About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen is a trainer and consultant in WordPress, User Experience (UX), blogging, social media, and online business. She is currently teaching WordPress at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, and Portland Community College - Rock Creek (PCC), in Beaverton, Oregon, in addition to private training and various public workshops. She is author and host of Lorelle on WordPress covering WordPress and blogging tips, help, and advice for beginners to advanced users. She is also the author of the book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, Social Media for Crafters, and other books and ebooks on blogging, social media, web publishing - you name it. She is also the Official Disruptive Thinker behind Bitwire Media which produces a variety of podcasts, shows, and sites. She travels the world speaking and providing training programs on blogging, social media, and web publishing, often found wandering around WordCamps and other WordPress Events and blog and online business conferences, and tends to just love helping people have their say online.

Clark College Offering Two WordPress Classes Starting Now

The WordPress I CTEC 160 courses at Clark College are about to close and there are still seats open in the Monday/Wednesday classes.

This fall there are two times to choose from. Days from 1-3:30PM and evenings from 6:30-9PM.

The 5-credit course covers the basics of WordPress, from content to design. Much of the classwork is done online in this fast-paced 12-week class includes creating your own test site and testing environment on WordPress.com and the self-hosted version of WordPress, guest blogging, working on a multiple contributor site, and managing client content.

This is a unique opportunity to not only dive deeply into WordPress as a user, client, designer, and developer, but also to learn from one of the world’s top WordPress trainers with 11 years of WordPress design, development, and training experience.

Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, honors Oregon Columbia River counties with no out-of state resident tuition, and lodging facilities are available for those traveling from greater distance.

This class is a fundamental and required part of the Web Design (CGT), Web Development (CGT), Server (CGT), Computer Support, and an elective for many other degree programs including English, Journalism, Business, marketing, and many more.

If you are a non-credit student, please tell registration clearly when you register.

To register, you may use the Quick Step Registration Form and include a note that you are a credit/non-credit student. Or visit Clark College and register at the registration office.

Registration for these two courses is ending very soon. We’ve only a few more days left, so register now.

WordPress Site Structure and Organization

This article supports my recent presentation at PDX WordPress Meetup titled “Organizing Your WordPress Site.”

Please note that I’ve included articles from ClarkWP Magazine, the student run and managed site for my Clark College WordPress classes, as reference material throughout this article.

Before beginning to structure and organize, or reorganize, your WordPress site, there are some WordPress terms you need to know.

Whiteboard with site structure.

Continue reading

Google+ Hangouts For 30 Clicks

The story of Google+ Hangouts begins with Google Talk, a competitor to Skype and other Voice-Over-Internet Services. As technology developed, Google experimented with a variety of web-based collaborative systems, including Google Docs, their free alernative to Microsoft Office, and the innovative Google Wave.

Google Wave brought live conversation to the online collaboration experience. People could work on a document together, share their screen, watch videos, and create artwork together. It was a chance to create preserved documentation of their real-time collaboration.

It failed.

Promoted as the “replacement for email” and “the future of online collaboration,” while it had the tools Google assumed people wanted, it didn’t meet expectations. Many lessons were learned by Google and the tech community from the failure, including how not to over-hype expectations for your product, how not to launch prematurely, and don’t expect people to know what to do with it when they finally gain access.

Google took the knocks and lessons learned from Google Wave, Google Buzz, and Google Docs and applied them to the successful Google+ social media network, which incorporates all of the Google products into one umbrella platform, including the collaborative tool called Google+ Hangouts.

Google+ and Google+ Hangouts are now revolutionizing the world of online communication, especially for the educational industry. Continue reading

Web Writing: The Editorial Article

Editorial writing consists of writing and publishing an article that takes a stance on a topic. The position must be supported with documentation, reference material, and quotes.

Editorial writing for the web is based upon the fundamentals of traditional editorial writing, similar to op-eds but slightly different, modified by the needs of the web reading audience.

An op-ed piece is an opinion. It is distinguished from other articles in a magazine and newspaper as they may be well written but they do not represent the rules and guidelines required by journalists and reporters. The writers are typically not reports, nor educated in journalism.

An editorial article may be an opinion piece, but it is one that argues a specific point or perspective. On the web, an editorial article may be written by a reporter, journalist, professional writer, or anyone with a defensible opinion.

This article explores the specifics of editorial articles written and published on the web, specifically on blogs. It covers the basics of a web-based editorial article with tips, techniques, guidelines, and references. It is used by the students at Clark College in the web publishing courses taught by Lorelle VanFossen, and may be used by other educators. Continue reading

Lorelle Presents Writing with WordPress Workshop in Salem, Oregon

If you live in the Salem, Oregon, area, don’t miss this special event and workshop.

I’ll be leading a workshop in Salem, Oregon, specifically designed for writers and authors using WordPress. The event is part of the great work the Salem Chapter of the Willamette Writer’s Group, a regional group of writers and authors in the Pacific Northwest area.

