Archive for May, 2016

Field Notes: An Event Apart Boston 2016

Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do in the community.

This week, designers Kjell Reigstad and Mel Choyce and code wrangler Kelly Dwan attended An Event Apart in Boston, Massachusetts. An Event Apart is a tech industry conference built by, and for, designers and developers who believe “that through advocacy and hard work, each of us can make a meaningful difference.” Mel shares her experience from the event.

Yesenia Perez-Cruz, taken by Jeffrey Zeldman. Photo licensed CC BY-ND 2.0.

Yesenia Perez-Cruz, taken by Jeffrey Zeldman. Photo licensed CC BY-ND 2.0.

Every now and then a conference comes around that makes you want to get up and go work. That’s always been An Event Apart for me — I leave feeling energized and amped up, with a strong desire to make the world (or at least the web) a better place.

An Event Apart is a series of one-track conferences hosted across the United States, focusing on designing and developing the modern web. The speakers are top-notch industry leaders, who present eye-opening talks on topics ranging from the technicalities of using CSS Grids to designing for people in crisis.

Thanks for the vulnerable talk, @meyerweb. It was powerful and helped remind me how impactful we really can be. #aeabos

— Michelle Matthews (@michematthews) May 17, 2016

Throughout this week’s event in Boston there was an undercurrent of compassion, empathy, and understanding for the real people who use the products we create. The web should be accessible to everyone — not just people with fast connections and modern devices, or perfect vision, or people who only speak English.

This sentiment was woven into talks about designing deliberately, creating for touch screens and physical interfaces, building products that last, and improving your site performance. More than their technical expertise, each speaker’s humanity shone through in their presentation. I can’t imagine leaving An Event Apart and not being inspired to make the world a better place.

Let’s design for "the next billion" – @beep #aeabos #aeaboston #aea2016 #design #designthinking

— Rocky (@RocksterWho) May 16, 2016

At WordPress.com our mission is to democratize publishing. That means making a space for everyone on the web to have a voice that is their own, that they control — not us. If you ever want to leave WordPress.com, you can take your content with you, no strings attached. Making a place that enables you to tell your story and carve out a niche on this world wide web is critically important to me and to everyone here.

To see people using WordPress.com to kickstart their careers as writers, build their businesses and support themselves, and share their experiences with their family and friends is inspiring. Seeing what y’all build here is a reminder of how beautiful and diverse our world is, and An Event Apart is a perennial reminder that our work touches and empowers so many communities.

In addition to the three of us attending, WordPress.com had the great privilege of sponsoring this event. Before and after sessions, Kelly, Kjell and I (Mel — oh what rhyming we brought with us) hung out at our booth, where we handed out stickers, buttons, and some beautiful WordPress pennants from Oxford Pennants. (I can’t wait to hang mine up in my home office!)

Looking forward to another epic day at #aeabos. Stop by our table and grab one of our newly designed WordPress pennants (by @OxfordPennant)!

— WordPress.com (@wordpressdotcom) May 17, 2016

We also got to talk to people about their love of WordPress. Pretty much everyone who approached us throughout the conference either used WordPress at their current job, or at a previous job, or were trying to convince their job to switch to WordPress. We got to chat about the benefits of using the Jetpack plugin for self-hosted sites. Folks seemed really excited about the new features we’ve been introducing into Jetpack, especially Jetpack Manage, which lets you manage and update your self-hosted sites from WordPress.com — a feature I wanted when I worked at an agency and had a lot of client sites to maintain.

I was sad to see An Event Apart end, but I’m excited to get back to work. If you’re a designer or another member of the tech industry, I encourage you to check out an upcoming An Event Apart in your area.

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If you’re as pumped as we are about making the web a better place, WordPress.com is currently hiring Product Designers, Marketing Designers, and is on the lookout for our next Head of Design!

Filed under: Community, Events
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New Theme: Rebalance

It’s Theme Thursday again, and we have a brand new free theme called Rebalance to share with you!

Rebalance

Rebalance is an elegantly simple portfolio theme for photographers, artists, and graphic designers looking to showcase their work. It was designed by Automattic’s very own Mel Choyce and inspired by the classic Imbalance 2 theme for WordPress.org.

