Recap: 2014: A New Year, A New Theme & How To Improve the Accessibility of Your Site

At February’s Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup event at Grand Circus, Deborah Edwards-Onoro walked us through website accessibility and TJ List broke down the new WordPress default theme titled Twenty Fourteen.  Here are my notes for their talks, 2014: A New Year, A New Theme & How To Improve the Accessibility of Your Site.

What is an accessible website?

  • To be accessible a website must be able to be accessed by anybody, from all devices and with any disability.
  • Visitors are accessing websites in a variety of different ways.

Tip #1 – Add meaningful link text

  • No “Learn More”, “More Info”, “Click Here” or “Read More”.
  • Use text that describes what is behind the button, i.e. “Download Financial Aid Application”.

Tip #2 – Add appropriate alternative text to images

  • Add appropriate text when uploading media via WordPress’ dashboard.
  • When hovering over an image in Post Edit screen, click top left icon to pull up Edit Image screen.
  • Leave alternative text empty for placeholders

Tip #3 – Add captions and transcripts to videos

  • Opens up the contents of the video to people that are blind/deaf, also increases SEO as search engines can index content
  • Resources: YouTube, Amara, Cielo, Automatic Sync, 3PlayMedia ($1/min – $2.50/min)
  • 1 hour of video = 6 hours of transcribing

Deborah’s Presentation Slides

New Year, New Theme

Observations

  • Default homepage restricts content and is image heavy
  • Large viewport: website is left justified
  • Medium viewport: no background color/image, menu is hidden
  • Small viewport: a lot of swiping is needed
  • Featured content: can’t feature pages, display is limited to 6 posts
  • Usability: limited options make it hard to break and/or customize
  • Twenty Fourteen as a dress, looks great on a model on the runway
  • Great for photography based websites
  • Simple, clean and legible

Conclusion

  • Beautiful yet not very practical for a business/corporate website

Recap: How an Author Uses WordPress to Grow Readership and Sell Books

Sylvia Hubbard

Detroit author and Metro Detroit WordPress member Sylvia Hubbard was our guest for the November meetup. Here are notes from her presentation.

Step 1: Have a website that’s easily found
Step 2: Provide all your contact information, website, physical address, email, phone number, social networks, evaluation forms
Step 3: Include a book page
Step 4: Include your biography
Step 5: Add a blog
Step 6: Use feeds
Step 7: Use easy to remember URLs

Tips from Sylvia

  • The closer you get to the money, the closer you get to the sale.
  • My social networks serve as breadcrumbs to my website.
  • Intertwine other characters from other stories.
  • Password protected stories: passwords are embedded in books they have to buy.

Attendees at November 2013 meetup

Rules for Writers

  1. Post regular updates
  2. Add pics/videos/audio
  3. Don’t always sell book

Love that WordPress allows Sylvia to post feeds. Google Calendar feeds right into the sidebar. Press This to post reviews on your own author site.

What WordPress Has Done Over the Past Year for Sylvia

  1. Increased my SEO
  2. Can easily add subscription services and forms I control (readers with most comments are rewarded with $25 gift card)
  3. Use Google Alerts to track mentions
  4. Increased stats, searches and stays
  5. Organized my literary world
  6. Understand what my readers want from me

Marketing Efforts

Can’t find out marketing effort for three months, when the royalty check comes in.

Resources for Self-Publishing

  • Use Amazon for publishing your works. Their resource center provides info you need to publish to Kindle, print or audio.
  • Smashwords loads your book to all the ebook distributors. Smashwords takes a cut off the purchase price. They upload your book every two months to Apple Books.
  • Dan Pointer – godfather of self-publishing. Great resource for all things related to writing your book, publishing, promoting, and running your book business.
  • PayLoadz: Sylvia uses it for exclusive books. There’s no cost if you don’t sell over $100 in one month. Will charge client and send the book.
  • E-Junkie: Another option for selling your books.

Every fall Sylvia organizes Annual Essence of Motown Literary Jam & Conference, a literary conference for writers in the metro Detroit area. This year she was able to get support from 360 Digital, a Michigan based publisher/printer that produced the conference program book, Awesome Detroit and the National Writers Union, which helped to pay for the conference.

