If you're playing along with those of us who are taking the Gutenberg Challenge, this is my post for week two. This time, I'm using the text editor. I decided to go with the text editor this time because it's slightly easier. Sorry WordPress, not even you can win the WYSIWYG VS. text editor war. 🙂 As with the first post, these are my not-so-edited thoughts.

First, a working analogy for blocks

I spent some time mulling over this throughout the weekend, and I've decided to settle on the following working analogy. Part of this is because I cheated and looked at some of the code, as well as the generated markup. This will probably also work for widgets. So let's say that you have a bunch of magnets in different shapes and sizes. With widgets, your shapes and sizes are pretty uniform, and widget areas in themes are like metal surfaces you can stick them to. I'm thinking of a toy I got as a kid that was a big metal board/frame/rectangular surface, with letters that had magnets on the back so you could make words on the board but with the letters raised. Yeah, it's incredibly simplistic, but it works. With the introduction of Gutenberg, WordPress is just going to magnetize everything, and the pile of magnets now includes letters, numbers, special characters, punctuation, and every other shape under the sun. OK. So far so good. I think though that this has the potential to make web pages/other web things pretty much fluid from a design perspective, protean even, and I hope there's an upper limit somewhere. Something like, let's try to educate people about design principles, because hamburger menus inside posts, and I would like to reserve some things for the CSS/HTML realm. I know we're democratizing publishing and everything, but democracies have rules. Not sure what I think of this wp:core/freeform tag, which basically means we're using a text widget to add text to a post. I'm keeping an open mind, but it seems to me as though WordPress wants to create its own
tag, and that we've definitely stepped into overengineering territory. After all, it's just text, HTML already has tags for this, (tons of them), and if this is for possible styling later, we're just trading div soup for non-standard WordPress self-created tag soup. So yeah Gutenberg, we're not friends yet, but I'm not kicking you out either. I'm missing my meta boxes though. My screen seems so lonely without them. So I'll be heading back over to my tried and true edit post screen to put the finishing touches on this, and you can hang out down here in your little submenu, well away from my other content types for now.

Those of you who were around in the pre-Web 2.0 era (before 2005-ish) will remember that early bloggers used to have a list of other blogs they read in their sidebars. That list was known as the “blogroll” and it was a great way for newbies to get to know established bloggers. The other neat thing about the blogroll was that it was a token of respect to the bloggers you admired.

–RICHARD MACMANUS, AltPlatform

Blogrolls used to be a thing in WordPress, except WordPress refered to them as “Links”, and you managed them using the Links Manager. I think there’s still a working plugin for this, and if you’re like me and you’ve had a long-running WordPress installation, the links manager is still in your administration panel. I think blogrolls got an amused mention last weekend at WordCamp Europe as well, but I have to agree with the post I’m quoting. they were a fun part of the web, and I’m thinking that, they really should be brought back. I used to have quite a full blogroll, and yes, I made a point of reading most of them every day. Mine specifically didn’t have a lot of news sites on it, just blogs, mostly personal ones. I’m not saying that news sites couldn’t be listed, (the cool thing about blogrolls was that you could list whatever you wanted, and other people could see what you were reading), but I always liked to keep mine more personal and less edited.

There’s a site called WPRoll that I think still lives, but it seems to be more of a list of influencers. There is, however, an OPML file you can get that has all the blogs, that you can then import into your RSS reader. I’ve done this, and for the time being I’m using the WordPress.com reader, because it’s the most accessible one that I’ve found that I can also use on my phone.

But yes, we should definitely bring blogrolls back. The web, and the world, could use a little more let’s-get-to-know-each-other, and that’s what blogrolls provided.

Last weekend, during WordCamp Europe, Matt Mullenweg announced that Gutenberg, (the upcoming WordPress editor that will replace TinyMCE as well as become integrated into the WordPress customization experience), is now available for downloading and testing. So of course people have started playing with it, and Aaron Jorbin issued the following challenge on Twitter today.

The Gutenberg Challenge

I broke my own cardinal rule and installed this on a live site, because I need content to play with. I'll start with the good first. I appear to be able to add blocks and move them around using the visual editor part and a screen reader. Now for the not so good.

I can type a post title, but I have to add a block just to start typing text. I can see myself switching to text when this goes live, because writing a post like this is turning out to be incredibly inefficient, cumbersome even, and I'm not sure if that's because I'm just used to writing HTML and can do that in my sleep and so I don't use WYSIWYG editors, or if it's because of the software, or both. I'm also not sure if paragraphs are supposed to be in their own separate blocks although I suppose if you're going to be moving them around, they probably should be each in their own block. I can see this increasing the cumbersomeness exponentially. Right now I'm thinking of what it would be like to write one of the WordPress with a Screen Reader posts in this and I want to just crawl under my desk and never write again. I've lived in the WordPress dashboard daily since 2005, and I'm finding this really frustrating. I can see someone new to WordPress who uses a screen reader just giving up on this. Admittedly, as I mentioned above, this could all just be I'm not used to using a visual editor like this. I also realize that this is only six months along, and that it's in its early stages. I'll also continue to play with it so I can get used to this, and then explain it to other screen reader users. But I think I'm going to end here for now because this is completely overwhelming, I'm unable to separate my own experience from what's supposed to be happening and be fair and objective about this, and, (I'm only half joking here), Gutenberg is causing me to question my life choices right now.

Recently, I was told by more than one person who had a private meeting with VFO salespeople at CSUN 2017 that the guys trying to sell JAWS are telling those who buy enterprise site licenses that “NVDA is just two guys working in a garage, if they’re hit by a bus, the whole thing disappears.”

NVDA: Now More Than Ever!
I’d like to talk a little bit about the “two-guys-in-a-garage” argument. Chris goes on to demonstrate why it’s completely false in NVDA’s case. But even if it were completely true, it’s still one of the most short-sighted arguments that can be used against FLOSS. “Two-Guys-In-A-Garage” is the argument you make when you have nothing else. You can’t prove that your functionality is better, so you try to argue in favor of scarcity.

We’re at the point where Jaws for Windows, (the so-called best-in-class screen reader), is aping NVDA, (its FLOSS rival), in order to stay relevant. This is especially evident when it comes to the web, where NVDA shines and where Jaws for Windows continues to lag behind. And unfortunately for VFO, (the parent company behind Jaws for Windows), the web their screen reader struggles with is the thing that’s eating the world. Everything is going web. It’s not just pages anymore, it’s applications now too. And Jaws for Windows can’t keep up with NVDA in this arena.

I, like a lot of other people in this community, was devastated by the news that Window Eyes is being discontinued. But NVaccess and the rest of the NVDA community are providing us with the freedom and choice that the big player believes they have the right to take away from us, and this is very heartening. So NVDA, you keep being you and doing what you do best, because when VFO crashes and burns, I want to be first in line to dance on its grave with a drink in both hands.

When WebAIM evaluates a client’s website for accessibility, we often spend more time evaluating and reporting on ARIA use than any other issue. Almost every report we write includes a section cautioning against ARIA abuse and outlining ARIA uses that need to be corrected or, most often, removed. Ironically, this is often followed by a list of issues that can only be addressed with ARIA.

WebAIM – Web Accessibility In Mind

This quote gets to the heart of my own love-hate relationship with Aria. As a screen reader user, I’ve seen abuses that make me want to strangle developers. I think the worst abuse I’ve ever come across, (and I’m sorry I can’t find it again to provide a demonstration of it), was one where role=”alert” was used to deliver advertisements and calls to action on a website. And it definitely did. “Alert! Buy our stuff! Alert! Download our e-book! Alert! sign up for our mailing list! Alert! Here’s this cool article you should read about whatever hot marketing tip! http://something.something/keyword! Alert! Here’s this other cool thing you should read!” Every few seconds. I have no idea whether the site’s developers or owners or marketers were specifically intending to advertise to screen reader users, or whether they were just trying to get past ad blockers, and I don’t care. All I know is, that site enraged me more than any comments section ever could, and I couldn’t close the window and file it under “Places You Never Go on the Internets Ever Again Under Any Circumstances” fast enough. WordPressers, do not ever do this. If you build sites for clients in any capacity, do not ever do this.

Admittedly, what I’ve recounted above is an extreme case. I’ve never come across anything like it again since. I’m recounting it though because what we as web professionals and hobbyists do on the web has a real impact on people, positive or negative. Whether that impact is positive or negative is solely dependent on us. We can make the web a place for everyone to enjoy and learn and be entertained and obtain things, or we can make it a place that people want to stay as far away from as possible. It’s up to us.

During the 2016 State of the Word, it was announced that the wordPress editing experience would go through a complete redesign. As part of this redesign, the WordPress project is currently conducting a survey to find out how WordPress users experience and use the current editor. This applies to self-hosted WordPress, not WordPress.com.

Feedback from all users is important, not just from users who are advanced or who are completely familiar with how WordPress works, or who don’t use any assistive technologies. I’m taking the survey myself, and below I’ll outline some tips for screen reader users to be aware of so that taking the survey is as easy as possible, whether you’re an advanced screen reader user who spends his or her days scouring the internets, or not.

The first thing to note is on page two of the survey, where there are two sets of radio buttons. If you’re using NVDA, don’t tab through this screen. All the radio buttons have labels, but once you’re done tabbing through the first set, you’ll still be in browse mode, and focus will move to the second set. The question relating to that second set will not be in the tab order. If you do choose to tab through this screen, exit browse mode once you reach the second set of radio buttons.

The second question on page two refers to the markup editor, and is accompanied by a screenshot. The markup editor is the text or code editor.

The third question on this page is also accompanied by a screenshot, and “these buttons” refers to the series of buttons above the content field in the text editor.

On page five, instead of radio buttons or checkboxes, there are a series of comboboxes inside list elements. Page six asks a series of questions specific to screen reader users, and one of them asks if there are any accessibility issues you may be experiencing with the current experience. This applies to either the text or visual editor, and the text field will allow you to enter a lot of detail, so I would encourage you to do so. There’s also a question that asks if you use other assistive technologies along with a screen reader, so if you use multiple assistive technologies, make your voice heard. The last page is a couple of open-ended questions with standard edit fields for you to enter information.

