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Lesson 9 – Part 6 – Question and Answer Session

Difficulty Level -

Organizing Images in the Media Library

Rick: I guess now we’re going to take questions. I want to start off with Kim. Kim I just unmuted your microphone.

Kim: Hey. So the global grant, I was trying to be so good in adding all my images, putting all the titles and everything. I added those images into the Media Library and then later I found out it was almost easier to just add it to the page. Is it better to add it all to your Media Library instead of organizing all which is what I thought I was doing in the beginning or just add it if you’re adding something to your page like that? Does that makes sense?

Rick: Yes, it does make sense although it’s just a work flow thing. If you already have your images then it can be faster, especially with the new image system, where you do the drag and drop system. Just drag a whole bunch of images together, drop them into a library and then you can go back and add the relevant information to them and insert them into a document.

However, if you’re doing a blog post for example and you’ve got one image, it can be just as easy while you’re creating your post to just put your cursor where you want the image go and click “Insert/Upload Image”.

Kim: Can you explain like today I was adding some images to my brantlers site? I was doing that because it feels like a lazy way to do it but I just put them all in at once on the same page but when I go to look for them, it creates a gallery. When you pull a bunch of images into one page, it creates a gallery for that page and they also go into the Media Library right?

Rick: Yes. The images that you put into a page always go in the Media Library. It doesn’t really matter, they’re always placed in the Media Library. However, when you put more than one image on a page, WordPress creates this thing that I never use but it calls it gallery. For example, if we were to click on “Insert/Upload Image” you can see it has this gallery here with these two images that it says were on gallery. Why it doesn’t have all 3 images in the gallery, I do not know but you could choose to insert a gallery of images instead.

Kim: Which is like a slide show kind of thing?

Rick: Not really.

Kim: When I saw that gallery thing I was wondering, is it creating like a potential slide show when it calls it gallery?

Rick: No, it’s not a slideshow. It’s actually gallery so it puts the images side by side. I’m going to websites, byobwebsite, graphics, tutorial graphics and Start Building Your Website Here, we could theoretically take these four images and drop them in there.

Kim:  The other thing, these aren’t in here so I have to give it a title. I usually create a description, if you’re going to insert another one you have to go back and go back to the gallery, right?

Rick: Yes. We’ve got a gallery, what I can do is insert the gallery.

Kim: Isn’t that clever?

Rick: Update that. It’s not nearly as clever as it sounds Kim.

Kim: Wait, because it looks like it’s not an individual photo, I think I see what that is.

Rick: See, there is the gallery right there.

Kim: If you click on that it gives you a larger image?

Rick: No. If you click on it, it takes you off to the page of the image.

Kim: You have to put a link in the Media Gallery?

Rick: No, you don’t actually have to do that. This has automatically created what’s called an attachment. That’s why I said it’s not nearly as interesting as it sounds because it’s not really very useful which is why I never use it.

Kim: Okay. I guess because that global grant site was one of the first ones I really worked on with Thesis and I was trying to be so organized and I put all those images in. There were a ton of images and majority of them were going into a slide show. What I realized I was doing in the end was duplicating all of my work because I was having to put all of these images in for some slide show plugin in a different way and it felt like then I was in the Media Gallery. Does that make sense? I had so many images uploaded, it was a mess.

Rick: Yes. If the plugin doesn’t use the Media Library, then it can be a mess and it can be better to use the plugin system. Next week we’re going to talk about the NextGen gallery because that’s exactly what happens here. The WordPress gallery does not do this right, this is something that’s done by NextGen. NextGen manages the images itself and so you wouldn’t want to upload the NextGen images into the Media Library because you just have to upload them in a NextGen as well.

Kim: Exactly, that’s my point. Now, I really try to think about what my plugin is because that one site took me so long just for the images alone then I had to go back in and delete all those I wasn’t using. The one thing I really don’t like about the Media Gallery is that it has say 3 or 4 of the same images but it doesn’t really say just out there in the Media Gallery which one is being used so I could delete and clean my stuff up when I’m not using an image.

