Prepare and add images to your WordPress website

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | October 11, 2016

Use the Add Media button to add images to a page or post

Here’s our “generic” instructions for preparing an image and adding it to a post or page in your WordPress website.  Every website has different requirements and there exceptions to every rule.  But for photos especially this is what most people do most of the time.

Preparing an image before uploading.

  • Open the image in your favorite photo editor
  • If the editor lets you, change the resolution to 72 dots per inch
  • Scale the image so the longest dimension is 1600 pixels.
    You can use smaller sizes if you’re sure the image won’t be used to fill a page, but ordinarily don’t go smaller than 400 px for the smallest dimension.
  • Save the image as a JPEG
    Especially for photos the .jpg or .jpeg file format still offers the best balance between image size and image quality.
  • When it asks you what quality to save the image as (usually 1-10 or 0-100%) choose the lowest number that still gives you acceptable image quality.
    Most photo editors let you preview this, better ones will show you the resulting file size too.
    The larger the file the higher the quality, but also the slower to load, especially on mobile devices.
  • Choose a descriptive file name
    It’ll be easier to find the image later if you call it “chris-the-manager.jpg” than if you call it “IMG0776.jpg.”  If that’s not enough of a reason then Google includes filenames in its search engine rankings.

Placing an image in a post or page:  Important stuff in black, additional info in blue

  • In the post/page editor place the blinking cursor in the spot you’d like the image to appear
  • Click the Add Media button
    Find and click the WordPress Add Media button
  • Drag the image from your desktop or a folder and drop it in the Insert Media popup
    When the image is done uploading and crunching you’ll see an “Attachment Details” sidebar on the right of the Insert Media popup
  • Option: type a caption in the Caption box
  • Not an option: Type a brief alternative description in the Alt Text box
    Unless the image is purely decorative always type a brief alternative description in the Alt Text box.  This is an ADA/W3C requirement
    This is what people with visual impairments and/or lousy internet connections will get instead of the photo so it’s a good idea to use a complete sentence or phrase
  • Option: If you’d like the text to flow around the photo (if it’s a small photo) choose Left or Right from the Alignment box
  • Option: In most cases choose “None” for the “Link To” box
  • Choose the image size that will work best on the post or page
  • Click “Insert into Post”

Ok, that’s all the steps in possibly excruciating detail. 

Leave a comment if you’ve got a question about preparing an image or placing it in a post or page.

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Report: Suspicious legal cases lead to takedown notices for negative reviews

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | October 11, 2016

This might be a bit in the weeds for the average blogger, but Eugene Volokh and Paul Alan Levy, legal-issues bloggers on the Washington Post website, have uncovered an interesting little scam that works like this.

1) A company or individual takes issue with an author’s negative review on Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc.
2) The “offended” company or individual files a defamation lawsuit against a fictitious defendant (not the actual author!) in a jurisdiction far from where the actual author lives.
3) The fictitious defendant pleads guilty, agreeing that “their” remarks were defamatory.
4) The “offended” company then presents Yelp, or Google, or whoever with a takedown notice backed by a judges order.

Here are two key paragraphs from Volokh and Levy’s article

Fascinating story. Certainly seems to be an abuse of the legal process to artificially suppress negative but truthful online statements. At this point Volokh and Levy are careful not to call such antics potentially or actually criminal, and so neither shall I.

But they do name names, and does seem like more (journalistic if not criminal) investigation is warranted.

Definitely worth following the link if you’re interested in how businesses are working to police legal public speech.

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Security Alert: If you’ve got a Dropbox account go change your password now

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | October 4, 2016

How to choose a password image from {author}

Image from thewikiman used under a Attribution License

It’s always a good idea to use good passwords.  But passwords are only as good as the security on the database that stores them.

If you’re a Dropbox user (a service RealBasics uses to share files and folders with our clients, by the way) you’ll want to change your password now.  Here’s the scoop from tech news site Motherboard

In August, Motherboard reported that hackers had stolen over 60 million account details for online storage platform Dropbox. The details were from a previously disclosed breach, but the true scale of the hack had not been previously revealed.

Now, anyone can download the email addresses and hashed passwords for 68,680,741 accounts totally for free. On Monday, Thomas White, also known as The Cthulhu, uploaded the full dump onto his website, a move that he says is to help researchers examine the breach.

Source: Motherboard

Note: I don’t know any of our clients use Yahoo but 300 million Yahoo users should to change their passwords too.

My advice, as always, is to use a good, long, memorable, but semi-random pass phrase rather than a shorter string of hard-to-remember numbers, capital letters, and punctuation marks.  But really at this point any new password is better than even the best old one.

 

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Giving credit where credit’s due or else…?

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | September 26, 2016

Referencing image from {author}

Image from ricol1 used under a Attribution License

My last post listed some great, very-basic resources for blogging.  Four points were basic how-to’s — how to create a new post; how to add a link; how to add a photo or format a quote.

