Weekend Whimsy: Smiling Flower

Smiling lily

I’ve been trying to write a post for the weekly photo challenge but it’s all been going ‘orribly wrong. Various drafts and ideas later, I have a plea for help awaiting the attention of the WordPress Happiness Engineers as I’ve somehow succeeded in losing the attachment pages for some of my most recent rose pictures. That means if you click ’em, you get a non-too-entertaining-after-a-while ‘Oops’ error message page.

Safari has piqued my sense of irony by suggesting I short cut the process and skip direct to the error page in future, by helpfully(?) listing it among my favourite internet pages. Safari has a point. I need to change tack. I need something cheerful.

So I’m sharing this picture of a smiling flower. It may not be my best picture, but you have to admit it’s cheery.  Continue reading

Embracing Change: The New WordPress Reader

I’m a big fan of WordPress. It never stays still. Any half-experienced WordPress blogger knows that every so often they’re going to be briefly blindsided by one of those changes that suddenly happens. Of course it can be disconcerting – a bit like waking to find out that Santa Claus rearranged the furniture overnight as a kind of thank you for leaving him such tasty mince pies with his glass of milk, and now the picture of Aunt Mamie seems to have disappeared.  Continue reading

Making Less Say More: Microcopy for Bloggers

Microcopy
noun

Used by professional writers to refer to short but crucial snippets of writing, set aside from the copy (the main body of text). Used on menus, buttons, forms and widgets etc.

plural: microcopy

etymology:
micro- + copy (from the Latin root copia meaning plenty)

If you’re short of time, you’ll get my drift by scrolling down to see screen shot examples of microcopy. Click on the graphics to visit the original sites. For those able to linger, this longread post celebrates thoughtfully composed microcopy, mostly found here on WordPress.

Why use microcopy?

Microcopy is a modern day telegram: we use it to pass on useful messages to our readers in the least words. Partly we’re forced to be concise by space constraints, but we also know the more words we write, the less likely people are to read them. And we usually want microcopy to stand out enough to be read, for example:

  • Follow this blog
  • Leave a comment
  • Read my previous post
  • Buy this book
  • Follow me on social media
  • Contact me
  • Read more

Two of my passions come together in my admiration for great microcopy – language and marketing. It’s an overlooked art form: a fun way to finesse your blog – but there’s a serious side too.  Continue reading

The Art of Commenting: what holds us back and how we can fix it

The art of commenting

When people leave comments on your site, is replying a pleasure or a chore? And away from your blog, do you reach out to other bloggers through their comment sections and become an active part of their communities, or do you remain a page view shadow: a small, silent jolt up their stats, identifiable only by your place on earth?

In this post, I’m coming from the angle that while we certainly don’t need to leave a comment on a blog post we’ve enjoyed, it’s not good to feel inhibited or uneasy about commenting.

I’d love it if we all felt free to comment, if we wished, and understood the etiquette when we do.  Continue reading

WordPress tips: how to block a site in the Reader

Browsing my Reader reminded me of a nifty WordPress feature you’ll love if the subjects you enjoy are often ‘hijacked’ by less scrupulous bloggers – or if you want to block anyone who is going too far. It’s hidden in plain sight so you may not have noticed it.

I’m not talking about bloggers you are following, but some of the ones who appear when you explore topics. Tag-hoggers who clutter up your Reader with multiple posts you don’t want to see again. Ever.   Continue reading

Blogging tips: tags and categories

Think of tags and categories (and their associated widgets) as free adverts for your post – on your blog and in the wider WordPress community – and make them work for you and your visitors.

Use tags and categories to:

  • Help bloggers discover your post in The Reader
  • Place sign posts on your blog so visitors can find other content that interests them while they’re there
  • Organise your blog and link posts by subject matter
  • Review what you’ve achieved so far and plan where you’re going

Continue reading

Polls and surveys – are they irritating or enlightening?

On WordPress.com we all have the option to add polls and surveys. Done well, they can give us valuable feedback. Done badly, they can be irritating, provide meaningless or misleading information, and can even change our visitors’ opinions for the worse. Don’t believe me? Here’s an example many of us will have seen on WordPress. Ever clicked on ‘Visit the old stats page’? The first thing you’ll see is a poll. A poorly worded one:

Why do you prefer this Stats page?

  • It’s faster
  • It shows more information
  • It’s less confusing
  • I’m used to it

Vote

I don’t prefer the old stats page. I click the old stats button once in a while because it’s temptingly placed at the bottom of my stats. I remember vaguely that there’s something extra on the old stats, but don’t recall what it might be.  Continue reading