Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category
Today we’re proud to present a brand new free theme, designed especially for large organizations and government by Automattic’s own Michael Arestad.
Big Brother offers a clean and traditional design, multiple color schemes, and support for standard customization features. It’s a professional, readable theme that’s easy to tailor to your organization’s style.
Breadcrumb-style navigation on pages make even the largest sites a breeze to navigate, while the widget area keeps your secondary content close at hand. Start a blog to keep your members up-to-date on current happenings, or use the
[sitemap] shortcode to create a quick, centralized location to list all of your organization’s important information.
As always, Big Brother adapts to your screen size, allowing for a pleasant reading experience no matter the device:
You can see Big Brother in action on the demo site, or activate it on your own blog at Appearance → Themes.
Many of the themes in our Theme Showcase are great for writing and reading longer articles and stories, from our classic default themes — including Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Twelve — to popular personal blogging themes like Ryu and Manifest.
Last week, we shared ten of our favorite longreads across WordPress, and we hope you’ve taken some time to sit back and savor these longer pieces. Below, we’ve gathered some themes that work well with longform writing and offer a clean, enjoyable experience for your readers.
On Otium, Yale PhD student Sarah Constantin writes about mathematics, cognitive science, philosophy, and more. Aside from a colorful graphic header image, Sarah keeps her blog simple. You can click on the button on the left to open the menu and access her About page, but the site is minimal, which keeps the focus on her prose.
As you can see on Sarah’s site, Syntax puts your writing in the spotlight.
Daniel Kay Hertz, a Chicago-based writer, discusses public policy and urban studies at City Notes. His site features a wide header image, fonts that are easy on the eyes, and a clutter-free, single-column look. He balances his text with visuals, and creates a pleasing reading experience.
Inspired by old-fashioned typography, Book Lite is clean and sophisticated, no matter how you customize it. Your widgets appear in your footer, keeping all of your extras in one place and allowing your writing to take center stage.
A notable feature of Duet, a premium theme, is its two-column layout, inspired by traditional print magazines. The design transforms your longer posts into professional pieces, which you can sample on The Squeaky Robot. Here, the Hanoi-based writer and traveler mixes images and text beautifully, seen on posts like “The Great Divide” as well as “A Single Story of Soviet Russia,” an archived favorite.
Another plus about Duet? It’s a solid theme for longform writers who produce as many photographs as they do words — you can set image and gallery post formats as well, which feature photographs proudly, as seen in these festival snapshots in Ba Vì National Park.
Other themes to consider:
- With Manifest, you’ve got a number of post formats to display different types of content, from status to gallery formats. But its standard post format is as clean as can be — perfect to tell your stories and publish commentaries, with no distractions. See it on blogs like Voiced Over and Idiot Joy Showland.
- Hemingway Rewritten, launched earlier this year, has quickly become a favorite among WordPress.com bloggers, with its parallax-scrolling header and bold yet sophisticated font choices. See it in action on Blog of the Courtier. The theme’s full-width page template offers even more real estate, in case you’d like to feature your best writing on static pages.
- A very stylized theme, Esquire might not be appropriate for everyone, but for those who do activate it, it’s often a perfect fit. Esquire‘s out-of-the-box accents — from the red drop cap to the yellow menu box on the left — look great on Jessica Lee’s blog, Road Essays, where she publishes travel nonfiction narrative.
Here’s the first official edition of Longreads’ Best of WordPress! We’ve scoured 22% of the internet to create a reading list of great storytelling — from publishers you already know and love, to some that you may be discovering for the first time.
We’ll be doing more of these reading lists in the weeks and months to come. If you read or publish a story on WordPress that’s over 1,500 words, share it with us: just tag it #longreads on Twitter, or use the longreads tag on WordPress.com.
How the owners of world-class restaurants including Alinea created their own custom ticketing system:
Though I hadn’t the faintest idea how we would sell tickets, Grant and I included the line: “Tickets, yes tickets, go on sale soon…” in the announcement ‘trailer’ for Next. That was meant to do three things: 1) gauge the reaction from potential customers; 2) create interest and controversy; 3) force us to actually follow through.
‘How I Came to Kill Your Brother’: A Confederate Reveals an Irish-American’s Final Moments (Damian Shiels)
“There are only two conflicts in Irish history which have seen close to 200,000 Irishmen in uniform. One is the First World War… the other is the American Civil War.” Historian Damian Shiels tells the true story of a soldier’s death, and a first-person account from the man who killed him.
Lambert looks at the sex scandals involving photographer Terry Richardson and American Apparel CEO Dov Charney, and asks: how did they stick around for so long anyway?