I hope you find these tips useful, and that screen reader users make a point of taking this survey. WordPress’s mission is to democratize publishing, and screen reader and other assistive technology users are just as much a part of “everyone” as those who don’t use any assistive technology. The feedback you provide through this survey will help WordPress ensure that the new editor is accessible to as wide an audience as possible, so if you have the time, and you use a screen reader along with WordPress, I hope you’ll consider taking this survey.

2016’s been a bit rough around here. Three close friends have died, two from cancer and one of them in a car accident. Two of those deaths happened recently, less than a month apart, and I’m still unpacking those. But there’s also been an amazing amount of awesome this year too, and I’ll detail that below.

2016 Achievements

I haz the props!

One of the goals I set for myself in review of 2015 was to contribute code to WordPress core. In March of 2016, I received my first WordPress props, and in April of 2016 I was recognized as part of the motley crew of contributors to WordPress 4.5, otherwise known as Coleman. This was a huge achievement for me because I’ve pretty much been a WordPress evangelist in both my personal and professional lives since 2005, and it was really awesome to earn a spot on the WordPress credits page.

DictationBridge

DictationBridge, before it even had a name, began when Pranav Lal, Lucy Greco of UC Berkeley, and I started working together to discuss making a free addon for $750 just to bring a license current. I can’t be the only one in this situation, and I don’t believe anyone else should pay up to 68% of the retail price as a penalty.

In July of 2015, Chris Hofstader joined the team to take over the executive role on the effort. Together, Pranav, Chris, Lucy and I built out the amazing team of fourteen that’s bringing DB to the world.

In August and September of 2015, Pranav and Chris tried to negotiate a licensing deal with a group in Germany to use their code as the core of DictationBridge. The German group wished to maintain proprietary source code which was a deal breaker for DB, as we were committed from the start to the values of an open source project. Chris then called Mike Calvo and they negotiated an agreement that permitted Serotek to license the dictation code from its SystemAccess screen reader in a manner compatible with our philosophy that a blind or otherwise disabled person should never be forced to pay a penny more than anyone else to use the same technology. The agreement with Serotek made history as it’s the first time a vendor of proprietary closed source assistive technology software has agreed to open up its source in exchange for a very modest licensing fee.

The next bit of history we made happened when the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco made an official endorsement of and large monetary contribution to the DictationBridge campaign. Quoting Brian Bashin, CEO of the SF Lighthouse, “The Lighthouse believes it has a moral obligation to support the access needs of blind and visually-impaired people wherever they live.” During the discussions between the DB team and our friends at SF Lighthouse, one of the major goals we set was to ensure that a blind person in an emerging nation could buy a cheap laptop at a flea market and have full access to dictation features built into Windows, a goal we’ve never heard expressed by a large organization in the blindness space before. By collaborating with SF Lighthouse, the DictationBridge team built what we hope to be a long standing bridge between those of us in the free software community and at least one well established advocacy organization.
The nature of the DictationBridge team is also a first of its kind in the blindness business. The team is made up of people from two businesses (3 Mouse Technology and Serotek), a number of independent contributors and a coalition of activists in the blindness and technology world. The team has a number of members for whom dictation is a requirement and not a feature and we’ve some of the strongest engineering and management talent available in the world of accessibility. Assembling an ad hoc team like this one on which everyone works toward a common goal is unprecedented in this field.

Both of these achievements helped add some awesome to a year that I couldn’t be happier to see on its way out. I haven’t nailed down next year’s plans yet, but they will definitely include more contributions to WordPress, and, hopefully, more projects like DictationBridge. With DictationBridge, we’re fast approaching the first public beta. And there’s still plenty left to do. Free software hasn’t eaten the assistive technology world yet, and this is something that can’t happen soon enough.

For right now, those are the only goals I have for 2017. I’m still working through what I want to accomplish as far as my business is concerned, and more importantly, a plan of action for accomplishing it without killing myself in the process. So for now, I’ll say a hardy goodbye to 2016, and as far as 2017 is concerned, bring it on.

This one covers a rather long period of time, (see: the holidays), and there’s also a lot of heavy reading in it. Not all of these posts are technically recent, and I’ve made a point of including things that are a bit more out-of-the-way and that aren’t featured on the big sites like Smashing Magazine or CSSTricks. Not that I don’t like those sites. It’s just that I assume that most of us already have their content coming to us through their feeds or social profiles. And, like music, the best content isn’t the stuff that gets released for air play. It’s everything else on the album. Enjoy.

WordPress

Why WordPress removed the underline button from the visual editor.

BobWP on WooCommerce Connect, a neat little plugin I haven’t yet had the chance to play with yet.

Pagely has a guide for the WordPress community on SSL, which is becoming rather more important now that Google’s seriously gunning for plain old http. Tim Nash has an even more in-depth guide to SSL that’s suitable regardless of whether or not you use WordPress, and has become my favorite to pass around.

There’s a cool little plugin that clones sites within a WordPress multisite network.

Carrie Dils with a pretty neat guide to using staging sites on WP Engine, which I’ve used for the last two years and still managed to learn from this guide. Maybe it helps when someone else writes it down. 🙂

You can, and therefore should, control the activation of your WooCommerce extensions so that you don’t confuse users of your plugin.

Web Development

Some pretty epic criticism of that “best-developers-are-always-hacking” tweet:

Joe, people are angry at this tweet. Can you guess why? Perhaps it’s the implication by you, as a CEO, that anyone not working over the holidays is not good enough?

A really enjoyable read about building a really fast website from the developer’s perspective. Lots of ego in here, but also lots of humor.

Improving site performance while using gifs gives a brief history of the file format, as well as the promised site performance tweeks.

Creating shapes with CSS, and then going further to create more advanced shapes.

Upload files to your raspberry pi from anywhere using a browser.

An introduction to local and session storage in JavaScript.

Web Accessibility

Dennis Lembree has a few things to say about parallax design, the issues it can cause for a slightly-larger-than-WordPress-sized market share of people, ending with a reading list of further resources on just about everything he covers in the short article that I would encourage everyone to read, especially designers.

Cristopher Broyles offers some insight on how data analytics can be used by businesses to improve their digital accessibility.

Some well-deserved praise for the W3C for leading the charge toward a fully inclusive web from the American Foundation for the Blind.

A tutorial on building accessible modal dialogs by Paul J. Adam on the Deque Systems blog. Definitely keep this in your toolbox.

Mailchimp has some quick tips for creating accessible email newsletters, and I for one hope that this means they’ll start working on the user interface they provide to create those newsletters so that it’s accessible too.

WooCommerce has a post about the importance of accessibility for online stores, which includes some tips and links to free tools you can use to get started with making your store more accessible, thus potentially gaining more customers.

Some very useful information on accessible emoji by LĂ©onie Watson with a solution for displaying the contents of the aria-label attribute to users with vision by Adrian Roselli, who wanted to make sure the playing field was level and included people who don’t always understand what the emojis mean.

I’ve covered a lot in this week’s round-up, but if you think there’s something not included that should be, feel free to leave it in the comments below.

In an effort to ensure I can find things later, I’ve decided to begin compiling a weekly roundup of WordPress, web accessibility and web development posts. So, welcome to the first edition. For now these are in no particular order.

Tony Gines on designing user interfaces for my mother.

As designers and developers, it’s our responsibility to make our websites not only useable, but enjoyable enough to come back to again and again.

Patrick Roland on how to be a better human, as a wrap-up of this year’s WordCamp U.S.

Karl Groves on chasing the accessibility business case, which is the conclusion of a series of posts on the topic which is worth the read and is something I always come back to for review. The main takeaway from the post is that the best argument in favor of accessibility that any business can use comes down to one word: quality.

Yoav Weiss on contributing to Chromium and the web platform itself.

Firebug is going away.

Sixty Minutes takes some of the worst examples of disability rights lawyers and sets them up as the only examples, shutting down any meaningful meaningful community-specific discussion about what is and what is not ADA trolling in the process.

Adrian Roselli on how we reward the wrong things when judging the quality of websites

Faith Macanas provides some greate starting advice for WordPress site owners by laying out some questions you should ask before adding an eCommerce plugin to your site.

Nick Hams on the true cost of bargain basement WordPress themes. I couldn’t agree more.

There’s a lot to read for this edition, so I’ll end it here for now. Enjoy, happy reading, and come back next week for the best finds from the WordPress, web accessibility and web development worlds.

This year’s WordCamp U.S. took a very human-centered approach to what we do. Part of that approach is being honest about both the successes and the failures, and the best example of a talk on this subject was “Managing Your Iceberg” by Cory Miller of iThemes. I normally share these talks with the corresponding video, but this one was too good to wait for the video to appear on WordPress.TV. I’ll add that video and the slides once they’re available, but for now, here’s the transcript.

Anger, frustration. Every time I’ve shared every single time I’ve — I went through a

divorce, and remarried. They think my wife, today, was the wife they may have met

eight years ago. Because I’m really good at sharing just the top. What I want you to

see is right there. But you need to look at that list and it gives me heartburn

thinking about it a little bit. Insecurity, no matter what I’ve done, no matter what

I’ve achieved, no matter how many pats in the back I get, I get that, criticism, hate,

criticism, failure, fear. In the bio, you only heard the good stuff that my friend

shared about me. You didn’t hear the bad stuff. Money problems, burnout. That’s the

bottom of the iceberg. Now, the bottom of the iceberg that I want to point out is

depression. That’s the scary stuff. That’s the stuff that I realized having dealt

with depression, having learned a little bit more about depression, having talked to

people who struggled with it their entire lives, that’s the scary stuff that I don’t

mess around with because when you get to the very bottom of the iceberg, at the depths

is where you find depression, and even worse things, and I don’t mess around with

that, by the way.
So you probably think, Cory, why are you sharing all this stuff today. And it’s

because hey, I want you to know something. You read my bio, you hear these things,

and you go, maybe Cory’s got stuff figured out. And in reality, I don’t. I share

that because I’ve had some level of success, my definition of success, maybe not

yours. I’ve had some level of success, but that’s all I want you to see, because

that’s I want you to see and that’s all people want to talk about. But I share these

things because about five years ago, I got into a business group in Oklahoma City.

