Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

One Theme, Three Ways: Customizing Twenty Fifteen

Our default theme this year, Twenty Fifteen, draws visitors’ eyes to what matters most — the text and images you publish on your site. Crisp typography, generous spacing, streamlined navigation: Twenty Fifteen shows that less can indeed be more (and that it can look great on any device).

twenty-fifteen-purple
twenty-fifteen-dark
twenty-fifteen-pink
twenty-fifteen-blue
twenty-fifteen-yellow

Keeping things simple and streamlined doesn’t mean you can’t make a theme your own, of course. From free custom color schemes (pictured in the gallery above) to a vertical header area with ample space to channel your (and your site’s) personality, Twenty Fifteen is a theme that invites you to express your creativity. Here are three sites that are doing a superb job using the theme as the canvas for their vision.


Desertification

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.56.06 AM
Desertification is a blog on environmental change, sustainable gardening, and other topics relevant to drylands everywhere. The Belgium-based blogger behind it, Dr. Willem Van Cotthem, crafted a design that matches the topic perfectly: the custom header image shows the harsh beauty of the desert without compromising the readability of the easy-to-navigate custom menu.

The site’s well-selected featured images round out an inviting look that brings to life its fascinating subject matter.

Alfitude

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.17.28 AM
With a perfect balance of minimalism and color, Alfitude, a music blog focusing on emerging artists from Scandinavia (and beyond), exudes effortless cool. A bright white background sets the tone, and custom fonts (available through the WordPress.com Premium upgrade) add a subtle, sleek touch.

Alfie Hanoun, the site’s editor, made sure that finding music on his site is a breeze with a well-designed custom menu. Keeping with the minimalist aesthetic, the only other additions to the sidebar are well-placed links to the site’s social accounts, and an Image Widget featuring the site’s logo.

Michelle Luu

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.12.03 AM

Potter Michelle Luu‘s blog might be just a few weeks old, but you wouldn’t guess it judging by the site’s professional-looking design, which adds a few smart custom touches to Twenty Fifteen‘s out-of-the-box look.

Gorgeous featured images set the tone (and look particularly striking against the theme’s neutral default background). Michelle also added links to her About page and Etsy store, and links to her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts — all crisply displayed in the uncluttered sidebar. An About.me Widget — featuring an image of Michelle at work on her potter’s wheel — makes the space even more inviting, and imbues it with Michelle’s presence.

Have you seen other great sites using Twenty Fifteen? Have you tried customizing it yet? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Filed under: Customization, Design, Themes
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Notifications just got a boost!

If you’ve been tuning in to Hot Off the Press, you’ll know about recent updates to the WordPress.com interface along with some fantastic technical upgrades. To continue the momentum, we’ve introduced more interactive and robust notifications throughout WordPress.com. (Coming soon to a Jetpack blog near you.) Keep an eye on the new interface and let us know what you think!

Why the change?

We care about giving our users a streamlined and consistent experience across their devices. Unlike the old design, our new notifications look practically identical whether you are looking at them on a computer or on your Android or iOS device.

Under the hood, we’ve completely rebuilt notifications for faster performance. Better yet, if you are a developer you can grab the raw data yourself from our new API, which is much cleaner than before. We want to empower you with information, giving you the creative freedom to innovate, integrate, and inspire with your own applications and uses of the data.

What makes the new interface better?

Notifications keep you social, allowing you to stay up-to-date with your blogs and comments effortlessly. The new look has been completely redesigned to emphasize simplicity and usability on touch devices such as tablets and smart phones. But don’t worry, desktop users — you can still use keyboard shortcuts to get through your list quickly.

You can see all of your notifications with infinite scroll, moderate and reply to comments, and see who’s liking your posts and following your blog without ever leaving the notifications window. Thanks to some back-end improvements, changes to your notifications instantly synchronize between your computer and mobile devices.

Notifications

What’s next?

In the coming weeks, we’ll have a Jetpack update that will display the same new notifications window on your self-hosted sites.

Our design teams have been working hard to make sure that we improve our user experience with each iteration of WordPress.com. Our most valuable feedback comes from you. Please let us know how you like the new notifications or how you think they could be better.

Filed under: Admin Bar, Notifications
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New Themes: Cubic and Wilson

It’s Theme Thursday and today I’m happy to present two new free themes: Cubic and Wilson.

Cubic

Cubic: Homepage

Designed by WordPress.com’s own Thomas Guillot, Cubic is a clean, simple, and responsive theme.

