Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

Tips from a Web Designer: On Widgets, Themes, and Essential Tools

Web and marketing designer Matt Sweeny builds websites on WordPress.com for a range of clients, including a landscape and design service, a cheese company at holiday markets, a public relations firm for toy manufacturers and retailers, and an indie folk band.

Here, Matt shares a bit about how — and why — he uses WordPress.com, offering quick tips on building a homepage, finding a theme, and using widgets.

What, to you, are the essential elements of a homepage?

A homepage should have:

  • a kick-ass design
  • a title or branding logo to identify the website immediately
  • text that describes the purpose of the website (which is important so the site shows up in search results)
  • a place for visitors to search the site’s content
  • a menu or navigation to other pages on the site (including links to terms and privacy if it’s a commercial website)
  • a form where visitors can enter their email to subscribe to the site’s newsletter — or, in the case of WordPress.com, a subscription form or follow button so users can get updates by email
The website of Baked Cheese Haus.

The website of Baked Cheese Haus.

A homepage should also have imagery or video content, which provides visitors with context, an area where visitors can find the site’s social profiles, and a way to contact the site owner. Sometimes a “call to action” is appropriate, too.

And I’m always proud to feature a variation of the “Powered by WordPress.com” credit line in the footer, as well as a copyright notice.

The footer of the KidStuff Public Relations website.

The footer of the KidStuff Public Relations website.

You’ve used the Gateway, Nowell, Prosperity, and Singl themes on some of your clients’ websites. What advice do you have for someone who is deciding on the right look?

In the WordPress.com theme showcase, you can browse themes. The best way to preview a theme before committing to and activating it is by “test-driving” it on its live demo site, which you can access as you scroll through the themes. My favorite themes to test-drive include the demos of Cubic, Sapor, Harmonic, and Obsidian.

When looking for a theme, use the filters at the top or search for keywords at the top right to narrow your options in the theme showcase.

Browse and try hundreds of themes in the WordPress.com theme showcase.

Browse and try hundreds of themes in the WordPress.com theme showcase.

What are your favorite three widgets?

The Links (Blogroll) Widget is my favorite. A blogroll seems “old school,” but when used in conjunction with the widget’s visibility settings, the Links Widget provides different ways to display content using link categories. For example, in the footer of this travel blog, I display “Promotional Partners” and “Find Accommodations” links.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-4-58-27-pmThe Text Widget is another favorite, as it gives me a freeform area to create anything to my heart’s delight (short of JavaScript code which, of course, is stripped out). The top widget on the right sidebar of this KidStuff Public Relations page uses image, text, and simple HTML to create a “Return to…” navigation link.

My third-favorite widget is not one widget but the powerful group of social media widgets. These include the Social Media Icons Widget, the Instagram Widget, the Twitter Timeline Widget, and Facebook Page Plugin, some of which you can see in action in the sidebar and footer of Glacier View Landscape & Design, Inc.

A row of icons made with the Social Media Icons Widget.

A row of icons made with the Social Media Icons Widget.

Why do you use WordPress.com to build your clients’ websites?

Security. I love using WordPress.com because it’s one of the most secure website publishing tools available. Part of managing a website is making sure it’s secure from hackers and spammers. I feel safe recommending WordPress.com to my clients and professional contacts, knowing it’s set up using a global network of mirrored servers to protect against DDOS attacks. I also love the uptime of 100% with WordPress.com and the speed of my websites.

I love all the tools that are built into WordPress.com, like shortcodes, post types, contact forms, galleries, social sharing and Publicize tools, stats, SEO, and Akismet — all of which I don’t have to administer and maintain with updates to plugins. On WordPress.com, I never need to run backups of my website before running version updates.

I also love the ideas behind Automattic, as well as supporting WordPress, an Open Source project that is made by a diverse global community of contributors.

Matt Sweeny is a blogger and web and marketing designer, whose client websites include Glacier View Landscape & Design, Inc., Baked Cheese Haus, KidStuff Public Relations, and Katie Burns Music.

