By Morten Rand-Hendriksen | Friday, June 15, 2012
Of the many great reasons for using WordPress to create your web site or blog, one of the most important ones is that WordPress is an ever evolving platform. That means with every new version release you can expect to see either security and usability upgrades, or the addition of whole new features. In the case of the latest WordPress evolution—version 3.4, released for WordPress.com and WordPress for self-hosting—we see both regular security hole fixes and code patches, as well as some cool new features for site owners and developers. One feature in particular that is worth special mention is the new Theme Customizer.
Using the WordPress 3.4 Theme Customizer The major update of 3.4 is the introduction of the Theme Customizer. This new feature makes it possible for an administrator to change most theme-related elements of a WordPress site in a live environment and see how those changes look before publishing them to the live site. Previously these customization features were found under several different sections in the admin area, and to apply them you had to make one change at a time and then open the site in a different window to see the result. The Theme Customizer is a one-stop-shop for theme customization, and depending on what theme you are using, you’ll be able to change everything from the site title and description, to menus, what is displayed on the front page, background colors, header images, and more. Once logged in as an administrator you can access the Theme Customizer both from the front end and the Admin panel on your site. From the front end you’ll find the Theme Customizer on the WordPress menu under your site name.
In the Admin panel you can activate the Theme Customizer for the site’s current theme by going to Appearance > Themes and clicking Customize.
In either case, you are taken to the Theme Customizer for the current theme which consists of a collapsible left-hand sidebar with all the customization features and your site in preview mode on the right.
Theme Customizer with editing options displayed in the left sidepanel, and a preview of your changes displayed in real-time in the full, right-side view.
Zoomed in view of the collapsible left-hand Theme Customizer sidebar with all the customization features.
Using the Theme Customizer is really very easy. To get started simply open the feature you want to change in the sidebar, for example Site Title & Tagline, or, as seen below, Header Image, and make your changes. As you make changes to the different elements, the live site preview will change on the right to reflect these changes.
Changing the Header Image in the Theme Customizer left-hand sidebar.
Once you’ve made your customizations and you’re happy with how the theme looks, go to the top of the customizer and click the Save & Publish button and your new settings will be activated on your site. If you don’t like your customizations, simply click Cancel and you are back to the Admin panel without any trace of anything having ever happened. Since this is a brand spanking new feature most themes only have support for the regular functions right now, but expect the Theme Customizer to showcase some pretty snazzy features once theme developers dive into the code for real.
Other WordPress 3.4 updates of note WordPress 3.4 has two other cool updates under its sleeve:
1. If the theme allows it, you are no longer restricted to a specific size for the header image. As an example, that means you can upload a full-height image in the Twenty Eleven theme and have it take up most of your page if you want. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, but the option is there if you want to try it out. My recommendation is you try it in the Theme Customizer to see what it looks like first.
2. Image captions now allow HTML elements, so you can make fancy captions with text that has bold or italic emphasis, links, and all sorts of other interesting HTML touches.
To find out moreNow that you know what’s new and what’s possible, go test out the Theme Customizer, try some HTML captions, and check out the new and improved WordPress 3.4 for yourself. If you want to see the full list of goodies under the hood of WordPress 3.4 take a look at the codex.wordpress.org version 3.4 article. If you need some extra help, visit lynda.com to check out my full collection of lynda.com WordPress courses.
Interested in more?
• All web + interactive courses on lynda.com
• All WordPress courses on lynda.com
• All courses from Morten Rand-Hendriksen on lynda.com
Suggested courses to watch next:• WordPress Essential Training• WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes
• WordPress 3: Developing Secure Sites
• Creating and Managing a Blog Network with WordPress
By Colleen Wheeler | Wednesday, May 30, 2012
It’s no secret that computer engagement is going mobile, with access via mobile devices predicted to surpass desktop computers in the next two years. So for this week’s collection of featured videos, I’ve chosen five free movies that focus on the theme of mobility, whether it be creating a WordPress site that behaves properly on mobile devices, learning to use your mobile phone or tablet more productively, or learning to develop your own mobile applications.
1. Customizing WordPress for smartphones and tablets
In this video from chapter nine of the WordPress Essential Training course, Morten Rand-Hendrickson shows you how to use built-in responsive themes and useful plug-ins to ensure that your content is presented in a usable form, regardless of screen size. The main takeaway? With a bit of appropriate planning, you can greatly improve your overall user experience by saving your viewers from the pain of having to zoom or scroll to view your carefully constructed content.
