Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

A Few Tiny Steps Towards an Improved Writing Space at WordPress.com

Today we’re proud to unveil some design changes to the WordPress.com editor. It has the same great features you’ve come to expect, but with a cleaner, more refined experience — and a few new improvements, like a distraction-free writing mode.

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Welcome to our new distraction-free writing experience. We hope you enjoy it.

To give you a tour, I chatted with the two people who helped to create it. Joen Asmussen and Matías Ventura are two Europe-based computational designers at Automattic who have been designing different aspects of the WordPress.com experience over the past six years. It’s certainly come a long way from its very first prototype:

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The editor as it looked with the launch of the WordPress.com redesign, late 2015.

… and we also know there’s still a long way to go!

JM: Much of what we know about design is grounded in experiences in the physical world, and you can learn a lot about a designer from the objects that they admire. I understand that your favorite designed object is a … door handle?

Joen: Hah, yes indeed! Or perhaps clarification is needed — one of my favorites. A guiding principle of mine is that the best design is invisible. It is functional to the point that you forget how it works: you just use it. The door handle is a design that has been honed for who knows how long — it’s easy to forget that it was once designed from scratch. And everyone knows how to use a door handle. That makes it a great design.

JM: What inspirations do you take from those objects to the work you bring to a digitally based product?

Matías: I think that same clarity of purpose and the ability to adapt to whatever complex ideas a person wants to express or achieve is something digital tools should seek to provide. The WordPress editor is a good example of this goal, because it needs to be immediately evident for someone who wants to just write yet also capable of fulfilling a varied spectrum of needs.

Joen: Products are never finished, and there are always aspects that can be refined or improved, the ultimate goal being to make using the product easier, faster, second-nature. If we can refine the editor to the point that its usage becomes second nature, we’ll have something great.

***

Today, we know that design is more about iteration than it is about perfection, but that absolutely does not stop designers like Joen and Matías from iterating with the spirit of perfection. And with the new set of refinements launching today on WordPress.com, one can definitely see that commitment to craft in action. Those refinements include:

  • A new distraction-free writing mode.
  • Your recent drafts available in the top toolbar.
  • Better clarity on the saved state of a post.
  • Permanently visible publish/preview buttons.

Together, we hope they will they help fine-tune the writing experience. (And if you have a self-hosted WordPress site with the Jetpack plugin, you’ll also be able to use the new editor features.)

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The new editor experience we are launching today.

JM: What are you most excited about with this improved writing experience, and what do you hope most for the writer when they’re using it?

Joen: Everything has a right place. In this iteration, we’ve tried to find those places for the preview and publish buttons, as well as the post settings. By making the buttons permanently visible and the sidebar optionally toggled, my hope is that the combination will provide a seamless flow for both the person who just wants to write, as well as the person who needs to configure their post settings.

All the settings for your post or page are now pop out of the right side of the screen.

Matías: I’m glad we were able to bring back the notion of a distraction free environment that puts the content in the center. I’m also fond of the recent drafts menu next to the “Write” button, as it provides a quick way to carry on with your unfinished posts. These editor refinements have the potential to let your work on WordPress keep you deeply in the productive state of flow.

You now know the immediate status of your work as it is written to the cloud.

Your drafts are easily accessible, and always visible to work on quickly.

JM: Are there any other design evolutions or revolutions coming down the pipeline for WordPress.com that you can speak about?

Joen: There’s a group of us focusing on editor improvements right now in the WordPress community at large. The key bits are embracing “blocks” as a way to attach more advanced layout options to each section of a post, so people can easily and quickly write richer articles than they could in the past.

Matías: We want to make it easy, and pleasurable, to create any kind of content with the editor. I believe that the essence of design is about the intersection of culture and technology — and we’re doing just that with this improved writing experience. It is a privilege that this effort is being done within the diverse open source community of WordPress, it means you not only own your content but you also have ownership over the tools with which it is created.

JM: Thanks so much for your time, Joen and Matías! I’ve enjoyed using the new distraction-free writing experience and can tell you I definitely got this post finished a little faster than usual. You’ve given me new focus.

Filed under: Design, Editing
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Introducing WordPress.com for Google Docs: A New Way Forward for Collaborative Editing

We are happy to announce WordPress.com for Google Docs, a new add-on that lets you write, edit, and collaborate in Google Docs, then save it as a blog post on any WordPress.com or Jetpack-connected WordPress site. Your images and most formatting will carry over too. No more copy-and-paste headaches!

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To get started, just go to the Google Web Store page and click to install it.

You will be prompted to give our plugin access to post on your behalf, and then you are ready to write.

When you’re ready to save a Google Docs draft as a blog post, go to the Add-ons menu and open WordPress.com for Google Docs. A sidebar will appear where you can add WordPress.com or Jetpack-connected sites.

Click the Save Draft button — when it’s saved, a preview link will appear so you can see how it looks on your site. Edit the post in WordPress.com to make any small tweaks, then hit publish when you’re ready to go live!

