- The Art and Science of Getting Good WordPress Support
- Stats Wrangling I: Digging into Your Data
- The WordPress.com Dashboard Gets a Beautiful Makeover
- DaddyBloggers in the Spotlight: A Father’s Day Roundup
- Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves
- New on WordPress for Android: Notifications
- New Theme: Forefront
- The TED Blog: Telling Stories, Spreading Ideas
- Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves
- New Theme: Trvl
Imagine this: it's been a productive WordPress weekend. You've been busy puttering away on the new website you put together for your cat-lovers' club and you're pleased with the progress so far. You found an adorable kitty-friendly theme, snagged a memorable site address, added some snazzy widgets in all the right places, and you’re finally ready to introduce your baby to the world. But, wait! Just before making the site public, you notice that THE HEADER ISN’T DISPLAYING YOUR SITE TITLE AND TAGLINE ALONG WITH THE HEADER GRAPHIC. What could be causing the problem? You check under Settings → General, but the title and tagline are there. You ask friends with WordPress sites to have a look but they have no idea how to fix it. You search the WordPress.com support documentation, to no avail. You're truly stumped. WHAT NOW? You remember that one of the reasons you chose to build your site on WordPress.com is there seem to be a whole bunch of people willing to help out folks stuck on a problem, from community volunteers to staff Happiness Engineers. All you have to do is ask -- or is it? Before you get to your question, you want to make sure you're headed to the right place for help.
You've heard about being able to submit a question through a contact form, but that route is open to folks who have a paid upgrade on their account. Since you don't have any upgrades at the moment, you head over to the public support forums. Since it's your first time participating in the forums, you check out the FAQ and Code of Conduct to make sure you don't make any common newbie mistakes, like posting in the wrong forum category. You learn that there's a specific set of message boards for premium themes, where each theme has its very own forum, and developers answer theme-specific questions directly. This also reminds you that each theme in the Theme Showcase, including the free ones, has a dedicated information page, explaining how to use its special features. You peek at the page for your site's theme, Pachyderm, which explains how to set up a wide-page template and how to add a custom header. Alas, nothing about getting a title and tagline to display. TAKE ME TO THE FORUMS Since you've already read all the documentation you can find, you do a Google search in plain English ("missing site title tagline wordpress") to see if anyone else has reported the same issue. There are a bunch of results, but nothing that helps solve your problem. You really need some outside help, so back to the support forums you go.
Information To Provide When Asking For Help * A link to the site * Screenshot of the issue * Browsers you've checked * Platform (Mac? PC? iOS? Android?) * Your level of technical skill * Anything unusual about your setup * Anything you’ve already tried to fix the problem * Exact steps to replicate problem if it's not apparent * Actions taken just before the problem startedYou click the "Add New" button and are faced with an empty text box. Hmm…how can you formulate your question in a way that's likely to get a helpful answer? How about something easy to start off. ☺ You add a descriptive topic title to your post so that anyone scanning the list of topics will know right away the nature of your problem: "Site title and tagline missing in header" should do nicely. Here are some other things you do: * Mention that you've checked your site on your Mac in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers, so it's clear to anyone reading the post that this isn't a problem specific to just one BROWSER. * Provide a LINK TO YOUR SITE and set it to PUBLIC so forum volunteers can easily take a look at it. * To be extra-sure folks see what the problem is, you take a SCREENSHOT of the header area to illustrate where the title and tagline should show up but stubbornly are not. You use CloudApp to upload the image to the web so anyone can view it. * Point out that the title and tagline both went missing right after you added your last widget to the sidebar, though you aren't sure whether the timing is RELATED or just a coincidence. You also realize it'd be a good idea to let folks know you've already run a fine-toothed comb through the Settings area -- double-checking that your title and tagline are present and accounted for in the General Settings section -- and poked around the theme's info page for clues. You even specify you've done Google and forum searches for similar issues but were stymied. (It's not like you haven't tried helping yourself first!) Because you know that forum helpers volunteer their time because they enjoy helping people -- and are also WordPress users just like you! -- you're polite in wording your forum post, and express your appreciation for anyone who might be willing to take a look. You’re nearly done! Before hitting Submit, you add a few tags and check off the "Notify me of followup posts via e-mail" box so you'll get an email whenever someone replies to your thread. WAITING GAME Whew, composing forum questions is hard work! Now that you've submitted your post you