The events begin with a presentation on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at 6:30PM at Macey’s Salem Center. I will be talking about the challenges of a writer and author site, and introducing members to the different types of sites for writers and authors and how to build a community and audience around a site or book. The meeting is free, I believe.

Sunday, March 16, is a half-day workshop from 1-5PM at the Salem Public Library. We will dive deeper into customizing a WordPress site specifically for the needs of the writer, be it for the author and their books, to support a book or book series, and other alternative site types. This is a highly interactive workshop.

Participants in the workshop will need to bring their laptops or tablets. WIFI will be available. If participants do not have a current WordPress site, they will be led through the process of setting up their own free WordPress.com site.

The workshop will be customized based upon the needs of the attendees, so here is a general list of topics covered during the four hour workshop: Continue reading

Troubleshooting Post Content Errors

Title: Blog Struggles: When Are Too Many Comments Too Many Comments?

The following is a test article for students in the WordPress class. It was originally published in 2007 on Lorelle on WordPress and is used with permission.

Blog Struggles badgeRecently, what appeared to be a thoroughly delighted fan went through my blog with a vengeance and left over 40 comments within a two day period. Each were personalized and directed to me, with enthusiastic comments and reflections on what was written. At first I was pleased, as I always am when my blog touches and teaches, but after the eight consecutive comment, I began to get suspicious. Row after row of comments all from the same person filled my Comments panel. Wouldn’t you be suspicious? Let’s assume this isn’t a clever human comment spammer and consider this is a person who is really thrilled with what they are finding and reading on your blog. Then ask yourself: When are too many comments, too many comments?

Begging for Blog Comments
Bloggers spend a lot of time thinking about how to provoke more comments on their blogs. We add “subscribe to comments” WordPress Plugins, comment feeds, and innovative comment methods to encourage comments. WordPress Themes feature pleading phrases like “No comments yet. Why don’t you be the first?” or “Care to be the first one to jump into the fray?” We write to challenge our readers, asking questions and writing combinations of words to encourage them to click away from their feed readers to jump into the pool and have their say. When a conversation strikes between two or more of the commenters, we love watching the conversation grow, bantering back and forth, passing on ideas or exchanging spitfire. We rub our hands together with glee. We started something. But what about the lone enthusiastic commenter who plows through your blog littering dozens of posts with kind words? They may or may not continue the conversation between you and the reader or the other commenters. But the words are all nice and pleasant, doing no harm. Just sitting there like a white pawn piece reaching the other side of the chess board. You know it’s a threat, but it’s a harmless pawn piece. What do you do?

Perception Versus Reality

My perception was that this person was stuffing my Comment “inbox” with comments, trying to get my attention, or building up link juice, page ranking links. The reality was that I’m the only one who can tell this person is spamming my blog with comments. No one else sees my Comments panel. I don’t have a comments counter or public reward system that promotes who commented on what, when, and how often. I’m the only one bothered by all the comments, so who cares? I care. That’s the problem. And I’m suspicious and paranoid. I’ve been doing this online stuff for too long. I’ve been abused with the best and worst of the abusers out there, and I have the callouses and scars to prove it. It’s natural that I’m suspicious of 40 comments by one person within a few days. That’s just strange. I had many choices. I could ignore it and see if it continued. I could delete the ones that didn’t add to the conversation. I could also contact the commenter to find out their true intentions. I chose the latter. I emailed the commenter and thanked them for their comments and enthusiasm on my blog. I kept it neutral and asked if there was something in particular they were interested in that maybe they hadn’t found on my blog. The response was clearly that of a naive, new-to-the-web youngster. I now knew my enemy and it was a young girl discovering blogging for the first time and just over enthusiastic. I can live with that. We exchanged a few emails and finally I felt confident enough to mention the suspicious her many comments had originally aroused. She was embarrassed but it was a good lesson. She’s now a better commenter, leaving comments that continue the conversation not just say something to say something, and a much better blogger as she understands more about how important the conversation is on a blog.

Judging a Comment

With all the comment spam that attacks our blogs daily, along with “nice people” craving link juice in comments, it’s easy to get suspicious and paranoid about comments. In time, I’ve come up with a filter list that helps me better evaluate whether or not to keep a comment or trackback on my blog.

  • What is it really saying?
  • Does it continue the conversation?
  • Will my readers benefit from the comment?
  • Can I look at this comment for the rest of my life?

If it passes that quick test, then it stays. Especially if it passes the last question in the test. Everything else can be deleted, or if appropriate, marked as comment spam. Life is too short to struggle over idiot commenters on my blog.

Related Articles

Tablets for Educators and Students in College

Student works on Samsung Note in class.I was asked to speak at a 30 Clicks Clark College Library lunchtime event on the subject of computer tablets for educators and students. These are the notes and research for that event.

  • A tablet is a mobile computer that relies upon mobile apps to function. The screen is typically 7 inches or wider.
  • Smartphone is a mobile computer that relies upon mobile apps to function. The screen is typically 5 inches and smaller.

