The Commons has the “Lite” version of the Monster Insights plugin. While it does not provide all the bells and whistles of the “Pro” version, it does a decent job of providing the metrics that you need, right on your WordPress dashboard. You still will need to set up  Google Analytics prior to using the plugin. Here are directions:

Getting Started With Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics 2 or 3)

 

Getting Started

This document assumes that you are using an older version of Google Analytics called Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics 2 or 3). If you are using the newer Google Analytics 4, please use these instructions.

How To Tell Which Version I'm Using

It isn’t easy to tell which version of Google Analytics you are using. If you signed up for Google Analytics before October, 2020, you are probably using Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics 2 or 3). If you started after that, you are probably using the newer version, Google Analytics 4. The newer version is quite different, and slightly easier to use.

The Commons supports all these versions, but it’s probably good at some point to upgrade, since it is unclear how long Google will support the older version. Follow this link to upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.

The most important difference in the various versions is the way your site pings Google to gather metrics. The older versions use a “Tracking ID” which has a format like this: UA-XXXXXXXX-X. (UA stands for Universal Analytics). The new version uses Measurement ID which has a format like this: G-XXXXXXXXXX.

Whichever version you are using, your first step is to go to your WP Dashboard, to Settings>>General and enter either your Tracking ID or Measurement ID. Once you do this, Google will start collecting metrics for your site.

Site admins can set up Google Analytics on their sites to gather and analyze site traffic.  A Google account is required. To get started, log into your Google account and go to Analytics – https://analytics.google.com.  You should see the following:

Click on the Sign up button to create a free Analytics account.

Enter your Account Name (free form – can just be your name), Website Name (this is the title of your Commons site), and the Website URL. Since all sites on the Commons are use an encrypted protocol, pick https:// in the dropdown. Typically, your URL will look like this:

 yoursitename.commons.gc.cuny.edu

If you have a mapped site, enter your domain name rather than your Commons site URL.

Pick an Industry Category and Time Zone and create your Analytics account.

For simplicity’s sake, these instructions will assume you have one site, one account, one user, and one property.

Notes For Advanced Users

Some things to know:

  • You can have multiple users on your Analytics account, each with various permissions levels
  • You can have multiple Analytics accounts tied to your single Google account.
  • You can have multiple properties (each with a different tracking ID) tied to an Analytics account.
  • If you want to analyze more than one site, you can either
    • create a new account/new property or
    • create a new property on the same account.

After you have successfully created a Google Analytics account, you should see a screen something like this:

Note the Tracking ID, circled in red. You need to add this to your Commons site so that Google Analytics will know where to get statistics for your property.

Do Not Use The Global Site Tag. This will not work on Commons sites.

Instead, copy the Tracking ID, go to your Site’s back-end, to Settings>>General, scroll down to Google Analytics ID and paste it in. It should have the format “UA-XXXXXXXX-X.” See below:

At this point, Google will start collecting statistics on your site.

Next Steps

Google Analytics can be overwhelming. Here are a couple FAQ to get you started:

  • statistics can be “real time” (i.e. right now) or for a set period of time
  • statistics can be analyzed online or sent via email
  • if emailed, they can be sent as PDFs or as spreadsheets (daily, weekly, or monthly)
  • many “canned” reports are available
  • you can create custom reports if needed, but this requires expertise
  • you will not be able to see data before you plugged in your tracking ID
  • if you remove your tracking ID from your Commons site, Google will stop providing statistics

It is beyond the scope of this document to “teach” Google Analytics.

A Typical Report

Here is how to create a simple “Content Drilldown” report that may provide most statistics that you need. It shows the number of total number page views as well as the most popular 10 pages of the month. (Ten pages is the default, but you can change this to any number.)

We have chosen a specific time duration – February 1 thru February 28. We have chosen to see the analytics by day (rather than week or month). To create a recurring, monthly report, click on the share icon, enter email recipients, frequency, and format.

As you can see, there are many configurations for even this most basic report. For example, you can add another dimension to the report by comparing “Pageviews” to say, “Bounce rates.”

Feel free to experiment with all Google Analytics has to offer.

Help With Google Analytics

There are many help resources available.  Here is a basic video:

 

 

-OR-

Getting Started With Google Analytics 4 (newest version)

 

Getting Started

This document assumes that you are using the most recent version – Google Analytics 4. If you are using Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics 2 or 3), please use these instructions.

How To Tell Which Version I'm Using

It isn’t easy to tell which version of Google Analytics you are using. If you signed up for Google Analytics before October, 2020, you are probably using Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics 2 or 3). If you started after that, you are probably using the newer version, Google Analytics 4. The newer version is quite different, and slightly easier to use.

The Commons supports all these versions, but it’s probably good at some point to upgrade, since it is unclear how long Google will support the older version. Follow this link to upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.

The most important difference in the various versions is the way your site pings Google to gather metrics. The older versions use a “Tracking ID” which has a format like this: UA-XXXXXXXX-X. (UA stands for Universal Analytics). The new version uses Measurement ID which has a format like this: G-XXXXXXXXXX.

