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.

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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

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

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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.
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WordPress Site Models

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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.
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Tutorial on Creating Footnotes in WordPress

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Footnotes are often requested in my workshops and classes. I’ve published “Creating Footnotes in WordPress” explaining how to do this in WordPress on .

Footnotes have been replaced by links, but there may be times when you wish to link to a footnote in a blog post.

Here is a list of the pros and cons of using footnotes from the article.

Links cover one or more words thus are easier to see and easier to click over a larger area. Footnote links are tiny, hard to see, and hard to click, especially if you have mobility issues.

Footnotes are familiar to academics, scientists, and researchers. If you are publishing such papers or writing for that audience, it would be natural to include traditional footnotes.

There are also times when you may need to cite a source that isn’t online. How would you site a paper or reference that is not online? A footnote serves to cite the source while not interrupting the natural flow of the content with explanations in parentheses.

Three techniques are described in the article.

You may use WordPress Plugins that make adding footnotes to posts easier, or you can create them manually.

The process of adding footnotes manually to WordPress involves using jump or page links with the footnote numbers within the content to “jump” down to the footnote list at the bottom of the post.

I’ve included an example of how to create footnote jump links to take the reader to the footnote list and not a specific item in the list, and how to create a footnote jump link to a specific footnote in the list if there are many footnotes in the article.

How to Add Images in Your Post Content

Round beach rocks in shade - photography by Brent VanFossen.Images, graphics, photographs, drawings, cartoons, badges…our websites are filled with imagery.

This article addresses the techniques used by WordPress for aligning images and image sizing and links in published content. Check your publishing platform for their methods.

Image Terminology in WordPress

There are several terms we need to develop to help you understand how images are used in WordPress. The most important terms describe the images within WordPress based upon how they are used and generated: original image, published image, media file, and attachment image.

The image uploaded to your site is called the original image or image file. When uploaded to WordPress, a minimum of three sizes are automatically created and stored in the wp-content/uploads/ directory on the server. The images are grouped by year then month by default.

The image sizes available for displaying in your content are thumbnail, medium, and full-size. Depending upon the image’s original size, large and x-large may be available. Full-size is the original uploaded image size.

When an image is used on a web page in WordPress, it is typically viewed within the content area of a post or Page. For the sake of this tutorial, we will called this the published image. WordPress makes available the three size options by default.

Image Sizes and Links

WordPress Media Uploader featuring multiple images - screencap by Lorelle VanFossen.

The WordPress Media Uploader redesigned in 2012 now features Attachment Display Settings options. They include setting the alignment of the image, the size of the published image, and the Link To feature. Continue reading

Exploring the New WordPress Media Manager

WordPress 3.5 is due December 5, 2012, and brings with it the new Media Manager, a much anticipated improvement to the Media Uploader and Media Library in WordPress.

Check Out the New Media Manager in WordPress is an extensive article and review I’ve published on . It features a step-by-step tutorial on using the new Media Manager for uploading and managing your images, video, and audio on WordPress, as well as a few of the unusual quirks in the new feature.

If you have a WordPress.com site, you will be able to test drive the new WordPress Media Manager. Those with the self-hosted version of WordPress will need to wait until December 5 when WordPress 3.5 is released or become a beta tester.

WordPress Featured on Wall Street Journal Business International

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of , , the self-hosted version of , was featured today on the Wall Street Journal Business talking about the fact that WordPress now supports 14% of all websites in the world, approximately 1 in 6 globally.

Matt Mullenweg interviewed by Wall Street Journal international business about WordPress.

Click to view video on Wall Street Journal site.

In my own research on WordPress stats, 25% of all websites are published with WordPress, though this is based upon the statistic that more than half of these are on WordPress.com, where people come and go and set up test sites on a regular basis and abandon them, so Matt’s number may represent a more accurate number of active sites.

Matt Mullenweg and Toni Schneider were interviewed by Forbes in September talking about the impact of 60 million websites running WordPress. They also covered how WordPress makes money and why there is not WordPress “office” for their employees scattered around the world.

I discuss this in a little more detail in “WordPress Featured in Wall Street Journal” on .

How to Add HTML in a WordPress Blog Post

Most WordPress users spend their blogging life in the Visual Editor, the WYSIWYMG editor. Yes, it is the What You See is What You MIGHT Get editor.

While WordPress does what it can to make the Visual Editor emulate what your content will look like once published within your WordPress Theme, it has limits.

One of the limits is that is appears hard to publish HTML in a blog post. It isn’t. You just need to switch to the HTML or Text Editor on the Post/Page Panel.

Before you can publish code on your WordPress blog, there are some things you must know.