Filed under: Community, Widgets, WordPress.com
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Applications Open for Early ‘Landrush’ .blog Domains from Nov. 2-9

If you’ve ever had a great idea for a name for your blog or website, now’s your chance to snap it up: today marks the start of the “Landrush” phase for the all-new .blog domain names.

That means you can apply now to get early access to a .blog web address you love, before they become available for sale on November 21. Since it’s a completely new domain, there are millions of new .blog domains available.

What’s Landrush?

Landrush is a period during which you can sign up for a new domain (like mygroovysite.blog) ahead of everyone else. During Landrush you pay a one-time application fee on top of your recurring registration fee to be able to secure the name first.

If someone else wants the same domain name during this period, there will be an auction to determine the winner, and only the winner will pay the application fee.

Landrush only lasts one week—you’ll have to apply before November 9 to secure your domain name during this special early application phase.

You can also wait until November 21 for General Availability — that’s when all remaining domain names will go on sale at regular pricing. Starting on this date, .blog domain name registrations will be first-come, first-serve.

We’ve provided an FAQ below for more details about the process, or you can apply now at get.blog.


How does the auction process work?

If someone else wants the same domain name that you’ve requested, you’ll get invited to participate in an auction for the domain name, taking place between November 14 and November 17. If you lose the auction, you’ll get your application fee back.

Can I use my .blog domain registered during Landrush here at WordPress.com?

Absolutely! Once you’ve successfully registered your .blog domain name during Landrush you can add it to your WordPress.com site at My Sites > Domains https://wordpress.com/domains. You can learn more about adding a domain to your WordPress.com site or blog on our domain support page.

I’d like to register a .blog address but at the normal price—how can I do that?

Once General Availability starts on November 21, you’ll be able to register your .blog domain directly through WordPress.com, and we’ll remind you how to do that right here.

How much is the early application fee?

Application fee prices are set by each individual reseller, which is any company selling .blog domain names (and there are many). You can register a .blog domain name at get.blog and the early application fee for Landrush is $220, plus the domain’s recurring registration fee.

Get.blog will also refund your application fee if you don’t get the domain name you requested during Landrush or the subsequent auction. Get your domain, or get your money back!

This video from .blog explains the Landrush phase a bit more:

Filed under: Better Blogging
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Applications Now Open for Early ‘Landrush’ .blog Domains

If you’ve ever had a great idea for a name for your blog or website, now’s your chance to snap it up: today marks the start of the “Landrush” phase for the all-new .blog domain names.

That means you can apply now to get early access to a .blog web address you love, before they become available for sale on November 21. Since it’s a completely new domain, there are millions of new .blog domains available.

What’s Landrush?

Landrush is a period during which you can sign up for a new domain (like mygroovysite.blog) ahead of everyone else. During Landrush you pay a one-time application fee on top of your recurring registration fee to be able to secure the name first.

If someone else wants the same domain name during this period, there will be an auction to determine the winner, and only the winner will pay the application fee.

Landrush only lasts one week—you’ll have to apply before November 9 to secure your domain name during this special early application phase.

You can also wait until November 21 for General Availability — that’s when all remaining domain names will go on sale at regular pricing. Starting on this date, .blog domain name registrations will be first-come, first-serve.

We’ve provided an FAQ below for more details about the process, or you can apply now at get.blog.


How does the auction process work?

If someone else wants the same domain name that you’ve requested, you’ll get invited to participate in an auction for the domain name, taking place between November 14 and November 17. If you lose the auction, you’ll get your application fee back.

Can I use my .blog domain registered during Landrush here at WordPress.com?

Absolutely! Once you’ve successfully registered your .blog domain name during Landrush you can add it to your WordPress.com site at My Sites > Domains https://wordpress.com/domains. You can learn more about adding a domain to your WordPress.com site or blog on our domain support page.

I’d like to register a .blog address but at the normal price—how can I do that?

Once General Availability starts on November 21, you’ll be able to register your .blog domain directly through WordPress.com, and we’ll remind you how to do that right here.

How much is the early application fee?