Cubic: Responsive Design

With its single-column, grid-based design crafted around large featured images, Cubic is the perfect fit for photobloggers.

Read more about Cubic in the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your blog by going to Appearance → Themes.

Wilson

Wilson Blog page

Designed by Anders Norén, Wilson is minimal yet bold. It’s a clean and simple theme for personal sites and blogs — make it your own with a site logo. Use post formats to highlight your content, add a custom menu, or take advantage of three widget areas.

Read more about Wilson in the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your blog by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Around the World in Nine Photos

It’s in the grip of North American winter that I often dream of escape to warmer climates. Thanks to the WordPress.com Reader and the street photography tag, I can satisfy my travel yen whenever it strikes. Here are just some of the amazing photos and photographers I stumbled upon during a recent armchair trip.

My first stop was Alexis Pazoumian’s fantastic SERIES: India at The Sundial Review. I loved the bold colors in this portrait and the man’s thoughtful expression.

Photo by Alexis Pazoumian

Photo by Alexis Pazoumian

Speaking of expressions, the lead dog in Holly’s photo from Maslin Nude Beach, in Adelaide, Australia, almost looks as though it’s smiling. See more of Holly’s work at REDTERRAIN.

Photo by Holly

Photo by Holly

In a slightly different form of care-free, we have the muddy hands of Elina Eriksson‘s son in Zambia. I love how his small hands frame his face. The gentle focus on his face and the light in the background evoke warm summer afternoons at play.

Photo by Elina Eriksson

Photo by Elina Eriksson

Heading to Istanbul, check out Jeremy Witteveen‘s fun shot of this clarinetist. Whenever I see musicians, I can’t help but wonder about the song they’re playing.

Photo by Jeremy Witteveen

Photo by Jeremy Witteveen

Pitoyo Susanto‘s lovely portrait of the flower seller, in Pasar Beringharjo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, captivated me. Aren’t her eyes and her gentle smile things of beauty?

Photo by Pitoyo Susanto

Photo by Pitoyo Susanto

Arresting in a slightly different fashion is Rob MosesSki Hill Selfie, taken in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The juxtaposition of the bold colors and patterns in the foreground against the white snow in the background caught my eye.

Photo by Rob Moses

Photo by Rob Moses

Further under the category of fun juxtaposition, is Liu Tao’s photo of the elderly man in Hefei, China, whose fan reminds me of a punk rock mohawk.

Photo by Liu Tao

Photo by Liu Tao

From Hefei, we go to Havana, Cuba, and Edith Levy‘s beautifully ethereal Edificio Elena. I found the soft pastels and gentle shadows particularly pleasing. They lend a distinctly feminine quality to the building.

Photo by Edith Levy

Photo by Edith Levy

And finally, under the category of beautiful, is Aneek Mustafa Anwar‘s portrait, taken in Shakhari Bazar, Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. The boy’s shy smile is a wonderful representation of the word on his shirt.

Photo by Aneek Mustafa Anwar

Photo by Aneek Mustafa Anwar

Where do you find photographic inspiration? Take a moment to share your favorite photography blogs in the comments.

Filed under: Community
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New Themes: Boardwalk and Sela

We’re celebrating the New Year with two free themes: Boardwalk and Sela.

Boardwalk

Boardwalk: Homepage

Designed by yours truly, Boardwalk is a clean, simple, and responsive theme.

Boardwalk: Responsive Design

Powered with horizontal scrolling and built around large featured images, Boardwalk is the perfect choice for photobloggers and those of you looking for an unconventional — yet elegant and creative — theme.

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

Sela

Sela
Sela isn’t your typical business theme. It’s a vibrant, bold, clean theme with lots of space for large images, designed by WordPress.com’s own Ola Laczek.

Sela puts the focus on your business with a bold front page template, a grid page template to showcase your products or services, and integrated testimonials. To make your website truly unique, you can upload a logo, customize the background, and choose a color scheme from default color palettes. Sela is the perfect canvas to tell your company’s story and looks great on all devices, from desktop to mobile.

Take Sela for a spin – visit the Theme Showcase to learn more, or activate it on your site by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Im(Press)ive! Your Year in Review

Millions of new sites created and posts published later, 2014 is in the books. We could regale you with big numbers, like these…

Total New Blogs
18,300,771
That’s 49,997 new blogs per day!

Total Posts
555,782,547
Or more than 1.5 million per day — not too shabby. 47 million were published from mobile devices, because you’re on the go.

Bytes of Data per Hour
24.5 Trillion
(Thanks for keeping us so busy!)