I remember thinking in 1999 that we were finally on the brink of the future. I saw how wrong I was about that repeatedly. After 9/11, the culture became demonstrably more conservative. Gender essentialism returned, and the ’90s were suddenly considered a failed experiment, like the ’60s, in pushing the boundaries for sex roles too far.
Inside the business of corpse-repatriation insurance:
It is said, by people who would know, that at its peak, Colombia’s infamous Medellín drug cartel was spending $2,500 a month on rubber bands to wrap around bricks of cash. The arithmetic of human excess begins to acquire mythic status when money becomes nearly impossible to count and we are left to communicate chiefly through estimates and legends, like the one in which Pablo Escobar set fire to $2 million in cash to create a fire for his daughter when they were on the run and she got cold. During Colombia’s dark and bloody 1980s, the cartels’ pecuniary abundance was not only the stuff of legendary proportion. Death, too, became grimly innumerable—and at the intersection of cartel, guerrilla, and paramilitary violence was the question of how to respond to the ubiquity of death.
A former barista examines service work and the difficult transition into the creative class:
My kind of service work is part of the same logic that indiscriminately razes neighborhoods. It outsources the emotional and practical needs of the oft-fetishized, urban-renewing “creative” workforce to a downwardly mobile middle class, reducing workers’ personality traits and educations to a series of plot points intended to telegraph a zombified bohemianism for the benefit of the rich.
How we almost lost a New York landmark:
Many consider the destruction of New York’s original Pennsylvania Station in 1963 to have been the architectural crime of the twentieth century. But few know how close we came to also losing its counterpart, Grand Central Terminal, a hub every bit as irreplaceable. Grand Central’s salvation has generally been told as a tale of aroused civic virtue, which it was. Yet it was, as well, an affirming episode for those of us convinced that our political culture has become an endless clown-car act with the same fools always leaping out.
A eulogy for the journalist Matthew Power, by his friend, writer Maria Dahvana Headley, following his death in March at age 39:
I can’t believe Matt Power died on the river. I can’t believe Matt Power isn’t still trekking and toasting the joy he always had, for everything he did, for his amazing wife, for his amazing life. So many people are grieving him right now, and grieving the words he won’t write, too. There are a lot of broken hearts all over the world. He was loved.
The fastest growing job in America — working as a nurse aide — is also among the hardest. The reporter follows a single mother hoping to find a stable job and build a better life for her family:
“I’m getting desperate, to be honest,” she told her classmates. “I need something good to happen. I’m hoping this might be it.”
Russell recounts his experience with night terrors, which he associates with his love of horror films and the work of Tom Savini, a special-effects artist known for working with director George Romero on zombie films.
A transgender writer on changing her name:
I’m a woman with a pretty amazing namesake – two fantastic women. And my name is just as valid as any nickname adopted by any individual at any point in their lives. My name is just as valid as that of any Hollywood star. My name is just as valid as any woman married or divorced who chooses to adopt or discard her lover’s family name. Those names are not up for debate, however. Somehow, transgender names are.
Bushwick has become the theme of choice for tens of thousands of bloggers since we launched it a few months ago. It’s easy to see why: its typography and layout make posts highly readable, while the vertical custom header image adds a distinct, easy-to-customize design touch.
Bushwick also allows you to create custom excerpts, and to tuck non-essential elements into a neat slide-out widgets area. All these features make it a perfect theme for bloggers of all stripes. Take a look at the sites below for some inspiration.
The airy feel of her site perfectly echoes the blog’s evocative title. Anne’s uncluttered design focuses the visitor’s attention on her writing, which is complemented by beautiful custom drawings in the header area and in each individual post.
In Fashion Backwards, Liz, a history-minded fashion blogger, takes a look at the origins of some of today’s most popular styles, showing how the past lives on through our clothes. She’s created a witty logo for her site, which is prominently displayed in the vertical header area.
One of the greatest elements in Bushwick‘s design is the splashy display of featured images. Liz is making the most of the theme by giving each post a smart, customized look with well-chosen featured images.
On his personal site, avid traveler and marketing professional Jeff Schneider showcases his writing and photography from his journey across Southeast Asia. Bushwick‘s crisp design and generous layout make his images really shine.
Jeff has turned his site into more than a travel blog, though: drawing on the theme’s versatility, he’s made it easy for colleagues and potential employers to view his résumé and portfolio, both an easy click away in his streamlined custom menu.
If you’d like to learn more about Bushwick or give it a try, visit the theme’s Showcase page.
Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer.
London-based Davide Casali is a speaker and mentor, but above all he designs experiences for our users. This year, for the second time, he returned as a team lead at UX for Good, a project that calls on designers to tackle complex social challenges. Here’s a brief journey through the events of these six days.