Guys that have been there, done that, built big companies, amazing men, some of the

best friends in my life and we met every month for three hours for the last five years

sharing the depth. This is an icebreaker, we go down to the depths. And every single

time we have met for the last five years, I repeat to myself over and over and over,

“I’m not alone.” And that’s a pretty good warm and fuzzy feeling to go, man, these

guys, who I think have everything put together perfectly, have been there and done it

are just like me. They have the same problems with different names attached to it.

So the message today I want to tell you if I don’t pour water on my laptop is…
[ Laughter ]
I didn’t tell you that this would be a polished speech, by the way but you’re not

alone. So here’s my story. So I shared this two years ago and I said this is the

first time publicly, people have heard some of these things. But my iceberg story I

want to share with you today is from about five years ago when this all kind of

started. So five years ago, the top of the iceberg looked like this. My lifelong

dream was to publish a commercial book. And in that year, my dear friend Lisa Wilson

said, would you like to co-author a WordPress for dummies book? And filled go about

investing, I would invest in For Dummies. So I got to check that off. Oh, my gosh, I

get to go to a book store and see my actual name on a book, a For Dummies book. Hit a

million sales. I don’t tell you that to brag. I got the statement at the end of the

year and I said, “We did it! We got the high score! We don’t get to take all that

money in my pocket but it was just a video game. I found this geeky way that, you

know, my kind of game as business, and we hit that, that was fun on my statement. We

might have been $2 over, but that was our product, that launched that year. That

changed my business, my life, lots of people’s lives have been helped by it. Huge

thing that we did that year. The second thing that we did as a geeky thing was an RV

trip, we got eight sweaty geeks and Lisa Wilson in an RV. She flew from Oklahoma

City, to Boulder, Colorado, for WordCamp Boulder. And bless her heart, she still

likes me, and we have fun. Every little inch you move the RV and maybe if she was

standing in the back, it made her a little sick when you did that. You don’t get that

joke? So we started speaking at WordCamp and that was the fun stuff. That was the

stuff that you would have saw if you were watching my life in 2013, 2010. That’s what

I would have catered and shared with you. Here’s what really happened in 2010.
So wife of seven years and filed for divorce the week after we came back from WordCamp

Denver. My team didn’t know. Most of my — what I would say my dearest friends

didn’t know. For six months before that happened, they didn’t know what was going on

in my life. No one that truly cared about me knew what I was going through because I

put myself into a self-exclusion, and pride, ego, whatever you want to call it,

embarrassment, shame. I didn’t tell anyone who was really going on in my life. And

so when people go, all of a sudden, “You’re filing for divorce?” What’s going on,

right? My team didn’t know for a while, and they did know and they got dragged along

by it. I slept in our office. We have Ikea furniture, you know? And I was like, “I

got no place to go because I’m too prideful to ask anybody to let me have their couch

but we’ve got couches at their office, but man, that thing creeks and I can’t sleep.”

So it was interesting. So I slept a couple of nights in the office. Here’s this

person that’s running a business and has had some success professionally. I was at

the height of my life professionally, and I was at the lowest in my life personally.

Absolutely miserable. I loved my job because I’ve had a different job, since I was

16, every two years I’ve had a different job. Until I got to iThemes, and I’ve been

there for two years until. But I said, I would rather go anywhere else but here. And

it was the first time that I didn’t want to go to work and it was the first time that

someone in my life, highly trained, licensed person said, “You are suffering from —

he called it low-grade depression.” And he offered to put me on medicine. And that

was a cold shower. So there’s my iceberg. So yesterday, one of my business

colleagues and friends asked me, Cory, on your blog, you write a lot about up and

downs and stuff like that. And so how’s everything going now? Up and down, up and

down, the iceberg didn’t change. I might not be dealing with the same things as 2010

and 2011. My iceberg today, if you go back to that screen that talks about

insecurity, and fear, and anger, and all that stuff, it’s still there. I’ve added

nuance to my iceberg and that’s my two lovely children. They provide some of the

highest highs, and I’ve never felt more of a failure than as a parent. The parents

just laughed.
[ Laughter ] Because you know how it is. Never in my life I thought, I’m going to

mess these kids up forever. I’m going to invest money just so they can get a lot of

counseling. Forget school. Is this resonating?
>> Yes.
>> Thank you for that feedback. So that’s my iceberg. so I started thinking: What

held me back then? And by the way, what still holds me back? There’s still tough

that I don’t share with anybody. Maybe one person, maybe two persons, maybe the

professionally licensed counselor that I pay that doesn’t see me at Thanksgiving and I

don’t have to say, “Could you pass the cranberries?” He may know, but there’s still

that I’m working on, man, I’m under construction forever. So I started thinking,

well, it’s ego. Healthy ego is good. You need to have health ego, and a sense of

self-worth and respect for yourself, right. Pride’s good is, right? I should be

proud of my team. I should be proud of my children when they do things, right? But

then there’s that negative side when it becomes a barrier to seeking help and that’s

what, back in 2010, when I started thinking about it, I go, it’s self-defense.

Somebody asked me the question and I go, you know, it’s really self-defense. I share

my story. Part of it — I’m going to be blatantly honest with you. I’m telling you

my story because I’m on the offense. I don’t tell you things because I’m on the

defense of it. I’ve got shame, pride, embarrassment, guilt, whatever those things.

These are the things that hold us back from actually living the true, human experience

at the max level. The things that in the way is my own self-defense mechanisms that I

put in front of me. It was four months of the worst time in my life and no one knew

until I go — I told somebody the other day when I was recounting the story, I just

wanted to go back to being a kid and I want to tell mom and dad that I’m hurting and

them to say I love you. But it took four months of isolation because I was so

prideful and I didn’t know that this marriage was going to the brink, it was

evaporating. I didn’t want to feel any kind of shame, or the guilt I was feeling — I

didn’t want people to bask in that guilt. That was the self-protective thing. I

didn’t want to feel embarrassed because other people see me naked and just raw, and

everything. And it’s a self-defense mechanism. I think there’s a part of that that

needs to stay there for me, self-defense and then there’s this other part that’s

saying, “You are not doing good and healthy things by locking this stuff up in the

key.” One of my dear friends and CEO, or COO, we were talking and he recount this

quote I’m probably going to butcher it: How do I deal with stuff? Through a lot of

unhealthy coping mechanisms. Yeah, I butchered that quote. But we find a lot of

very bad, unhealthy ways to cope and we lock ourselves up, and we suffer in silence.

Part of the reason why I shared this message with you is because I know I suffered in

silence and that many other — there’s a stigma about mental health and getting help

and counseling, sharing the fact that I deal with depression, I am manic depressive.

Whatever the DSM-5, or whatever, you go down the list, and it’s time that we embrace

the human experience, the iceberg, and allow people to truly live life free. And part

of that is loosening up the stuff that happens underneath the iceberg. So I’m going

to share a couple things with you real quick. It might sound random but as I’ve

reflected on what has helped me and what I cling to knowing I’ll continue Mimi DNA, my

habit, my genetics tell me — I’m going to hide stuff for the rest of my life, I’m not

going to share my iceberg stuff. That’s my first default thing, hide it, bury it,

share you my good face. Get my pockets real tight and give you a smile. But these

are the things that I need to share with you, that I cling to. I don’t do it

perfectly. But these are the things that save my life — continue to save my life.

The first is what I call my life-support team. Now there’s this co-dependency side

that you gotta be careful of. But the life support team was the people in my life

when I shared what was going on in my marriage, in my life, embraced me instead of

push me back in a way. It’s the people in your life that rush in when others rush

out. When they see a big fire, they’re not standing out going, “Look at that! That’s

funny. I’d love to see his misery.” It’s the people that would pick up the bucket

and run water on the flames, and I would run into a burning building to help somebody.

Those are the people that matter. So… before I tell you who they are this is their

job description for me. This is what they genuinely offer is they’re open, genuine,

loving, they’re WYSIWYG. Hey, I snuck in a tech thing for you. They’re what you see

is what you get. They’re not trying to do an facade. I’m an entrepreneur in Oklahoma

City. And one of the most talented people in my life. He moved from another state

and I said, you know what, this guy has known me for 15 minutes and says, I went

without a paycheck a couple of times this year. And I just step back and I go, “Dude,

thank you. Thank you for being WYSIWYG, thank you for being full spectrum of

iceberg.” You could have said dude, better than ever, let’s score this client over

here. I went without a paycheck. So it’s WYSIWYG. The question I ask myself is: If

everything got turned upside down, who would I need? My business goes down the drain,

if something horrific and tragic happens to my life, who am I going to need to come

in, rush in, embrace me and say, “It’s gonna be okay.” You’re going to put 1 foot in

front of the other and we’re going to see some light. I have a dear friend who’s

going through this right now. My experience I’ll share with him is left foot, right

foot, left foot, right foot. Baby steps, do you remember that Bill Murray story?

Baby steps to the bus? You gotta Google that — or YouTube that because you’ll laugh.

But city of in front of the other. I said you’re going to have to take it in, mourn,

grieve with it, get sick by it, and you’re going to have to vomit it out and take the

step the next day. So those kinds of people. If you’re married, dating, first

partner, spouse. That’s Lindsay. Everyone who knows my story says, “Where’s

Lindsay?” My first lady. I’m her first laddie. But my first lady is the one that

knows me, and knows my BS, and says, “Are you okay? Maybe you should call Kyle.”

That’s my counselor that we share. It stings because I’m prideful and it’s true. My

first lady, she loves me cares about me, and she’s my first support team. My

relationship with my wife is my number one priority in this world but besides my own

health and happiness, she’s my number one relationship. And second if you’re in

business, I realize the importance of a sidekick, I talked to you about Matt Daner,

he’s my sidekick, he shows up every day, just by showing me that I’m not alone we’re

going to get through some stuff. This past week I had to let go of a family member

who was a part of our team and that kind of sucks. And he was standing next to me the

whole time. Gotta have a sidekick. Iceberg friendships. That’s the WYSIWYG stuff.

Let’s get past the surface level stuff, how are you doing? Oh it’s great. Oh, 5%,

quarter over quarter stuff. The one that just says I’m not just going to give you

this, I’m going to give you the full picture. We’re going to walk together. That

group in Oklahoma City, some of my dearest friends in my life, we are iceberg friends.