Whichever version you are using, your first step is to go to your WP Dashboard, to Settings>>General and enter either your Tracking ID or Measurement ID. Once you do this, Google will start collecting metrics for your site.

To use Google Analytics, you need to have a Google account.  Follow this link to get started. To set up Analytics, click on Admin in the lower left hand corner of your screen. You should see a screen like this:

 

Important Terms

  • Account – you can have one or more accounts (limit is 100). The only required field is a free form name.
  • Property ID – each account can have one or more property IDs. The only required field is a free form name. You can also adjust the timezone here.
  • Data Stream – each property ID must have at least data stream. This is where you will need to provide your site’s url.
  • Measurement ID – each data stream has one Measurement Id. The format is G-XXXXXXXXXX. In our example below, it is G-WD260E1X2Y

It is a matter of choice how you set up your analytics dashboard. Some members might have 2 or more sites on the Commons and choose to make each an account. Others in the same position may want to just have one account with 2 or more property IDs associated with their sites. Each site on the Commons can have only one Data Stream and one Measurement ID.

Data Stream Setup

At the end of the Property ID setup, you will need to choose a platform. See below. Choose Web.

Once you choose Web, you should see the following screen. Fill in your site’s URL and give your data stream a name. (If you are using Domain Mapping, use your mapped URL, not your Commons URL.)

So now you have successfully created your data stream. You should see something like this:

Connecting Your Data Stream To The Commons

The next step is to add your data stream’s Measurement ID to your site on the Commons. Copy your Measurement ID and go to your site’s WP Dashboard, to Settings>>General. Paste it into the field marked Google Analytics ID:

Your setup is now complete. To test to see if it is working, go to your Commons site and click on a couple pages and posts. Do not leave the site. In another tab or another browser, go back to Google Analytics to the Realtime tab. This tab displays metrics on who is currently viewing your site. You should see at least 1 user. Sometimes it takes a little while to complete the set up. You should see something like this:

 

Here is a video that explains Google Analytics 4 Metrics

 

 

And One More Resource – https://www.clickminded.com/templates/agency/google-analytics-4-setup/

Once you have Google Analytics up and running, Monster Insights has a easy-to-use wizard that connects to your Universal Analytics Tracking ID. You are good to go if you are using the older version of Analytics.

If You Are Using Google Analytics 4

Monster Insights is not yet compatible with the new version of Analytics – Google Analytics 4.  (It probably will be very soon.) The current version of the plugin requires a Tracking ID (format UA-XXXXXXXXXX-X) rather than the new Measurement ID. But there is a workaround. When you set up your Property ID, click on Advanced Options.

 

You should see this:

 

Click the  highlighted button to the right to see further options:

You will then see your Tracking ID. You will not need to (or be able) to create a data stream. Go to your WordPress dashboard, to Settings>>General, and paste in the Tracking ID into the Google Analytics ID field. Then proceed to Monster Insights set up wizard.

 

Here is some more information about the plugin:

 

Getting Started

This document assumes that you are using the most recent version – Google Analytics 4. If you are using Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics 2 or 3), please use these instructions.

How To Tell Which Version I'm Using

It isn’t easy to tell which version of Google Analytics you are using. If you signed up for Google Analytics before October, 2020, you are probably using Universal Analytics (aka Google Analytics 2 or 3). If you started after that, you are probably using the newer version, Google Analytics 4. The newer version is quite different, and slightly easier to use.

The Commons supports all these versions, but it’s probably good at some point to upgrade, since it is unclear how long Google will support the older version. Follow this link to upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.

The most important difference in the various versions is the way your site pings Google to gather metrics. The older versions use a “Tracking ID” which has a format like this: UA-XXXXXXXX-X. (UA stands for Universal Analytics). The new version uses Measurement ID which has a format like this: G-XXXXXXXXXX.

Whichever version you are using, your first step is to go to your WP Dashboard, to Settings>>General and enter either your Tracking ID or Measurement ID. Once you do this, Google will start collecting metrics for your site.

To use Google Analytics, you need to have a Google account.  Follow this link to get started. To set up Analytics, click on Admin in the lower left hand corner of your screen. You should see a screen like this:

 

Important Terms

  • Account – you can have one or more accounts (limit is 100). The only required field is a free form name.
  • Property ID – each account can have one or more property IDs. The only required field is a free form name. You can also adjust the timezone here.
  • Data Stream – each property ID must have at least data stream. This is where you will need to provide your site’s url.
  • Measurement ID – each data stream has one Measurement Id. The format is G-XXXXXXXXXX. In our example below, it is G-WD260E1X2Y

It is a matter of choice how you set up your analytics dashboard. Some members might have 2 or more sites on the Commons and choose to make each an account. Others in the same position may want to just have one account with 2 or more property IDs associated with their sites. Each site on the Commons can have only one Data Stream and one Measurement ID.

Data Stream Setup

At the end of the Property ID setup, you will need to choose a platform. See below. Choose Web.