This is the basic description of a tablet, once known as a handheld computer. Featured on the original Star Trek television show, and in all the series that followed, the padd set the standard for what would become today’s computer tablet.

Before and after - laptop verses tablet weight and carryingPersonally, I’ve had just about every computer out there, and when I discovered handheld computers, which eventually became mobile computers, smartphones, and tablets, I was in heaven. In the beginning, these small mobile computers fit in the hand and were excellent for reading ebooks. As they became more powerful, they became laptop replacements.

Above all else, the greatest reward of moving from laptop to tablet was weight – and portability.

This article is not designed to be a complete dissection of how to use tablets in education, but to represent a few interesting tidbits I uncovered while preparing for my presentation on using tablets in education, specifically for college students and educators.

The article is divided into three sections, all specifically targeted towards the student and educator:

Continue reading

The First Website Revived

The Web as we know it went “live” April 30, 1993. The very first web page and website Tim Berners-Lee and the WWW team put online has been brought out of the archives by CERN.

First Website in the world on the web by Tim Berners-Lee and CERN team - front page.

The web page and site was reconstructed by CERN from an archive found on the W3C site, which is a 1992 copy of the first website, not the original. The research team is still searching for the original or an older version.

Mark Boulton is involved with the CERN team to help restore the first website. He described their determination to preserve this moment in world history.
Continue reading

How to Link to Posts, Pages, Categories, Tags, Authors, and Feeds in WordPress

Featured

WordPress code logo thumbnailThis is a tutorial on how to link to the various features found on a typical WordPress site.

Wish to promote an author your site? Need the link to their author pageview? Wish to link to a specific category? Want to share the link to your WordPress site feed?

There are many times when you may wish to link to a feature or function on your site. Here is a list of the various areas you may wish to link to from posts, Pages, Widgets, and in emails and social media posts to help people find information on your site.

How to Copy a Link

We call them “links” but the proper names are hypertext link and the link is created with an HTML Anchor Tag.

A well-formed link in HTML looks like this:

<a href="http://lorelle.wordpress.com/" 
title="Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress.">
Lorelle VanFossen</a>

It features the link to the destination, the title selector to describe the destination of the link, and the anchor text, the words visible on the page to the reader.

This is called a well-formed or properly formed link as these three items are required by US and international law for web standards and web accessibility.

To copy a link, there are two methods. The first is the most commonly used technique.
Continue reading

WordPress Site Models

Featured

WordPress serves as a web publishing platform and Content Management System (CMS). There are a variety of layouts and site organizational structures to choose from when setting up a WordPress site. These are known as site models.

There are three core site models: blog, static, and hybrid.

There are pros and cons to each one. Let’s look at each one.

The Static Site Model

Site model example of a static website, each page on the site a separate web page - graphic by Lorelle VanFossen.In the old days, websites consisted of static web pages, one web page for each article. Today’s CMS platforms like WordPress offer the same static feel and structure as a design decision.

The challenge of using WordPress as a static site takes a little thinking around the whole posts verses Pages and categories verses tags content organization options. In general, most static sites will never use posts only Pages.
Continue reading

Stats: The Analytics of Reading to the Bottom of the Page

Featured

In “How people read online: Why you won’t finish this article” on Slate Magazine, author Farhad Manjoo explores the statistics on whether or not you will read to the bottom of his article.

I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone. You “bounced” in Web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time “engaging” with this page at all.

So now there are 100 of you left. Nice round number. But not for long! We’re at the point in the page where you have to scroll to see more. Of the 100 of you who didn’t bounce, five are never going to scroll. Bye!

OK, fine, good riddance. So we’re 95 now. A friendly, intimate crowd, just the people who want to be here. Thanks for reading, folks! I was beginning to worry about your attention span, even your intellig … wait a second, where are you guys going? You’re tweeting a link to this article already? You haven’t even read it yet!

He talked to many expert web analytics researchers and analysts about the statistics associated with reading an article on the web. The numbers are fascinating, and may change how you write your next post.
Continue reading

Web Statistics and Analytics Glossary

Web Analytics WordleThe following is a general glossary of terms associated with web statistics and web analytics.

Affiliates/Affiliate Marketing: Advertising and promotional marketing where the webmaster offers advertisements or endorsements for a commission based upon traffic and traffic conversions (click-throughs).

Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors visiting a single page on the site. This is a comparative measurement of how many visitors enter and exit a web page without visiting other pages on the site. The Bounce Rate is often viewed as a percentage such as the total number of visitors that arrived and left from only that page compared to the total number of visitors to that web page (not the entire site visitors count). Confused with the exit rate, the Bounce Rate is often reported as a measurement of the time a visitor spends on the page, known as the Page Duration or Time on Page.

Clicks: Clicks are actions by the user of clicking a link or object on the web page to interact with it. Clicks are also the term used by some statistics programs such as WordPress.com Stats to indicate a click on a link to an external web page.

Click Analytics: A form of segmentation and analytics, it is the study of a site’s performance based upon the number of clicks, what is clicked, and the path a visitor takes through various clicks or pageviews.
Continue reading