The theme comes with six custom accent colors to choose from and site logo support so that you can tweak the design to your liking. It also has a customizable header menu and social menu that your visitors can use to further connect with your site.

Want to explore Rebalance? Head over to the theme’s Showcase page!

Filed under: Themes
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Introducing Blogging U. On Demand

Over the past two and a half years, thousands of bloggers have used Blogging U. — step-by-step courses with manageable daily assignments and pro tips from WordPress.com staff — to get started with WordPress.com, grow as writers, push their photography skills, and more.

Now, accessing expert support is even easier: Blogging U. courses are available on demand, so you can begin whenever you’d like! We’ll be offering courses in four tracks, Blogging, Websites (coming soon), Writing, and Photography (coming soon) — all your Blogging U. favorites will be back, along with lots of new topics we’ve got up our sleeves.

There are five different courses currently available:

  • Blogging: Learning the Fundamentals (formerly Blogging 101)  — a solid grounding in the three big components of blogging: publishing, customizing your blog, and engaging with the blogging community.
  • Blogging: Commenting Basics (formerly Commenting Bootcamp) — a short course to get you comfortable with reaching out to other bloggers and commenting etiquette.
  • Blogging: Branding and Growth (formerly Blogging 201) — audit your brand, analyze your stats, explore social networks, learn about SEO, and more in this intermediate course.
  • Writing: Intro to Poetry (new course) — find your inner Dickinson with daily poetry prompts, and sharpen your verse by learning some basic poetic forms and devices.

Courses give you a daily assignment or writing prompt, along with the technical help you need to complete the task and insider advice from both our editors and the wider blogging community; each course has a handy resource page collecting everything in one place for you to refer back to whenever you’d like. Publish new posts using the course’s tag — don’t worry, we’ll tell you how! — and you’ll be able to connect with others working through the same course for support, feedback, and friendship.

Click on any course title for more detail on what it covers and to begin immediately (click the “Start” button on the course’s page to enroll) or read on to learn more about the changes to Blogging U. and what’s coming next.

FAQs

How do I start a course?

Visit the page for the course you’re interested in and click the “Start” button — that’s it! If you’re logged in to WordPress.com, you’ll receive an introductory email right away, and your first assignment a few minutes later. If you’re not logged in, we’ll prompt you to do so, and you’re off and running.

What if I want to stop?

No problem — every email you’ll receive includes an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Click it, and the course stops.

This won’t affect any of your other WordPress.com emails, like notifications. And if you want to give the course another try, you can register again.

How many courses can I take? Can I take them more than once?

As many as you’d like, as many times as you’d like. We recommend taking one course at a time — blogging is fun, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be overwhelming! — but you’re free to take multiple courses simultaneously.

What happened to the other courses on writing, photography, and intermediate/advanced blogging?

We haven’t forgotten about them. We’re working hard to adapt them and will be adding them to the lineup as soon as we can, along with other, brand-new courses on building a website, advanced photography, and more.

Hey, the course names seem different! Are these the same courses that have been offered in the past?

We’ve updated the course names to make them clearer and more descriptive, so you can more easily decide what course is right for you. We’ll always let you know if a course is one we’ve offered previously, or new.

What if I need assistance during the course?

Every assignment includes expert advice from our staff as well as links to more resources and to our customer support folks, called Happiness Engineers. Blogging U. courses no longer have private sites for those participating — but that doesn’t mean there’s no way to get support when you need it!

How do I connect with other bloggers during my course?

Reaching out to other bloggers helps participants get the most out of Blogging U. courses. We encourage you to use the tag for your course when publishing posts (e.g., #bloggingfundamentals) and to browse that tag in the Reader to find and connect with other bloggers. If you don’t know what tag to use or browse, don’t worry — when you begin a course, we’ll tell you.

We also have a weekly Community Pool discussion thread where anyone can seek or give feedback on any aspect of blogging. A new thread opens every Monday. And each Friday, new bloggers are invited to share their first posts with the community in our First Friday thread.

What if I don’t blog on WordPress.com?

