Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

New Themes: Minnow and Cols

We’re happy to introduce two brand new free themes today!

Minnow

Minnow WordPress Theme

Designed by Mel Choyce, Minnow is a light, simple theme that puts your social presence front and center. A social links menu is displayed prominently below the site title and logo, so readers can easily find you on your favorite social networks.

When activated, the optional Custom Menu or Widget area appear in a slide-out sidebar, making secondary content accessible while keeping the focus on your content.

Learn more about the free Minnow theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

Cols

cols-featureimage
This theme is designed by yours trulyCols is a novel theme that lets you tell your stories without the layout getting in the way.

Standard-format posts are displayed in a newspaper-like layout, with three columns on large monitors, two columns on medium-sized displays, and a one-column layout on small screens like phones. Other supported post formats — Aside, Image, Video, Quote, Link, and Chat — are displayed in a simple single-column layout.

Learn more about the free Cols theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 7

Here it is! A new collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress.

As always, you can find our past collections here. You can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations, or subscribe to our free weekly email.

Publishers, writers, you can share links to your favorite essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and on WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. What Happens When a Veteran High School Teacher Becomes a Student for the Day

Grant Wiggins

“I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day.” A high school teacher learns some sobering lessons about how kids experience a typical day — and the amount of sitting required.

2. No Apology

Mehreen Kasana

The truth about being Muslim in America:

In the eyes of those perpetually seeking an apology from Muslims, I am a Bad Muslim. I don’t put hashtag-suffixed apologies online for what someone else of my faith does. When 9/11 happened, I was as shocked and terrified as anyone else was. We scary-looking Muslims experience human emotions, too. … We Muslims react to unexpected loss of life like any non-Muslim would. We cry, we mourn.

3. The Rise and Fall of Public Housing in NYC

Richard Price, Guernica

A “subjective overview” of the history of public housing in New York City from the novelist Richard Price, framed through the lens of his own upbringing in the North Bronx’s Parkside Houses.

4. Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist

Kat Hagan, This Is Not a Pattern

How our behavior and language can have a harmful impact — and how we can fix it. “Small, simple changes will build the foundation for a better tech culture.”

5. Gone Girls: Human Trafficking on the Home Front

Mike Kessler, Los Angeles Magazine

Kessler talks to survivors of child prostitution, as well as law enforcement officers, judges, politicians, and advocates working to prevent the sex trafficking of minors.

6. The Evans Family Is Living in This World

Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine

A community comes together to help a family after a tragedy:

“The reality hit me like nothing I’d ever experienced,” McDonald says. “She had no one. I couldn’t imagine what that was like.” McDonald went to Ao, threw her arm around the sobbing woman’s shoulders, and said, “We’ll help you.”

7. The Plunge

Carl Schreck, Grantland

The story of Shavarsh Karapetyan, a Soviet swimming champion who dove into Armenia’s Lake Yerevan and saved dozens of lives from a sinking trolleybus.

8. How Pixar’s Gurus Brought the Magic Back to Disney Animation

Caitlin Roper, Wired

A profile of John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, whose intense focus on storytelling helped revive Disney’s animation studio with hits like Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.

9. ‘I Am Darren Wilson’: St. Louis and the Geography of Fear

Sarah Kendzior & Umar Lee, Quartz

St. Louis is a city long on the run from itself. White flight has spread from suburbia to exurbia, while decades of black demands — for better jobs, better schools, better treatment—go unheeded. This is a region deprived of resources, forcing residents to scrounge for more fertile terrain.

10. Stephen Powers Puts the Writing on the Wall

Neima Jahromi, Bklynr

From the magazine Bklynr, a profile of the street artist behind some of Brooklyn’s most recognizable murals.

Photo: dystopos, Flickr

Filed under: Community, Reading, WordPress, WordPress.com
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A New My Sites Section

My Sites just got a new look, but more importantly, it got a technical overhaul, making the page dramatically faster and more powerful.

From one central location, scan and select any of your WordPress sites or create new ones with the support of a more visual interface. Head directly to the posts or pages of a particular WordPress or launch stats to glimpse trends and get inspiration for blog or website content.  Access themes, user settings, and sharing options with a click to make WordPress your own.

The new My Sites page is a small piece of a larger effort to make WordPress.com faster, easier to use from any device, and overall more wonderful. My Sites will be a hub for an increasingly seamless experience, so stay tuned for more updates, and please pardon the dust as we make a few changes!

My Sites: Before & After

My Sites: Before

My Sites: Before

My Sites: After

My Sites: After

Filed under: Administration
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New Theme: Penscratch

Today we have a brand new free theme especially for writers and bloggers!

Penscratch

Penscratch WordPress Theme

Penscratch is a clean, sophisticated theme for sharing your writing. Whether you’re working on an analytical essay, an anthology of poems, or a piece of long-form fiction, Penscratch makes for a pleasant reading and writing experience all around.