One hundred days to kill a million people. This is the magnitude of the genocide that began on April 7, 1994, in Rwanda. A genocide that the Western world tried to ignore, but that today has a valuable lesson to teach us.
This terrible event has been the central topic of the 2014 challenge of UX for Good, a project founded in 2011 by Jason Ulaszek and Jeff Leitner. This year the project brought together ten designers to support Aegis Trust, the nonprofit organization that manages the Kigali Genocide Memorial, as well as educational activities across Rwanda, the UK, and the US.
The challenge? How to bridge “the gap between the way we remember the genocides of the past and how we act to prevent the genocides of the future.” Surely an ambitious goal.
Harnessing the power of design
This was the second year for me, but the experience I had didn’t make me feel any less irrelevant facing such an enormous challenge. How can ten designers begin to make a step forward in such a huge undertaking? This question kept appearing not just in my mind, but also in the mind of all my fellow designers.
But this is exactly the kind of bet that UX for Good makes year after year, and it repeatedly manages to give back value to the charities involved in the project. UX for Good was founded with designers’ core skills in mind: their ability to connect human needs with solutions that have lots of moving parts across different disciplines. Extracting simplicity from complexity. This is where design can — and does — give back to society as a whole, even if in more normal scenarios the benefits are hidden inside commercial products or services.
On the ground in Rwanda
I flew to Kigali on the 30th of May, and the following evening I met all the other designers for the first time. This started three full days of field research, dawn to dusk. The intensity of this part was breathtaking, not just for the amount of activities conducted in a completely foreign place, but also for the emotional investment of this challenge.
The first day we went through the Kigali Genocide Memorial itself. It was an incredibly draining morning, emotionally. In the words of Matt Franks, one of the designers:
As hard as it is to summarize the feelings you have while standing there — it’s even harder to capture them in a manner that can be conveyed to others. You feel sick — yet emotionally detached. You know what you are hearing is awful… Yet you are unable truly to understand it.
We barely had time to recover before proceeding to other activities. During these three days of field research we visited different places and interviewed experts, officials, and survivors. Their stories, like the testimony of Grace and Vanessa, were terrible to hear (you can watch their interview here):
As we walked along a path, I heard a woman agonizing. She has been hacked and her baby is still breastfeeding. She had been cut with a machete on the forehead, at the back of the head, and on one arm and leg. Once I reached the woman, she said ‘please do me a favor and take my baby, with God’s help you both might survive’. So I took her. If I have to die for this baby I will.
Over and over, we began to notice how these tragedies all showed another side, one of of rebirth and reconciliation. Heroes emerged. Hope appeared. From another woman we heard a testimony so terrible I’m unable to repeat it here, and it made us wonder how it was even possible to still trust and talk to other people after so much madness. She greeted us thanking us for taking the time to hear her memories, and she went away thanking us again for sharing a moment with her.
These two aspects, pain and hope, emerged as key elements in Rwanda’s healing.
Finding inspiration in tragedy
When we moved to London for the synthesis and design phase, the energy of the team was vibrant. We were eager to start making sense of all the insights collected in the field and do something ourselves.
— Roberta Tassi, designer and UX for Good participant
In the following three days we worked at the Red Bull offices in London and distilled our findings. We wanted to provide Aegis Trust with a model they could reuse to build activities and educational programs, as well as with a set of different ideas mapping and showing the power of that model.
All of this is a consolidation of the successful activities Aegis and Rwandans are already engaged in to support healing and drive action. The model defines a sequence of painful memories, reflective moments, stories of hope, and inspiration to act — and shows how people can convert individual experiences to understanding and action.
This model echoes the one suggested by the mindfulness studies conducted by neuroscientist Tania Singer, where people train and learn to switch from empathy to compassion. It’s a necessary shift to avoid burnout and promote a healthier confrontation with difficult topics.
These two dimensions — the experiential and the personal — are intertwined in the model we called the Inzovu Curve. “Inzovu” means “elephant” in Kinyarwanda; we chose that name because the curve resembles the shape of a rising elephant trunk.
We finally consolidated all our findings in a presentation that we gave at the Aegis Trust the following week, with an excellent reception from their side.
A challenge to remember
For me, this has been for the second time a transformative experience. Understanding different cultures is something that surely makes me a richer person, but it also informs my everyday design with a better perception of different people and behaviors. It gives me an incredible sense of hope to see how, in just a few years, a country managed to heal and build a renewed unity, and how countless everyday heroes worked and are still working toward that goal.
It’s also incredibly empowering to see us, designers, starting as ten strangers, able to put our egos on the side and work effortlessly together on a common cause.