In that case, I had so many images and I didn’t know which one was being used and which one wasn’t. Is there an easy way to go into the Media Library and just try to delete the ones you’re not using?

Rick: The Media Library will tell you whether or not it’s attached.

Kim: Right, but you need to open them all up.

Rick: No. You can see it says, “Attached to” and here’s one that says, “Unattached”.

Kim: Okay, there’s on the side that says it’s “Unattached” and I can just delete that if I didn’t want it?

Rick: Right.

Kim: Okay, because I have way too many images in the Media Library that should just be cleaned up because they are confusing.

Rick: I’m totally sympathetic of that. Our Media Library is huge, we have 2122 elements in our Media Library. We have 22 pages of Media Library with a hundred images per page. It’s because we just have various versions of the same images. You’ve got a thumbnail image for the video and a splash screen image for the video and a Google XML Sitemap image for the video and so on.

Images and Slideshows

Kim: Speaking of trying to be organized, you said if I can go ahead and share my screen so you can look at my “Brantlers” site, which is another thing that I completely wasted my time on. I found a cool slide show that I love, it’s very easy to use but it has to have a specific size. In the beginning I was just throwing stuff in because I was so excited about the slide show and then I realized it has this specific size that I made them too large because when I fit them in they were too large for the page.

I finally realized I made a screenshot and figured out what size they should be. Talking about trying to be organized, some of the slideshows are really cool but you should figure out what you’re going to do with it before you start throwing stuff in there because for me, loading all that media takes a lot of time and it just waste my time.

Rick: Yes, especially if you have to trim every one of them by 20 pixels or something like that, right?

Kim: Yes, exactly so I had to go back and do it again and I was like, “Oh my God that’s not big enough, this should be bigger”. Then I decided I should take a screen shot and figure out exactly how big it should be. Those are the things that I’m learning as I go along. If I like this slide show then try to figure the size and be a little bit more organized about my approach. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I just want to share that because I think in all your mistakes, you’ll learn as you go along which I completely love but at the same after you’ve made that mistake often times you’re like, “Oh my God, I should remember that already”. That’s all I want to say.

Displaying a Slug Rather than a Title

Rick: Okay, nice Kim. Goodnight. Penny has a question. First I have to make myself the presenter. Good evening Penny, your question was, “Is there a way to display the slug rather than a title on your “All Pages” screen? Some of my titles are similar and makes it hard to find the correct page when editing.

I believe you can show the slug but let’s look at Pages. It doesn’t look like you can. Although you might consider using my numbering scheme that I taught last week for organizing your pages. If that doesn’t help you, you might consider using a plugin called “Admin Columns” under Settings.  I think “Admin Columns” will let you put a slug in. If I look at “Page”, I could include or display the slug. Hit “Save Changes” there from my pages and then come back over to “All Pages” and I think the slug will show in the column now. There it is, there’s my slug.

Codepress Admin Columns Plugin

That is a plugin called “Admin Columns” that I use for organizing the administrative side. Let’s just make sure we get the name of that plugin right, that would be “Codepress Admin Columns”. This plugin is pretty handy, we use it for other purposes but obviously you can do what you want to do with that. Thank you for asking the question Penny and glad to have you with us.

Plugins on BYOBWebsite

Good evening, John.

John: Hi, Rick how are you?

Rick: I’m doing fine, thank you. How are you?

John: Good, thanks!

Rick: You’re interested in “Scribe”?

John: Yes. I saw a kind of flash of it real quickly, it looked interesting and I wanted to know how it goes beyond Thesis because Thesis claims that it’s heavily organized around SEO and I was curious how you use it. My follow up question is, are you going to talk about the specific plugins that you use at some point here on this series?

Rick: We are going to talk about the specific plugins that I use on the specific site that we are developing on Thursday but I’ll be delighted to answer any other questions about plugins. Obviously, I use a lot of plugins and if you look on the site under “Video Tutorials and Plugins”, you can see the fairly long list of plugins that we teach and pretty much all of those plugins work fairly well together.