… but the most important part of Automattic is what you make with the tools we offer. This year, we thought we’d look back at some of your successes, and how we were able to support the incredible things you created and shared.

To Publish a Mockingbird

With beautifully detailed portraits finished with bodies out of a toddler’s dream, the drawings illustrator Mica creates with her four-year-old daughter are captivating — the post of images she published on Busy Mockingbird has been viewed over 1.1 millions times. After over 10,000 readers shared the post to Facebook, few were feeds without the link, and big names soon came calling: Yahoo. BuzzfeedNBC.

Spurred by the post’s popularity, Mica launched a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish a book that handily met its fundraising goal. They now have a second volume of animal drawings along with the book based on the original collaboration, and the latest post on Busy Mockingbird reports on her recent trip to New York City for a showing of their otherworldly creations.

We love that we were able to help Mica’s many new fans see her beautiful work without a hitch!

Viral volume? No problem. The top five most popular posts from WordPress.com bloggers racked up 15,849,804 views without a hitch — and our VIP services handled over 28 billion views. When millions clicked on posts from bloggers on the ground in crisis situations in West Africa, Venezuela, or Egypt, our systems helped their voices be heard around the world. 
How we do keep things running smoothly? In 2014, WordPress.com engineers deployed 64,056 improvements and fixes to make sure WordPress.com websites can handle whatever traffic spikes the internet throws at them.

The Birth of an Author

Meaghan O’Connell’s touching, raw account of the her labor and first child’s birth has been viewed over 100,000 times. At 14,000+ words, A Birth Story is a reading investment — but one with an excellent return, for the reader and Meaghan.

Meaghan began telling her story in emails to friends, and Longreads editor Mike Dang encouraged her to adapt it into an essay. When it was published, the internet floodgates opened. A Birth Story was picked up by Dave Pell’s Next Draft, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and Hacker News, and made it to the 2014 best-of lists on Gawker and Digg.

Luckily for those of us who love great writing, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Meaghan: New York magazine offered her a weekly column, and she’s in talks with three different publishers to turn A Birth Story into a full-length book.

We’re thrilled for the successes of Meaghan, Longreads, and all the WordPress.com bloggers who made the leap from pixel to page this year.

Longreads became part of the Automattic family in April 2014. Since joining, we’ve published 45 exclusives and originals — A Birth Story was the most popular among many great reads.
2014 saw quite a few members of the WordPress.com community publishing books, like

Blogging is Not the Hardest Part

Emily Austin started The Waiting (at the clever URL “notthehardestpart.com“) in 2011 to chronicle her experience of parenthood. Her openness and empathy drew in parents and non-parents alike, helping her build a community 13,000 strong.

Her incisive but relatable writing made Emily one of a handful of bloggers nominated as a BlogHer Voice of the Year, and we got to meet her when she participated on a WordPress.com panel at BlogHer’s annual conference.

During our chat, we celebrated another 2014 milestone: her new job as an online communications specialist for a local non-profit. The work she put into creating and nurturing The Waiting — design, writing, community outreach — sparked a new passion and helped her develop a new set of skills that she now gets to use every day.

Think writing a blog is just like keeping a journal? It can be, but Emily knows it can be much more.

Posts at The Waiting often inspire hundreds of comments — an enviable position for any blogger. Her 3000+ comments in 2014 were a respectable contribution to the 670,561,423 comments WordPress.com bloggers attracted in 2014.
The Waiting also got a makeover this year. If you’re ready to switch up your theme, we added almost 100 new options this year including 39 free and 57 premium themes.

Naptime Writing Storms the Stage

Christine Harkin, the writer behind Naptime Writingwas another of the 22 WordPress.com bloggers recognized as a BlogHer Voice of the Year, and another of our mini-panelists.

We were so struck by the humor and writing wisdom on offer during the panel that when the organizers of WordCamp San Francisco were looking for speakers to be part of the event’s blogging track, we suggested her without hesitation. Her presentation, Finding and Maintaining Your Blog’s Voice, was full of her trademark wit — and of course, inspiring, actionable blogging advice.

The strong and vibrant community behind WordPress is its biggest strength, and Automattic works hard to contribute to the fabric.

We loved meeting thousands of WordPress.com bloggers at the many events we sponsored and spoke at in 2014, from the International Beer Bloggers Conference in Dublin, Ireland, to Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand, to BlogWorld in Las Vegas, US — over 40 conferences and 79 WordCamps.

