Posts filed under Plugins

Images In Blog Posts: The Technical Side

We’ve talked about the legalities and etiquette of images in your blog posts.  Today, let’s chat about some of the technical things you should know when blogging images.

Size matters

High resolution images are a no-no.  Not only will it kill the speed of your site to host high resolution images, but it’s also bad blogging etiquette.  For best results, size images to no more than 500kb (and less is preferable).

Because most people are viewing your site on a widescreen monitor, portrait/vertical photos should be sized to about half of the width of landscape/horizontal photos.  This will help to keep the file sizes smaller, as well as keep each image within the viewable area of everyone’s screen.  For aesthetic reasons, this is why many blogs choose to “pair up” verticals in their posts.

Use WordPress’s built-in Media resizing functionality to help you out with resizing.  Under Settings -> Media you can supply a thumbnail size, a medium size (I use this for vertical images) and a large size (horizontal).  As you upload photos, WordPress will automatically create copies of the image resized to each of your specified dimensions.

What’s in a name?

A lot actually.  Search engines can’t “see” images, they simply recognize the caption (aka alt text), title, and image name and read those to index the image.  Name your images something descriptive and WordPress will automatically fill in the alt text and title with your image name.

When deciding on a file name, put yourself in the shoes of the searcher. “Juli and Jon Wedding” likely won’t produce any search hits. But “Yellow Sunflower Bouquet” might.

A helpful hint

If you find a photo on a blog and want to use it for your own blog (with the appropriate credits and permissions of course), it’s likely that the photo size won’t be exactly what you need for your blog. WordPress and Blogger both have ways of “hiding” the original photo source of a full-size photo. These little shortcuts may help you find a larger photo to meet your needs:

WordPress puts the sizing at the end of the photo name. Removing the sizing produces the full-size photo.

http://www.elizabethannedesigns.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Retro-Dessert-Table-249×375.jpg

becomes

http://www.elizabethannedesigns.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Retro-Dessert-Table.jpg

Blogger on the other hand, embeds the sizing within the URL. As with WordPress, removing one little section produces the full-size photo.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__udAgyKza48/SpxravhrAmI/AAAAAAAABVo/VcllvgzGBfs/s400/snapdragon-flowers.jpg

becomes

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__udAgyKza48/SpxravhrAmI/AAAAAAAABVo/VcllvgzGBfs/snapdragon-flowers.jpg

My favorite image plugin

And last but not least, if you have an image-heavy WordPress blog, here is a plugin that you will love me for (seriously). It’s called Faster Image Insert.

WordPress by default allows for the uploading of multiple images at once, but the insertion of only one image into a post at a time. This plugin fixes all of that and allows you to insert multiple images into your post with one click. If it’s compatible with your version of WordPress and the other image plugins you may have installed, I definitely recommend giving it a whirl on your test site and seeing if it’s a fit for you!

What other image tips and tricks do you have to share?

WordPress.com API Keys

Getting a WordPress.com API key is helpful for two reasons:

  1. It allows you to utilize plugins like Akismet (spam comment filtering) and WordPress.com Stats
  2. It allows you to comment on blogs hosted by wordpress.com without having to fill in all of the required fields

To obtain your own WordPress.com API key, sign up here.

Then, since you know how to install plugins, install WP-Stats and Akismet (Akismet may already be installed with your WordPress package, so simply activate) and use your fun new API key to block spam and see your page views!

How To Install WordPress Plugins

We’ve talked a little bit about plugins, so you know what a plugin is, but let’s go over how to find and install them.

The WordPress site has a comprehensive list of every plugin available.  From here, you can search for the functionality you’re looking for and see reviews of the plugins, number of downloads, installation notes, etc.  Chances are, if you want to do it, there is a plugin for it.

We’ll start by installing a plugin that saves some real estate on your WordPress dashboard, the Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu plugin.  By default, the WordPress dashboard menu is on your left.

When you install and activate Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu, the menu moves to the top, eliminating the need for lots of vertical scrolling.

There are two ways to install a plugin, through your WordPress dashboard, or through FTP.

How to install a plugin through your WordPress dashboard
  1. Navigate to Plugins → Add New
  2. In the search field, type in the plugin you want to install, in this case we’ll search for “Ozh Admin”
  3. When the search results appear, locate the plugin and click “Install” then “Install Now”
  4. Click “Activate Plugin”

If you have a zipped file of your plugin, you can also install it through the WordPress dashboard.

How to install a plugin using FTP

By now, you know that I love FTP and do the majority of my work in Core FTP (if you need a refresher on FTP, read this post).  To install a plugin using FTP:

  1. Download the plugin that you want to install from the WordPress plugin repository
  2. Unzip it to a folder on your computer
  3. Sign into Core FTP, or your chosen tool
  4. Navigate to www.yoursite.com/wp-content/plugins
  5. FTP the plugin folder from your computer to your server
  6. In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Plugins → Installed → Inactive and activate your new plugin

Plugins are addictive.  Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

WordPress Plugins: WP Database Backup

Now that we have installed WordPress, we’re going to cover a few of the plugins that I consider absolute necessities for your blog.

Nothing is more integral to your blog than protecting your content.  As we talked about in the What Is WordPress Anyway? post, WordPress requires both a web server and a database to run.  The web server holds your uploaded images and files, and the database holds your posts, comments, links, etc.

Backing up your web server is essentially like backing up files on your own computer.  Use the FTP program you downloaded to copy your files to your computer or hard drive.

Backing up your database can be done multiple ways, but by far the easiest way is using the plugin WP-DB Backup.  With just a few clicks of set-up, this plugin will email you daily with a complete backup of your database.

After installing the plugin, navigation to Tools → Backup in your WordPress dashboard, and scroll down to the Scheduled Backup section.  Choose “Once Daily” and select all of the database tables on the list (if there are any to check).  Input your email address, click “Schedule backup”, and you’re all set!

WordPress Plugins: No Self Pings

I love WordPress plugins.  I’m a tech geek, so finding a new plugin that makes my life easier makes me happy.  Seriously, I think they are little bits of heaven (is that sad?). I love them so much that I’m going to regularly feature cool WordPress plugins here on Edit and Post.

What’s a Plugin?

For those of you who are just getting to know WordPress, a plugin is a piece of code that you install and activate.  Plugins can be complex or simple, and they either add functionality to WordPress or change existing WordPress behavior.  We’ll cover the process of installing and activating plugins in the Building Your WordPress Blog series.

Some plugins have settings that you change based upon how you want them to perform.  Some have CSS files (remember CSS?) that style their results.  Others require you to edit something in your theme.

Today’s plugin is easy, all you have to do is install and activate, and it works its magic.

What’s a Ping?

Each time you update content on your site, you are creating a ping.  A ping tells the whole web world that there is a new post in the blogosphere.  If your blog post links to another blog post, you send a pingback to the blog you linked to (make sense?).

If someone sends you a pingback and you have enabled link notifications from other blogs in your WordPress discussion settings, a pingback will then appear as a comment on the post they linked to.

This is all well and good, until you link to you.  It looks kind of silly for your own blog to comment on your own blog, now doesn’t it?

No Self Pings fixes all of that, by stopping yourself from pinging yourself.

Do you have a simple but great WordPress plugin that we should all know about?