You can find the source code on GitHub if you want to take a closer look at how things work. And, of course, this post was composed in Google Docs and posted with the WordPress.com Add-on for Google Docs.

Filed under: Admin Bar, Editing
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Your Stats Page, Updated

Sometimes it’s the little things that count — especially when it comes to your stats. We’ve recently gathered some of your feedback and used it to work through a few renovations. Let’s take a quick tour!

Today First: Many of you wanted to make today’s stats a priority, with easy access to yesterday’s stats as well. So now when you visit a site’s stats, you’ll see the Days view first, with data displayed for the last 30 days. A quick click on the arrow will take you to yesterday’s stats, or you can click on any bar to view full stats for that day.

Click a bar or the arrow to switch days

See More Information at Once: If you use a wide screen, you’ll notice we’ve widened the display area and included three columns of statistics. Smaller screens still display one or two columns — whatever fits your device best.

Many of you wanted to be able to see more weeks and months worth of data at once, too. Now our Weeks view displays up to 30 weeks if that data is available. Similarly, the Months view displays data up to 30 months.

view-30-monhts-at-a-time

click-the-arrow More Summaries: Want to see your all-time top posts? Are you curious how many visits your site has had from different countries? If a stat has an arrow by its title, you can click that for summaries of various periods, including a new All Time tab.

Click on an individual post title to view its summary as well, including a list of likes. Want to see what that post looks like on different devices? Click the view icon to see previews. We’ve even included an edit link in case you need to update anything.

More Insights: To find some detailed all-time data for the whole site, click on Insights. You’ll find a summary table that shows your views per month since your site began.

all-time-views

Click Average per Day to find the average clicks per day in each of those months. And if you’d like to drill deeper to a specific month? Just click on it and you’ll be on the Months tab again, with all of the data for that month.

Follower Totals: You can now see your WordPress.com Reader followers, email followers, and totals for your social followers in one glance. It’s all on your Insights page, and we’ve included links for easy access to more details.

A Few More Updates: We’ve added a Last Updated Timestamp so you can see when our stats last ran. We’ve added a mini stats sparkline to your My Sites toolbar. And for those who want to analyze their data further, we’ve added more Download CSV options.

Thank You! To those who provided feedback, as well as to the developers and designers who worked through iterations, thank you. We hope these small changes add up to a great experience for you, because you’re more than just a number to us.

Filed under: Features, Stats, WordPress.com
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New Theme: Lodestar

This Theme Thursday, I’m happy to share Lodestar, our new free theme!

Lodestar

lodestar-full-design-featured-showcase

Designed by Mel Choyce, Lodestar is perfect for your small business or organization’s website.

The theme allows you to create a one-page website, showcasing all your company’s information in one spot, interspersed with full-sized featured images.

Or you can use Lodestar to make a beautiful, multi-page website. The theme’s portfolio support allows you to display your past work to prospective clients. You can also post testimonials, sharing how happy past clients are with your creations.

lodestar-responsive

Learn more about Lodestar by checking out the theme’s showcase.

Filed under: Themes
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Import Your Medium Posts to WordPress.com

With the recent news about Medium’s change in business model we’ve been receiving a number of requests from users on how to import their content to a WordPress.com site. We’re excited today to share our new import tool for moving from Medium to WordPress.com.

Medium Import Instructions

First, visit the Medium settings page, scroll down to Export Content, and select Download .zip to start the export process from Medium. You should receive an email from Medium with an export of your posts in an archive .zip file.

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Next, head over to the import tool on WordPress.com and click Start Import in the Medium row:

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This is where you will upload the .zip file you downloaded from Medium. Simply drag the file into the import window, or manually navigate to it. Click Continue once the file has been uploaded. The import will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

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You will receive a notification from us when the import completes. All of your Medium content will now appear as posts on your site under the original date of the post, along with their original tags. Also, published posts will be automatically marked as published on the site but drafts will remain unpublished. You can also run the import tool multiple times to retrieve newer posts without duplicating your old ones.

Happy blogging!

 

Filed under: Admin Bar
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Share It Again: New Social Media Features for Premium and Business Users

Sharing your posts on social media is a great way to ensure your site or blog gets traffic. Our Publicize feature makes it easy to automatically share your new posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks.

But what about your previously published posts? For posts that are always relevant or valuable to new readers, you may want to share them again — weeks, months, or even years later.

That’s why we’re excited to introduce a new re-sharing feature for our WordPress.com Premium and Business users. Now, you can share your previously published posts on social networks — with custom messaging for each social network too.

Just go to the Blog Posts section of your site, select Share, and you’ll see the new sharing menu for reposting to your social accounts:

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Then you’re all set!

A brief word on social media strategy:

Make sure your posting schedule and frequency of posts take into account your followers’ needs and expectations. For example: with social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, we do not recommend sharing the same post over and over — your account should contain a mix of links to your blog, your thoughts, and comments, all spaced apart.

People around the world browse social media 24 hours a day,  so repeating content in distant time zones helps widen your audience, but know that users may not appreciate seeing the same link multiple times.