I call them, they call me. Nothing held back. Here it is, the full gamut. Also

many of the dearest friendships that I’ve held in my life are from the WordPress

community, they’re here sitting here today. Those friends don’t just give me the top

stuff, they love and care for me genuinely and I love and care for them and I want to

give my time and not my treasure, they don’t need my money. But my time, and my love

and affection to them, share and laugh together. We’ve got this hashtag

#familybychoice. So I put on my calendar, I think the match-up for me, I need an

alert that says, “Call Kyle.” Not even if you’re dealing with iceberg, below-the-

surface stuff. I gotta call Kyle. We have physical check-ups in this country, in

this world. Hit 40 this year. And now I have to get new glasses and stuff and I’m

really cranky about it. But we have physical check-ups. We go to the doctor and get

blood pressure and all this stuff but we don’t check up with here and here, heart and

soul, mind, what goes on underneath the surface. So four times a year, his name is

Kyle and we talk, as many times as needed. So we’re WordPress people, right? So

we’ll publish, or we’ll open a WordPress admin. Journaling. I’ve been doing that. I

would just vomit it out, get it out. Then I could see it, and have perspective on it

and then I can go and share it with one of my iceberg friendships, one of my

friendship people. Journaling has been one of the most amazing ways to get what’s

going on inside of you outside of you, and just put it all on paper, get it that

poison out of you and look at it for a second and go, no, no, no. So now I understand

it, I’m going to share it with somebody else. Journaling. There’s three books that I

would recommend to people every is access, pixels, paper, six pillars of self-esteem.

Do you remember that character on Saturday Night Live, Stewart Small? That’s this

book in the back. But it’s an incredible book. One of the best parts of it, there’s

probably just about ten pages of affirmations. But what’s funny is, when you read it,

it’s like, wow it’s true, it feels like that Saturday Night Live Stewart Small thing.

But it’s so great. One of the first lines is: I am worthy. The first time I read

that, I am worthy, it was so hard to read it, let alone read it. The affirmations in

the back of that book are worth it. When I go back and look at it and say, I have

value in this world and I won’t allow others to project their value on me. Feeling

Good is the next one. If you’ve been battling with depression. I’m not a trained

licensed counselor at all but I’ll tell you that this book has made a difference. I’m

not a licensed, practitioner, but I’m simply a broken person, there’s a whole section

about cognitive bias and, you know, we have I’m looking at emails and saying, is the

server down because we’re not getting payments and stuff and I’m going, the sky’s

falling, the sky’s falling! And I get to work and they’re like, Cory, it’s okay.

We’re going to make sales today. The last thing was Bound by a Cloud. Here’s your

homework. Since I was vulnerable with you today, I’m going to ask you to do

something. I want to to take pixels or paper, I want you to write three things that

you’re grateful for. Part of the iceberg stuff is we brag, share the good stuff but

we neglect something and that’s gratefulness. So I want you to say, pixel or paper,

three things that you’re grateful for. And then I want you to be real about it and

then say: What is happening underneath that surface that’s affecting my life, the

people around me. It may not have to be depression or cancer; it could be, I’ve got

to make a change in a relationship. I’m worried about money. Whatever that thing is,

your thing, underneath the iceberg, be honest, put that somewhere, right? And last

is, I want you to go: Now, trusted people, people that are iceberg people, that are

genuine, they’re WYSIWYG, that love me just for me. They know my baggage anyway and

they don’t judge me by it. Who are those people who are going to rush in right now,

and maybe today, you came here and you need to make a phone call. You need to step

out of session, and go somewhere private and say, “I’m dealing with something

underneath the surface and I need to talk, and I need your help.” I would be willing

to bet that there’s one person that needs to do that today. Last is: Brothers and

sisters, you’re not alone. It’s the human experience. I hope that I’ve shared that

with you, at least from my life, opened that up. I’m going to go crash and get into a

ball and try and recharge after this but you’re not alone. Thanks.
[ Applause ]
So we got Q&A time if you want to ask Q&A, or you can just share something.
>> They can come up to the microphone right here.
>> Regardless if you guys go come up, I’ll be here until Sunday. I’ll probably be a

little worn out. But every time I share this, there’s always been somebody who

private messaged me and I go, that is my mandate to continue sharing the story.
>> I just want to thank you. I just want to thank you for your bravery and sharing

your story today and since you’ve been sharing online over the last year or so. It’s

a very brave thing to do and I’m sure it’s touching a lot of people. So thank you.
>> One thing that my family does in Thanksgiving is we go around the table and say

what we’re thankful for. And family cannot be one of them. It’s something else.

That’s the copout for everyone. We do something else. Second thing, your iceberg

support team that you mentioned. Actually, a friend of mine is going through a

divorce and he’s actually staying at my house right now, a friend of mine that I’ve

known for 30 years. So I’m his support team and when I went through a break-up a few

years ago, he was my support team. So thank you for sharing this, as well.
>> There’s a book by Sean Anchor. They did a study or test and they said, this group

of executives say that at the end of the day around the table, I always forget about

saying we need to sit at the table and be a family, connected and his thing was to say

go around the table and say three things that you’re thankful for. And the uptick,

it’s one of his — Happiness Advantage is an incredible book. It should have been on

my book list but it made me think of Thanksgiving.
>> But what I was thankful for was I was able to help out my friend. And he’s since

lost his job. I work from home which is kind of good and bad, with him there… but,

but for him he’s got a place to stay and actually my wife’s son has moved in, as well.

So we were thankful that we were able to help people out because we have the space

and the ability to help them out.
>> Part of why I do things like that is to remember. So it is talking — people come

up and they go, man, a lot of people need to hear that. And I go, you and I need to

hear that. I need a reminder. This is the part of me. Getting my pride on, and

everything is going good. And next thing something happens, and I’m going to back,

and it’s a great reminder. I appreciate you sharing.
>> Thank you.
>> One of the things, and I think I should have said this earlier and it’s in my notes

is that in this industry to tie this specifically to WordPress and stuff is there’s a

lot of remote workers now. And then your introverts, and you might be dealing with

something. And I feel like I hear a lot of stories of loneliness because there’s no

interaction and you hide yourselves behind a TV and you force yourselves to go find

this. By the way, there’s people sitting next to you that’s going through stuff,

don’t forget to introduce yourselves, break into a circle and say hi, I’m Cory from

Oklahoma City, who are you, that kind of stuff but I think this is especially

challenging and I’ve heard this from people because you’re behind a computer desk at

your home, office, or whatever, there’s self-exclusion. I think we were sharing —

talking with somebody, a publisher yesterday saying that it’s a challenge within our

industry of loneliness. We have a Slack channel and all that. There’s a webinar

going on, and in the Slack channel, they’re talking about baseball and this. And I

go, “I get it.” It’s water cooler. It’s social time. But still there’s this heat

thing that you have, this warmth when you meet another fellow human being. I’m sorry.

I’m ranting — or not ranting… whatever.
>> Hi, my name is Amanda. Thank you, Cory for your talk. I thought it was just so

moving and I loved that you both offered this talk and I loved that it was accepted

for this conference. It’s just not the kind of thing that you really hear at a tech

conference and I really love that our community is about so much more than that. But

I would like to add on the gratitude front that they’ve done studies now, I think it

was for heart attack victims or stroke, where if they had the folks do a gratitude

practice every day, that they had significantly better health returns for that. So it

not only makes you feel good, it literally helps your body so anyways, thank you.
>> Absolutely. It’s the hardest thing to do, though. I don’t want to wallow in my

misery but when you start going, “I woke up this morning, I’m thankful of my

heartbeats.” I get to see people that love all that stuff and it’s so good. Paul?
>> I wanted to join everybody else in saying thank you but I also wanted to remind

everybody that this next month is really bad for people who are alone. And going

through things. I know six years ago, my wife passed away and that first Christmas

was just unbearable being alone. So if you know somebody that’s alone, or if you see

somebody that’s being alone, especially this next month, it’s so important to reach

out and I still have trouble with that, but I’m better at saying what to do in

reaching out to people than letting people reach out to me so…
>> Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
>> But I just wanted to point that out, that this next month is really important.
>> Excellent reminder, thank you, Paul.
>> Hey, Cory. I wanted to ask you about the difference between confidence in the

moment versus confidence over time.
>> Confidence?
>> Yeah, confidence. So I’ve been working with WordPress for about ten years, and it

wasn’t until about three years ago that I actually made contact with anyone, like, in

the community.
>> Yeah.
>> Over the past few years, I joined some online groups, I spoke at a WordCamp for the

first time last year. I feel a lot better about — I feel confident in helping people

that I haven’t answered for you, technically with WordPress problems. I can speak to

you, we can talk, and talk to you online but I have a really hard time putting up a

record. I managed to get hired somehow with a portfolio because I don’t feel it’s

worth it to put out there permanently. But I was wondering if you had any advice

translating that, feeling that you know what you’re doing in the moment versus if it’s

worth it over time.
>> It’s called “that moment right there.” If you look around — I’m going to

estimate probably 150 people? That’s the moment you go back to. Okay, then you take

a next step, and you remember that this day, this moment that you stood in front of

