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New Themes: Colinear and Franklin 27 Aug 2015, 9:00 am
On this Theme Thursday, we have two new free themes for you: Colinear and Franklin.
Colinear — our update to the older Coraline — is a squeaky-clean theme featuring a custom menu, header, background, and layout. Colinear supports featured images and six widget areas — up to three in the sidebar and three in the footer.
Primarily designed for magazine-style sites, Colinear is a flexible theme that also suits any personal blog or content-rich site.
Check out Colinear on the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your site.
Franklin is a lightweight blogging theme, designed by Michael Burrows.
A flexible combination of elegance and readability is evident in Franklin’s design, which can be extended by adding widgets to the sidebar and footer widget areas.
Check out Franklin on the Theme Showcase, or give it a spin on your site.
Filed under: Themes
Introducing: Our New Action Bar 26 Aug 2015, 11:10 am
We strive to make all aspects of using WordPress.com streamlined and intuitive, from following a great new blog to editing a post on the go. Today, we’re happy to present the new action bar, which allows you to do all this (and more) no matter what device you’re on.
Following and more
When you visit a site you’re not yet following, look to the bottom-right corner of the screen and you’ll see this:
Clicking on Follow will make it so new posts from that site will appear in the WordPress.com Reader. Becoming a new follower has never been easier, whether you or your visitors enjoy reading posts on a desktop computer, laptop, phone, or any other device.
Click on the three dots and you’ll see more options. If you like the theme you’re seeing, you can now get it for yourself. Feel like sharing a particularly moving post? Get the shortlink and spread the word.
Make changes to your own site
When you’re on any page of a site you manage, you’ll have the option to customize your site. If you’re visiting one of your published posts or pages, you can also opt to edit the content you’re currently viewing.
Clicking on Customize will take you to the Customizer, where you can tweak your site’s appearance, change themes, modify theme settings, and more. Select Edit, and you can quickly make any changes you wish to your content from adding another image to fixing a typo.
Here, too, clicking on the three dots will expand the menu to reveal the same extra options, like getting a shortlink or managing the sites you follow.
Good to know…
The new action bar will follow you from your desktop to your tablet to your smartphone — all of these options are available regardless of the screen size you’re working with. We also know that some of you prefer as clean a slate as possible, so you can minimize the action bar at any time by clicking on the three dots and selecting Collapse this bar. (You can always change your mind and expand it later.)
We hope you enjoy the new action bar!
We love that you’re passionate about WordPress.com iterations, and most importantly, that you share that passion with us. If you’ve got feedback, we’d be grateful if you’d take a moment to share it with us in our support forum.
Filed under: Admin Bar, Features, New Features, WordPress.com
Get Up to Speed at learn.wordpress.com 26 Aug 2015, 9:00 am
If you just started a spandy new WordPress blog or site and want to work on setup and configuration in your spare time, we’ve recently refreshed a resource that might be just the thing for you: learn.wordpress.com.
Have you just created a blog or website to:
- Showcase a personal project? Maybe you’re working on a photo-a-day project, some short stories, poetry, or a memoir?
- Highlight your business’ offerings and attract new customers?
- Promote an organization and want to know how to get connected to potential supporters on social media?
No matter the reason you created that new site, learn.wordpress.com is standing by. Here’s a bit of what’s on offer to help you create a site that is uniquely you.
Get Started: passwords and profiles
Regardless of whether you’ve got a blog or website, you’ll want to have a strong password and complete your online profile. Get Started, in addition to telling you a bit about our paid plans, will walk you through both.
Get Personality: picking a theme
You want your online home to reflect your personality or in the case of a business or organization, its brand. WordPress.com has over 350 themes (some paid and some free). In Get Personality, you’ll learn how to search and filter themes based on their aesthetic qualities and features. You’ll also learn how to preview themes and activate the perfect one for your site.
Get Configured: headers, fonts, and colors
Once you’ve got a theme that’s “you,” you might want to make that theme unique by creating a custom header, revamping the color scheme, and choosing some custom fonts that add precisely the right touch. Get Configured will show you the ropes.
Get Flashy: the wonderful world of widgets
If you’re not sure what a widget is and what it can do for you, Get Flashy‘s got you covered. You’ll learn how widgets can enhance the form and function of your site, from allowing you to add custom touches such as your Twitter Timeline and the Facebook Like Widget to photos and follow buttons.
Get Published: hello, world!
Post or page? Menus, oh my! Check out Get Published to learn how to create custom menus, the differences between posts and pages, and how to create and publish all three on your blog.
Get Connected: adding social media
When you publish a post on your site, you want your followers to know about it. In Get Connected, we’ll introduce you to Publicize. It allows you to broadcast your blog posts across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Path, and LinkedIn — automatically. You’ll also learn about tagging your posts and how it can attract visitors from the WordPress.com Reader.
A checklist and glossary, to boot
Or, if this isn’t your first blog or website and you’d like a setup and configuration refresher, check out Get Going Fast: A Checklist. If a WordPress term has you scratching your head, check out our glossary.