We concluded UX for Good 2014, but these efforts are ongoing and require additional resources. Aegis is already doing a great job, but more people need to get involved. Maybe you could consider a visit to Rwanda to see more than just the gorillas, or at least take a peek at Aegis’ work.
Either way, I hope this story gave you something to think about.
Whether your country is playing in Brazil this year or not, joining in the fun of this monthlong global festivity is hard to resist. Thanks to bloggers and photographers on the ground in Brazil and around the world, we all get to have the best views.
Across town, in a favela called Acari, Dutch student Steef Fleur watched the Brazil-Mexico match with some new friends. This photo is part of Steef’s ongoing project to document the World Cup across local communities in Brazil.
Fans on the other side of the equator watched the same game between the Mexican and Brazilian teams. Blogger Vonn Scott Bair joined the action in San Francisco’s Civic Center, where football fanatics and lunch breakers alike can watch the games together.
All this excitement invites intensive, nonstop coverage. British photographer Simon Stacpoole is flying around Brazil this month, trying to capture the perfect shot of players in action. In this photo, taken in Manaus’ Arena Amazonia, he turns his attention to his fellow photographers in the moments before the England-Italy match.
The popularity of soccer has long transformed it into much more than a mere sport — it’s a global cultural, political, and economic phenomenon. The bloggers at Amsterdam Cycle Chic are documenting Orange Fever in Amsterdam, for example — here showing proud fans sporting their team’s jersey after their successful opening game against Spain.
As the lead photographer of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, Joel Robison has witnessed the power of the game to make a change in communities worldwide. He’s visited more than 80 countries in the run-up to the World Cup, taking photographs of players along the way — like these young members of the Palestinian Football Association.
Photographer Tony Burns is currently in Brazil documenting scenes in and around the games, but few shots channel the game’s beauty and visceral appeal as the ones in this photo essay from January, showing how it’s played in a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar.
Are you currently in Brazil or viewing the games from home? Share your World Cup stories with us!
Launched last month, Pictorico is a free theme that combines a dynamic portfolio-style home page with a simple, single-column layout for posts and pages. It’s great for pro photographers, casual photobloggers, and anyone who wants a sleek space for personal blogging.
Let’s take a look at a few sites using Pictorico:
British blogger Issy shares recipes at A Feast for the Eyes, a name that perfectly captures the focus of the site: food and photography. Pictorico‘s front-page grid displays her mix of dishes beautifully — her images are crisp and bold, while her plate setups are stylish and carefully considered.
Issy sets featured images on individual posts, adding color and sophistication to the header area. She also takes advantage of the theme’s clean, single-column layout, letting her images shine on the page:
The traveler and outdoor enthusiast at Ubuntu sets a wide custom header image, which changes the homepage look of Pictorico. The panorama of snowy, jagged peaks is the first thing you see, and captures the blogger’s wandering, adventurous spirit. Pictorico‘s custom header area accommodates images of at least 1180 pixels wide, so the visual effect is dramatic.
New Zealand-based photographer Blair Quax of Shine Studios uses Pictorico to publish his wedding photography, much of which captures the beauty of Waiheke Island. The front-page portfolio design of Pictorico allows Blair to showcase distinct wedding day collections at a glance. Single post layouts are elegant and uncluttered, so the focus is entirely on the couples celebrating their special days.
Blair activates the theme’s post slider as well, which adds another layer to the front page:
More Pictorico examples
- Photographer and cyclist Cherie Vale creates tiled galleries, as shown in this post from the UCI MTB World Cup, and illustrates another way to display images in posts and pages.
- Artist Rosalys also displays a wide custom header, showcasing an anime-inspired illustration.
Visit the Pictorico page for details, other examples, and to preview or activate the theme.
Last week was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the start of the Allied landing in Normandy, France, that contributed to the end of World War II.
While some marked it with (deserved) pomp and circumstance, we observed it by reading the latest from some of our favorite veterans’ blogs on WordPress.com:
Then-infantryman Don Gomez served two tours in Iraq with the US Army in the early 2000s. After a stint in graduate school and a dissertation on the experiences of Iraqi soldiers during the Iran-Iraq War, he re-upped and heads to Afghanistan later this summer as a Second Lieutenant.
His blog, Carrying the Gun, is a mix of thoughtful essays on everything from modern soldiering to women in combat to the transition from soldier to civilian. Sprinkled throughout are photos and letters from his Iraq deployments — a fascinating portrait of the life on the front lines.
O-Dark-Thirty is a literary journal for veterans, current military personnel, and their families. Created by the Veterans Writing Project, it helps those who have served tell their stories — and makes sure those stories are accessible to the rest of us.