Behind everything Automattic does are 301 Automatticians:

  • 66 Happiness Engineers responded to your requests for assistance 365,212 times.
  • Every one of our 134 developers worked on the improvements and enhancements we’ve been rolling out over the past few weeks.
  • 9 systems engineers kept everyone’s sites running fast and secure.
  • 8 editors shepherded over 22,000 of you through Blogging U. courses.
  • 24 themers made 96 stunning new layouts and dozens of customization improvements available.

And of course, along with all 301 of us and the four writers and artists profiled above, there was you, creating those 18 million new blogs and 555 million new posts, giving us the 24,485,420,085,002 bytes of data we moved around every hour.

Those bytes aren’t just little packets of code winging around the internet’s series of tubes (at least, they’re not just that). They carry stories. Memories. Voices. Relationships. Experiences.  They’re your essays, your photos, your poems, your drawings. Every time a piece of what you’ve created pops up on someone’s screen, you expand someone’s universe, just a little, and they expand yours — which is the real power of WordPress.com, and of the internet.

Thanks for letting us being a part of your 2014. Here’s to 2015; we can’t wait to see what next year’s look back will contain.

Interested in being a part of our motley but merry crew?

Automattic: it’s made of people!

We hired 95 people in 2014, from systems engineers to theme designers to accountants, and we’ll be hiring many more in 2015.

Work with us!

Filed under: behind the scenes, Community, Stats
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Introducing: Press Publish Events

In 2014, we discovered how much WordPress.com bloggers want to connect with each other and do more with their blogs — tens of thousands of you have participated in Blogging U since it began a year ago!

This year, we’re starting an in-person event series called Press Publish for people who want to take their blogs even further, starting with two conferences this spring in Portland, OR and Phoenix, AZ. These events will focus on inspiration and tools from WordPress.com, though people blogging on any platform will be welcome. Speakers will be a combination of awesome WordPress.com bloggers and staff members including folks from the Happiness Team, Blogging U, and the Theme Team — in short, the WordPress.com experts. :)

We’re at the “Save the Date” stage: March 28 in Portland and April 18 in Phoenix. We’re putting together the program now, and will start announcing speakers, schedule, and pricing later this month. To get announcements when we start posting this information, head over to the Press Publish site and subscribe to/follow it.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you about bloggers/speakers or topics that we should have on our radar. Are there WordPress.com blogs that you can’t live without? Are there any subjects you would really want to see addressed at an event like this, either in terms of creating great content or in terms of using WordPress.com (or Jetpack)? Sound off in the comments, and if mentioning favorite bloggers, please link to their blogs. Thanks, and hope to see you at an upcoming event!

 

 

 

Filed under: Events
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Five Themes for Writers and Readers

In the past, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite themes for longform enthusiasts and bloggers who just want to write. Today, let’s take a look at five free themes, launched in the past several months, that offer a distraction-free writing and reading experience.

Radcliffe

radcliffe readability

Radcliffe combines bold typography with a clutter-free post layout, as shown above. Ideal for longform writing, the theme works blissfully out of the box for those focused on lots of text. The default headline font Abril Fatface is strong but not overbearing, while the Crimson font for your body text completes this pleasurable reading experience.

Calling out text in various ways also looks fantastic — for example, the blockquote styling is simple but sophisticated:

Radcliffe blockquote

But don’t be fooled by Radcliffe‘s simple design. Your photography has a place here, too: full-width featured images give your posts visual flair, while galleries also look lovely, as seen on Sage and Clare.

Go on, give Radcliffe a spin.

Cols

cols readability

Standard posts on the Cols theme are laid out in newspaper-style format, which is great for essays, articles, and book excerpts. The number of columns changes depending on your device: three columns on large monitors, two columns on medium-sized screens (as shown above), and a one-column layout on small screens like phones.

Whether you add headings, blockquotes, or preformatted text, Cols displays your writing beautifully, providing your readers with an uninterrupted experience. See it in action at Cancer Made Me Do It, or explore more features on its demo site.

Penscratch

Fresh and clean, Penscratch truly gets out of the way and lets your words speak for themselves. It’s a solid choice if you want a no-fuss design, but there are options to personalize and brand your site easily, like uploading your site logo at the top.

We also love the treatment of left and right pullquotes, which adds visual variety and is a nice touch for longer pieces of journalism and narrative nonfiction.

penscratch pullquotes

Penscratch works especially well for an intimate blogging space, from experimental writing to thinkpieces to personal essays. But it’s versatile enough for anyone! If you’re curious how Penscratch looks with images, see how Felicia Sullivan uses it on her blog, which is a tasteful mix of words and images.