New URL & Site Title: Now Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup Group

I launched this as a support site for a local WordPress user meetup group in Ferndale, MI in 2009. Over 3.5 years and 34 meetups (and 3 successful WordCamps!) later, the group is going strong thanks to current organizers.

Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup

The group has outgrown its name, and the name has been changed to Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup group. To match that, the URL of this site is now changed to metrodetroitwp.wordpress.com with the site title change.

I want to thank Deborah, TJ, Anthony, and Debra for running the community and growing it so much after my leaving of the area in 2011. You guys are awesome!

Now, you can expect some news updates and more change on this site. Meanwhile,

And of course, make sure to join the meetup group’s next event!

Although I’ve moved quite far (Tokyo, Japan), I am looking forward to joining the local meetup or WordCamp someday in the future.

Russell Fair Video from November Meetup

Last month we were blessed with Russell Fair visiting us from Atlanta, Georgia. He gave a very informative presentation covering topics like:

  • WordPress multisite install
  • Plugins from WordPress Directory
  • WordPress multisite plugins
  • WordPress Plugin Commander (plugin management plugin for multi-site mode)
  • WP Multi Network plugin (turns single multisite install into many multisite networks with one user database)
  • Custom Post Type plugins
  • BuddyPress
  • Genesis theme framework

Watch the video and take notes!

Russell Fair Presentation at November Meetup

Today at our November meetup, we were delighted to have Russell Fair from Atlanta WordPress Developers & Designers Meetup Group and Atlanta WordPress Users Group. He covered a wide range of relatively new WordPress features with great examples from his past and current work.

Russell Fair at Ferndale WordPress Meetup

Some useful sites/links that were mentioned during his presentation:

Video recording for his presentation will be published here soon & Russell will be sharing his notes later on.

You can subscribe to this blog from the sidebar “Email Subscription”, or follow us on Twitter @ferndalewp for updates!

October WordPress Meetup at Paper Street Motors

The topic for Ferndale WordPress Meetup in October was e-Commerce (shopping cart) options for WordPress. Tim Aten presented on his experience with 2 major plugins, WP e-Commerce (also known as GetShopped) and Shopp.

October WordPress Meetup

Below is my quick notes from the presentation.

WP e-Commerce

  • One of the oldest WordPress e-Commerce plugins
  • The plugin is free; paid upgrades and community plugins are also available for additional functionalities
  • Paid upgrades: “Gold Cart”, affiliate management, CSV feed generator, enhanced store animation effect, FedEx shipping option, members only site, downloadable products, product gallery, etc.
  • There are some third-party themes
  • PayPal (incl. Pro), Google Checkout, Chronopay gateway and manual payment options for free version. Authorize.net and other gateways are available with the paid version (more info)
  • Experienced slower and less frequent tech support compared to Shopp
  • Very easy to setup
  • Flash uploader does not always work 100%

Shopp

  • Paid plugin ($55 for single site or $299 for unlimited # of sites)
  • Additional gateways: $25 for authorize.net, manual payment, PayPal Pro, etc.
  • Very fast (1-2 hours) and better support overall
  • Set up only takes 1-2 hours; professional looking out-of-the-box
  • Some issues with download packaged item (hard to group them together)
  • You can view receipts in the admin dashboard
  • Shopping cart widget available
  • Shipping address capture is required (not ideal for download product)
  • Product editor = similar to WordPress post edit page
  • Theme integration is relatively easy

Recommended Reading:

August WordPress Meetup at Paper Street Motors

August WordPress meetup was at Paper Street Motors in Ferndale (thanks Tim and Andy!).

I talked about theme template hierarchy and Todd J. List had a presentation on the new custom menu feature.

Photo credit: Gary LaPointe

Links that were mentioned:

Thanks all for coming!
Here are links to those who left a comment on the demo site:
David, Gary, Deborah, Kirk, and Maria

April WordPress Meetup at Urbane Space

In April, we met at Urbane Space in Birmingham (thanks to Hubert and Eric!).

As we were waiting for WordPress 3.0 release, we talked about some new features especially the multisite feature. Devin from Austin, TX was visiting the area and joined us for the meetup. He shared a nice video on setting up multisite:

Links that were mentioned:

(Yes, that’s right – this is for the April meetup. The post was sitting as a draft and I had left it for so long. Sorry for the delay!)