There are probably a couple of limited exceptions that have to do with plugins like the Tiny MCE Advance Editor that are no longer available under “Plugins”.  I’ve got probably at least 35 plugins listed under here and we have a fair number of videos on how to use them.

John: Some of them were yours that you created and some of them are available elsewhere, is that correct?

What Does the Scribe Plugin Do for SEO

Rick: Yes. I have 14 or maybe 15 plugins but the majority of them are other plugins. In terms of Scribe itself, Scribe doesn’t do what Thesis does. Scribe is an analysis tool and it doesn’t provide any SEO directly. What it does is it analyzes what you’ve done for SEO and it scores the title, the description and the body. This page is a little light on words. We have 219 words and we should have at least 300 words but it has got hyperlinks and keyword density and does a keyword analysis of the page.

Here are the primary keywords based on the actual content of the page and iit makes some suggestions for some keywords that you might want to add if we were going to increase them and it has some alternate keywords. This alternate keyword tool is an analysis of Google search results and these are the suggestions based on search traffic in the last 30 days for suggested keywords based on the content of the page.

It shows you what he search result looks like based on the work you’ve done and it has a little article on SEO Best Practices. It’s not a free plugin, I think it costs us $30 a month or something like that to use this but we use it to try and keep ourselves honest. We think we know what it takes in order to do Search Engine Optimization on the page. Since we think we know what it takes if we didn’t test ourselves, we just go on our merry way and gradually erode. So this keeps us honest and keeps us doing something that we think is useful to us.

John: Sure. Well it helps to have that reminder and that structure.

Rick: We’ve been using it for a year and our search traffic has almost tripled in a year. It’s not all because we use that plugin but we do think that relying on that plugin to keep us doing what we’re supposed to be doing even though I showed you pages that should have some stuff on them but don’t and in spite of that, we do pretty well. It’s a terrific plugin, it’s written and sold by the guys who do Genesis.

John: Yes, I thought so. By Copyblogger and all that?

Rick: That’s right. When it was originally written, it only worked in Thesis and Genesis but now it can work in a bunch of other context as well. It reads those Thesis and Genesis specific search engine optimization tools.

John: That $30 a month is for just one site or does it apply to however many site you run?

Rick: We can use it on client sites too. You can use it on any site you want. I think we get 300 evaluations a month and we’ve done 25 evaluations this month.

John: You have a gracious plenty.

Rick: We don’t use it up to its capacity and $30 a month seems like it’s enough.

John: That’s very helpful, thank you. That caught my eye and I wanted to know more about that and I really look forward to Thursday to hear about other plugins. I’m trying to keep plugins off of my Thesis site just to keep it cleaner but I’m sure that I’ve gone too far in that direction and I’m not really using things that I should or could to my best advantage with that kind of philosophy so I will appreciate your input.

Rick: It’s all about the function. We have 45 active plugins on the site, some of those plugins are administrative-based. Some of them we use like BackupBuddy, Google XML Sitemaps and Administrative Columns. We have a bunch in here that work in the administrative side and because our site is so large, we need a lot of administrative help. We need to be able to nest pages and collapse the views of pages so that we can quickly find what we want to edit and find what we’re looking for so we have a lot of administrative plugins. We also “dog food” a bunch of our plugins meaning that we use them on our own sites.

John: I’m not sure what you mean about that? Can you say it again?

Rick: We use our own plugins, we have these plugins right on our site that we offer to our members but we use them on our site too so that if there’s a problem with the plugin, we experience the problem ourselves. “We eat our own dog food”, that’s the explanation.

John:  You use your own “dog food”, I get it.

Rick: That’s right. We have lots of different functionalities that we want and so it takes a lot of plugins to do all of those functionalities. Sometimes I think our site is still too slow and some of the reasons why the site is too slow is because I’m not as good a programmer as I could be and I probably have some programming that’s not as efficient as I ought to be. Another reason why this is too slow is because we use some plugins whose programmers aren’t as good programmers as they could be.

It maybe the case that if we remove some plugins, our site would go a little bit quicker but what really comes down in my mind is as long as you aren’t using plugins that you know are egregiously slow like some kinds of social networking plugins and as long as they are providing necessary service to your user, then I think it’s a good choice to use them. If it’s just there to do a flashing light or put a badge on the site or something like that, then it’s probably a good idea not to put them in there.