Application fee prices are set by each individual reseller, which is any company selling .blog domain names (and there are many). You can register a .blog domain name at get.blog and the early application fee for Landrush is $220, plus the domain’s recurring registration fee.

Get.blog will also refund your application fee if you don’t get the domain name you requested during Landrush or the subsequent auction. Get your domain, or get your money back!

This video from .blog explains the Landrush phase a bit more:

Filed under: Better Blogging
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Field Notes: Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, we report back on the exciting things we do when not in front of a computer.

I’d like to share some experiences from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, where I was joined by my colleagues Marjorie Asturias, Deborah Beckett, Mo Carter, Rebecca Collins, Kelly Dwan, and Megan Marcel.

Picture an airplane hangar-sized space full of women bobbing to rhythmic pop music, neon glowing necklaces dotting the crowd. This was the closing party for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), a massive conference devoted to women studying or working in technology, and named in honor of the legendary computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral.

closing party "Giant Light Bright"
closing party crowd

It was an intense few October days in Houston, Texas, where the 16th edition of GHC drew 15,000 international participants, from computer-science and software-engineering college students to established professionals working at large technology companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Apple.

Automattic was proud to host a booth at the career fair, where we chatted with many young women getting started in their technology careers. We introduced a series of postcards featuring Automatticians, which you can see on our new Diversity and Inclusion page. The cards showcase the wide range of people working at Automattic from their home bases across the globe, in roles from Data Scientist to Happiness Engineer.

New hiring postcards
back of hiring postcard

I also had an opportunity to attend some sessions at the conference itself. Highlights included a talk about how to negotiate more effectively, a skill a lot of women find rather challenging. According to the presenter, we tend to negotiate well on others’ behalves, but many of us — including me — find that negotiating for ourselves can be difficult! Another thought-provoking session was a panel discussion with women who have created tools to help bypass unconscious bias during the hiring and interviewing process. I also attended a public speaking workshop; since I also run public speaking workshops, it was useful to see one from a participant’s perspective. I picked up some good tips on how to handle a larger group — there were at least a hundred women at this one, in a huge ballroom.

My week at GHC was inspiring and exhausting, but more than anything, it was energizing to be around so many women passionate about technology.

Looking for your own adventure in tech? We’re hiring!

Chatting with GHC participants
Automattic stickers
Automatticians at GHC
Filed under: Events
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Express Yourself with New WordPress Stickers for iOS and iMessage

The newest version of iOS for iPhone and iPad includes the ability to send stickers to your friends with the iMessage apps — and now you can share your love of WordPress with them, too!

WordPress World is a free iMessage Sticker app for iOS 10, and it includes your favorite emotive Wapuus (the WordPress mascot), Drakes (Automattic’s mascot), and related product logos. And more stickers will be coming soon! You won’t want to miss out on the fun.

Download the app directly or search for “WordPress World” in the Apple App Store. The app can be found in both the App Store app and the App Store within the Messages app.

stickers-screens

Filed under: Admin Bar
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A Faster Mobile Web: WordPress.com Updates for Accelerated Mobile Pages

Earlier this year we were proud to announce that WordPress.com users’s sites would automatically support Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) — a new open-source project spearheaded by Google to dramatically improve the performance of web pages on mobile devices.

Now, here’s the big news: Google has just announced that it is bringing AMP pages to all of its global search results — and WordPress.com users’ sites will be ready.

Our latest update to WordPress.com gives you even more control over your site’s look and feel on AMP pages. Just go to your My Sites section, go to Settings > General and look for the AMP section. There you’ll be able to customize your AMP design, including the header text color, link colors, and a dark or light color scheme.

AMP Design Settings

If you prefer to disable the AMP pages, there is also an option to turn off the feature.

Disable/Enable AMP

For users with a self-hosted WordPress site, you can also download our free AMP plugin. Go here to install it.

Tens of millions of WordPress sites now have AMP pages, with page load speeds up to 89% faster than normal in some cases. It’s great for your readers and followers, as faster loading times mean they’ll get to your content sooner, even when they’re on the go. We’re excited to have you try it out!