All general assignments (publishing posts, customizing your blog, leaving comments, etc.) are applicable to any blog, anywhere. However, you’ll need to have a WordPress.com account to register for a Blogging U. course, and any specific how-to guidance we offer will be specific to WordPress.com.

How much does each course cost?

Nothing. Blogging U. courses have always been free, and still are.

Ready to register? Head to the Blogging U. home page to get started!

Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Support
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Ebates Luxe Event: Shop and Earn 15% Cash Back

Shop Ebates Luxe Event

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Ebates. Where else can you shop at all your favorite stores while getting cash back?! Several months ago, Ebates recognized that we also love luxury brands so why not pay us to stay on-trend and shop our favorite designer brands and department stores like Saks, Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Diane von Furstenberg, J Brand, Intermix, Forzieri and many more. It’s all about the finer things at incredible values. When you sign up for email notifications (which I highly recommend!), you get the latest offers on everything from Tory Burch handbags to Burberry dresses, designer kids’ clothes from Mini Boden, Tucker + Tate, Hanna Anderson to high-end beauty brands like CHANEL, MAC, Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown. You can buy only the best from the interior design masters at MacKenzie-Childs, Michael Aram, Jay Strongwater, SFERRA and Ralph Lauren or shop The Man Store at Neiman Marcus and discover trends from Brunello Cucinelli, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Gucci. There’s no limit to what you will find!

Here’s how to get started shopping with Ebates:

  1. Sign up {here} – it’s FREE (no hidden fees and no strings attached).
  2. Look up your favorite stores on Ebates (there are thousands!).
  3. Start shopping!  Ebates will tell you the percentage of cash back you will receive from your purchase based on the store.
  4. You will receive a “big fat check” every three months.
  5. Share Ebates with all of your friends and receive a “tell-a-friend” bonus (more cash back!) 

The weekly emails from Ebates summarize which stores are having sales, online coupons or double cash back, which is the perfect excuse to do a little shopping on your lunch break, right? Before I buy anything online, I always check Ebates first so I can make money while spending money.  You’ll thank me after you receive your first check!

Note:  This is not a paid advertisement.  I am a loyal Ebates customer.  I will receive a referral bonus once you sign up through my link and make your first purchase.

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Coming Soon: New .Blog Domains for Websites

For more than a decade, the word “blog” has been synonymous with “your home on the web.” And since 2005, WordPress.com has been proud to help you create a unique space that is all yours.

Now we’re excited to announce a brand new way to create a unique identity for your website: .blog, a top-level domain extension that will let you create a customized name and web address for your site.

A name that’s all yours

Just like .com before it, .blog is clear and accessible, and it creates millions of fresh, new options for naming your blog. It’s the perfect place to build your home on the web.

The .blog domains are coming this year — sign up here to get notified when they become available. We’ll be offering them to all websites — you won’t need to have a WordPress or WordPress.com site to purchase one.

Why .blog?

For years, .com was the dominant choice for website names, but it’s become increasingly difficult to find a name. With a top-level domain like .blog, you can get a name that truly matches your identity. Plus, you’ll get all the same benefits with Google search results.

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How .blog was born

Automattic — the parent company of WordPress.com — secured the rights to oversee and operate the sale and registration of .blog domains, a new and never-before available top-level domain. You’ll be able to purchase a .blog domain at WordPress.com or through our partner domain name registrars. And again, the .blog domain will be available to everyone, regardless of what kind of site you have or who hosts it. 

Pricing

Domain registration prices are still being finalized, but they will be in the standard range for new top-level domains with some premium pricing for higher-value names. The domain names will become available through traditional timeframes such as “sunrise” (the period during which trademark owners can purchase domain names) and “landrush” (the time in which applications can be received prior to general availability).

Sign up to be notified when .blog arrives

We’re thrilled to bring .blog sites to the world, and we’ll share more details as they’re available. Sign up here to receive updates about .blog availability.

Filed under: Automattic, Domains, WordPress, WordPress.com
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{Sponsored Post} NKHenry Spring/Summer 2016 Collection Available Now

NKHenry

Handbag brand NKHenry has launched a new collection of leather bags for the Spring/Summer 2016 season. Inspired by laidback California cool meets New York chic, the bags have soft, boho styling with a trendy attitude. The bags have an elegant simplicity, yet are uniquely designed with unexpected details like the open slit on the fisherman’s net inspired Bag B. and the two toned fringe on the Jesse Fringed bag.