Choose between a one- or two-column layout by adding widgets, add links to your favorite social networks, customize your home on the web with a site logo or header image, or add fancy pull quotes throughout your content.

Penscratch is also responsive, ensuring the transition between different devices and screen sizes is flawless for your readers.

Learn more about the free Penscratch theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

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Starting Next Week: Blogging 201

Blogging 201: Branding and Growth starts Monday, October 20. If you’re a recent alum of Blogging 101 looking to build on the skills you’ve developed so far, or a blogger looking for new ways to grow your site and its audience, this is the course for you.

What will Blogging 201 cover? We’ll introduce tools to increase your traffic within WordPress.com as well as through other platforms, discuss ways to develop a coherent, effective brand for your blog, and show how to use your archives and your site’s stats to build your readership.

During this two-week course we’ll give you a daily task and provide you with all the necessary resources and information to complete it (there will be no new tasks on weekends, to give you time to explore more on your own, or just publish a post or two). You’ll also have access to The Commons, a private, staff-moderated space where you can chat with other participants, ask questions, and give feedback.

Ending right before NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo kick off in November, Blogging 201: Branding and Growth will help you get your site ready for a new wave of viewers — as well as to keep them coming after their first visit.

Like all Blogging U. courses, there are no prerequisites for Blogging 201 (if you’d like to follow the courses in sequence, though, that’s fine: Blogging 101: Zero to Hero will be back in November!). Self-hosted blogs and blogs from other platforms are just as welcome to participate.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, sign up for Blogging 201: Branding and Growth using this form:

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Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Resources
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Around the World in Nine Photos

Do you love stories from around the world? Check out the work of the following nine photographers on WordPress.com and allow your imagination to take you away…

Nathanael‘s monochrome photo of the Star Lite Motel in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, conjures images of wayward romances and clandestine meetings. We loved the marquee’s message, “Forgive and forget its human to err.” (sic) which offers an almost haunting absolution. For more of Nathanael’s work, check out his blog, G’Nat’s Eye View.

Photo by Nathanael

Photo by P. Nathanael Gough

The image below, by UK photographer Andy Hooker, had us at hello. We love how the sign matches the woman’s red coat and how her right leg is in crisp focus just as her stride reaches the “h” above her head. Check out more of Andy’s work at LensScaper.

Photo by Andy Hooker

Photo by Andy Hooker

Bao Pham‘s photo of this graffiti sneer in bold, brilliant color lends an even more menacing effect to the shot of the motorcycle below, as if the bike’s owner is watching over you. The photo was taken in Melbourne, Australia. For more, visit Bao’s site.

Photo by Bao Pham

Photo by Bao Pham

Below, Debopriyo Datta‘s photo of these anthropomorphic recycled robots, captured during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India, will make you smile.

Photo by Debopriyo Datta

Photo by Debopriyo Datta

At The Film Shooter, Kutay’s photo of this young, ever-so-elegantly dressed solo violinist, as seen busking in Paddy’s Market in Sydney, Australia, captured our imagination. We couldn’t help but wonder which piece he was playing.

Photo by Kutay

Photo by Kutay

From stand-still above to to photo-finish below, we loved the motion depicted in Paulo César Silva’s image of three cyclists in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal. Visit COTTIDIANUS to see more of Paulo’s work.

Photo by Paulo César Silva

Photo by Paulo César Silva

From a split second in black and white to a split second in brilliant color, check out Ren Hoeck‘s photo of an elderly lady in Lima, Perú. We couldn’t help but wonder about where she had come from and where she was going.

Photo by Ren Hoeck

Photo by Ren Hoeck

From vibrant color to evocative darkness, sashnortier‘s image of a man in repose, smoking a cigarette in Cape Town, South Africa, is rather striking, wouldn’t you agree?

Photo by sashnortier

Photo by sashnortier

At the last stop on our world tour, we have a photo by lotof at a bar in Freiburg, Germany. The juxtaposition between the bold faces in the doorway poster and the lone contemplative figure at the bar has us wondering about the man’s backstory: is he relaxing after a hard day at work, drowning his sorrows, or celebrating? Only your imagination knows for sure.

Photo by lotof

Photo by lotof

For more amazing photographs, follow the street photography tag in your Reader.

Filed under: Community
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Add Gmail, Calendar, and Drive to Your Site

The content you publish on your site is the result of a lot of behind-the-scenes activity — and we’re not talking only about drafting posts and pages. Emails, meetings and events, documents and spreadsheets: as business owners and publishers you have a lot to juggle.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with Google to offer our users the incredible power of Google Apps for Work right in their WordPress.com dashboards.