Filed under: Admin Bar, Mobile
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Registering to Vote in the 2016 US Election Just Got Easier

It’s time!

As a company whose mission is to democratize publishing, we believe strongly in helping everyone in our community make their voice heard regardless of their political affiliation. So we’ve teamed up with HelloVote to make it easy to register for the upcoming elections in the US — right here on WordPress.com.

Introducing a quick, easy way to register

The election might be mere weeks away, but it’s not too late to register. HelloVote is a sleek voter-registration tool that allows any US-based visitors to your site to register to vote or check their registration status. If you activate the tool, anyone from the US who’s logged in to WordPress.com will see a small box at the bottom-right corner of your site where, by entering their phone number, they’ll be able to complete their registration (or verify they’re already registered) in under a minute.

pasted-image-at-2016_10_05-02_19-pm

The tool will be automatically disabled on October 12, when registration closes across a large swath of states. While we hope many WordPress.com site owners use this feature to get their audience engaged in the upcoming election, we leave this choice entirely up to you. To activate the HelloVote registration tool, simply head to your site settings and enable the “US Voter Registration Form” setting at the bottom of the first section:

hello-vote-site-setting

Please note that we don’t collect any information that you or your visitors provide through the registration tool. To learn more about HelloVote’s commitment to protecting users’ information, check out their privacy policy.

We also invite you to use this tool yourself — and encourage others to follow your example.

Happy voting!

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com
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Attract More Visitors to Your Business Site with our Advanced SEO Tools

Today we are adding a new feature to our WordPress.com Business Plan that will make it easier for visitors to discover your site. Our new Advanced SEO tools will help you optimize your site for search engines and social media sharing. Let’s explore!

Custom Meta Descriptions

Typically, search engines will pull text from the post content to create a description that shows up in search results. You can use Advanced SEO to customize the meta description with a summary that does a better job at captivating readers and potentially increase the post’s search page ranking.

meta-editor

Custom Title Formats

To help improve your search page ranking, you can customize how page titles appear for different sections of your site. You can reorder items such as ‘Site Name’ and ‘Tagline,’ and add custom separators between the items.

title-format-editor

Search and Social Previews

Before you publish your new post or page, you can use the Advanced SEO preview tool to see how it will look on a variety of networks.

social-preview

The preview will use the custom description you set in the Advanced SEO meta description settings so you can get an idea on how a post or page will look on the WordPress.com Reader, search engines like Google, and social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Get Going

We hope these new tools will help business site owners on WordPress.com to effectively market themselves and become more successful. Don’t have the business plan? Click here to learn more.

If you’re ready to start customizing your SEO content, head over to https://wordpress.com/settings/seo or the post editor to get started!

Filed under: Social, Upgrade, WordPress.com
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Community Recap: Automattic’s Worldwide WordPress 5K

From September 19 to September 26, we invited members of the WordPress community to join us in one of our favorite yearly traditions: the Automattic Worldwide WordPress 5K (open to runners, walkers, cyclists, and hikers — and any other type of ambulation). Here are some of the stories and photos people shared from their corner of the world.

Live from Whistler

Our company is distributed, with Automatticians currently based in more than 50 countries. But once a year, we meet for a week to work and socialize in person — and we always set aside some time to run together, too.

Automatticians preparing for their 5K in Whistler, Canada.

Automatticians preparing for their 5K in Whistler, Canada.

This year, our Grand Meetup took place in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. And on the morning of September 19, a few dozen of us braved the chilly early-morning weather for a 5K in the lush mountain landscape. If this sounds like your idea of fun, consider joining us in time for next year’s edition — we’re always hiring.

A thought-provoking jog in Austin, Texas

For many of us, a walk or a run are among the rare moments when we have time to clear our minds and reflect on our surroundings. For Johanna Levene, jogging is also a reminder of gender inequality. In a powerful recap of her jog during a trip to Austin, Texas, she discusses her fragile sense of safety when street harassment and assault are rampant:

But I’m a runner. I love running when I travel for work. Last week I left my hotel room with my phone in hand and my room key in my pocket. I don’t wear headphones when I run, because I know it’s not safe. I hate holding my phone when I run, but I’m somewhere strange and no one knows I’m leaving and no one is expecting me back. On the off chance something bad happens I can call. On the off chance something really bad happens the last known location of my cell phone might be traceable.