NKHenry SS16

The entire collection features soft pastel colored Italian leather skins. Bag B. – a leather and wood handheld leather bag retails at $439, Jesse Fringed, a slouchy hobo at $298 and Love Bucket, a softly structured cross body bucket bag at $195.

The collection, like all NKHenry handbags, are a chic companion whether lunching with the girls or traveling in relaxed style to an exotic destination. Click {here} to visit the NKHenry website and connect with NKHenry on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Two New WordPress.com Bloggers on ‘Diving into the Giant Pool of the Blogosphere’

Every day, people from across the globe start their own websites on WordPress.com to share everything from their latest thoughts on current events to family recipes passed down through several generations. Among this group are Grace and Georgie, who started their blog Attempting Vogue a few weeks ago to share their thoughts on a variety of topics, including fashion, beauty, and social politics. We wanted to know more about how Attempting Vogue got started on WordPress.com and what Grace and Georgie hope their blog will become. They were kind enough to provide us with some answers.

Can you start by introducing yourselves?

Grace: We’re both students in our second year of university. Georgie is studying theatre and performance at Warwick University, and I’m studying sociology at Newcastle University. We met in secondary school, and have stayed friends ever since. We don’t see each other as much as before, but we still keep in contact and catch up when we can. We both have a keen interest in fashion and beauty, as well as social issues such as gender, inequality, and racism.

How did you two come up with the idea for your blog, and when did you decide it was something you wanted to create?

Georgie: I’d been sitting on the idea for quite a while. I knew that I wanted to create some kind of blog, but I struggled to pin down a certain genre or “target readership.” Originally, I had planned on running a blog by myself, but Grace offered to help me out with the proofreading process so I suggested that we co-edit. This was when I became completely certain that this was something I really wanted to do — two heads are better than one after all! Together, we decided to keep the genre relatively broad and write about things that we find useful or interesting. With this approach, I believe we are likely to be continuously engaged with the blogging process, and this is a main priority for us.

The bloggers, Grace, on the left, and Georgie.

The bloggers, Grace, on the left, and Georgie.

How did you decide on WordPress.com as the platform for your blog? Have you used it before for anything else?

Grace: Well, we had a look around and tried a few different blogging websites. However, none of the websites we tested gave us the professional finish we wanted; a lot of the blog layouts were too simplistic, or slightly tacky. However, when we had a look at WordPress.com, all of the themes and layouts that were available looked really professional and easy to use. As this was our first time blogging, we wanted to make sure whatever site we picked was simple to use, but delivered the best quality finish. Compared to other websites, WordPress.com definitely delivered this.

WordPress.com has lots of themes to choose from. How did you to decide on the theme you’re using now, the Cubic theme?

Georgie: Attempting Vogue is largely focused on fashion and beauty, so aesthetics is important to us. The Cubic theme caught our eye as a sleek and professional layout that can be easily personalized with our own choice of featured images. It is also incredibly simple for visitors to navigate, another great bonus to this choice of theme.

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Usually a blog is written by a single person, but the two of you are running Attempting Vogue together. Have you decided on how you want to run your site? Will you be trading off on posts, or writing them all together?

Grace: We’ve known each other for quite a while and share similar tastes and views, so we thought writing together would be fun. We co-wrote our initial introduction post, but agreed to individually write at least one post a week to deliver consistent and equal posts. Although we individually write posts, we are constantly helping each other create new ideas. We also proofread and add suggestions for improvements on each other’s work. I think this is probably the best way to approach our blog, as it ensures it is kept to the highest quality, and that every post — no matter who it is written by — has shared input from both of us, whilst maintaining our individuality.

In your intro post, you wrote that the two of you are “diving into the giant pool of the blogosphere.” How are you going out to let people know that your blog exists and to share your tips and opinions?