150 people, your peers, your colleagues, and you shared those things, then you take

the next step and you remember that, and you rehearse in your mind and you don’t

rehearse the bad stuff, you rehearse the good stuff. You rehearse the fact that

whatever Friday, December 2nd, or whatever it is, I stood, a hard time as an

introvert, you know, you took time to share a story yesterday. But today, it starts

right now. You build on that, I think, about confidence. The more I’ve been human

and vulnerable, the more human I get back. Now not to everybody. But for most people

and then I know, that’s a test, right? But I think those two things is being willing

to be vulnerable when you’re ready in your situation, whatever it is, and then for me,

and this is me, I’m directly saying this. This is what I tried to do. And then the

second is: Moments like this.
>> Thank you.
>> You bet.
[ Applause ]
>> Hey, David.
>> Hello. I have a question. I think it’s important that you are vulnerable

sometimes and that you share what you’re going through with other people. Do you

think there’s ever a time that you could do that it might be negative for you to do

that. That maybe it’s not the best time for you to share?
>> Yes. I mean, yeah. I have partners in the room — they’ve actually heard this

before but I’ve got partners, strategic partners in the room, business colleagues. I

had to really weigh the cost benefit of saying I’m going to share some baggage with

them in front of that. And I think that’s a case-by-case personal decision. I can’t

tell you what that is. But I feel that there are things that I should not say, I just

shouldn’t say. It’s not going to be therapeutic. It’s not going to be helpful or

constructive, right? But when I was starting the talk, there were people who were

like I’m so sorry you went through that, I’m like, hold on, hold on, that’s been five

years since that happened. I’m not doing this to grieve I’m not doing this for

therapy. I’m doing this with the hope that this will be helpful for others. Poor

guy, you went through a lot of stuff, did you have to sleep on the couch or in the

office? That was pretty bad. I’ve dealt with that personally. With friendships,

with counselors, just my heart and soul, right? But you gotta use discernment, right,

and say, is it positive and helpful to share? I’m saying maybe more in this context

but, I mean, with another person, man, I just go with, if I’m hurting, the people that

love me most want to know that I’m hurting.
>> Thank you.
>> Yeah.
>> Hi, I’m Michael from Vermont. I wanted to just ask and kind of comment about,

like, what are the objective circumstances behind this? I think one is economic, I

mean, I think, like, we have this really competitive kind of system we live under, and

we’re kind of atomized. We’re social animals but we’re all kind of individuals and

it’s hypercompetitive and I think also, why is there such — on that level, why is

there some burnout in the kind of tech community where people have kind of lived these

lives where that, you know, they work 40 hours and then they do everything else

because somehow, the tech community seems to have — kind of demand that. And so,

what’s behind that, and how do we get past that?
>> Sorry, what do you think it is?
>> I mean, I think that’s — I’m a socialist. I’ll be straight up. I think part of

it is we don’t have — we don’t kind of share and support each other very much. I

mean, I think there’s a lot of, you see it a lot right now in this country, there’s a

politicized atmosphere. And frankly, everybody goes to their own individual house,

they have to worry about their own bills. We don’t have that much support. I think

coming to a conference like this, people want that, but it’s not our day to day

existence. There’s the imposter factor. And that’s why people are not showing up

because everybody’s shown the top of the iceberg kind of thing. And everybody

wonders: How do we get beyond where we’re tweeting what we’re doing, and we actually

have enjoyable lives.
>> You know, something that I want to say that I forgot to say, I want to say, hey,

2016, you’re drunk, go home!
[ Applause ]
So… that’s all I got.
[ Laughter ]
>> I think we got one more minute if someone has a brief question.
>> Cory, thank you very much for being vulnerable. I think you’re helping a lot of

people by what you’re doing, not just the people here, but people who are hearing your

talk and I’m sure I’m going to tell a lot of my friends to listen to what you’ve said.

I’m curious about friends who have helped you, was there any kind of faith or any

spiritual type of experience, as well, or was it strictly the friends that you have

there?
>> That’s a whole talk with lots of alcohol. Suffice it to say that yeah, there’s

spiritual background, the Christian faith. I started in churches. A longer

conversation to have over drinks however, the answer to the question is, there was a

faith-based component to this, for sure. Someone walked past me earlier and they

said, “I just want you to know I’m praying for you.” And I was like, I’d want that.

Even if you don’t have my particular God or whatever, particular faith. But yeah,

there was a faith background. You bet.
[ Applause ]
>> Thank you.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this year’s State of the Word address at WordCamp U.S. this weekend, for me at least, was the attention shown to inclusive design. That part hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage, but I think it’s important to highlight it. First, I’ll share Matt’s words on the subject, (thanks a metric ton, captioners, you guys are seriously awesome), and then, I’ll share a few thoughts. First, the quote. I’ve added links to the posts Matt references.

One of the other fun projects that I started this year is actually a blog called Design.blog. Who’s been to this so far or checked it out? I highly recommend you check it out. There’s been over 40 different folks who have contributed different essays writing about design and inclusion sometimes with or without tech. This is, I think, one of the areas. You might have noticed that this year’s programming at WordCamp US had some more of the human side, in addition to just the technical as before. I think a lot of our opportunities to grow over the coming year are on the human side and understanding the humanity of an open source project, and working together, and creating the code that’s going to touch humanity, as well. I’m going to call out two particular essays that I think you y’all should check out. First is from Kat Holmes. Inclusive design is for those who want to make the great products for greatest number of people. Inclusive design puts people in the center at the very start of the process. Exclusion happens when we solve problems using our own biases. Per story is amazing. She works at Microsoft. I believe she’s the head of Inclusive Design there. And actually wrote a story about playgrounds and playground designer and she talked about the how playground designers they started recognizing exclusion in the process and there’s so much that we have to learn there, and so please read this essay, check it out. The other one that I want to highlight is from Hajj Flemings, and I believe Hajj is in the audience here. Did I pronounce that right? Close enough, object. Some quotes from there Detroit’s future requires connecting the worlds of design, technology, and innovation is to neighborhoods. 53% of call businesses in Detroit operate without a website. 81% of people research a business online before making a purchase. Actually John had an amazing story that made me sort of wake up to some of my own learns about in this area, which is when you talked about that — there’s a lot of these businesses that aren’t even on Google Maps and I realized that in my life, I don’t realize that I’ve ever tried to go somewhere that wasn’t on Google Maps, Apple Maps? Absolutely. But I feel like Google Maps has everything. There’s entire swaths and communities and businesses that are not there. So WordPress, bringing the tools to bring them online is literally like the Christmas trees lighting up. Making them discoverable, and hopefully leading to them flourishing those businesses in the future. Correct me if I’m wrong, but they’re about hundred small business websites. Hundred websites for businesses that don’t have them yet.
>> Yeah, that’s the start and then we’re turning 100%…

MATT: I’m going to repeat that, that’s the start, and then we’re turning the hundred 100% of that, that’s amazing. Can we give him a round of applause? The urban revival in Detroit is very, very interesting. It’s 84% African-American and as a community, represents some of the biggest opportunities and some of the biggest challenges that we have across cities all over the world, actually. Some of those ways of being more accessible, and every WordPress release has become much more accessible, thanks to the hard work of the accessibility team that I highlighted last year and just want to give a continuing kudos to this year because they’ve been looking at the WCAG standards for every single release and the link there for when you look at the slides later basically shows the accessibility coding standards so if you’re a plugin developer or any sort of developer, you can learn this and check it out, and see how you can make your code available to more people. It’s interesting when you think about it that an interface, or an application that works well for someone with one arm also works well for a mother holding a baby. It works well for someone checking Twitter with one hand while typing with the other. As you make things more accessible, you’re addressing wider and wider audiences and bringing in more and more people, far beyond what you might have imagined when targeting a particular improvement, or thinking about it from an accessibility point of view.

I’m very happy to see inclusive design, (and by extension accessibility), get such a huge chunk of the State of the Word. I think this is more than any previous year, and I see this as a win for the WordPress Accessibility Team, WordPress itself, and of course for Morten Rand-Hendricksen, who has publicly advocated for a concerted effort by the WordPress community as a whole to work on accessibility for at least the past four years.

Speaking for myself, I think that WordPress is better for going in the direction of inclusive (or universal) design, instead of just accessibility. It’s not that I don’t think accessibility is important. It is. And as a person with disabilities, accessibility isn’t just an academic matter, it’s personal. But inclusion as a whole, that thing where everybody “gets to dance”, as it were, is also very important to me, and I think that if we focus on inclusion rather than just accessibility, we have an opportunity to get more done.

So yeah, it’s not accessibility is the WordPress way, it’s inclusion is the WordPress way. This isn’t mission accomplished for accessibility. There’s still a lot more work to do on that front. But I’m pleasantly surprised at how much effort the WordPress community as a whole, and Matt in particular, is putting into making sure that accessibility is a huge part of inclusion. It’s not big things you can turn into publicity wins. It’s the little things. For instance, in previous years, the graphics used during the State of the Word weren’t described. This year, they were, all throughout the presentation. That’s a win for accessibility as well as inclusion. I’m still waiting on Matt’s first photo with alternative text attached, but withJohn Maeda cracking the whip, I don’t think that’s going to be very far off.

Keeping regular backups of any website is critically important, and WordPress backups are no different. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to back up WordPress properly so that your content, files, and WordPress settings remain intact should you ever have to restore your website. This tutorial assumes that you are using a shared host, and that you do not have easy access to command line tools.

Why Are WordPress Backups So Important?

You’ve probably heard more than once in your life that backing up your hard drive is very important. Hard drive backups are important because if backups don’t exist, and something happens to your hard drive or the computer it runs in, all your documents, photos, music, books, and any other data you have stored is gone, with no easy way to get it back. Your hard drive doesn’t care how sensitive your data is, or how sentimental you are about those photos, or that music, or those books. If your hardware fails, or you get a virus, or even if you just accidentally delete something, there’s no easy way to get it back without a backup.

The same holds true for WordPress backups. Web servers are, (or in the case of virtual private ones, run on), computers, and the computers that store and allow other people to access your website are just as vulnerable to hardware and other failures as the computer sitting on your desk or packed in your bag.

WordPress backups are specifically important because it’s the first step recommended during the WordPress update process. WordPress backups are a fail-safe in case an update doesn’t install properly, or if you’ve edited your theme and mistyped something and broken your site. They’re also important when you’re switching hosts. In order to move your site, you need to have a copy of it before you shut down your old hosting account and move to the new one.

Help Keep This Series Free

$690 of $20,000 raised
Each post in this series takes a significant amount of time to research,
write, and edit. In order to make this effort sustainable, I would need to
charge a minimum of $100 U.S. per month in order to compensate for the time
it takes to write this material and the size of the screen reader users
market, which is around 5% of the total market of people with disabilities. This series benefits the whole WordPress community as we strive to create a
more open and more inclusive internet. The group of people who will benefit from this series the most are also the
least equipped to afford to pay a fee like this to access it. In the United
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Your sponsorship will ensure that everyone who uses screen readers
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This content has to stay free for screen reader users, and for everyone
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horrible things being done with technology just in the last year alone,
being able to detect screen readers is technology that should never exist.