need a break. You go cuddle with one of your kitties and sip a cold glass of iced tea to reward yourself for your efforts. Fifteen minutes later, you head back to the computer and wouldn't you know it, there's an email letting you know that someone has answered your plea for help. It's one of the regular forum volunteers, who seems to know exactly what's up. Thanks to all the information you provided, especially the link to your site and the screenshot, the volunteer realized right away that you must have forgotten to do one crucial thing: check off the box under Appearance → Header, that says "Show header text with your image." Bingo! You knew you must have overlooked something simple. You head over to your dashboard, check off the box, and refresh the front page in your browser. All is right again: like magic, your title and tagline show up. You thank the volunteer profusely for their time, sink back into your chair, and hit publish on your first blog post. It's been a fruitful day. The next time you run into an issue with your site, you'll know exactly what to do. In the meantime, you're getting a hankering to try your hand at answering someone else's forum question -- you're no longer a beginner, after all! It's time to give back. _Appetite whetted for more troubleshooting ideas? Keep your eye on this blog for an upcoming post with advanced hands-on troubleshooting tips._
Chances are that if you're running a public facing blog, you're probably happiest when someone actually reads it. Preferably lots of someones. Your blog's stats can give you some great ways to get to know a little bit more about your readers, and what it is about your work that most attracts them. While the more liberal artsy types among us might shoo off the idea of obsessively stat trawling as something for the more scientifically inclined, there's actually something for everyone lurking just beneath the surface, whether that's inspiration or cold, hard logic. If you want people to read your blog, making use of your stats can give you an arsenal of information to help make that happen. In our Stats Wrangling series, we'll be digging in to how to get to grips with your blog stats, one module at a time. But in today's post, we'll start with a whirlwind tour of the whole works. THE FIFTY MILE VIEW The first thing you'll want to do is to head to the Stats tab of WordPress.com, once you've logged in. That's going to take you to the fifty mile view, the big picture, of what's happening on your blog right now, in terms of the people visiting and reading it. From up on high you can get a nice overview of what's currently "trending", or most of interest to the people visiting your blog. And that can give you some ideas in and of itself. But to get right down to business, you'll want to dig into the different sections of your stats, and click through the "summary" sections, where a lot more information lurks. DAYS, WEEKS, & MONTHS Let's start with Days, Weeks, & Months. By default, you'll be able to see which days have been most popular in terms of visits to your blog. Clicking through to the "Weeks", "Months", or "Summaries" sections give you some different ways to see how things are going on a bigger scale. As you click through those, ask yourself a couple of questions: * Are certain days of the week more popular than others? Could it be that publishing on Mondays, for instance, is a bad idea, when every time you publish on a Friday, your stats seem to soar much higher? * Are there certain weeks of the year when traffic either nose dives or picks up considerably? Does that correspond to your summery fruit punch recipé, or your beautiful photos of an Icelandic Santa's Grotto? How could you create more content to chime in with these seasonal spikes, or avoid seasonal fall off by focusing your attention elsewhere? TOP POSTS & PAGES Digging into your Top Posts and Pages gives you a very clear idea of your most popular content. Which is a great way of getting ideas as to the type of content browsers and visitors are most interested in reading. Consider: * Where are people consistently heading when they arrive at your blog? * Whether you're making the best of those posts and pages, or if they could use a spring clean? REFERRERS Checking out your list of referrers will give you a better idea of how people found your blog in the first place. For a lot of people, that will have been through search engines, but you're likely to see all sorts of referrers in the mix. Ask yourself: * Where are people coming from to find you? * Is there anything you can do to make it even easier for those people to find you in future? SEARCH ENGINE TERMS This one follows directly on from your top referrers. If people are finding your blog by searching for something, what is that they were looking for, and how does that chime in with the post they ended up finding on your blog? Ask yourself: * What are people searching for when they stumble on your blog? * Can you do a better job of helping them find what they're looking for, by using clearer wording, or building on that most popular content with more posts, or even a page? TAGS & CATEGORIES Tags, and to a degree, categories are really important, especially in the WordPress.com community, where folks might very well find and follow you in the Reader based solely on how you've tagged your posts. If you aren't tagging your posts, it's a bit like opening a restaurant at the end of a dusty dirt road and not putting up a sign to show people