Once you choose Web, you should see the following screen. Fill in your site’s URL and give your data stream a name. (If you are using Domain Mapping, use your mapped URL, not your Commons URL.)

So now you have successfully created your data stream. You should see something like this:

Connecting Your Data Stream To The Commons

The next step is to add your data stream’s Measurement ID to your site on the Commons. Copy your Measurement ID and go to your site’s WP Dashboard, to Settings>>General. Paste it into the field marked Google Analytics ID:

Your setup is now complete. To test to see if it is working, go to your Commons site and click on a couple pages and posts. Do not leave the site. In another tab or another browser, go back to Google Analytics to the Realtime tab. This tab displays metrics on who is currently viewing your site. You should see at least 1 user. Sometimes it takes a little while to complete the set up. You should see something like this:

 

Here is a video that explains Google Analytics 4 Metrics

 

 

And One More Resource – https://www.clickminded.com/templates/agency/google-analytics-4-setup/

If you want to delete a site on the Commons, you must be an admin of the site. On the WordPress Dashboard  go to Tools >> Delete Site:

Click on the checkbox: I’m sure I want to permanently delete my site , and I am aware I can never get it back …”

Then click on the  Delete My Site Permanently button. You should see the following:

Please note that the email will be sent to your current Commons email. If you need to change this email, follow these steps.

Open your email client to receive the confirmation email. It will look something like this:

Finally, click on the hyperlink to finalize the delete of your site. You should receive a confirmation:

 

Accessing The Creation Portal

To create or clone a site, you need to go to the Commons Creation Portal page. To get there go to the Commons home page (you need to be logged on) and click on the “Create an open space”.

See screenshot below:

This will take you to the creation portal.

The Commons Creation Portal

You should now see the Commons Creation Portal, pictured below. All requests to create groups, sites and connected Group and Site are funneled through this page, as are requests to clone sites. Here you can easily pick what you want to create and how.  To get started, click on Create A Site.

You should see the screenshot pictured below. Decide whether you want to “Create A  New Site” or “Clone An Existing Site.” (The default is to create a new site.)

 

Depending on your choice, the creation process diverges. The similar pathways have some notable differences.

Continue On To Learn How To Create A New Site

 

Site Details

Site Domain: This is the web address of your site. Once your site is created, you cannot change it. It cannot contain spaces or special characters and must be in lower case. Sites on the Commons are subdomains and will have “.commons.gc.cuny.edu/” appended to them. If your domain name is already in use, you will receive a message to choose a different domain name. If you own or intend to buy a domain name, the Commons can map your site to that domain name.

Site Name:  This can be anything you like and can be changed anytime using your WordPress Dashboard.

Site License:  All content should be licensed appropriately so that it can shared by others under conditions determined by the content creator. The Commons uses Creative Commons licenses. The Creative Commons provides a variety of different licenses that affect whether others can use the content, modify the content(with or without attribution) or use the content for commercial purposes. The site creation process contains a wizard to help you select the correct license for your site. The default license allows content consumers to share or redistribute your content with or without modifications as long as they attribute the content to you and that it is shared for non-commercial purposes.

Metadata: In order to better understand the purpose of the site, the Commons collects basic data about it.

  • Is it for a certain campus or campuses?
  • What is the primary purpose? Choices are: Teaching, Committee, Conference, Department/Program/Center, Personal, Publication, Project, Portfolio, Working Group, Community of Interest, or Other
  • Is it for teaching? If so, the Commons will add it to the “Courses” tab. We’d like to know:
    • What Disciplinary Cluster does in fall under? Choices are: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM, Professional, Other, Not Applicable
    • What Semester? (spring, fall, winter, summer)
    • What Year?

Site Privacy:  Site privacy settings determine how visible/searchable your site will be. You can make it visible to the entire Web or confine access to a single individual as well as other options between these two extremes. Commonly, sites under construction are made visible only to admins, and then later opened up using different options.

Site Templates

The Commons offers Site Templates that are designed to get you up and running fast. These layouts are tailored for different purposes. If you don’t see a template that matches what you want to do, use the default template. It is a plain vanilla layout with no presets. In all cases, you are welcome to change to any themes installed on the Commons.

Select a template and finally, click on the Create Site Button.

If you have filled out all the required fields, you should see a success message, with a link to your new site.

Continue On To Learn How To Clone A Site

Instead of creating a new site, members may want to clone a site, that is, create a new site and populate it with content from an existing site. Here are some aspects of site cloning:

  • To clone a site, you must be an admin of the site. If you are not an admin, contact the admin and ask for permission. S/he can either clone it for you, or make you a temporary admin and you can do the cloning.
  • All content (i.e. pages and posts) created by admins of the site will be copied over
  • Content created by non-admins (e.g. student work) will not be copied over
  • Admin content will be attributed to the original author, but original authors will not be automatically added as admins of the site. After the cloning process ends, you will be the only admin of the site. You can of course add add members (admins, authors, contributors, etc.) as you see fit.
  • Site theme, plugins, menus, settings will be copied over so that the site looks the same, although non-admin content will be missing
  • The cloned site will have a different URL
  • The cloned site will have a different name

To begin the process, click on the arrow highlighted below to show all the sites that you administer. These are the only sites you can clone. Select the site you want to clone and continue filling in the required information.