2. Accessing Evernote on a mobile device
Evernote is a great application for organizing and accessing your electronic notes, links, and other bits of critical information. (Admission: I use Evernote to collect interesting free movies from the lynda.com library that I want to use in my featured five blog posts.) In this movie from chapter one of Up and Running with Evernote for Mac, David Rivers shows you how to get Evernote set up so that you can add notes via your mobile device. If you’re primarily working in a Windows environment, there’s an analogous movie in chapter one of David’s Up and Running with Evernote for Windows course, as well.
3. Using the iPhone and iPod Touch Maps app
Admittedly, using the iPhone (or iPod Touch) Maps application is a fairly straightforward proposition, but in this excerpt from chapter nine ofiPhone and iPod touch iOS 5 Essential Training, Garrick Chow shares some insights into using the compass feature that I always found confusing. Not only can the Maps app help you discover what is around you, and how to get there, it can also help you orient yourself by showing you which direction you are facing in your current location. After all, it’s always good to start out heading in the right direction!
4. Identifying the four pillars of iOS development
For the developer types who have already figured out how to use their mobile devices, going mobile is more about focusing on the creation of mobile applications. As with any metaphorical or physical journey, it’s always good to have a scope of where you will start, where you will end, and how you will get there. In this excerpt from chapter one ofiOS SDK Essential Training (2012), Simon Allardice shows you how to approach your iPhone application development, and elaborates on why tools, language, design, and process are the four pillars—or, the four important areas of content—that you need to have all together in order to build the applications that you want to make.
5. Exploring the lynda.com mobile site
Finally, a lynda.com collection of mobile tutorials wouldn’t be complete without a look at how you can take the lynda.com library with you wherever you go via your own mobile device. In this movie from chapter one of the How to Use lynda.com course, Garrick Chow demonstrates the features and functionality of our new mobile site, so you can get to learning wherever you are:
We’d love to know more about how you are using your mobile devices, and how mobile technology is changing the way you work, and play. Which activities have gone mobile in your computing life? Are there some jobs that still feel best done at your desk? Tell us a little about your relationship with your mobile devices in the comments section below.
By Ray Villalobos | Saturday, April 21, 2012
In a previous job designing web sites for a newspaper, I discovered the value of media. When I started to learn about traffic patterns on web sites using an analytics product, I realized that photos, videos, galleries, and slideshows can significantly increase the amount of time people will spend engaging on your site. On any given day, our most popular article would give us around 20,000 page views, but publishing a slideshow could easily produce four to six times that amount of traffic, and it took less time to put together.
Think about it—when you go to Facebook, what are you more likely to interact with, a status message or a gallery? Facebook knows galleries get more interaction and ranks posts to appear more prominently on the timeline if they contain any sort of media. That’s why it’s better to include a photo or a video in your posts. (For more on this, check out Anne Marie Concepcion’sSocial Media Marketing With Facebook and Twittercourse.)
While photos can be quite easy to take, creating a gallery system can be more challenging. This week on View Source, I will show you an easy way to create photo galleries for your web site using a jQuery plug-in called Galleria.
Videos are another great option that can help you make your site stickier and more engaging, but they can also be harder to host and display on your site. If you’re looking to have a collection of videos on your web site, one good option is to have YouTube host your videos. YouTube has the infrastructure to serve four billion videos per day and has 800 million unique users in a month, and YouTube videos are easy to include in Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress posts since each upload has its own easy to embed, pre-written code housed under the Share button.
In addition to embedding videos, the best way to improve the visibility of your videos is through a YouTube channel. A YouTube channel gives you a presence on YouTube that will be indexed by Google, so uploading your videos has the added advantage of making them more easily found by YouTube’s huge audience, as well as Google’s. You can add descriptions (with links back to your sites), tags, and people can subscribe to your channels to keep up with your latest videos.
If you’re a web developer and you’d rather not use the YouTube embed link to post your videos to your site, take a look at this episode of View Source, where I show you how to read a YouTube-provided XML file that lets you add a YouTube channel playlist directly to your site. The task of converting information from one data format to another more usable format is called Parsing and it is a key skill that all developers need to master.
If you use any of the above solutions, when you upload to YouTube, your embeds, sidebars, and on-site playlists will also automatically update and reflect your changes right on your site. That alone simplifies the production process quite a bit.
One feature that you might not be aware of is the ability to upload directly to your YouTube channel through most smartphones. Smartphones, like iPhones and Android devices, have excellent built-in video editors that will quickly let you crop out and adjust your video before sending it directly to your YouTube channel. Using tools like this is a great way to cover special events, and a quick way to post to your site remotely without having to import, edit, and upload your video through a traditional desktop application.