where it is. Looking at your Tags & Categories stats, consider: * Are you tagging your posts consistently? And putting them into categories that make instant sense to someone browsing your site for the first time? * Which tags and categories are consistently hot to trot? Can you write more in that category to keep people coming back for more? SHARES How (and if) people are sharing your posts with their friends and online contacts can also be interesting in terms of seeing where you could possibly spend more of your attention. Consider: * Where are people, if they are, sharing your work? Facebook? Twitter? Elsewhere? * How could you make it easier for them to do that? Have you, for instance, linked your blog up to your Facebook or Twitter accounts? TOP COMMENTERS If someone's taken the time to comment on your blog, they're well worth learning more about. Taking a look at this section of your stats, consider: * Who comments most on your blog? * Have you visited their blog or commented on their posts? CLICKS While we've been mostly interested in how people have arrived at your blog so far, it's also worth considering how they're leaving it. The Clicks section of your stats is useful for learning all about that. Taking a look through this section, ask yourself: * Where are you sending people once they leave your blog? * Do you see any relationship between your posts and the places they're headed? BEST EVER One way to create success for a post is to see what's worked before (see: every film ever made in Hollywood). Clicking on the Best Ever link just under the main stats graph, ask yourself, as you browse the results: * What was the best ever day for your blog? * Looking at all of the stats we've discussed above, specifically for this day, what picture do you have about what made that day successful for your blog? OVER TO YOU I hope this quick overview of your stats gives you some ideas about how you can make better use of them to make your posts even better. Remember, it's not about changing who you are, or what you write, to serve some magical formula, but just a way to get a better handle on what's working, and what's not working so well, on your blog. Having an idea about what makes your readers tick, can, if you're interested in having more of them, be really useful when you're next thinking up a blog post. Stats shouldn't be restrictive or prescriptive, but rather another source of inspiration for where to take your blog next. How have your stats made a difference to your blogging? Image based on "Madrid-Stock market, Spain (2012) by Alberto Carrasco Casado, CC-BY-2.0.
Each day, you blog, you create, and you make things with your WordPress.com site. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the code that runs WordPress.com gets updated dozens of times a day, as we deploy improvements. While you can't see the vast majority of those changes, there is one improvement we can't wait for you to see: a brand-new, redesigned WordPress.com dashboard featuring better contrast and the oh-so-lovely Open Sans typeface.
The dashboard's new design features Open Sans -- the free, open source typeface by Steve Matteson offers a pleasing reading experience.Back in April, I shared our goals for the WordPress.com dashboard redesign: * It should have a simple, uncluttered design; free of excessive decoration and focused on your content. * It should use webfonts for beautiful, legible typography that’s consistent in every browser. * It should have a responsive design that’s tailored to desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. * It should do all this while retaining the familiar, user-tested dashboard interface that millions of users already understand. We've redrawn all the icons, we've opened up spacing, we've moved to Open Sans as our default typeface, and we've increased contrast to make the dashboard as beautiful on the inside as your blog is on the outside:
Writing about family life and parenthood is not simply the province of mothers: dads are carving out their own blogular niche. Single dads, stay-at-home dads, working dads, two-dad families -- you can find every perspective on WordPress.com. As the US celebrates Father's Day, here are some dad blogs we love: DORKDADDY.COM What's the point of having kids if you can't raise them into die-hard Star Wars fans? DorkDaddy -- dentist by day, geek by night, dad 24/7 -- uses his blog to chronicle life with this three geeks-in-training. You respond to his combination of candid takes on parenting with analysis of key issues (would Superman would be a better father than Batman?), and so do we. From whipping up Butterbeer for a sick dorkling to LEGO extravaganzas to building homemade hovercrafts, he takes us through the richness of parenthood with grace, humor, and, yes, a substantial measure of unabashed dorkiness. (We also love his frequent odes to the DorkMommy.) THE URBAN DADDY We're clearly not the only fans of _The Urban Daddy's_ mix of "parenting, politics, and common sense" -- you made him a finalist in both the Best Canadian Weblog and Best Family or Parenting Weblog categories of this year's Bloggie Awards. Less a traditional "DaddyBlog" than a blog about life by someone who happens to be a dad, we appreciate the mix of hockey, health, political, and other news (professional wrestling, anyone?) -- all served with a side of dad-perspective and cute kid stories. DADGITATED What happens when a "real man’s man" becomes a stay-at-home-dad? He gets a little dadgitated.