Stories like Johanna’s remind us of the strong voices in our community — and of all the work that’s still needed to make all communities safe and welcoming to everyone, regardless of our identity. (Visit our new Diversity and Inclusion page if you’d like to learn more about our company’s efforts in these areas.)

WordPressers celebrating local landscapes

WordPress communities are fiercely local, grassroots operations. The annual WWWP5K reminds us of the global reach of this platform, and brings together developers and bloggers, designers and photographers, and everyone else in between who uses WordPress to tell their stories.

In Paris, Houssanti Baraka celebrated her first blogiversary by walking five kilometers in La Villette park:

Image by Houssanti Baraka

Image by Houssanti Baraka.

In South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, the blogger at Dis Ekke shared photos from a muddy (but pastoral!) hike outside her recently flooded town:

Image by HesterLeyNel.

Image by HesterLeyNel.

And in the US, southeastern Louisiana-based Diana Klein took her mixed run/walk as an opportunity to closely observe the sights and people that make her neighborhood hers:

I’ve passed a few other early exercisers already, but it’s three quarters of a mile in before I see any of the regulars: the speedy woman walker whom I often come up on and to whom I gently call out, “On your left.” She always squeezes her arms into her body to take up less space, preparing for any onslaught I might bring. “Good morning,” I say as I pass her, scenting her gentle baby powder aura. “Good morning,” she always beams back — as though her eighty-odd years have done nothing to quell the joy that determines to exude from her body. I want to be like her — not when I’m eighty, but right now.

Have you participated in the Worldwide WordPress 5K? Tell us how it went in the comments, or share a link to a post you published about it.

Filed under: Automattic, Community, International, WordPress, Wrapup
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The Best of WordPress: September 2016

Hi everyone, it’s been a busy few weeks in the world of WordPress, WordPress.com, and Automattic, so I thought I’d share a roundup with all of you! Here’s a rundown:

Welcome to WordPress

01-vip-collage

  • We are proud to host the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s new Biohub, with a bold vision to  invest in science, technology and human ingenuity “to help cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century.”
  • Harvard Gazette: The university’s news site is now on WordPress.com VIP! Here’s their latest story, on Harvard alum Colson Whitehead’s acclaimed new novel, The Underground Railroad.
  • New York Times Journeys: A new travel vertical from the Times.
  • The San Jose Mercury News: Silicon Valley’s newspaper, now on WordPress.
  • The Brookings Institution: The nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC, with a mission “to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.”

Fresh New Look

02-feministfrequency

Our friends at Feminist Frequency got a beautiful new design for their site.

Book Deals, Books Published, and WordPress-ers in the News

03-artofwaiting

  • Belle Boggs published her much-anticipated book, The Art of Waiting, a memoir and exploration of the natural, medical, psychological, and political facets of fertility.
  • Congrats to Stephanie Land (Stepville), whose viral essay for Vox has led to a book deal with Hachette. “I celebrate today with all of you, my friends, and followers, who have stuck with me through all of these years. Thank you for your support. Thank you for reading. I can’t wait to share my book with you.” We’re excited to read MAID: A single mother’s journey from cleaning house to finding home.

barbaraquote

Notable and Viral: Stories from WordPress Publishers and Bloggers

04-news

New Features for WordPress.com

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This month we introduced new content options, browser notifications, and more coming soon!

How We Work

06-quartz

“This pioneering tech company figured how to make work-from-home work.” Our parent company Automattic was featured in this new Quartz story by Alice Truong about our distributed work model. How do we get things done with 500 employees in more than 50 countries? (Hint: There’s a lot of blogging and Slack-ing behind the scenes.)

Other News from Around Automattic

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Filed under: Automattic, WordPress, WordPress.com
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