There’s a lot more you can do with YouTube, like create a special channel for users to post videos to directly. In one of my previous jobs, we created a channel for a contest where people submitted videos of themselves dancing to win tickets to a concert. The videos submitted are aggregated, but not posted live until approved. You can also annotate messages into your videos, and alter your movies with YouTube’s built-in editor. It’s definitely worth a second look when creating your workflow strategy.
A photo online is truly worth a thousand words, but the power of video is not to be underestimated. Having a good strategy and utilizing tools like Galleria and YouTube will expand your brand’s reach, make your life easier, and make your sites more engaging in the process.
Interested in more?
• The full View Source weekly series on lynda.com
• All web + interactive courses on lynda.com
• All courses from Ray Villalobos on lynda.com
Suggested courses to watch next:• Create an Interactive Video Gallery with jQuery•Create an Online Photo Gallery with jQuery and Dreamweaver•Create an Interactive Map with jQuery and Dreamweaver•jQuery Essential Training
By Ray Villalobos | Saturday, March 31, 2012
The web can be scary, but learning new web skills doesn’t have to be hard. It’s like trying to eat an elephant…you have to do it one bite at a time. In this post I will share some of my learning experiences and offer some recommendations for those with a print background who are interesting in learning more about web development. I encourage you to share your print to web journey, and to ask questions, in the comments section below.
Every job listing will ask for years of experience. Whether it’s two years or five-plus years, I’ll let you in on a secret—the years are not as important as your portfolio. If you come from the print field, you know what I mean. Generally people get hired based on what they’ve accomplished, not how long they’ve been doing it. I know because I landed my first online job with zero years of experience in the field, and I did it by building a portfolio of work that was equivalent to years of experience. Although I hadn’t worked in the industry, I had projects to show that I knew what I was doing. So, your first step in the print to web development migration is to start building websites as soon as possible.
Start by learning how to build sites with WordPress. It doesn’t require any development skills and it’s pretty easy. You’ll need to know how to set up WordPress and how to set up a server with your own domain name. For help with this, check out Managing Hosted Websites, a course that goes through the process of setting up a domain name and installing WordPress. Once you’ve installed WordPress and set up your server and domain name, it’s time to start building web sites. For this I recommend checking out WordPress Essential Training. Some entire businesses are based on building web sites with WordPress, so it’s a great first skill that will help you gain some of that critical experience everyone is looking for. Plus, it’s a marketable skill that you can use to build a portfolio of work right away.
In this clip from chapter one of the Managing Hosted Websites course, I discuss how to pick the right domain name before you choose your server, since your domain name decision will have an impact on how people arrive at your web site:
Just knowing how to install and work with WordPress is not enough, though. What people will really want to see is how well you can customize a WordPress web site. Go through WordPress: Creating and Editing Custom Themes to sharpen your WordPress customization skills, then dive into Create an Online Portfolio with WordPress (because after you’ve got a few sites under your belt, you’ll need to show off what you’ve done).
Another thing I did when I got started was to focus on building from my strengths. I had a design portfolio, so I started learning software that would let me build on design skills. This was the late ’90s so I began by learning a program called GoLive, a website editor much like Dreamweaver.
I already knew how to use Photoshop, so I worked with those skills and focused on designing projects for the web first in Photoshop, and then transferring those skills to Adobe Fireworks, which is better for preparing online graphics. I knew about formats like EPS, PDF, and TIFF, so I learned about the online formats like GIF, JPEG and then PNG. The point is, when you get started plan to evolve your skills instead of trying to learn too much.
So, if you’re starting with a background in design, check out Designing Web Sites from Photoshop to DreamWeaver. This course will point you in the direction of a quick win and teach you how to build on your existing Photoshop knowledge. From there, move on to DreamWeaver with Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training.
Even when I was a new designer, I knew that development skills would be very valuable, but that learning development wouldn’t happen overnight. So right away I established learning development as one of my long term goals. I started with HTML since it was the easiest to learn. If you’re just getting into development, I recommend you start with HTML 5 Structure, Syntax and Semantics. It’s a thorough course that explains the basics of HTML. CSS wasn’t as critical to learn when I got started in the ’90s, but it is very today, so I would head in that direction after HTML. If you’re primarily a designer, then this should be an area of focus for you. Start with CSS Fundamentals, then move on to CSS Page Layouts, and plan to go through one new CSS course per month.