I fish, I hunt, I can shoe a horse, run a boat, change a tire on an eighteen wheeler, hold my booze, make moonshine, butcher livestock, lift heavy objects, use a smoker in a proper manner, chop wood and I’m pretty sure I could survive the up-coming zombie apocalypse. I’ve worked heavy construction. I’ve worked on the deck of big boats. I’ve fought with 2,000 lbs draft horses and won. Now I’m a stay-at-home father… and I think it will be the end of me.One of the wonderful things about blogs is how they connect us to people with similar experiences and passions; reading other bloggers' perspectives can validate and enrich our own. Honest writing about parenthood on _Dadgitated_ (how do you explain what a vagina is to your four-year old?) creates a space where parents can see and laugh at themselves -- giving us the breathing room we need to be better parents. Here are some other community favorites for your Father's Day reading pleasure: * Along with Urban Daddy, there's THE URBAN DADDY (we'll let them fight that one out). * SNOOZING ON THE SOFA follows older dad Scott as he navigates marriage and fatherhood, and learns that he can no longer have nice things. * UK-based WHISKEY FOR AFTERSHAVE hits the dad trifecta -- an older, stay-at-home dad of twins. * TOUCHLINE DAD is a sports lover raising three sporty children, and learning how to be a perfectly supportive sideline dad. * TWINFAMY'S name says it all -- one dad raising the "two greatest children to ever walk the earth, aside, of course, from Jesus Christ and Chuck Norris." * THE DORKY DADDY has no delusions of being "the cool dad," and he's not ashamed. Do you have a favorite WordPress.com dad? Let us know!
Every post that glides into our Reader offers us a fresh perspective and an opportunity to peer into another blogger's mind. We're invited to enter new worlds, and examine the shapes, angles, and textures of the blogging craft itself. This week, once again, the diversity of the WorldPress.com community thrilled us. The three posts we selected are powerful examples of the different ends to which writers use their blogs. LINES
No serum can replace the living drawn in these lines - this is no paint-by-number out of a box, but an original, a hand-drawn facsimileWe take great pains to project a perfect image of ourselves with our words, our clothes, and our manners, often forgetting that the cracks -- big or small -- in our facades reveal just as much about our true selves. In "Lines," a poem of few words and great insight, _Melody_ calls on us to accept our blemishes and our wrinkles, both real and figurative. More than mere acceptance, her poem invites us to celebrate these imperfections, on and beyond our skin, as the cherished traces of a life fully experienced. FEAR AND TREMBLING AT THE SCHOOL TALENT SHOW
“You have to do the show,” I told him. I stood and went to get my own coat. “You have to do it, or you’ll feel worse than you do right now. You’ll feel regret. You committed to this, and you need to follow through on the commitment, even though you’re scared.” I felt shaky saying this to him. It was either a great moment in parenting, or the worst; I wasn’t sure.Our hearts beat considerably faster as we follow the protagonists of "Fear and Trembling at the School Talent Show," a young boy having last-minute second thoughts about going on stage, and his mother, the blog's author, who sees her own anxieties reflected and refracted in her son's trepidation. It is a rich, patient portrait of the emotional turmoils of writing and of parenting, demonstrating the great narrative potential of longer blog posts (which are easy to mark and to find with our recently launched WPLongform tag). We leave this piece with a more nuanced understanding of the tension, intrinsic to all creative activity, between the fear of flopping miserably and the desire to reach -- and touch -- an audience. ON "GEEK" VERSUS "NERD"