Capoverso

Like the themes above, Capoverso is minimal, and its post layout allows your writing to shine. The default background — a faint grey with diagonal lines — adds a subtle visual layer to your blog, though you can change the background by using the Customizer.

capoverso readability

A notable feature of Capoverso is the Front Page Template, which is handy for writers and authors who want more than just a space for blogging, but a landing page with essential links. You just need to create a static front page (and assign the Front Page Template to it). Voilà:

capoverso front page

Interested in Capoverso? See how it looks on its demo site.

Minnow

minnow theme

Clean and straightforward, Minnow is a one-column theme that puts your writing front and center — even your widgets and custom menu are hidden, in a slide-out bar on the right. Despite its pared-down look, Minnow allows writers to promote themselves across all their networks — it prominently displays your social links at the top, just under your site title.

For bloggers who just want to write, Minnow does the job. Take a closer look on its demo site.

Filed under: Themes, WordPress.com, Writing
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Press Publish Tickets

It is with great excitement that I announce the opening of ticket sales for the Press Publish conference series we teased here earlier this month!

After scouring the web for bloggers with inspiring stories, successful blogs, and unique voices, we’ve confirmed the speaker lineups, and are thrilled to be including popular WordPress.com bloggers like Katherine FritzJerry MahoneyEmily Austin, and Russ Crandall. Here’s our collection of featured blogger speakers:

gravatars of 8 press publish speakers

You can see who’s speaking where by checking the event pages for Portland and Phoenix.

In addition to notable bloggers, we’ve hand-picked a variety of folks who work behind the scenes here at WordPress.com to present tutorials and provide one-on-one site help to our attendees. Our roster is filled with friendly faces happy to help you with your blog — they do it every day, after all!

headshots of 20 Automattic employees

Each event will be a little bit different and will feature different speakers and staff, so if you are thinking of traveling to attend, make sure you check out both events before deciding. :)

Portland, OR: Saturday, March 28, 2015

We’ll be in downtown Portland at a historic hotel, running two tracks of presentations alongside ongoing tutorials and open help time in the Happiness Lounge. We’re especially looking forward to the pre-registration mixer on Friday evening, which will be combined with a live Longreads storytelling event. Stories! Blogs! Bloggers! Fun!

Phoenix, AZ: April 18, 2015

The Phoenix event is being held at a beautiful art & history museum, and will run one track of presentations along with ongoing tutorials and help from Happiness Engineers. Lunch outside in the plaza is sure to be lovely, so if you live in a state where winter seems to last forever, maybe a little sunshine getaway to Press Publish is just the ticket!

Full speaker lists and event information are available on the Press Publish site. Hope to see you there!

Filed under: Community, Events
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Google Analytics for WordPress.com Business sites

The Stats on WordPress.com are a special favorite of many site owners — it’s our second-most visited screen. At a glance, you can see when you get the most traffic, which posts are making the biggest impact, who your most frequent commenters are, and more. It’s a great way to gain insights into your visitors and your site.

To complement our built-in stats and to give you even more information about your traffic, you can now use Google Analytics with WordPress.com, as part of the WordPress.com Business plan.

Add the Business plan to your site and get everything you need to build a great website, including support for Google Analytics. If you already added the Business plan to your site, start using Google Analytics today, from the SettingsAnalytics screen. Read on for more information about Google Analytics and using it with your site.

Getting started with Google Analytics on WordPress.com

Google Analytics is a free service that offers a complementary view of your traffic to our built-in Stats feature. For example, funnel reports help you track the path visitors take through your site, and goal conversion lets you measure how visitors complete specific tasks (such as reaching a product page or contact form).

Screenshot of Google Analytics custom dashboard

Comparing trends for different time periods using Google Analytics

You can add many different sites to Google Analytics and view reports about them in a unified dashboard, making it very easy to see how all your projects are doing.

To get started, sign up for Google Analytics and create a new “property” to collect data for — this will be your WordPress.com site. A Tracking ID will be issued, looking something like UA-123456-12.

Back on WordPress.com, navigate to the My Sites screen and choose a site with WordPress.com Business. Go to SettingsAnalytics and enter the Tracking ID issued earlier by Google Analytics.

When you save the changes, your site will be connected to Google Analytics and start sending data to Google. It could take a few hours before this data starts showing up in your reports on Google Analytics.

See our support section for more information about using Google Analytics on WordPress.com.

Google Analytics is now available for all sites with the WordPress.com Business plan. Check out our plans.

Filed under: New Features, Stats
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