Georgie: Our current strategy is primarily through the use of our existing social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. So far we’ve had a tremendous amount of support from our family and friends — they’ve really helped out with sharing our posts! We are planning on creating social media accounts specifically for Attempting Vogue so we can focus the content on the blog, become more involved with blogging communities, and hopefully develop our online presence.

Have you set some goals for your blog? What is your hope for it?

Grace: We haven’t set any goals in particular. Our initial concern is just to get in the habit of writing and creating new content. We aren’t expecting lots of people to read our blog; we just want to write about things we find interesting. Our main hope is just to keep consistent and in a few months’ time to still be enjoying writing posts.

Has WordPress.com allowed you to do everything you wanted to do with your blog so far? If WordPress.com could help you with one thing, what would you like that to be?

Georgie: WordPress.com has been great. We chose it carefully for its rookie-proof functionality and impressive aesthetics. My favorite aspect of the site builder is the breadth of viewer statistics that are available to us. I love knowing what countries Attempting Vogue is being viewed in and which social media websites are leading audiences to our posts. Although Grace and I are working through the form of WordPress.com with trial and error, it would have perhaps been useful to have been provided with an initial tutorial. That being said, so far we have had a fantastic experience with WordPress.com!

Editor’s Note: If you want to learn more about getting started on WordPress.com, check out our “Blogging: Fundamentals” course from Blogging University.

* * *

It’s your turn! We’d like to hear from you: How did you get started on WordPress.com?

Filed under: Features
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Louis Vuitton at the Met Gala 2016

Nicolas Ghesquière served as Honorary Chair along with Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada and Taylor Swift at the Met Gala 2016. On this occasion friends of the House and celebrities were captured just before they attended the prestigious event. Among the personalities present: Alicia Vikander, Lea Seydoux, Xavier Dolan, Miranda Kerr, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Jayden Smith, Michelle Williams, Grimes, and Jennifer Connelly.

This event celebrates the Costume Institute’s spring 2016 exhibition, entitled “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”. A dozen of Louis Vuitton’s looks will also be showcased in the exhibition.

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Alicia Vikander

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Nicolas Ghesquière

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Selena Gomez

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Léa Seydoux

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Xavier Dolan

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Jayden Smith

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Jennifer Connelly

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Miranda Kerr

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Grimes

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Marie-Amelie Suave

Images via Louis Vuitton


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Louis Vuitton Summer 2016 Collection

Images via Louis Vuitton


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Fondation Louis Vuitton Presents Daniel Buren’s L’Observatoire de la lumière

In line with Fondation Louis Vuitton’s commitment to contemporary creation and encouragement of innovative encounters with its architecture, as of 11 May 2016 the Fondation Louis Vuitton will present a temporary work by Daniel Buren. Developed in close dialogue with the building by Frank Gehry – whose architecture serves as an inspiration to artists – “Observatory of Light” will be installed across the glass ‘sails’, the emblematic feature of the building.

The twelve ‘sails’, formed of 3,600 pieces of glass, will be covered by a staggering array of coloured filters that are in turn punctuated, at equal distances from one another, by alternating white and blank stripes perpendicular to the ground. The thirteen selected colours will make coloured forms appear and disappear, ever-changing with the time of day and the season. Through a play of colours, projections, reflections, transparencies and contrasts, both inside and outside, Daniel Buren will show this building in a new light.

Major international artist Daniel Buren (1938-FR) has been developing a radical œuvre characterised by the use of his “visual tool” (8.7 cm-wide alternating white and coloured vertical stripes), since the 1960s. He moved from working with paint (1965-1967) to working with space and its context. All his works are now conceived specifically for the space, context and features of the host venue and are created in situ, be that in a public space or in a museum or art gallery.

“Daniel Buren has designed a grandiose project, pertinent and enchanting, the result of a real dialogue with Frank Gehry and his building. His work responds magnificently to the architecture, in line with his approach, going back to the 1970s, that sees a coming together of colours, transparency and light.” Bernard Arnault, President of the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Marking this occasion, a catalogue – designed with the artist – will bring together, for the first time, a considerable body of works based around intersecting themes – colour, transparency, light, translucency, projection – created between the 1970s and today. Co-edited with publishers Xavier Barral.

Images via Louis Vuitton


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