Geeks are fans, and fans collect stuff; nerds are practitioners, and practitioners play with ideas. I may be a SCIENCE NERD, but I’m probably a MUSIC GEEK….Mixing subtle cultural commentary (for the sociology nerds) with some nifty data mining (for the chart geeks), "On "Geek" Versus "Nerd"" is a post that both entertains and enlightens us. It forces us to reconsider terms we use on a daily basis, but whose deeper connotations we often fail to notice. The lively discussion it generated hardly comes as a surprise: as bloggers and as readers, we find ourselves constantly debating our interests, our allegiances, and our affiliations. Thanks to this piece, we can continue these debates with a clearer understanding of the passions that drive us; we will become nerdier, geekier, and, surely, better for it. _Did you read something in the Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed._ _For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at _The Daily Post_; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed._
Need to get your WordPress.com Notifications on the go? With version 2.4 of WordPress for Android you'll see all your Notifications right on your Android device. STEP AWAY YET STAY CONNECTED With the new streamlined Notifications view, you can step away from your computer but still stay connected to your readers. With just a few taps you can: * Read comment threads and reply. * Moderate new pending comments. * Get stats highlights. * See your new followers and follow them back. * See who liked your posts. Don’t need so many notifications? You can turn off specific notification types (for example "Likes") in the Settings panel. You can also mute entire blogs if it gets too noisy.
Today, I’m excited to announce our newest theme. Don’t worry, your calendar is not broken. It’s not Theme Thursday but we just couldn’t hold this theme back any longer! Takashi Irie. The theme is packed with nifty features such as custom page templates, testimonials, social links, and flexible widget areas. With those features, Forefront helps you to create a strong–yet beautiful–online presence for your business. Forefront is a premium upgrade for your blog. Read more about Forefront on the Theme Showcase, or test drive it for yourself by going to _Appearance → Themes_ in your Dashboard.
This week, TED's summer conference, TEDGlobal 2013, kicks off in Edinburgh, Scotland. At TEDGlobal, the world's innovators and thinkers gather to tell stories and share knowledge -- it's where disciplines and perspectives in business, technology, culture, and the arts merge and cross-pollinate, and where attendees are asked to pause and Think Again. Sounds inspiring, doesn't it? If you're not attending, you should know you can always get your dose of TED on the TED Blog, a WordPress.com VIP site. But we should warn you: there's so much to discover on the TED Blog -- it may just overload your brain. Since many of you are out there writing, creating, and finding ways to share your own ideas with the world, we think that's a good thing. Here's a sampling of what you'll find on the TED Blog: * Featured topics on the home page, such as the latest stories on business. * Resourceful roundups of popular TEDTalks, like this list of the 20 most-watched TED talks to date, and highlighted playlists that curate content on your favorite topics -- for space enthusiasts, consider these out-of-this-world talks from astronauts (including Chris Hadfield). * Featured stories and interviews with thinkers who've given recent TEDTalks, like a discussion on behavioral economics and energy with Alex Laskey and Sendhil Mullainathan or further reading on global issues from Anas Aremeyaw Anas, the undercover journalist who has brought many criminals to justice in Ghana. * A topics archive that's worth a peek, on everything from design to health to education. It's a blog for the curious, knowledge-hungry, and forward-thinking reader. Dive in -- you'll see. For those of you interested in learning more about the speakers at TEDGlobal 2013, check out TED's recommended reads: books, articles, and research papers to introduce you to the thinkers taking the TED stage, including the work of Pico Iyer, _Jihad vs. McWorld _author Benjamin Barber, provocative writers like the _Atlantic_'s Anne-Marie Slaughter, and leading scientists and researchers. _If you're interested in watching the conference live, check out the TED Live membership._
We love how blogs give us glimpses into the lives and experiences of people all over the world. We also love how they offer opinion, analysis, and on-the-ground perspectives on current events that are impossible to get anywhere else. This week, three standout posts gave us both: WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ISTANBUL?
