There are a lot of cool features that are available on WordPress.com.
Jetpack is a free WordPress plugin that connects your self-hosted WordPress website to WordPress.com to use some of these features. (Not everyone loves Jetpack because it apparently bloats down your website, auto-activates features that you may not want, and leaves some people with an “icky” feeling. Also, it’s not completely free. Other people love it because it makes it way to easy to add cool features.)
Subscriptions are automatically turned on when you install Jetpack. You can add signup options in the comment section, as a widget in your sidebar, or by adding a shortcode into your post or page. You can read more about subscriptions here.
The cool thing about using a shortcode to put up your sign up form is that you can customize it. Just put in the following line in a blog post (without the space between the brackets.)
[ jetpack_subscription_form ]
Looking under the hood, there are a few options we can get from the code:
- show_subscribers_total=”true” (by default, false)
- title=”Subscribe to Blog via Email”
- subscribe_text=”Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.”
- subscribe_logged_in=”Click to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.”
Here’s an example of what you could do. (Just remove the spaces from around the square brackets):
[ jetpack_subscription_form show_subscribers_total=0 title=”Sign up for our email newsletter” subscribe_text=”Give us your email address and whenever I write something about assignments, homework, or tests, you’ll receive a little email in your inbox.” subscribe_button=”Sign up now!” ]
This means, it’s easy to get a Jetpack email subscription form into a popup like with this plugin: http://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-popup/
So you want to write stuff on your wordpress website. Well, you generally have two options. You can write stuff as a “post” or as a “page”
What’s the difference? Not much.
The front page of a wordpress website (blog) is basically a timeline of all of your recent posts. When you write something new, it shows up on the front page and everything else gets pushed back.
- When you write something as a “post”, it shows up on the front page of your website.
- When you write something as a “page”, it doesn’t.
Here are a few more differences:
1. Every time you write a post, it shows up on the front page of your website.
- Assuming, of course, that you haven’t set up your home page to show a specific landing page.
2. If people have an email subscription to your website, then the moment you publish a post, they will also receive that post via email.
- This is great if you run a class website and you want parents and students to receive an “email newsletter” everytime you update the class site.
- If people follow your blog using a RSS reader, then the moment you publish a “post”, it will show up in the reader RSS feed as well.
3. You can organize posts into categories and tags.
- Posts will show up on the front page of your website, but your visitors might want to see everything you’ve written about a specific topic. That’s where categories and tags come in.
- If your visitors click on a category or tag, they can see all of the other posts in that category or tag.
- Categories can be put into a hierarchical order. (For example, archways are a type of water play structure)
- Tags can not be nested into subcategories .
1. When you write a page, it doesn’t automatically show up on the front page of your website.
- I find students and new website users get frustrated when they publish a page and can’t find it. It’s there, but you’ll need to add a link to it somewhere on your website so that visitors can find the page.
- Most people add a link to their page in the navigation menu. Just click on “Menus” (under Appearance)
- And then add your specific page to the menu.
- You can also add a “widget” to your sidebar that shows a list of pages. Just click on “Widgets” (under Appearance)
- And then click and drag the “Pages” widget to your sidebar.
2. When you publish a “page” it won’t send out an email to viewers who have signed up for your newsletter.
- You may not want everything you put on your website to get sent to visitors. For example, your “about” page should be written as a “page” and not a “post”
- Pages do not show up in your blog’s feed.
3. You can organize your pages by setting “parent” pages.
- You can create subpages. When your pages get listed (like in your sidebar), they will show your subpages indented under the parent page.
Advanced “Do It Yourself” stuff to know about Pages and Posts
- Posts and Pages don’t exist as physical files on your server. You can’t download them using a FTP client. Instead, all of the post and page information lives in your database. (So when you back up your website, make sure you’re backing up your database as well.)
- It’s easy to switch between posts and pages (and even custom post types) if you install the free Post Type Switcher plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory.
- You can set custom fields for both pages and posts. Custom fields let you add data to posts and then you can use that information in different ways. For example, on the Ottawa Splash Pads site, the number of ground sprinklers (and other water play structures) are set in custom fields so we can make all of the different splash pash pages look the same. (You can display the custom field data in the theme directly.)
- Your WordPress theme may let you use custom templates for both pages and posts. The Thesis framework lets you use a custom template so that you can change the look of a specific post or page. (For example, you might not want a sidebar on your sales landing page so that it looks different from the rest of your blog.)