Site Details

Site Domain: This is the web address of your new site. Once your site is created, you cannot change it. It cannot contain spaces or special characters and must be in lower case. Sites on the Commons are subdomains and will have “.commons.gc.cuny.edu/” appended to them. If your domain name is already in use, you will receive a message to choose a different domain name. If you own or intend to buy a domain name, the Commons can map your site to that domain name.

Site Name: This can be anything you like and can be changed any time using your WordPress Dashboard.

Site License: All content should be licensed appropriately so that it can shared by others under conditions determined by the content creator. The Commons uses Creative Commons licenses. The Creative Commons provides a variety of different licenses that affect whether others can use the content, modify the content(with or without attribution) or use the content for commercial purposes.

Since you are cloning a site, the original license will be used. If you feel this is not the appropriate license, you can change after the clone process is done.

Metadata: In order to better understand the purpose of the site, the Commons collects basic data about it.

  • Is it for a certain campus or campuses?
  • What is the primary purpose? Choices are: Teaching, Committee, Conference, Department/Program/Center, Personal, Publication, Project, Portfolio, Working Group, Community of Interest, or Other
  • Is it for teaching? If so, the Commons will add it to the “Courses” tab. We’d like to know:
    • What Disciplinary Cluster does in fall under? Choices are: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM, Professional, Other, Not Applicable
    • What Semester? (spring, fall, winter, summer)
    • What Year?

Site Privacy: Site privacy settings determine how visible/searchable your site will be. You can make it visible to the entire Web or confine access to a single individual as well as other options between these two extremes. Commonly, sites under construction are made visible only to admins, and then later opened up using different options.

Click on the Clone Site Button.

If you have filled out all the required fields, you will receive a success message, with a link to your new site.

 

When writing for the Web, good images add interest, highlight content, break up long chunks of text, and improve readability.  When selecting images for your posts, remember to respect copyrights. It’s easy to go to Google Images and download a picture. But that image may very well be subject to copyright.

The sites listed below provide free images.

If possible, credit the photographer in the caption and provide “Alt” tags for accessibility. (People who are visually impaired often use  screen readers, and “Alt” tags help parse web content.)

What Is WordPress (In A Few Sentences)?

In its most simplistic terms, WordPress manages and displays web content immediately after it is entered and saved using the WordPress “Dashboard” or “Backend.”

The content, styling, and settings are all stored on a database. The “Front-end” of WordPress retrieves the data from the database, converts it to HTML, and displays it as a web page.

The WordPress “theme” you choose (and there are many to choose from) is the template that determines how your site content appears.

Getting Started

After  you’ve created a site on the Commons (see “How To Create A Site“), what next?

You now have a URL that points to the front-end of your site. By convention, it will look like this:

http://yoursitename.commons.cuny.edu

You might want to bookmark this URL to keep it handy.

By default, everyone who has access to the web can see your new site. But you are just starting out and not ready for prime time. You’ll probably want to temporarily make your site private so only you can see it.

This might be your first encounter with the WordPress Dashboard.

How to Access the Dashboard (aka the 'back-end' of your site)

The dashboard is where you control everything about your site. Here you will enter content as “pages” or “posts,” and control how that content is displayed. You’ll probably set up widgets in your sidebar, add images, videos, and menus.

To get to your dashboard, you will need to be logged into the Commons. There are several ways to get to your dashboard:

  • Click on your avatar in the top right hand corner, select My Sites, and click on your site. This method takes you directly to your dashboard.
  • Simply go to your site’s front end. Above it will be a black toolbar like below:

In this example, “Canvas Testing” is the name of the site. If I click on that, I will be taken to the Dashboard. If I click on “New,” I can create a new page or post. If I click on “Edit Page” I will be taken to the edit screen for the current page. All these take you to the Dashboard, but to different places. (We will talk about “Customize” later. That will not take you to the Dashboard.)

  • Finally, the third way you can go to the Dashboard is by appending “/wp-admin” to your URL – http://yoursitename.commons.cuny.edu/wp-admin

So now you see the WordPress dashboard – don’t let it intimidate you. There are many options, but you will get familiar with them quickly.

Making Your Site Temporarily Private

The site you just created is under construction – so you’ll probably want to make it private until you get familiar with how content is created. Go to Settings>>Reading and you should see something like this:

Under “Site Visibility” choose the last option. When your site is ready to launch, come back to this setting and choose an option that is more appropriate.

Blog or Website (or both)?

While we are on the “Reading Settings” screen, look at the first option called “Your Homepage Displays.” Here you decide what your home page will look like. Will it be a dynamic collection of posts (i.e. a “blogroll”) that appears in reverse chronological order? Or will your homepage be a static page which you design?