The amount of time It takes to maintain this is not something I can do for
free and so I’m asking, as an alternative to charging premium prices for
this documentation, for donations in order to keep this material free
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it. Every donation helps, and there are some sponsorship opportunities as
well.

In exchange for making this possible, the generosity of sponsors will be
acknowledged with the name, logo, and a link to their flagship product
several times in each post.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $5.00

WordPress backups happen in two stages

There are two stages to WordPress backups:

  • backing up the files
  • Backing up the database

The files

WordPress is built with PHP, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML code. This code lives in files, which then live in directories on your host’s server. Your plugins and themes are also PHP, JavaScript, CSS and HTML files, and they add to the files that already come with WordPress.

The database

The database is where WordPress stores all your settings and content. This includes the settings and options for your themes and plugins. It also stores the user accounts you use to log into and add content to your WordPress site.

If either the files or the database are left out of your backup, you don’t have a working version of WordPress, and will have to rebuild your site. Granted, replacing the files is easier than replacing the content and settings in the database, but you’ll still have to rebuild. For smaller sites, this can be accomplished relatively quickly. But for bigger sites, including sites that have a lot of content, this can become very painful very quickly. So it’s extremely important that you make sure both parts of your WordPress installation are backed up regularly.

Backing up the files

Although WordPress backups don’t have to be performed in any particular order, I usually start with backing up the files first. This is because it’s one of the easiest tasks, and, if there are a lot of files, (you’ve got a lot in your uploads directory, for instance), this part of the backup process can run in the background while you move on to the next step.

To back up your WordPress files, you’ll need an FTP client. Any accessible client will do the trick. I prefer WinSCP, but there are others, and you can use whichever one you prefer.

Configuring your FTP client

Once you have an FTP client installed, you’ll need to add a new entry so that you can access the files stored by your host. The specific information you’ll need will vary from host to host, so make sure you have this handy. However, the types of information you’ll need are the same across all setups. The pieces of information you need to have in order to connect to your host are:

  • Hostname: The address you’ll be connecting to.
  • Username: The name you’ll use to log in.
  • Password: The FTP password your host supplied you with, or that you set up yourself. This is not necessarily the same as your login credentials for your hosting account, although sometimes it will be. Consult your web host’s documentation for details.
  • Port number: Usually, this is port 21, which is the standard FTP port. Some web hosts on the smaller end do not provide secure FTP, and so this is the port you’ll likely use. If you’re connecting via secure FTP, you’ll most likely use port 22, although I have seen some hosting situations where a different port, (like 2222, for example), is used.
  • Protocol: Some clients, (like WinSCP), will ask you to choose a protocol during the account-adding process. You’ll need to check with your host to find out which protocols they support. If you can, choose either SFTP or SCP. FTP will do, but the two former protocols allow you to transfer data securely, while FTP does not.

Once I’m connected, which files do I need to back up?

You can always download a copy of WordPress’s core files directly from WordPress.org’s download page, and since this is the case, you don’t need to worry about making a copy of those files. You do, however, need to back up your wp-content directory, your wp-config.php file, and your .htaccess file.

wp-content

The wp-content directory is where all the content you’ve generated that isn’t stored in the database lives. This includes the themes and plugins you have installed, regardless of whether or not they are activated, and your media uploads. Depending on how much is in this directory, it can get quite large. It’s typically not themes and plugins that increase the size. What usually bulks up your wp-content directory is media, including audio, video, images, and any of the other file types WordPress supports.

wp-config.php

Your wp-config.php file contains your site-specific configuration. It tells WordPress everything it needs to know about your database, and contains any configuration customizations you’ve made. If you haven’t made any customizations, and you’d like to find out how far you can take wp-config.php, click here for a complete list of all the values you can edit. But before you make any changes, make sure you back this file up, because if you miss-type something, things will go wrong and you’ll either have to manually fix the errors, or revert back to your original version.

.htaccess

.htaccess, (pronounced “HT Access”), is a configuration file used by your host’s web server software. It is directory-specific, and it is used to alter configurations such as basic redirects, (such as redirecting requests for files that don’t exist to a “file not found” page), basic content password protection, and image or other media hotlinking prevention. The most common use of the .htaccess file in WordPress is to handle permalink settings. If your .htaccess file is lost or compromised, you can copy the basic .htaccess file for WordPress from the Codex. However, since this is a base copy, it will not take into account any customizations you’ve made, so you also need to ensure that you regularly back up any .htaccess files that are part of your WordPress installation. This can be done while you’re backing up your wp-content directory, via FTP/SFTP.

The Database

If you’re running your WordPress site on a shared host, creating a backup of your database can be a minefield when you’re also using a screen reader. This is because there are two types of intervening software you need to work with.

First, there’s your host’s control panel. Most hosts use cPanel, and while it’s not the most accessible experience, it’s useable, depending on the version. The version, however, can change between hosts, and there are at least five dozen of them. To add to the variation between versions, as far as I am aware, no one is working on the accessibility of cPanel, so the common apprehension experienced by every person with disabilities for whom accessibility is not optional upon hearing the word “update” is very real.

The second type of software that you have to interact with is one of two possible graphical user interfaces for managing your databases, cPanel’s built-in backup feature, or phpMyAdmin, a PHP script for interacting with MySQL databases. Like cPanel, there are multiple versions of phpMyAdmin, and the useability for screen readers varies between versions. As with cPanel, I am not aware of any accessibility work being done on phpMyAdmin.

First, I’ll cover cPanel’s built-in backup feature, specifically for cPanel version 56.0.38, although this is not the latest version. The latest version is 60, and so your milage may vary. and then, I’ll cover phpMyAdmin.

WordPress Backups With CPanel

CPanel provides a graphical user interface for managing just about every aspect of your hosting, including your databases. You can use it’s backup feature to create a downloadable copy of your WordPress database. You can also use it to generate a full backup of your entire site, but these backups are strictly for archival purposes. Relying on cPanel’s backup feature as part of your maintenance strategy is not recommended. It doesn’t provide any kind of scheduling, and you will need to create two partial backups, (one for your files and one for your database), in order to be able to restore from those backups should the need arrise. However, until you impliment a backup strategy, it’s better than not backing anything up at all.

To create a backup of your database, first log into cPanel. Next, look for “Backup Wizard” in the “files” section. You can do this by either arrowing through the page, or by using your screen reader’s find command. There are no headings on the page, so it’s arrow keys all the way down, coupled with heavy use of the find command. Once you’ve located “Backup Wizard”, press enter on that. On the next screen, you can navigate by headings. The only heading on the page is “Backup Wizard”, and you can skip past all the other links on the page by pressing “H”.

The next section on the page gives you a quick overview of the steps for creating a cPanel backup. It also lets you know what’s included in a full backup, delivered in a zip file for your convenience. Skim through this section, and press enter on the “backup” link. On the next screen, press “H” until you hear “Select partial backup”. Then, press enter on the “MySQL Databases” link. On the “MySQL Databases” screen, press “H” until you hear “Download a MySQL Database Backup”. Under this level-four heading, you’ll find a table that lists all of the databases that have been created, either by you or by install scripts. Find your WordPress database name, and press enter on that link. When you press enter on the linked database name, you’ll be presented with a standard file download prompt. Save the database file to your computer, but do not uncompress it. You’ll need to use the compressed copy if you ever need to restore the database.

If you’d like to avoid FTP or SFTp, or if for some reason you’re unable to log into your host using FTP, you can also use these steps to backup the files that make up your WordPress installation. Instead of choosing the database partial backup option, choose the files partial backup option, and continue as you would with the instructions for backing up your database. This feature creates a full backup of all your website files, not just the WordPress files. You don’t have the option of selecting the files that get backed up. Once again, this is better than no backup at all, but creating a full backup every time you create a backup isn’t necessarily the best long-term solution.

PHPMyAdmin

PhpMyAdmin is a free software tool written in PHP intended to handle the administration of MySQL and MariaDB databases on the web. As with cPanel, there are accessibility concerns, and the version of phpMyAdmin your host is running will impact how you interact with it. The version number is especially important if you’re a screen reader user. This is because, up until the 4.0 branch, phpMyAdmin wasn’t an accessible experience, but it was useable as long as you were willing to forego all the screen reader specific features like link lists, form fields lists, and headings lists, because all of them would actually decrease your productivity. It’s faster just to arrow through the screen. As of the 4.0 branch, the experience has gotten worse. I’ll be covering phpMyAdmin versions 3.8.5.1 and 4.7.5 in this tutorial. You can find the version your host is running by logging into phpMyAdmin, and using your screen reader’s find command to search for “Version information:”. Even though the 3.0 branch of phpMyAdmin is useable, you do not have the luxury of navigating by headings on most screens, and you do not have the luxury of a skiplink. There are a few dropdowns in the form of comboboxes, and some unlabeled form fields, but for the purposes of exporting your database as well as importing it should you need to restore from a backup, those dropdowns and form fields are not what you’ll be working with. You’ll be dealing with a couple of frames, lots of linked graphics, and you’ll need to pay careful attention to where you are within phpMyAdmin’s interface, since you won’t receive any feedback from your screen reader when you’ve activated a link unless you’ve specifically set it to automatically read the page content upon page load. So, with anger management powers activated, let’s get started.

To access phpMyAdmin, log into your host’s control panel, and navigate to the databases section. You can do this by either arrowing down the page, or using your screen reader’s find command to search for “DATABASES”. Directly below this text, you will find two links to phpMyAdmin. Press enter on one of them. phpMyAdmin will open a new browser window. If you attempt to force it to open in a new tab instead of a new window, you will be asked to log into it directly, so unless you have specific login credentials for that application, it’s best to just allow it to open in a new window. To ensure this happens, if you’re blocking popups in the browser, temporarily turn this off, and, once you’re done with phpMyAdmin, turn it back on again.

For phpMyAdmin 3.8.5.1, once you’re inside the phpMyAdmin interface, you’ll encounter two frames, neither of which have titles. The first frame contains navigation links specific to phpMyAdmin, as well as links for accessing your databases. The second frame is where all the operations happen.