John: Right. Just code it in if you need it that bad.

Rick: If you are at the point in your WordPress development that you are capable of just coding it in that’s great. Where you really find yourself though is in deciding whether or not you should code it in directly using your Custom Functions PHP File or if you should just create a plugin for it. Once you’re really developing at that level, creating a plugin makes it easy to manage and makes it easy for you to extract all of the code related to that function out of the equation.

I have several examples of that here on the site, my “Video Teaser Widget”. This is a widget that shows the teasers and the sidebar for a certain class of videos. I could have written all that code in Custom Functions PHP but it’s very easy for me to deactivate this widget and take all of its code out of the equation if I have any troubleshooting. I can essentially bracket around that big pile of code and know that if I deactivate it and the problem still exists then that block of code had nothing to do with it.

That’s a much harder thing to do in the Custom Functions PHP File and all of its associated files that you may have added to the site. Once you are at a point where you can decide, “Do I want to use a plugin or should I just code it”? That’s the point in which you really start asking yourself, “Is it easier for me to manage this in the long run as code or as a plugin that I can simply remove from the equation when I have to troubleshoot”?

John: Okay. Are most plugins written through the page PHP component?

Rick: When you’re customizing Thesis or if you were customizing a child theme of any other theme, the standard place for your functions is in a Functions PHP File, that’s where it all starts. Certainly it’s the case if you’re just going to add one little thing to a page. It can be very simple just to write a function for that and stick it in your Custom Functions PHP File. If you’re creating a large block of functionality that interacts with lots of parts to your site, I think it’s probably a better idea to just do it as a plugin so that you can pull it out when you have to troubleshoot and put it back in as a whole.

John: That makes total sense. When I first bought Thesis a year and a half ago, I didn’t know anything about CSS or PHP.  I now feel reasonably comfortable around CSS and I’ve done a little bit of PHP but I certainly don’t do huge chunks of PHP and I certainly don’t call myself a coder so being able to knock my way around is as far as I’ve gotten. Moving up to the level of writing a plugin is beyond where I am at the moment but I’ll keep that in mind because what you’re saying does make sense.

Rick: Some time this year we’re going to do a seminar on writing a plugin because the seminars that I’m familiar with on the topic, I think are either too simplistic or too complicated. They don’t find the happy medium where you can actually do something that’s useful while using all of the WordPress API’s that are available.

I think as soon as a person is comfortable using Custom Functions PHP, it can be a fairly easy thing for them to decide, “Well, okay I want to create my own widget because it would save me time, it would be more efficient if I had a widget that did just this”. The way to do that really is with the plugin and that’s not very difficult to do really. It’s just that the current crop of tutorials are either very complicated or they’re far too simple.

John: I’m just going to say I like what you’re saying and I like you hitting that middle ground with the new seminar and I look forward to that because that might appeal right to where I am. I’ve tried to study a little bit about PHP, I’ve checked books out at the library but it’s just more involved and frankly I don’t have time to get involved with it at the moment but learning a little bit more about it is just probably a smart idea.

At one point I didn’t care to learn CSS but actually I really enjoy that now and I have a lot of fun with that because I have increased my skills enough that is not a pain in the butt anymore whereas PHP at the moment for me is more of a pain in the butt. I could imagine that I could get to the same place with PHP but it will take more work and I look forward to your seminar about that. That sounds great.

Rick: Well, I’m looking forward in doing that too, that will be coming up some time this year.

John: Okay. Listen Rick, thank you very much. Again I’ve enjoyed the series and I’m looking forward to the rest of them. Thank you again.

Rick: Right. Thank you John. Goodnight. Do we have any other questions? It doesn’t look like it actually. We’ll be back on Thursday and we’re going to be talking about Plugins and what they are, what they do, how to use them, which plugins we’re going to be using on the site, what we’re going to be dealing with the topics that we skipped over on last Thursday when we kind of built the little style here.

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