If you choose the latter, you can still create a dynamic page that shows your blogroll, but it will not be your homepage. It could be an option on your menu – maybe called “Blog.” In this case you would have a website that also includes a blog. To do this, create a empty page (Pages>>Add New) and name it “Blog.” Then select it as the “Posts page” in the drop down, above.

Full Text or Summary?

When your posts are displayed as a collection (i.e. in your “blog roll”) do you want your readers to see the full article, or do you want them to see a summary of the article (i.e. an “excerpt”) ?

This setting depends on your theme. For example, for the “Twenty Seventeen” theme, it has no effect. Other themes will will display the first 20 or so words in your post, or the “Excerpt” that you enter on the edit post screen.

You can also specify the max number of posts that should be displayed in your post collection.

How to Create A Post The Quick Way

The easiest way to create a post is to click on the “+ New” link on the black toolbar at the top of your site. (You can explicitly choose “Post” although it is the default. You can alternatively choose “Page” or “Media” to create other content types) No matter if you are on the front-end or back-end of your site, clicking on “+ New”  will take you to a form where you can enter your Post Title and Content. Click on “Add Media” to add an image. Be sure to click “Save as Draft” or (if you are done) “Publish.” To view your post, click on the “View Post” hyperlink at the top of the page. To edit your post, click on the “Edit Page” button on the black toolbar.

Posts, Pages, What’s the Difference?

There is really not much difference between a post and a page. They are both ways to add content to your site.

  • Posts are date-driven, much like a diary or journal
  • Posts have categories and tags
  • Posts can be aggregated, filtered and displayed as a collection, according to categories and tags
  • Pages can be aggregated, filtered and displayed as a collection too – but only with the help of a plugin (“Add Categories to Pages”)
  • Pages tend to have static content
  • Posts tend to be serial – they are often displayed as a collection

When you set up your site, by default WordPress generates one sample post (“Hello World”) and one sample page (“Sample Page”). You should eventually delete this content, but before you do, let’s experiment with content.

More About Adding Content

In almost all respects, posts and pages have identical functionality – you can add text, images, featured images, videos, links, tables, and maps to both.

Just start typing to add content, and remember to save your changes. You can “Save as a Draft” or “Publish.”

If you “Publish,” and then make changes, you can “Preview Changes” without clicking on “Update.” But please remember to click on “Update” to finalize your change.

Click on “View page” to go to the “front-end” to see what your saved new content looks like.

Here is the what the screen looks like when you are editing “Sample Page.”

The middle circle shows the WordPress toolbar. Here you can bold or italicize text, create bulleted or numbered lists, center text, or flush it left or right. On the “Sample Page” or “Hello World” post, experiment with what you can do. When you highlight a section with your mouse, see what each of these options do.

How to Create a Hyperlink

To create a hyperlink:

  • first copy the link URL into your clipboard.
  • Edit your page or post
  • Highlight the word or words where you want the link.
  • Click on the the link icon in the toolbar. A popup should appear.
  • Paste the URL into the text box. Click the arrow. You should now see your link.
  • Save your changes.

Watch the process below:

Inserting An Image

The most common scenario is that you typing in text and all of a sudden want to add a picture. So that picture could wrap around your text on the the right or left, or break your text and appear in the center. Those are your options.

This scenario assumes that you have rights to the image and that the image is compressed. Click on “Add Media.” You will be asked if the image already exists in your Media Library or if you want to add a new one.

If you want to add a new one, you will need to locate it on your computer and upload it to your site. Most normally you do this all in one shot:

  • On edit page, position your cursor where you want the image to display
  • Click on “Add Media” button
  • Upload File>> click on “Select File”
  • Find and select the image on your computer
  • Wait for it to upload
  • Add optional caption
  • Add optional “Alt” tag
  • Choose image size from dropdown
  • Select alignment – center, left, or right

To have text wrap around the image, choose left or right alignment. When centering an image, use large or original size. If too big, WordPress automatically resizes it to your post or page width. Text will not wrap around a centered image.

Watch the process below:

Reordering Your Posts

As we noted before, your posts will display in reverse chronological order. If you want to order them differently, you can use the “Publish” option on the edit post screen and change the publish date of your post.

You can also make a post “sticky” so that it always appears as the first post in your collection. You can also change the status of posts – switch them back to draft status, for example, or make them private or password protected. (You can also use a plugin called “Simple Custom Post Order” to adjust the order of posts.)

Featured Images

Each page or post has one optional “Featured Image.” You set this featured image on the edit screen. See below:

Where this featured image is displayed is theme dependent. For example, the “Twenty Seventeen” theme displays it as a full screen image above your page or post. Some themes display it as the small “thumbnail” image when you list your pages or posts. Some display it in the summary or “excerpt” of your post.

You might want to experiment with your theme to see where featured images appear.

Customize

Now that you are familiar with WordPress’ front-end and its dashboard, you may wonder where the “Customize” option fits in. The Customize view is a hybrid of the front-end and dashboard view. It lets you make changes that you see immediately, but which are not saved yet.