  1. WordPress automatically fixes poorly formed code. If you mess up a link or HTML element, WordPress doesn’t recognize it as properly formed code so it will “fix” it for you by replacing < with &lt; or change other code to make it appear as text.
  2. WordPress automatically strips out unwanted or broken code. If you are on , you are not permitted to publish JavaScript, PHP, or other code within your blog posts or elsewhere. But you can publish HTML if you have written it properly in the HTML/Text Editor.
  3. The WordPress Visual Editor expects everything within it to be publishable text or a shortcode, code that displays video and other media or features.
  4. The WordPress HTML/Text Editor expects everything within it to be HTML or something WordPress can use to generate HTML.
  5. WordPress recently changed the name of the HTML editor to Text editor in WordPress.com. This change may be in an upcoming release of WordPress.

There are 66 HTML codes permitted in WordPress posts, Pages, and widgets, codes you can use to make lists, links, blockquotes, images, headings, whatever content you wish to add to your site. Continue reading

How to Set and Manage Excerpts in WordPress

Example of a post excerpt on a multiple post pageview in WordPress with the continue reading link.There are three types of basic pageviews on WordPress: front page, single post or Page, and multiple posts. These are the different ways that content is presented within a WordPress site.

A single post or Page pageview shows the entire content. A multiple post pageview (multi-post) may show the full content of each post or an excerpt.

Most WordPress Themes automatically display excerpts on specific pageviews such as Archives, Categories, Author, and Search, but leave the decision to show the excerpt or full post on the front page of the site up to the user.

By default, WordPress displays the first 55 words of a post as the excerpt length.

This tutorial covers how WordPress handles excerpts. Continue reading

The Basics You Must Know About a WordPress Theme

code wordle - group of words that are synonyms and types of code.In 2005, WordPress became modular separating the design and architecture from the core programming code.

Today, a WordPress Theme contains files called template files that hold the architecture of the site and template tags, code that initiates actions within the site and data from the database. The design is applied through a stylesheet, holding the instructions for the colors, images, and look and feel of the entire site.

This tutorial covers the basics of the structure of a WordPress Theme and standard customization options.

The Structure of a WordPress Site

WordPress Example site featuring the layout basics of header, content, sidebar, and footer.Like all websites today, a WordPress site contains a background area, header, sidebar(s), content area, and footer.

The background area is considered the canvas that the site’s structural and design elements rest. It is usually a solid color, pattern, texture, or a design that does not overwhelm the rest of the content and design elements.

The header area content is set from within the WordPress Administration Panels through the Settings > General for the site title and site tagline.

The header art image is set from within the Appearance > Custom Header Image. WordPress now permits a wide range of images and image sizes to be used as the custom header image, and permits some level of cropping and positioning.

The sidebar(s) contain navigation, information, and design elements that complement the site’s purpose and content. In WordPress, this information is held in WordPress Widgets, modular content elements that can be moved around in the various sidebars, footers, and occasionally the header area. These are accessed and modified in Appearance > Widgets.

The footer is located at the bottom of the site. It usually features the name of the WordPress Theme and its author to give them credit, and the words “Powered By WordPress” with a link to or . It may also feature footer Widgets accessed through Appearance > Widgets > Footer.

The content area holds the content of the page depending upon the request of the user to view the front page, a Page, a single post, a search, categories, tags, author posts, archives, and other multiple post pageviews. Continue reading

The History of WordPress

WordPress logo began with a humble question from to the world in January of 2003:

My blogging software hasn’t been updated for months, and the main developer has disappeared, and I can only hope that he’s okay.

What to do? Well, Textpattern looks like everything I could ever want, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be licensed under something politically I could agree with. Fortunately, b2/cafelog is GPL, which means that I could use the existing codebase to create a fork, integrating all the cool stuff that Michel would be working on right now if only he was around. The work would never be lost, as if I fell of the face of the planet a year from now, whatever code I made would be free to the world, and if someone else wanted to pick it up they could. I’ve decided that this the course of action I’d like to go in, now all I need is a name. What should it do? Well, it would be nice to have the flexibility of MovableType, the parsing of TextPattern, the hackability of b2, and the ease of setup of Blogger. Someday, right?

Mike Little in England responded to the 18 year old in Houston, Texas:

Matt,
If you’re serious about forking b2 I would be interested in contributing. I’m sure there are one or two others in the community who would be too. Perhaps a post to the B2 forum, suggesting a fork would be a good starting point.

By May 30, 2003, the world of web publishing was changed forever.

It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened fast.

As explained in the About WordPress on the , the online manual for WordPress Users:

WordPress started in 2003 with a single bit of code to enhance the typography of everyday writing and with fewer users than you can count on your fingers and toes. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.

Everything you see here, from the documentation to the code itself, was created by and for the community. WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it. (More than most commercial platforms.) It also means you are free to use it for anything from your cat’s home page to a Fortune 500 web site without paying anyone a license fee and a number of other important freedoms.

WordPress is unique because it is an open source project created by the users, its own community. All these years later, little has changed. In August of 2005, with the creation of , the free hosted version of WordPress, was created, a commercial company dedicated to all things WordPress and supporting the WordPress Community. Continue reading