In this movie clip from chapter three of the CSS Fundamentals course, James Williamson asks the question “What is CSS3?” and walks you through the answer in detail:
Remember the elephant…one bite at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed with all the technology. Make yourself a plan and remember to be consistent with learning. Even if you watch only one movie a day or a few movies a week, you can make a dent in that virtual elephant and build enough experience before you know it. Using myself as a case study, I know you can do it. There weren’t any special skills I started with, I was a print designer just like you. If I can do it, I know you can. Just remember, even when it seems overwhelming…you can learn it!
By Ray Villalobos | Friday, January 27, 2012
Most of the tools and languages we use online are constantly changing. HTML itself is in constant flux, a new version of Firefox releases every six weeks, and who knows what’s going to happen next with video formats. It’s enough to drive you crazy. Suffice it to say that the web design and development industry demands people who are learners by definition.
Sometimes the hardest part about any new learning commitment is getting started. If your pile of work is not getting any smaller, and you’ve only got a few minutes to learn something new, then View Source may be the series for you.
View Source, which is named after the view source browser-function that allows you to see a web page’s underlying code, is a new lynda.com series that offers 10-minute intermediate and advanced web design projects. Each movie in the course is self-contained and shows how to accomplish an interesting effect and/or technique.
At its core, View Source is about being curious and developing an attitude for learning with limited time.
This week, I’ll show you how to add WordPress breadcrumbs to your pages, per Google’s recommendations (see Google’s SEO Starter Guide).
Another thing Google recommends in its SEO Starter Guide is generating more meaningful URLs that are rich with keywords. By default, your WordPress links probably look something like:
Since this is not very descriptive, it would be better to have a category and the name of the article in the URL. Maybe something like this:
In my second View Source installment, Creating a custom URL in WordPress, I show you how to easily modify the look of your URLs by changing your Permalinks settings, which can be found in the admin section of WordPress under the Settings menu. The default options WordPress gives you emphasize organizing things by date, but I also show you how to apply Custom Structure options in my tutorial. More information about how to further modify your WordPress permalinks is also available in the Using Permalinks WordPress documentation.
See you in two weeks with more View Source!
Interested in more?
• The entire View Source series
• All developer courses on lynda.com
• All courses from Ray Villalobos on lynda.com
Suggested courses to watch next:• CMS Fundamentals•WordPress 3 Essential Training•Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals•Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter
By Cynthia Scott | Thursday, August 25, 2011
The updated WordPress admin dashboard. The new design features a more minimalistic and streamlined approach to the content.
WordPress 3.2 was released on July 4th, 2011, followed by the 3.2.1 release on July 12th. If you are learning WordPress, you’ll find that although the content in our current WordPress 3 courses is still relevant, the user interface may be different as new features are added to WordPress.
Our current WordPress courses include:
WordPress 3 Essential Training (covers both WordPress.com and self-hosting through WordPress.org)WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes WordPress: Creating Custom Widgets and Plugins with PHPWordPress 3: Building Child ThemesWordPress 3: Developing Secure Sites
I asked author Morten Rand-Hendriksen to summarize the changes in WordPress 3.2 to help anyone who is working through our WordPress courses. Here’s what he had to say.
By Michael Ninness | Monday, April 18, 2011
We recently received the following via our site feedback form (available at the bottom of every page):
From: Nancy White, April 7, 2011Hi. Where can I leave feedback about a particular course? I’ve been taking the best course EVER!
From: Nancy White, April 7, 2011
Hi. Where can I leave feedback about a particular course? I’ve been taking the best course EVER!
I responded and let her know she could simply use the same form again, click the course feedback button at the bottom of every course page, or simply reply to my email. Here is her more detailed response, which she graciously agreed to let me share here as a blog post:
I have been singing the praises of lynda.com for many years. It’s hands-down the best learning place online.I’ve worked in print and online publications for many years. I’ve enjoyed most of the courses I’ve taken at lynda.com, but often it’s on subjects that I am already quite familiar with, so I’ve picked up some great tips and tricks.But I’ve known next-to-nothing about WordPress. I’ve always considered it a platform for a personal, mom-and-pop-type blog, something I had no need for. But as you know, WordPress has come a long way! As my clients are getting smarter and more tech savvy, they are demanding web sites that they can easily update themselves. So, I’ve learned the fundaments of Joomla! and WordPress, but was very limited when it came to customization.Enter Chris Coyier’s course WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes! Something I knew nothing about, but definitely wanted to learn.I gained an incredible amount of knowledge from this course. I’ve been able to convert a rather complicated HTML site into a custom WordPress theme! I am ecstatic! It did not happen overnight, but it happened. I am happy, and the client is happy!The lessons in this course are a great reference I keep coming back to. I would be happy to see more from Chris Coyier. He’s very practical and easy to follow.Thank you again for this and all the other great content from lynda.com.Loving it!Nancy White
I have been singing the praises of lynda.com for many years. It’s hands-down the best learning place online.