A powerful suite of tools

With the Google Apps for Work integration you’ll be able to set up your own custom email address based on your domain, putting a professional face on all your communications. For example, if your custom domain is onegreatsite.com, you can choose an email address like requests@onegreatsite.com or team@onegreatsite.com.

The custom email address is just the beginning. Google Drive (for storing all your files), Google Calendar, Hangouts for group video chats, and more — all are now within easy reach of your site, and available on your desktop as well as your mobile devices.

Using Google Apps for Work alongside your WordPress.com site makes it easier and faster to work with team members, partners, and customers.

Set up Google Apps for Work right from your dashboard

When you purchase a new custom domain, you’ll now have the option to register your domain with Google Apps for Work. You can choose between a standard subscription for $50 per domain per year, or go for Google Apps for Work with unlimited storage for $120 per domain per year.

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You can find all the information on setting up your domain with Google Apps for Work on our support page.

Note: Google Apps for Work is currently available for new custom domains only. Already have a domain? Stay tuned for a future announcement when we make Google Apps for Work available for existing domains as well.

Filed under: Dashboard, Domains, New Features, Upgrade, WordPress.com
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Back to Blogging: Ten Themes to Inspire You Right Now

Carving out your very own corner on the web is important to you. You may be a brand-new user on WordPress.com — if so, welcome! — or a veteran blogger returning to an old habit. Recently on the Verge, Lockhart Steele, the editorial director of Vox Media, talked about getting back to blogging. On a noisy internet with many platforms, some are bringing their blogs back from the dead and reclaiming their personal turf.

But for me, the web ecosystem will always be bloggy at its core. I’m looking forward to being a part of it again myself.

– Lockhart Steele

No matter what type of blogger you are, these ten themes — ideal for personal blogging and writing — will inspire you: some are simple and understated, while others are bold and modern. Each theme works right out of the box, so you can start publishing right now.

Browse away!

McKinley

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 11.03.45 AM

Say hello to McKinley: a flexible, easy-to-use theme for writing, photographs, and short bits of content. The distinct post formats for your quote and link posts add blocks of color to your homepage, distinguishing quick posts from your longer pieces. Featured images also look great, while slideshows display at full width.

See McKinley in action on the blog of author Amanda Mininger.

Syntax

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 11.42.38 AM

A minimal design that gets out of the way? Check. Large font that’s easy on the eyes? Check. Pullquotes that supplement the reading experience? Check. Enter Syntax, a writing and reading theme with no distractions. Straightforward yet elegant, it works well with your longreads and chapter excerpts, but also displays featured images in your posts, which look fantastic in post archive view:

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Check out how Economist contributor and Hannibal and Me author Andreas Kluth uses Syntax.

Intergalactic

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 12.43.22 PM

For writers who believe that images are as powerful as words, take a peek at Intergalactic, launched last week. Bold featured images and content blocks transform this theme into a visual feast, while the one-column layout creates a clean, quiet reading experience.

See Intergalactic take off on the site of journalist and photographer Bryan Smith.

Ryu

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 1.04.52 PM

There’s so much to love about Ryu, a popular personal blogging theme among our top ten. The large post titles are sophisticated, while the various post formats add variety to your site. (The background color of an image post automatically matches the uploaded image, which is a nice touch!) Subtle but effective design details are already in place, so you can activate the theme and start posting.

See Ryu in the wild on The Smallest Forest, a crafts and design blog.

Hemingway Rewritten

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 1.21.20 PM

A minimal theme with a cool scrolling header effect, Hemingway Rewritten has all the key features for most bloggers. Use the default countryside featured image, or upload your own custom header. Insert a few widgets in the sidebar on your homepage, or create full-width template pages to give your best content all the space it deserves. It’s a versatile yet clean layout, and Hemingway would be proud.

See Hemingway Rewritten transformed on The Disorder of Things.

Eighties

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 1.41.20 PM

One-column themes aren’t necessarily understated — just look to Eighties as the exception. Like the decade from which it gets its name, Eighties is fun and dynamic, from its bold blog title font to the huge full-width featured images. But despite the flashiness, it gives you the space to write, while the balance between your images and prose is tasteful.

Take Eighties for a spin on Camerajunky, the online diary of a camera addict.

Bushwick

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 1.54.00 PM

Looking for something different from the themes we’ve showcased above? One awesome feature of Bushwick is the fixed header area on the left — best viewed on a bigger screen — which you can personalize with your own image. On the right, readers can scroll through your latest posts.

Check out Bushwick on the blog of artist Danny Gregory.

Bosco

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 7.29.23 AM

A single column, elegant typography, and lots of whitespace make Bosco an easy, pleasant reading experience. You’ll find unique treatments of post formats; for example, titles of link posts go straight to the content you’ve linked, rather than another page on your blog. You can also place widgets at the footer, to add cool extras without distracting your readers.