Hundreds and thousands of citizens from all walks of life then joined them to support for the protestors. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim. They were met with more water cannons and more pepper spray, more hostility. Four people died, thousands of people were injured. No newspaper or TV channel was there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat in the world.”Blogger Defne Suman lives in Istanbul, where protestors began taking to the streets in late May in opposition to the planned demolition of a city park to make way for a shopping mall. As protests intensified, the police reaction kept pace -- but media coverage did not. Frustrated by what seemed to be a media blackout, Defne turned to her blog and published an honest, unsparing account of her city's turmoil. The world, eager for news, didn't take long to pick up on it: _What is Happening in Istanbul? _ has been viewed over 2.5 million times and has 2100 comments. Bloggers around the world translated it into other languages, and it spread like wildfire across social networks like Facebook. Defne's post is a testament to the power of blogs to democratize publishing and make information accessible. DO I LOOK LIKE A BABY KILLER? On Fieldwork in Stilettos, Kat Richter shared the story behind her decision to become an escort at Planned Parenthood after coming face to face with a protestor during a visit for routine health needs:
“Please take one of these,” he begs. He looks so old. So unhappy. So sad and in pain and I wonder if he should even be out here on the sidewalk. I’m sure he feels like he is doing God’s work and although he isn’t rude or abusive like some of the protestors I’ve seen on TV, he’s laid a sign down on the sidewalk that says, “They kill babies here.” “No thank you,” I tell him. And then, because I have an embarrassing habit of being polite to people even when they’re pissing me off, I add, “Have a nice afternoon.” For a moment, I consider asking him to join me for a cup of coffee at the café just next door. After all, good Quakers don’t try to talk sense into people; they listen. But I’m not quite good enough.With a provocative title and discussion on abortion rights, _Do I Look Like a Baby Killer?_ readers might have expected an angry and one-sided diatribe. Instead, Kat tried to understand the protestor's motivation, took a hard look at her own fears, and wrote a personal, insightful post that opened the door to conversation. What could have been a vitriolic rant became an opportunity for debate -- which readers did, with vigor -- on a deeply divisive issue. WHAT AL-QAEDA TAUGHT ME ABOUT THE FRAILTY OF LOYALTY
Extra guards we had stationed in the _Black Room_ would then noisily shuffle off, creating the illusion of cooperating detainees. The words and sounds exploited their worst fears. Within seconds, hands would go up (if they hadn’t initially). Paranoia soared as the sound of more exiting detainees echoed throughout the room.Chris Simmons, the blogger behind Human Chess, is a veteran of the Balkan, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars and former Army Interrogator. In _What Al-Qaeda Taught Me About the Frailty of Loyalty_, he walks readers through one of his most successful interrogation techniques, the "Prisoner's Dilemma." (Note: while the Prisoner's Dilemma is a physically non-violent technique, some may still find this a challenging read.) Chris' unflinching narrative paints a clear picture of the interrogation room. This candid, difficult description informs debates about interrogation techniques by giving us the kind of detail that was previously inaccessible. If you'd like a more lighthearted read for your Friday afternoon, here are a few more Freshly Pressed posts that got us laughing and thinking: * ON "GEEK" VERSUS "NERD": a Twitter-based statistical analysis breaking down the geek/nerd distinction. * 9 PHOTOS FOR 9 YEARS: photographer Diane Parsons celebrates her daughter's 9th birthday by photographing her as nine strong women throughout history. * BUT WHAT IS IT THAT I WANT?: musings on growing up, in rhythmic, staccato verse. * COMPARING ORANGES TO COOKIES: lessons about grace and thankfulness from a stuffed monkey named Joe-Joe. _Did you read something in the Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed._ _For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at _The Daily Post_; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed._
It's Thursday, and you know what that means on WordPress.com: new themes! Today we'd like to introduce you Trvl. Trvl is a tumblelog theme that’s all about blogging. With a beautiful and simple design by Danny Cohen, Trvl puts your posts front and center. Literally. It supports a variety of post formats to mix up the appearance of your blog posts in a nifty way. Add spice with a custom header image, widgets, and a footer navigation menu. Find out more about how to get started with Trvl on the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your blog by going to _Appearance -> Themes._