Depending on your theme, you may or may not be able to control many dashboard settings here. You still need to go to the Dashboard to enter content, but the “Customize” option is great to use to change options without saving, and preview what your changes look like. If you like what you see, you can then click to save.

Customize is also great to use when looking at different themes.

Discussion (i.e. Comments)

Do you want your readers to be able to comment on your content? You can control this globally on the Dashboard at Settings>>Discussion (see screenshot below). Please ensure that you don’t allow comments to be entered without moderation (i.e. an Admin’s approval). You may become a victim of unpredictable spam.

Discussion on Specific Pages or Posts

You can also individually enable discussion on a page or post by using this setting on the edit screen:

 

What are trackbacks and pingbacks? See below:

Trackbacks (from WP Codex)

  • Person A writes something on their blog.
  • Person B wants to comment on Person A’s blog, but wants her own readers to see what she had to say, and be able to comment on her own blog
  • Person B posts on her own blog and sends a trackback to Person A’s blog
  • Person A’s blog receives the trackback, and displays it as a comment to the original post. This comment contains a link to Person B’s post

Pingbacks (from WP Codex)

  • Person A posts something on his blog.
  • Person B posts on her own blog, linking to Person A’s post. This automatically sends a pingback to Person A (when both persons have pingback enabled blogs.)
  • Person A’s blog receives the pingback, then automatically goes to Person B’s post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.

Visual vs. Text vs. Distraction-Free

There are three ways of looking at WordPress content on the edit screen – Visual, Text, or Distraction-Free. As a beginner, you will probably want to keep your editing on “Visual.” “Text” displays your content in HTML, and if you are comfortable with this markup language, this option may be very useful to you. “Distraction Free” displays a clean page without any Dashboard options. Click on the icon right below “Text” for distraction free editing. This is useful if you feel all the options are annoying.

Classic Editor vs. Block Editor

In 2019, WordPress introduced the “Block” Editor, with the intention that it would replace the “Classic” Editor. On the Commons, we give you the choice of which to use. See below:

To use the Block Editor, you need to think of everything in a page or post as a block – paragraphs, images, lists, embeds, short codes, columns, cover images, etc. – and each block has numerous properties that determine how it appears on the page. Blocks can be moved up and down or added anywhere you want without the use of custom code. The Block Editor opens up many possibilities, but it may take a little time to get used to it. See more about Block Editing.

The good news is that you can always fall back on the Classic Editor.

Images

When you are writing for the web, images are crucial. You need to break up your text with some interesting images to keep your audience engaged. Here are a couple preliminaries:

  • Make sure you have the rights to images. (A great source for free images is https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0/ or https://unsplash.com)
  • Make sure you have compressed your image. No one want to wait for a large image to download onto their browser. Try to keep image size less than 250 KB, and optionally under 100 KB.
  • Use “alt” tags for accessibility.

Image Compression

Most image editors have the ability to compress images – often called “Save for the Web.” Compression will not usually affect image quality on the Web – on most monitors and devices, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

To fine tune your image handling, the Commons has a plugin called “WP Smush,” which optimizes your site’s image sizes for the Web.

WordPress Media Library

When you upload an image to your site, the image (depending on its original size) is saved in up to four different sizes – original, large, medium, and thumbnail. You can control images sizes for each in Settings>>Media or just use the default values. When uploaded, images reside in the Media Library. When you insert an image, you can choose alignment (left, right, center) and size. You can also add a caption – perhaps to credit the photographer.

You can also edit images in the Media Library – crop, resize, provide captions and “alt” tags.

Videos

You do not upload videos to the Media Library. Instead use hosting platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo and embed the video into your page or post. In edit mode, simply paste in the URL onto a new line and it should automatically embed.

PDFs and Google Docs

You can embed both of these file types, but you will need to use plugins (“PDF Embedder” and “Google Docs Shortcode”).

See other third-party content you can embed.

Menus

Navigational menus are essential for modern websites, and WordPress lets you set up any number of menus. However, most themes only display two or three.

Go to Appearance>>Menus to get started. You should see something like the screenshot below.

To get started with Menus, create a new one. Give it a name of your choosing and save. Now you have a menu to work with. Where should this menu appear?

The “Twenty-Seventeen” theme we are using provides two “Display locations” (see “Menu Settings’) : “Top Menu” and “Social Links Menu.” For now, check the Top Menu and Save.

Now you have a menu, but with no items in it. What do you want to add?

Notice that there are there are five main types of menu dropdowns: Pages, Posts, Custom Links, Categories, and Tags. When you click on anyone of them, you will see the content that you have that can be added to the menu.

So for example, if you click on “Pages” you will see something like this:

In this example, we’ve checked “Home” and “Blog” and they have been added to the Menu Structure. Posts work the same – you will see all the posts you have and you can add any of them by checking the box and clicking on “Add to Menu.”

Custom Links let you enter any URL that you want, give it a title, and it will appear in the menu. This could be a page or post on your site, or a link to an external site.

The Categories and Tags dropdowns are great ways to automatically segregate your content. Suppose you create a category (or tag) called “Assignments” and another called “Reflections.” You can create a menu item that shows all posts that have been categorized or tagged in that way.