I’ve worked in print and online publications for many years. I’ve enjoyed most of the courses I’ve taken at lynda.com, but often it’s on subjects that I am already quite familiar with, so I’ve picked up some great tips and tricks.
But I’ve known next-to-nothing about WordPress. I’ve always considered it a platform for a personal, mom-and-pop-type blog, something I had no need for. But as you know, WordPress has come a long way! As my clients are getting smarter and more tech savvy, they are demanding web sites that they can easily update themselves. So, I’ve learned the fundaments of Joomla! and WordPress, but was very limited when it came to customization.
Enter Chris Coyier’s course WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes! Something I knew nothing about, but definitely wanted to learn.
I gained an incredible amount of knowledge from this course. I’ve been able to convert a rather complicated HTML site into a custom WordPress theme! I am ecstatic! It did not happen overnight, but it happened. I am happy, and the client is happy!
The lessons in this course are a great reference I keep coming back to. I would be happy to see more from Chris Coyier. He’s very practical and easy to follow.
Thank you again for this and all the other great content from lynda.com.
Thank you for sharing your success story with us, Nancy. It always excites us to hear how our members are applying what they learn from the Online Training Library®. In this day and age, it is so important for designers to start getting comfortable and savvy with designing for multiple mediums. Feel free to share your own stories with us via the site feedback or course feedback buttons, or add a comment below. Yes, we really do read every single one.
VP of Content, lynda.com
By Samara Iodice | Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Video shot by lynda.com’s Taymar Pixley and Lucas Deming, and edited by Chris Chan Lee. Starring author Jen Kramer and training producer Samara Iodice.
You may be surprised to discover that behind every lynda.com author is a training producer, like me, who oversees all aspects of course production—from content development, to script review, to graphics creation, to booth and/or live action recording, and eventually publishing in the Online Training Library®. You may be even more surprised to learn that lynda.com training producers are not usually experts in the software for the courses they produce. In fact, often the first experience I have with a certain piece of software is in reviewing the early draft of a course table of contents in preparation for beginning work with an author. That doesn’t mean training producers aren’t extremely knowledgeable about the course content, but where the author must know details of how every individual feature of the software functions, the training producer is looking at something completely different—the overall educational integrity of the course and associated exercise files.
Some training producers are experts in some software programs—it’s often how our career path brought us to where we are. Some of us are experts in certain products; all of us are skilled in many products, are very technologically savvy, and learn new software quite easily. Before becoming a training producer at lynda.com, my software expertise was in the computer-aided-drafting (CAD) area, having used AutoCAD extensively in my previous career as an engineer, and also in the web design area, using Dreamweaver for the last several versions.
One area of web design I had become increasingly interested in was the use of content management systems (CMS) such as Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla to create web sites that could be more easily maintained than the traditional static web site. So, when the opportunity arose to produce a Joomla title with the very enthusiastic author, Jen Kramer, I jumped right in. I was particularly excited to learn a CMS because I’d been doing volunteer media work for a youth-run nonprofit, Everybody Dance Now, and the teenage leaders desperately needed a new, modern web site they could learn to maintain themselves.
So, after a week of recording with Jen Kramer, I had my first real taste of Joomla, and that, in turn, stimulated my appetite to watch many of the other Joomla and CMS offerings in the lynda.com Online Training Library®. Before I knew it, I had designed a new Joomla-based national web site for the young ladies of Everybody Dance Now, and was being called upon to design other chapter web sites around the country for the same organization, in addition to providing training for those chapters to maintain their own sites. It’s been a whirlwind of volunteer activity that I wouldn’t have been able to participate in, had I not fully immersed myself in the lynda.com Online Training Library® to learn a new topic.
Click to watch the trailer for Jen's Joomla course.
With the release of Jen Kramer’s Joomla! 1.6 Beta Preview title last week, many people are wondering what Joomla and other content management systems are all about, and how they can apply this technology in their own lives. I’m hoping that sharing my experience as a training producer practicing what we, at lynda.com, teach will help inspire lynda.com members to investigate Joomla and all the various content management systems in the library, and discover these practical and highly-effective solutions for creating and maintaining a powerful web presence.
Watch Jen’s course, Joomla! 1.6 Beta Preview, and learn more about Joomla at the Joomla web site.
You can change your email preferences at any time. We will never sell your email. More info
Thanks for signing up.
We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.
Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:
Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.
We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go Review and accept our updated terms of service.