In the first frame, find the link labeled with the name of your WordPress database. The list of database links will appear in an unordered list beneath the dropdown for selecting from recent database tables. Once you’ve found the link labeled with the name of your WordPress database, press enter on that.

Next, arrow down until you find a link labeled “export” in the second frame, and press enter on that. Once you’re on the next screen within the second frame, use your screen reader’s heading navigation keystroke to navigate to the heading labeled “Exporting tables from “db_name” database” where db_name will be replaced with the name of your WordPress database. On this screen, you can choose to perform a quick export, or a custom export. For the purposes of a full database backup, a quick export will be fine, and this is the default option.

After choosing the type of export you want to create, the next step is to choose the file format. PhpMyAdmin allows you to export all or part of a database in several formats, one of which, for some unexplained reason, is Microsoft Word 2000 (doc). The default is .sql, and i would recommend sticking with this unless you have a specific reason to change the format.

Once you choose the file format, press the “go” button. This is a true button, and will behave accordingly. When the “go” button is pressed, you’ll be presented with the standard “file download” dialog, and you can save the file to your PC.

Using phpMyAdmin 4.7.5, instead of content being separated into frames, you’ll find a series of lists on the page. Once you’ve launched the phpMyAdmin instance, navigate to the second list on the page, and find the link labeled with the name of your WordPress database. Once you’ve located the link, press enter. You’ll receive no feedback from your screen reader letting you know you’re on the next screen, so you’ll have to trust that you are. Next, either navigate to the fourth list on the page and then arrow down until you hear “Graphic Export Export” and then press enter, or use your screen reader or browser’s find command to search for “export” on the page, and then press enter on the linked graphic. You’ll once again receive no audible feedback that you’ve navigated to the desired screen, but you most likely have. Once you’re on the “export” screen, use your screen reader’s heading command to navigate to the first heading on the page. It’s a heading at level two. Alternatively, you can navigate to the first radio button on the page, labeled “Quick – display only the minimal options” and ensure that this is checked. Below the set of radio buttons, you’ll find a heading at level three designating the “format” section. Choose your preferred format from the dropdown and then press the “go” button. As with phpMyAdmin 3.5.8.1, this is a true button, and will act accordingly. You’ll be presented with the standard file download dialog, and you can proceed as you normally would from here.

Performing a manual WordPress backup while using a screen reader wil initially be a huge headache. However, it’s a fundamental skill worth having. I’ll cover some partially and fully automated methods for creating wordPress backups in upcoming posts, but knowing how to perform a manual backup is crucial should any of the automated methods be unavailable or should problems arise while using them. The process of performing a manual backup is daunting at first, but like any other technical skill, it gets easier with time and practice. If you’re tempted to skip learning this skill in order to avoid the headache and frustration, don’t yield to that temptation. Backups are fundamental to any security strategy. The best security tactics in the world will not help you if you’re not performing regular backups. Don’t throw away the investment you’ve made in your website by neglecting them. Doing so will result in a lot more headaches and frustration down the line.

Help Keep This Series Free

$690 of $20,000 raised
Each post in this series takes a significant amount of time to research,
write, and edit. In order to make this effort sustainable, I would need to
charge a minimum of $100 U.S. per month in order to compensate for the time
it takes to write this material and the size of the screen reader users
market, which is around 5% of the total market of people with disabilities. This series benefits the whole WordPress community as we strive to create a
more open and more inclusive internet. The group of people who will benefit from this series the most are also the
least equipped to afford to pay a fee like this to access it. In the United
States, as of 2015, 58% of the blind
community is unemployed, and 29% live below the poverty line. Most of these people live
on a fixed income that is less than $1,000 per month.

Your sponsorship will ensure that everyone who uses screen readers
with WordPress get the same opportunity as those who do not use screen
readers: documentation they can freely use to learn WordPress, similar to
what exists in the WordPress Codex for mouse users.

This content has to stay free for screen reader users, and for everyone
else. There’s no flag you can set to detect if a site visitor is also a
screen reader user that can be used to then unlock content. And given the
horrible things being done with technology just in the last year alone,
being able to detect screen readers is technology that should never exist.

The amount of time It takes to maintain this is not something I can do for
free and so I’m asking, as an alternative to charging premium prices for
this documentation, for donations in order to keep this material free
to the WordPress community in general and people who use screen readers in
particular. Your financial assistance will ensure that each WordPress
administration screen is properly documented for people who use screen
readers, and that each post is updated when a change to WordPress requires
it. Every donation helps, and there are some sponsorship opportunities as
well.

In exchange for making this possible, the generosity of sponsors will be
acknowledged with the name, logo, and a link to their flagship product
several times in each post.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $5.00

Your content is the most important part of your website. It underpins your design, development, and your web accessibility efforts. You create good, usable content by developing and then implementing a content strategy.

If you’ve never done this, it can seem like an incredibly daunting task, especially if you’ve got lots of content. So I thought it might be helpful to put together a content strategy reading list. This list takes into account books that are also available in accessible formats, so it’s not that large. But each of the books listed here will help you get a handle on your content, and, if you’re aware of web accessibility and attempting to implement it on either your own website or on the websites you’re building for your clients, help you come to terms with the recommendations you’re getting from either WCAG itself, or from your web accessibility consultant.

Content Strategy for the Web, Second Edition, by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach

Content Strategy for the Web is the book I would recommend starting with. It doesn’t just present the case for content strategy. It also gives you a step-by-step path to follow in order to create a content strategy for yourself or your organization. It covers every aspect of content strategy without making it unenjoyable and without using highly technical language for the sake of it. It’s available as a Kindle e-book, but not in any other format that I’ve found that’s accessible. So I would suggest getting this from the Kindle store and reading it on your phone if you’re a screen reader user.

Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-ready Content by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

This book covers content strategy as well, but goes beyond it to help you ensure that you don’t get stuck on the content treadmill. Creating content is a necessary task, but it’s a given that it’s not just consumed on websites, and content creators have no way of knowing how users prefer to consume that content. content Everywhere will help you take the content you’re creating and prepare it to be consumed in multiple ways, so that you don’t have to run to keep up with the ever-expanding reach of technology. Nobody wants to do that, not even those of us who love tech. Content Everywhere is available on Bookshare, which you can get access to if you’re a print-disabled individual. It’s also available on Kindle.

Content Strategy for Mobile by Karen Mcgrane

Content Strategy for Mobile focuses on helping content creators develop one content model that can adapt to both desktop and mobile devices, instead of developing content for desktop and then redeveloping that same content separately for mobile. Mobile is important, and in some parts of the world exceeds desktop usage. See also, my comments about the content treadmill above. This book is a sort of companion to Content Strategy for the web, and if you don’t read them at the same time, they should definitely be read one after the other. This book is also available on Bookshare for those with print disabilities, as well as on Kindle.

Content Strategy for WordPress by Stephanie Leary

Content Strategy for WordPress will help you take everything you’ve learned from the previous three books and implement it using WordPress. It goes through the technical details of designing and building a WordPress site around the content it contains, and gives coding-specific as well as user-specific information on how to implement the tips it suggests. Definitely a necessary edition to the library of anyone who’s building websites with WordPress along with the three books listed above. This book is available on Kindle, so see the notes about reading Kindle books above if you’re visually impaired.

All four of these books are entries on the list of books I keep open while I’m working. They serve as excellent reference material while I’m either creating content strategies for my own sites, or those I create for clients. I hope you find them useful, and happy reading.

Hashtags are used to organize and group social media posts so they can be searched for by topic. When used with care, hashtags can increase the reach of the content you publish. If you’re using the Jetpack Publicize feature to share your content to social media, sharing that content with hashtags is not natively supported. I found this out when attempting to add appropriate hashtags to my post for National Blog Posting Month, (#NaBloPoMo). Fortunately, extending Jetpack’s Publicize feature is as simple as installing a plugin.

To add hashtag support to the Publicize feature, download the Publicize with Hashtags plugin from WordPress.org, or visit the plugins section of your WordPress dashboard and install and activate the plugin from there.

Publicize with Hashtags allows you to automatically append hashtags when you share your content through the Jetpack Publicize feature with the use of post tags. for instance, if you’re writing a roundup of a recently attended conference, you can tag the post with the conference’s hashtag, (excluding the # sign), and your tag will be automatically appended to what the Publicize feature posts, without exceeding the 118-character limit of the social message text.

Jetpack’s Publicize feature is far from the only way you can share content to social media using WordPress. But if you’re using Jetpack, and you have this feature activated, appending hashtags that are taken from your post’s tags is an excellent way to increase the reach of the content you’re creating. I hope you find this as helpful as I have.

Following is the hashtag information you need to follow this weekend’s WordPress and accessibility events on social media. Even if you can’t attend the events in person, you can still learn a lot from what gets posted on social media under the various hashtags.

For those posting using the below hashtags, please remember to ensure that the content you post to social media is as accessible to everyone as possible. On with this week’s events.

PodsCamp

Pods is a WordPress plugin that provides a user interface for building custom content types and custom fields into any WordPress install. PodsCamp, an even centered around learning how to use and develop with Pods, first began in 2014, and this year’s even takes place November 4 and 5 in Austin, TX. You can follow the event via social media using the PodsCamp hashtag.

Accessibility Camp Toronto

The goal of accessibility camps is to provide an open, informal space for conversation and networking around digital access and inclusion. Accessibility Camp Toronto takes place on November 5, has five tracks encompassing 25 talks. You can follow it on social media using the #a11yTO hashtag.

WordCamps

WordCamps are informal events put together by WordPress users where everyone can share ideas and network. There are several happening this weekend, as with most weekends. WordCamp Wilmington #WCWilmington takes place on November 5 and 6 in Wilmington, North Carolina. WordCamp MedellĂ­n #WCMde takes place on November 5 in MedellĂ­n, Antioquia
Colombia. WordCamp San Jose #WCCR takes place on November 5 and 6 in San José, San José Province
Costa Rica. WordCamp Omaha #WordCampOmaha takes place November 5 and 6 in Omaha, Nebraska. WordCamp Denver #WCDenver takes place November 5 and 6 in Denver, Colorado. WordCamp Santander #WCSantander takes place November 5 and 6 in Cantabria
Spain.

Happy learning and networking, everyone.

