rush. Is it just in web development or are clients of all kinds pushing their service providers to do everything faster? And better too, I’m sure.

computer
Look at your new website! Isn’t it beautiful? photo source

To the chagrin of web dev clients the world over, I believe there are certain words that should never be used when discussing building a website. These include:

  1. Urgent, and
  2. Critical

Work for a client should ideally be done in a normal amount of time, but is it really necessary to make it urgent?

And here’s the irony. Almost every single time, at one point in the project (if not more), the work comes to an absolute and complete halt. I mean 100%. And not because of the web developer or project manager or graphic designer.

Wait... How did we get here? image source
Wait… How did we get here? image source

Nope. At some point, the project stops because something happens to the client. They realize their attention needs to be put elsewhere for a few days/weeks/months. They run out of cash. They find they have difficult decisions to make regarding the site. So many possible reasons, with the exact same outcome: a project that’s on hold.

I find rushed projects to be problematic but it isn’t only because of the stress of having someone push and push, feeling like you’re never working fast enough. It’s also because I know – I just know – that there is a 99% chance that this mad rush to the finish line will stop so fast that the worker will be left trying to figure out what just happened.

Being part of a regular flow of a project is fine. Sometimes it moves faster, sometimes slower, sometimes it needs to be put on hold for a bit. But after being pressured by a client to rush, when the client becomes the one to hold up the project, it’s tempting to start giving them talks about the importance of keeping a project going, even if under normal circumstances the delay wouldn’t have bothered you too much.

The talk won’t work, though. Because the same way that the project should have moved at a natural pace to begin with, including fast movement, slow movement and pauses, it will need to stop when the client needs to take that breath, whatever the reason may be.

And that’s OK. And you know exactly why. The reason it’s OK for the project deadline to be pushed off is because it wasn’t really urgent. Nope, it was just a really nice website that hopefully one day soon will be a really nice live website that will be enjoyed by all who visit it.

And when that happens, it’ll be really lovely.
Not at all critical.

Is the website still breathing? image source
Is the website still breathing? image source

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