Readers will love the experience of Bosco — see it on Misprinted Pages, a blog on books and writing.

Pocket ($75)

The final two themes in our list are premium, and our first — Pocket — mixes contemporary design with bold typography. Here, make your voice heard with attention-grabbing headlines, quotes, and stunning images. Your front-page archive is a single column, with distinct content blocks for your various types of posts. In the Customizer, you can also choose from multiple color palettes, select a grayscale effect for your featured images, and experiment with other extras.

See how writer, teacher, and swimmer Matthew Swanston uses Pocket.

Notebook ($75)

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 4.10.31 PM

One of my favorite new premium themes, Notebook is sleek and sophisticated. Set a commanding background image and introduce yourself on your homepage. Let the minimal graphic menu, which slides in and out on the left, direct readers to your content. The default typography is modern and easy-to-read, and images are used in various ways to enhance your site — not just as featured images at the top of your posts, but as background images in the post navigation and thumbnails in archive view.

Check out this premium theme on the Notebook demo site.

Filed under: Community, Customization, Design, Themes
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New theme: Harmonic

Today, we have a brand new free theme for you to enjoy!

main-screen1

Harmonic is a unique theme that really lets your content sing. Maybe you’re a band looking to make your home on WordPress.com. Perhaps you’re a photographer looking to showcase your work. You may be a blogger who just wants a theme that looks a bit distinctive. Harmonic has you covered.

With Harmonic you can build your own front-page layout. Choose from a title screen, showing your latest posts, page content, widgets or even a photo showcase using the Portfolio Custom Post Type. If sharing your writing is your aim, Harmonic has you covered with a simple, elegant, two-column blog layout. This theme also adapts to fit any device, making sure readers get a great experience, no matter which device they use when they visit you.

Harmonic is designed by yours truly and I really hope you enjoy using it as much as I did creating it for you. This theme is designed to stand out and I’m excited to see the sites you create.

Learn more about the free Harmonic theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 6

Here’s the latest collection of our favorite stories from writers and publishers across all of WordPress. You can find our past collections here — and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations.

Keep these stories coming: share links to essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.

* * *

1. Criticism and Self-Criticism (S. Li, The Kenyon Review)

Li, an associate professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology in Nanjing, China, recalls being forced by a teacher to criticize her best friend as an adolescent. “Criticism and self-criticism were required practices in every socialist social unit,” Li explains. “In the village school I attended, they took the form of trimester reports constituted by two parts: class criticism of each student and each student’s self-criticism.”

2. A Letter to Mitchell Browne, ‘Why Should Artists at Work Fund Idlers at Art?’ (Dave Lamb, School for Birds)

A Melbourne-based artist’s open letter to a journalist on eliminating arts funding: “The very best art will tell us not just who we are, but who everyone is, and will allow us to accept and understand not just what makes us different but what makes us unalterably the same.”

3. “I Promise to Never Forget Where I Came From” (Sean Sprague, Sportsnet)

“They just look at him as LeBron James, the kid from the neighborhood”: Dan Robson reports from Akron and Cleveland in Ohio, meeting with Lebron James’s fans, surrogate father, former coaches, and the residents who watched him grow up.

4. Elon Musk: How We’re Going to Colonize Mars (Ross Andersen, Aeon)

An in-depth interview with the SpaceX founder on how we could make it to Mars — and why it’s important for us to get there.

5. Why Gangsters Who Broke Every Law Still Went to Services on Yom Kippur (Robert Rockaway, Tablet)

Robert Rockaway on Prohibition-era Jewish mobsters, who — despite their criminal behavior — still saw religious observance as an integral part of their identity.

6. Identity In Pieces: When You Don’t Know Where You Count (Jaya Saxena, The Aerogram)

Jaya Saxena, whose mother is white and father is Indian, writes about her experience with being biracial: “You’re an intruder in either space, with no right to claim one or the other without a heavy caveat.”

7. Before the Law (Jennifer Gonnerman, The New Yorker)

The New Yorker is known for its exceptional reporting. This story, about a crippled legal system that left a 16-year-old imprisoned on Riker’s Island for three years without a trial, is particularly devastating.

8. Sirte and Misrata, Libya’s Last Battle (Clare Morgana Gillis, The American Scholar)

War journalist Clare Morgana Gillis recalls her days reporting in Libya with James Foley.

9. Who Killed Bugsy Siegel? (Amy Wallace, Los Angeles Magazine)

A family’s answer to one of America’s most famous unsolved Mob mysteries.

10. On Our Traveller Perception of a Place & Finding Alternate Stories (Jessica Lee, Road Essays)

Jessica Lee, a travel writer and author for Lonely Planet, recalls her time in the Middle East, primarily Cairo.

* * *

Photo: Mr. Marco, Unsplash

Filed under: Community, Reading
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