Ordering Menu Items

Menu items can have sub-items and those sub-items can also have items beneath them. (It is best not to have too many levels of nesting.)

To re-order and “parent” menu items, just drag and drop.

Watch the process below:

Social Links Menu

We are using the “Twenty-Seventeen” theme and it has a menu that appears on the bottom of each page. If you add “Customer Links” that go to places like Facebook or Twitter, it automatically creates social media icons for these menu items.

Other Menu Options

Most themes come with a Menu Widget that can display in your sidebar or footer. Drag that widget to the area you want and select the menu you want to display. This is another way to provide navigation to your site.

Tags and Categories

Remember when we said posts can be aggregated by tags and categories? Not sure what that really means?

Posts each display the Tags and Categories that you select. These are actually hyperlinks. If you click on a tag or a category, your list of posts will be filtered by that term.

This works for Author as well, if your site has multiple authors. Click on Author name and your list of posts will only show what that author has posted.

Widgets

Widgets are blocks of static or dynamic content that can be placed in your sidebar or your footer. On your Dashboard, go to Appearance>>Widgets to see the list of those available.

Find a widget that you like and drag it to a “widgetized” area. The number of widgetized areas you have, and their placement, depends on your theme.

Here we chose to display the five most popular groups on the Commons on the post sidebar:

And here is what is now displayed:

Themes

The Commons offers over 50 themes. Themes can drastically change the appearance of your site. Be sure to choose a theme that is “responsive,” i.e. looks good on all kinds of devices.

To change your theme go to “Appearance>>Theme.”

It is good to create a couple sample pages and posts on your site before you go shopping for themes, as well as a menu. WordPress lets you “Customize” your site – switch themes and many other settings to preview what your site might look like without saving the changes,

Users

Your site can have many users. You can assign different privileges to each user:

  • Administrator – has access to all the administrative duties
  • Editor – can publish posts, manage posts as well as manage other people’s posts
  • Author – can publish and manage their own posts
  • Contributor – can write and manage their posts but not publish post
  • Subscriber – can read comments, and receive comment and newsletters

Plugins

Plugins extend the functionality of WordPress. The Commons has over 300 plugins to choose from. Use the Commons Plugin Director to find a plugin for your needs.

Once you find a plugin, you need to activate it. Often this action will add options to your Dashboard or to your edit toolbar. Plugin setting vary greatly.

Good Luck! Feel free to contact us for help!

The Block Editor is now the default editor on the Commons and we hope you use it. It is the future for WordPress. If you want, you can still use the Classic Editor (see instructions here).

Your content in the Block Editor is comprised of modular blocks. It could be just a heading block and four or five paragraph blocks. Or, you can have block containers (i.e. group, column, row blocks) that contain any number of other blocks (paragraph, image, video, heading, etc). Containers can include other containers – for example, a group block might contain a columns block.

To better visualize your page’s block outline, use the editor’s “List View.” Here you can quickly understand how your blocks are nested, and you can directly access their settings. A block’s settings drastically changes its display. Blocks often inherit settings from their container block.

We recommend that you watch this twenty minute tutorial on how to use the Block (aka “Gutenberg”) Editor:

WordPress Developers have been continually working to improve the Block Editor, and some functionality has changed since this video was created.

We hope you get used to this modular way of displaying your content.

Block Editing Resources On The Commons

  • Query Loop Block

    The Query Loop block lets you choose a post type (page, post, or a custom post type), a filter (category, tag, author, keyword) and fetch that data in a loop. This closely resembles the familiar “Post” page (what used to… Read More

  • Reusable Blocks

    If you have content that you expect to repeat in other parts your site, consider creating a reusable block. Start out by creating the block. Perhaps you might have an image and a paragraph. Once you’ve created this composited block… Read More

  • Block Libraries

    Plugin authors are creating elegant, easy to use blocks that will make your site look amazing. When you activate a plugin, you may see one or more new blocks added to your list On the Commons, we now have two… Read More

  • Block Patterns

    Get a head start on your page design. Copy a pattern and paste it into your content wherever you want it to appear. Then customize it – change the text, images, colors, etc. Continue reading Read More

  • Block Editor’s “List View”

    “List View” displays how the blocks work together on a page, and provides access to each block’s settings. “List View” can be accessed by clicking the icon pictured above, which is always available in the Block Editor toolbar. Continue reading Read More

  • Full Site Editing

    Full Site Editing (“FSE”) lets users design every part of a WordPress post or page, with modular blocks.  No coding is needed, but users do need to understand how FSE works. A good understanding how templates are used in WordPress. Continue reading Read More

  • Block Editing

    The Block Editor is now the default editor on the Commons and we hope you use it. It is the future for WordPress. Continue reading Read More

FYI – This is a Reusable Bock built with a Query Loop.

The Jetpack plugin is actually a bundle of plugins that have been developed for WordPress.com.