The fifth item wasn’t quite like the other ones:

Quite a bit of info about giving credit to others when you quote them:

Here’s why giving credit where due matters when you’re blogging. There are actually two big reasons.  One’s legal, the other’s social.  One you have to deal with.  The other?  You actually want to deal with.  I’ll explain both reasons here.

Legal eagles

If you’re familiar with Facebook, Tumblr, and other social-media platforms you may have noticed there’s not a lot of attention paid to plagiarism, copyright violations, or other intellectual property issues.  Actually let’s scratch that.  There’s not a lot of attention paid by social media users.  Actually the owners of Facebook, Tumblr, and other platforms get an earful, but their lawyers handle it.

Unless you’ve got as many lawyers as Facebook, though, you may want to pay more attention to properly citing your sources.

Wise Owls and Social butterflies

But actually avoiding legal hassles isn’t the main reason for properly citing your sources and giving credit where credit is due!

The real reason?  Because it’s literally the social thing to do!  You’re introducing your readers to someone they might benefit from learning about.  And if they like what you have to say they may tweet or post back something you say, introducing their reader to you.  You’re giving them a little bit of “SEO link juice” by linking to them, and long as their post is credible and relevant to what you’re saying in yours, you might even pick up a little of that “link juice” in return.  But even if you don’t get anything in return?  Well, that’s sort of the definition of “social” anyway.  And the web, and blogging, is sociable, not transactional.

Bottom line

No matter how you look at it — out of concern for legal issues, or out of an opportunity to seem more knowledgable and sociable — name and link to your sources and particularly to the people who’s words and images you use.

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How to blog: quick resources

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | September 26, 2016

shirt.JPG image from {author}

Image from agahran used under a Attribution License

Very quick post today.  Here’s some basic information about blogging, including just how to create a post, how to add photos, links, and quotes, and a bit of extra information about ways to attribute other people’s work when you quote them.

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Why do we add a page builder in almost every site?

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | September 19, 2016

We like the way Beaver Builder page builder lets you see the results when you edit the page.

Why do we add a page builder to almost every site we create?  Because we believe, strongly that it’s your website!”  Page builders just make owning your site that much easier.

For those of you who don’t know, a page builder is a graphics tool that lets you create and edit even very complex web content without fiddling around with HTML and CSS.

In “Why customers want WordPress Page Builders,” business guru Chris Lema said “The most important thing [site owners] care about is making changes easily and quickly.”

Page builders are great for that! By adding a page builder to almost all our sites we’re able to orient and train  to update and add to their sites, over the phone, in about half an hour!

This is why we we’ve been providing the goofy-named but first-class Beaver Builder page builder, a $99 value, free of charge for our customers.

The training alternative use to be explaining stuff like “click ‘edit page’ and scroll down to where it says ‘[col_two_one]'...” Or “now there are hidden things called ‘<div>s‘ in the code so don’t backspace over any paragraphs while you’re updating your hours…”

Yeah, we didn’t like doing that either.  Didn’t really make our customers feel empowered either.

So that’s why we use a page builder in all our new and rebuilt sites: to help make your website your website!

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Google: pages should show what real people want to see

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | September 15, 2016

FIND image from {author}

Image from jasoneppink used under a Attribution License

There are two main things you can do to improve your website’s SEO

Part One: the “marketing” side

One part is all about marketing in the best sense of the word:

  • identifying the people you want to reach
  • identifying how they think about your products, services, ideas, or interests

Then creating content that

  • meets their interests
  • speaks to their needs
  • speaks to them in terms they’re familiar with

Yeah, yeah, you’re saying, but what about what Google and other search engines want to see?

Well, that really is what they want to see!  Really!  That said…

Part two: The “structural” side

Here’s the other part, which is what can you do to help search engines understand your pages, from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines page

  • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
  • Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
  • Ensure that your <title> elements and alt attributes are descriptive, specific, and accurate.
  • Design your site to have a clear conceptual page hierarchy.
  • Follow our recommended best practices for images, video, and structured data.
  • When using a content management system (for example, Wix or WordPress), make sure that it creates pages and links that search engines can crawl.
  • To help Google fully understand your site’s contents, allow all site assets that would significantly affect page rendering to be crawled: for example, CSS and JavaScript files that affect the understanding of the pages. The Google indexing system renders a web page as the user would see it, including images, CSS, and JavaScript files. To see which page assets that Googlebot cannot crawl, or to debug directives in your robots.txt file, use the blocked resources report in Search Console and the Fetch as Google and robots.txt Tester tools.
  • Allow search bots to crawl your site without session IDs or URL parameters that track their path through the site. These techniques are useful for tracking individual user behavior, but the access pattern of bots is entirely different. Using these techniques may result in incomplete indexing of your site, as bots may not be able to eliminate URLs that look different but actually point to the same page.
  • Make your site’s important content visible by default. Google is able to crawl HTML content hidden inside navigational elements such as tabs or expanding sections, however we consider this content less accessible to users, and believe that you should make your most important information visible in the default page view.
  • Make a reasonable effort to ensure that advertisement links on your pages do not affect search engine rankings. For example, use robots.txt or rel="nofollow" to prevent advertisement links from being followed by a crawler.