The magazine is home to The Report, which publishes unedited fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and The Review, an edited quarterly journal presenting the best literary writing on the veterans’ experience. Browse the latest entries for a poetic take on the forgotten veteran, a fictionalized encounter between German and Russian troops, and a writer’s memoir of a day spent driving his wounded brother to yet another hospital.
For many soldiers, especially those who have served in combat roles, returning to “regular” life brings a new set of challenges. In Paving the Road Back, psychiatrist and Warrior Wellness Unit director Rod “Doc” Deaton gives those who serve our veterans a deeper understanding of the stresses of this transition.
Readers seeking information on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder will find analyses of the ethics of PTSD diagnoses and the relationship between PTSD and other psychiatric disorders, along with the stories of real veterans (fictionalized, to protect their privacy). “Doc” also provides the transcripts of his podcast, “Beam Me Up, Scotty,” and a variety of additional links and resources.
For more reading, check out:
- Firefight, blog of Rick Kurelo, who served with Canadian forces in Bosnia and Afghanistan and recently published a book on his experiences.
- Fever Dreams, the official site of Brian Castner, Iraq veteran and author of the bestselling book The Long Walk.
- Voices from War, which provides writing workshops for veterans interested in telling their stories.
- Jason Lemieux, a former Marine and current human rights advocate.
- True Boots, the blog of Army vet and frequent NPR guest Kristen Rouse.
- From the Green Notebook, where current Army officer Joe Byerly discusses military life and leadership best practices.
- Grand Blog Tarkin, a collaborative blog at the intersection of contemporary warfare and science fiction covering “the full range of war and warfare across the multiverse.”
No matter whether you use WordPress.com to host your blog or your business website, premium theme Gridiculous Pro is a cool, sophisticated, and versatile theme that showcases your creativity.
Rick Kurelo, CD, is a firefighter and Canadian Forces veteran of campaigns in Bosnia and Afghanistan. His site, Firefight — in addition to promoting his book of the same name — collects stories and photos of his time battling fires in Canada and chaos and conflict in theatres of war. The large compelling photo of Rick in full military battle gear, the commanding type, and muted color scheme emphasize the gravity of Rick’s work in the military and in the fire hall.
Jazz lovers will swoon at the smooth clean lines and eye-catching masthead of Delft Big Band, a site for a South African jazz program offering music instruction to disadvantaged high school youth. This stripped-down iteration of Gridiculous Pro highlights the band’s upcoming performances and a photo gallery. You can even watch a recording of a live performance.
Aunty Muriel is the alter ego and online persona of English literature professor and oboist Gaenor Burchett-Vass. Her site, Aunty Muriel’s Blog, collects her writings on the works of Scottish novelist Muriel Spark as well as her comic book, movie, and book reviews. Gaenor takes great advantage of Gridiculous Pro‘s homepage widget feature to help readers navigate to her Spark writings and reviews.
Interested in other looks for Gridiculous Pro? Check out:
The WordPress for Android 2.9 release is now available in the Google Play Store. This release includes some exciting new features, enhancements, and bug fixes.
Blog discovery is a new feature in the Reader that lets you:
- Find new blogs (based on recommendations).
- Preview a blog and read posts before following it.
- Manage your tags and blog subscriptions.
Publish Icon Button
We replaced the publish icon button with a contextual text button. Whether you’re saving a draft, publishing or scheduling a post, or updating one, this new button will display your action, depending on your current task.
Faster Notifications and Stats Refresh
We updated the Notifications feature to use Simperium technology, which will sync your notifications quickly and efficiently.
We also know you love viewing your Stats, so we improved them to refresh faster than ever before.
- Reintroduction of the refresh button in all refreshable views, along with the pull-to-refresh gesture.
- Pull-to-refresh tip bar has been replaced by a less aggressive, self-hiding message.
- Save dialog has been removed, and all posts are now auto-saved when you close the edit post view.
- Reblogging interface redesign in the Reader.
- Sharing image, video, text, or link via WordPress for Android now remembers the previous choice.
- Posts and pages auto-save feature has been improved.
- Fixed bugs related to statistics (only affecting Jetpack users) and image handling.
- Reader improvements to fill gaps in time between two syncs.
- As we announced earlier, we dropped Android 2.3 support. Current (2.9) and later versions need Android 4.0 or later.
- New translations: Hebrew and Basque.
- SNI (Server Name Indication) support.
- Minor bug fixes.
You can keep up with the development progress at http://make.wordpress.org/mobile and can also follow the app on Twitter @WPAndroid. If you need support or want to send us suggestions, please visit our forums.