Please don’t be fooled! All the plugins are free to use. Many times along the installation process, you will be encouraged to pick a premium plan and pay money to WordPress.com for features that will not be available on the Commons. Make sure to choose the free version of this tool when activating Jetpack.

Please note that you will need to create a WordPress.com account to use JetPack. You do not need to have a WordPress.com site. Just register here, get your id/password, and you are ready to activate Jetpack.

After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site in the Plugins area, Jetpack will be added to the Dashboard menu (screenshot, right). Visit this Jetpack area in the Dashboard and go through the process to activate Jetpack.

 

 

When activating JetPack, you will see the various paid options but you do not need to pay for this tool. Scroll down all the way and click on “Start for Free” (image below).

 

 

If you have a WordPress.com account and are logged in, once you click “Start for Free” you will activate Jetpack and re-routed back to your Commons Site.

If you need to create an account, click on the option highlighted above.

Once you click “Approve,” you should see the following:

 

Then you will see the following section added to your Dashboard. Click on Settings to get started with JetPack.

 

Highlighted below are the Settings for the various plugins in the JetPack bundle. Click on each tab to explore the possibilities.

JetPack provides a nice stats plugin that you can use to track your readers.  It also provides Latex support for mathematical notation, and a bunch of other plugins, many of which are similar to other plugins on the Commons. Many members use JetPack’s “Subscription” plugin to allow people to subscribe to their sites and receive email notifications when a post is published. See more about Subscriptions.

 

In Jetpack’s “Sharing” menu, you can  add new widgets to your site  to pull in Twitter an other social media feeds.

If your site is not attached to a group and you want to notify members of new posts and comments, you can install the JetPack plugin.

Learn More About Jetpack And How To Activate It

The Jetpack plugin is actually a bundle of plugins that have been developed for WordPress.com.

Please don’t be fooled! All the plugins are free to use. Many times along the installation process, you will be encouraged to pick a premium plan and pay money to WordPress.com for features that will not be available on the Commons. Make sure to choose the free version of this tool when activating Jetpack.

Please note that you will need to create a WordPress.com account to use JetPack. You do not need to have a WordPress.com site. Just register here, get your id/password, and you are ready to activate Jetpack.

After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site in the Plugins area, Jetpack will be added to the Dashboard menu (screenshot, right). Visit this Jetpack area in the Dashboard and go through the process to activate Jetpack.

 

 

When activating JetPack, you will see the various paid options but you do not need to pay for this tool. Scroll down all the way and click on “Start for Free” (image below).

 

 

If you have a WordPress.com account and are logged in, once you click “Start for Free” you will activate Jetpack and re-routed back to your Commons Site.

If you need to create an account, click on the option highlighted above.

Once you click “Approve,” you should see the following:

 

Then you will see the following section added to your Dashboard. Click on Settings to get started with JetPack.

 

Highlighted below are the Settings for the various plugins in the JetPack bundle. Click on each tab to explore the possibilities.

JetPack provides a nice stats plugin that you can use to track your readers.  It also provides Latex support for mathematical notation, and a bunch of other plugins, many of which are similar to other plugins on the Commons. Many members use JetPack’s “Subscription” plugin to allow people to subscribe to their sites and receive email notifications when a post is published. See more about Subscriptions.

 

In Jetpack’s “Sharing” menu, you can  add new widgets to your site  to pull in Twitter an other social media feeds.

After activating JetPack, go to Settings>>Discussion..

Once you enable Subscriptions, all members of your site should receive email notifications of new posts and comments.

You can also optionally add a widget that would let non-members subscribe to your site. These will not become members of the site but will be added to a list of emails to are sent out.

Go to Appearance>>Widgets and drag the Blog Subscription (JetPack) widget to a sidebar or other widgetized area. You can customize how it appears on your site:

 

In June, 2019, the Commons began to collect basic metadata for sites and groups to better understand how members are using the Commons and what their needs might be.

We will not share data entered here in aggregate with any third-parties. It will be used to inform our development process and to better surface Commons activity by community, discipline, and purpose. As part of that process, certain data entered to describe sites and groups may be publicly visible on the Commons.

Here are the fields we’d like to know about:

  • Is it for a certain campus or campuses?
  • What is the primary purpose? Choices are: Teaching, Committee, Conference, Department/Program/Center, Personal, Publication, Project, Portfolio, Working Group, Community of Interest, or Other
  • If it is for teaching, the Commons will add it to the “Courses” tab. We’d like to know:
    • What Disciplinary Cluster does in fall under? Choices are: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM, Professional, Other, Not Applicable
    • What Semester? (spring, fall, winter, summer)
    • What Year?

If your site was created before June, 2019 or if you want to update the metadata about your site, go to Settings>>General on your dashboard. Scroll down to the Campus and Primary Purpose and click on the text box to see drop down options. You can choose multiple campuses, but just one primary purpose. If your site uses Open Educational Resources, click the checkbox.

 

If you choose “Teaching“, you will see the following additional fields concerning your course:

 

Click in the text box to reveal your choices. And remember to Save Changes.

If you have any questions, please contact us at Zendesk.