Spoiler alert: It’s not that plugin you installed. It’s creating a positive user experience for the people who visit your site.

In this talk, Rebecca Gill looks at SEO, (search engine optimization), best practices and how to apply them to a WordPress-powered site or blog. She discusses what search engines like Google and Bing want and need from you in order to drive organically generated traffic to your site, which is the kind of traffic you need in order for your website to be successful.

Good SEO, like anything else associated with your website, isn’t something you get right in a day. It takes a lot of hard work, and it’s something that improves over time. No quick fixes like pay-per-click ads, (which Rebecca refers to as “digital cocaine), and no guarantees that you’ll snag the top spot on page one of Google’s search results. Winning at search engine optimization is about making users happy by solving their problems. It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely not voodoo. If I didn’t know any better, I’d believe she was talking about improving the accessibility of your website instead of search engine optimization.

The slides for “What Really Matters in WordPress SEO are here, and you can watch the talk below.

There are several writing events going on this month. National Blog Posting Month, hosted by BlogHer, National Novel Writing Month, the event that started it all back in 2006, and Nanopablano, a fun take on BlogHer’s yearly event, to name a few. Participating in any one of these is a huge demand on time and attention, but they’re also a great way to meet new people and find new things to read and gain inspiration from.

All of the content being produced, (with the exception of the content that lives only on social media), is consumable through a feed, which is either RSS or some other compatible technology. Consuming content through its feed means that you don’t have to keep your eye on social media, and can catch up on the content you want on your own terms.

What is this RSS you speak of? What’s a feed?

RSS stands for “Really simple syndication”, and it’s the mechanism through which everything from blog posts to podcasts are delivered and consumed. A podcatcher, (that thing you listen to your favorite podcasts with), is a feed reader with built-in ability to process audio and video. But at its heart, it’s still a feed reader.

Anyway, back to those writing events. Of course you can consume the content through Facebook and Twitter, but what if you don’t want to open up your social media client to find out what’s going on with the writing event you’re participating in?

Enter a feed reader

This is where RSS, (and an RSS reader), comes in. You can add either all the feeds from all the lists of links associated with your event, or just the ones you’re interested in, and browse through them at your leisure.

Yeah but I thought WordPress.com was a blogging platform.

It is, but your WordPress.com account also gives you access to a feed reader that allows you to consume, and even export and import, the feeds you keep up with. It’s not the only feed reader you can use. there are plenty of apps for both iOS and Android, as well as for Windows and OSX. But the advantage to using something like WordPress.com is that all your feeds are stored in one place, and can be accessed from any device. And with a little work, you can use it with a screen reader. More on that below.

Getting Started

The Standard Signup Process

In order to use the WordPress.com reader, you’ll need a WordPress.com account. You may already be familiar with this if you’re running a self-hosted installation of WordPress and the Jetpack plugin, because in order to authorize Jetpack, you need a WordPress.com account.

To sign up, visit WordPress.com and click or press enter on “sign up”. Next, you’ll be presented with a screen that asks you what kind of site you’re creating. Choose an option and you’ll be taken to the next step in the account setup process.

The next screen asks you to describe your site. Enter a brief description in the box. Once that’s done, you’ll see a “continue” button, and you can move to the next step in the process by pressing that.

The next screen asks you what you want your site to look like, and presents several options:

  • A list of my latest posts
  • A welcome page for my site
  • A grid of my latest posts
  • An online store

Choose one of these options to move to the next screen.

Next, you’ll be given the option to choose a theme, which you can change later. The themes WordPress.com shows you are based on the kind of look you’ve chosen for your website. You can pick a theme now, or skip this step and choose later on.

The next screen will walk you through picking a domain. A domain is what people type into their web browser’s address bar to reach your site. You can type a keyword into the search box, and you’ll then be shown which domains/keywords are available. The free options will have WordPress.com at the end, and there are paid options without WordPress.com included. Select the one you want, and move to the next screen.

You’ll be asked to pick a plan on the next screen. Pick the free one, unless you want to pay for one of WordPress.com’s other plans. If you’re a screen reader user, you can press “b” to move directly to the “select free” button, and press enter or space on that.

Next, you’ll be asked for your email address, a username, a password, and you’ll be asked to agree to WordPress.com’s terms of service. Enter the information requested, check the box, (after reading the terms of service to make sure you are willing to agree to them), and click on or press enter on “create my account”.

Signing Up for An Account Without A Blog

If you already have a self-hosted blog, or a blog on another platform, you might not want to create a second blog on WordPress.com. That’s fine, because there’s an alternative process you can follow if you just want to take advantage of the WordPress.com Reader without creating another blog or website. Fill in your email address, choose a username and password, agree to the terms of service, and then click on or press enter on “create my account”.

Using the WordPress.com Reader to Consume Content

Once you’ve either signed up for a wordPress.com account, or logged in with the account you already have, you can begin taking advantage of the WordPress.com Reader to consume content. It’s the first thing you’ll see when you log in. Screen reader users should note that, for the time being, it works best with Firefox and NVDA, the only free (as in freedom) and free (as in freely-available) screen reader on the market. The reader will work with Jaws for Windows and Internet Explorer 11, but I’ve found that Firefox and NVDA are the best browser and assistive technology combo to use.

The WordPress.com Reader, as with all other sites, looks very different to a person who doesn’t use assistive technology than it does to a person who is an assistive technology user. Both groups of users start at the same place, a listing of posts from the sites you follow, in chronological order, with the newest at the top. Both also see the headline of the post, an excerpt if available, an image if available, and thumbnails of any other images in the post. From this point onward is where the differences come in.

Following sites

For those who are not assistive technology users, there are a series of tabs on the left side of the screen. For assistive technology users such as those who use a screen reader, these tabs appear as a list of links under the heading “Streams” at heading level two. If you’ve already got posts appearing in the “following” section of your reader, you’ll need to press ctrl+end to exit the infinite scroll, and navigate backwards through the headings, until you get to “streams”.

Once you’re within the list of links under the “streams” heading, press enter on “manage” to follow new sites or edit the ones you’re already following. This includes sites you’ve subscribed to by email. Sticking with our example of this month’s writing events, the process to add sites to follow looks similar to this.

First, visit the official blogroll (list of links) for your preferred writing project. With that tab open, you can right-click on each link, navigate back over to your WordPress.com “manage” tab, and paste the link into the search box. Once you press enter, if the site has an RSS feed, it will be added to the “followed sites” section of your WordPress.com reader. If you’re looking for sites to follow, The NaBloPoMo list will be published on November 7, and the NaBloPablano list has already been published.

Whether or not you’re participating in a writing event this month, keeping track of the sites you like to read is a lot easier when you’re doing it from one place that’s not your favorites list in your browser on one computer. This tutorial references specific lists of links for specific events, but you can also apply it when you’re browsing social media and you come across a site or six hundred you’d like to follow, and be able to access whether you’re on your computer or on the go. To everyone else participating in writing events this month, good luck, and to the rest, happy reading.

This talk by Matt Vanderpol, given at this year’s WordCamp Sacramento, is an overview of how to incorporate Sass into your theme building practices. The talk will cover:

  • What is Sass and why should you use it
  • File organization, including WordPress-specific considerations
  • Sass best practices, including WordPress-specific considerations
  • Using a task runner (grunt/gulp) and development best practices
  • Thoughts and considerations for parent/child themes
  • Incorporating 3rd party libraries and frameworks
  • Exposing styles to WP Admin for better WYSIWYG display
  • Thoughts and considerations for development vs production CSS
  • Debugging CSS issues in the Sass
  • Mention of PostCSS and how it can complement Sass

Slides for this talk are also available in downloadable form from this link.

WordPress has supported custom page templates for over 12 years, allowing developers to create various layouts for specific pages, and allowing users to select a specific template for each page they create.
While this feature is very helpful, it has always been limited to the ‘page’ post type and was not available to other post types.

By opening up the page template functionality to all post types, developers will be able to add more than one template for any post type available on a site, and users will then be able to choose a template for individual pieces of content.

In addition to the Template Name file header, the post types supported by a template can be specified using Template Post Type: post, foo, bar.
When at least one template exists for a post type, the ‘Post Attributes’ meta box will be displayed in the back end, without the need to add post type support for ‘page-attributes’. ‘Post Attributes’ can be customized per post type using the ‘attributes’ label when registering a post type.

As someone who builds websites, I come across the following scenario all too often.

Someone contacts me, and tells me that they either need to update an existing website, or build a new one, and they want that website to do things like sell their products or get newsletter subscribers or any other call to action. They’ve got ideas about the visuals, or they’ve got ideas about how much profit they’re expecting the site to generate, and they’ve even got a few ideas about how they want their site to generate all this abundance. They usually involve the notion that their website will do magical things for them while they sleep, with very little effort on their part, and with the idea of content as an afterthought.

It doesn’t work like that.

You cannot half-ass content. It is the driving force behind your website. Your content, more than your visual design or the code that forms your website, is what does all that magic for you. Good content takes time to write and it takes strategy. Hope is not that strategy. Content can’t just be thrown together. It needs to be informed by the overall goals of your website, and it needs to speak to your audience. Yes, you have to define an audience, and it’s not anyone with a pulse and a checkbook. Good content takes research and planning. It takes hard work, and it has to be consistently updated. Websites are not brochures or advertisements or online business cards or fliers that you stick on someone’s windshield, hoping that whoever owns that car will call you wanting to buy what you’re selling. Websites are complex pieces of application software. They are living and breathing things that need to be fed and cared for. You feed them by crafting content that is useful to your audience both before and after the sale or newsletter sign-up. You care for them by keeping their underlying code up-to-date. But most importantly, you feed them. By feeding your website good, quality content, you feed your audience. Your audience then gives back by responding to your call to action, which is also content, and needs to be crafted to suit the overall goals of your website.

As if that wasn’t enough, your content should also inform the visual design of your website. A website that is not designed around the content it will contain is nothing more than an empty shell and the culmination of a lot of wasted time and effort, and any responses to your calls to action will happen for no other reason than sheer luck.

There are lots of moving parts that make up a well-performing website, and they’re all important. But content is the most important. If you don’t have that figured out, you may as well not even have a website.