You can learn more about growing your audience and specific tips for highlighting your archives in Blogging University.
We’re excited about these new features, and we hope you enjoy it.

Filed under: Social
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New Themes: TextBook and Dara

Hello there! Today I’m announcing the latest additions to our free-themes collection: TextBook and Dara.

TextBook

TextBook Full-screen Demo

Designed by Allan Cole, TextBook is aimed at helping schools, colleges, and other non-profit organizations to distribute and archive information in an easy way. It includes a Featured Content area that you can use to highlight key posts or pages. It also supports Testimonials, which are ideal for showcasing quotes from alumni, staff, students, and others.

TextBook also has a responsive layout that adapts to fit many kinds of screen sizes, like mobile devices, tablets, and laptop or desktop computers.

TextBook Responsive Design

Like what you see? Learn more about TextBook by checking out the theme’s showcase!

Dara

Dara responsive WordPress theme

Designed by Caroline Moore, Dara is a bold and bright business theme. With prominent Featured Images, a slider to showcase your work, and support for Testimonials from happy clients, Dara is ready to get to work for your company.

Dara Responsive WordPress Theme

Learn more about Dara by checking out the theme’s showcase!

Filed under: Themes
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New WordPress.com for Lightroom Makes Publishing Your Photos Easy

We know a lot of WordPress.com users loving sharing their photos, and we know a lot of you use Adobe’s Lightroom.

Now we’ve made it even easier: with our new Lightroom plugin you can export direct from Lightroom to WordPress.com. Just select one or multiple photos from your Lightroom library, hit export, and save them to your WordPress.com Media Library.

Download the plugin from the Lightroom to WordPress.com plugin page.

Getting Started

You’ll be asked to login to WordPress.com to get started. After that, you’re all set. Export your photos direct to any of your sites by selecting them in Lightroom:

select images in lightroom

Click the Lightroom export button, select your site, and export!

export to wordpress.com

You have the full power of Lightroom under your control, as well as the standard export settings. If your photos have titles or captions this information will be passed along too.

The photos will upload to WordPress.com in the background and you can get on with something else. Once uploaded they will be available in your media library for use in posts and galleries.

images in post

WordPress.org users can also use the plugin–just make sure you have Jetpack installed in order to use it.

Full details about downloading and using the plugin can be found on the Lightroom plugin page. Enjoy!

Filed under: Admin Bar
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WordPress.com in 2016: A Year in Review

It’s been a year of highs and lows, but one thing is certain: all of us at WordPress.com’s parent company Automattic are proud of what this community has accomplished in the past year. Your work is supported by a company of more than 500 people in over 50 countries, dedicated to democratizing publishing. We hope we’ve helped to bring your ideas, your creativity, and your businesses to life on the web.

To celebrate 2016, we’re excited to share our Automattic Year in Review — where you’ll find stats and fun facts about all of our work over the past year for WordPress.com, as well as WooCommerce, WordPress.com VIP, Jetpack, .blog, and more.

Spoiler alert: WordPress.com users published more than 595 million (!) posts and more than 457 million (!) comments in 2016. That’s pretty incredible, so pat yourselves on the back.

We’re also thrilled to put the spotlight on just a few WordPress.com success stories from the past year — including writers like Stephanie Land and Tiffany Martinez, and publishers like People.com and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Thanks to all of you for making WordPress.com such a special community. Check out the Automattic Year in Review — and see you in 2017!

Filed under: Automattic, Milestone, WordPress.com, Wrapup
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Introducing VR and 360° Content for All WordPress.com Sites

Virtual Reality is coming to WordPress.com! As of today, you can create and publish your own VR content on any WordPress.com site, starting with 360° photos and 360° videos (beta), and you can view regular photos and panoramas in VR. Our goal is to make publishing VR content as simple as publishing text or photos to the web — just add VR content to your site and anyone with a web browser can instantly enjoy it.

Let’s start with some examples.

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Click the “play” button on any picture below and our VR viewer will load. On a regular desktop browser you can then “look around” using your mouse, including in gorgeous full-screen mode. On a phone browser or a webVR enabled desktop browser, you’ll see a VR button in the bottom right — select it and our viewer will render the content in full 3D mode inside your VR gear. So far we’ve tested with Cardboard, Gear, Daydream, Rift, and Vive.

360° photos:

Panoramas:

Here’s a panorama that the Mars Pathfinder took:

We’re already seeing examples of how VR can help tell stories. The Harvard Gazette is starting to use 360° photos to convey their stories, for example in Confronting the Refugee Crisis.

Augmenting your own posts with VR content is simple: Upload VR content to your WordPress site just like you would with any other content, decide if you want to present it in 360 or cinema (panorama) mode, and publish it using the “vr” shortcode:

[vr url=path-to-photo.jpg view=360]

or

[vr url=path-to-photo.jpg view=cinema]

Detailed instructions are here.

An easy way to start taking 360° photos today is to use the Google Street View app (for iOS and Android).

We can’t wait to see how WordPress.com users will use VR to tell their stories!

Filed under: Embeds, New Features, Photos
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