Here at Real Basics we can’t really help you much with your marketing decisions, but!  We can help you with the technical and structural side.

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How to make sure those Mother’s-Maiden-Name “security” questions are really secure

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | September 1, 2016

Use random password-like text to answer security questions like "who was your favorite childhood friend?"

Image “How to fill out security questions” from JWZ.org

Even if you only read the newspapers you’re probably aware that usernames and passwords aren’t very secure from determined hackers.  Turns out those “security” questions they ask can be even less secure — in some cases while your passwords are encrypted your answers may be stored in plain text!  How is this a problem?

How is it not?!?!

You know how if you use the same password hackers who uncover account information for one service, say, Facebook, will try the same password on, say, Twitter.  Or, oh, say, your bank?

Guess what?  Chances are you’ve only got one mother, and chances are her maiden name hasn’t changed.  Same with your first phone number, the first town you went to, where you went to college or… anything else that makes it easier for identity thieves to uncover even more information about you.  Even off-line information “Hi Mrs. So-and-so, remember me?  I your son used to be my best friend?  Remember our dog’s name was such-and-such?  I wonder if you could send me…”

Yikes!

So just so you know, treat those security questions the same way you treat passwords: make something up!  If you’ve got a password manager like 1PasswordDashlane, or LastPass, make those security answers arbitrarily complicated and add them as notes.

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More good reasons to use proper attribution for photos that aren’t yours

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | August 31, 2016

Creative Commons image from {author}

Image from Flickr User Kalexanderson used under a Attribution License

I just stumbled across a nice Step-by-step guide to attributing Creative Commons-licensed images from Richard Best at the blog WP and Legal Stuff.  I think you’ll want to read the whole thing but here’s an excerpt.  (Note: in WordPress a good place to put this is in the image caption.)

6. Add attribution statement

Within the editing window, add your attribution statement either below the image or, for example, at the end of the post or page. To create the HTML for the attribution statement, you can use this kind of format (the code is on the left and on the right you can see how it’s rendered):

Code-snippet

Note that I’ve linked “Celine” (the owner of the photo) to the page on Flickr that contains the photo I’m using and that I’ve linked “Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence” to the Creative Commons page that contains that licence (which I accessed in step 4 above).

(Note that you don’t have to use my suggested wording, with the “Thanks to” component. I just do that to show some gratitude.)

Source: WP and Legal Stuff

I’d like to add two great reasons for strongly attaching attribution to images you find.

1) If you put the attribution with the image (I include it in the alt text as well as the caption) then you’ll be able to send a polite F.U. to Getty, etc., when one of their bots tries to bill you.

2) If you put the attribution in it then you’ve got a defense in case someone else says it’s a) their image or b) that they’re depicted in the image.

An IP specialist (ironically at Getty) told me you want attribution, and ideally model releases, not so much in case you’re accused by the photographer or model but, paradoxically, so you can prove to someone else that it’s not *their* image or a photo of them.

The example was of a heavily bandaged hospital patient in a stock photo. Someone claimed it was a photo of their relative taken without permission. (Naturally they wanted damages and a cut of the proceeds.) Because there was documentation, including model release forms, the photographer could prove it wasn’t the same hospital, wasn’t the same time, wasn’t even the same country, and especially wasn’t the plaintiff’s relative.

Point being you want to do attribution to be polite, but you also want to do it to protect yourself.

Note: I use the clever open-source Image Inject plugin for WordPress on this site.  It takes a little bit of tinkering to get working just the way you want it.  But it’s a great way to scan the Flickr and Pixabay repositories for free-to-use images.

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You’d probably agree with NASA’s reasons for switching to WordPress

By David Innes, RealBasics.com | August 11, 2016

NASA KEYBOARD MODULE image from {author}

Image from jurvetson used under a Attribution License

NASA’s Glenn Research Center, has very down to earth reasons for switching to WordPress.  Their detailed explanations are entirely readable but here’s the gist

The following are the main benefits we’ve found in using our implementation of WordPress as a content management system for the NASA Glenn Research Center web sites we maintain.

  • Only Basic HTML Experience Required
  • No Additional Software Necessary
  • Built-in Section 508 Compliancy
  • Search Engine Friendly
  • Search Engine Notification
  • Built-in Search Engine
  • Content Separate from Design
  • Automatic RSS Feeds
  • Low Cost, Lower Maintenance and Widely Supported
  • Track Actual Site Usage
  • Other Automatic Features

Source: NASA

Our only quibble would be that for most site owners even basic HTML experience isn’t particularly necessary!  But otherwise we agree completely!

Over the years WordPress is very convenient and reliable for owners and users, while becoming more and more powerful and flexible for developers who build with it.

If WordPress were a car we’d say it’s become the Honda, Ford, or Toyota of content management systems.

Like a lot of other small businesses and big institutions NASA are starting to switch.  We’d be happy to help you make the switch too.

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