Filed under: Resources
Next Stop for Accelerate.LGBT: Dublin, Ireland 21 Aug 2015, 8:00 am
A collaborative effort between Accelerate with Google and Automattic, the Accelerate.LGBT conference series is designed to help diverse businesses and nonprofits optimize their web presence, empowering professionals through focused workshops and hands-on, one-on-one support from Automattic and Google employees. We held our first event in San Francisco this past April, which was a great success.
We’re excited to announce the next free Accelerate.LGBT event on September 17, 2015, in Dublin, Ireland. Here’s a sneak peek of the sessions for this afternoon event:
- Get found on Google Search and Maps
- Optimize your website for business
- Engage a younger audience with your brand
- Find the best talent for your organization — inside Google’s hiring secrets
- Unlock your organization’s online potential
If you live in Dublin or plan to be in the area at this time, make sure to join us, follow us, and interact with us (#AccelerateLGBT)!
If you’d like to attend, please register for the September 17 event.
If you’d like Accelerate.LGBT to visit your area, tweet us! We’re also taking a poll to help us decide where to host our next event. Vote now:
We’re proud to partner with Google to offer this Accelerate.LGBT series to help businesses and nonprofits get the most out of the tools available on the web. We hope to see you in September!
Filed under: Community, Events
What a difference a header makes! 19 Aug 2015, 9:00 am
Our websites are our online homes. It makes sense that we want to give them personality and warmth, just like we do with our physical homes.
One of the simplest updates with the biggest impact is a custom header, a completely free feature that’s available to the majority of themes on WordPress.com. A header instantly sets your blog apart — and with free online photo and graphic editing tools, a custom look is accessible to any blogger, no graphic design experience needed.
Take a look at the world of possibilities with these ten blogs:
Text, taken up a notch
A custom header doesn’t require a beautiful photo or exquisite drawing skills. Fonts have personality; just ask the bloggers and writers behind Don’t think just eat, Ellie and Ace, and The Lovecraft eZine. Elegant, quirky, eerie — fonts can communicate all that, and more.
(Bonus points to The Lovecraft eZine for the supremely creepy but on-point use of tentacles as a custom background image.)
Thanks to nifty (and free!) online tools like Canva, a spunky custom text header is only a few minutes away. Our step-by-step tutorial walks you through the process, from figuring out what size your header needs to be, to picking out a font, to uploading your shiny new creation to your blog.
Piggyback on a photo
A photo is a simple way to add both context and color to a header, whether it’s a shot you’ve taken or a free-to-use image you love. Layer a title and tagline over the image, as Stacey Altamirano and Built in Dunedin have done, and you have a custom header that’s yours and only yours:
Use filters to age your photo and text, add cut-outs and other shapes, mix fonts — the photo and text are just the beginning. Interested? Take a look at our tutorial for creating a custom header with an image, and let your imagination run wild!
Graphics front and center
If you’re comfortable creating your own graphics (or have a friend who is), then the header world is truly your oyster. We love the hand-drawn font and bright flowers adorning The Haute Mommy Handbook:
Even if your artistic skills skew more “Stick Figure” than “Sandro Botticelli,” you can add life and quirk to your header, like Viaja el Mundo:
And if putting pen to paper is completely outside your comfort zone, maybe technology can help! Me and My Books created a word cloud to grace the top of her book blog:
Word clouds, maps, screenshots — stop and think about the world of graphic possibilities before you say “But I’m not creative/artistic/a designer!”
Tip: Once you’ve created your custom header, visit My Site → Customize to upload it to your blog. While you’re there, head to the “Site title and tagline” section to turn off the default site title, so you don’t display the title twice (and so nothing distracts from your new creation!).
Does your site need an injection of life, a distinguishing look, or a header that sets a mood? A custom header is one of the best tools in your design toolbox.
Filed under: Customization, Themes
New Theme: Independent Publisher 13 Aug 2015, 9:00 am
On this Theme Thursday, we’re happy to announce the latest addition to our collection of free themes.
Independent Publisher is a clean and elegant theme by Raam Dev, with a clean and responsive layout ideal for personal bloggers and writers alike. Featuring clean and readable posts, the theme can be enhanced with Featured Images.
Your personal Gravatar can be used as your site logo, which gives your site a personal touch, and icons to your social accounts are displayed prominently. Independent Publisher also adapts to your device, providing a seamless experience at any screen size.
Get to know Independent Publisher in the Theme Showcase, or give it a spin by activating it from your dashboard.
Filed under: Themes
Heather Matarazzo’s Personal Stories from Inside and Outside Hollywood 12 Aug 2015, 7:00 am
Her first essay in February, “What the F— Is F—able,” took direct aim at what it’s like to be a woman in Hollywood — an industry she’s worked in since childhood, and as a teen starring in 1995’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, which earned her critical acclaim. In her essay, Matarazzo reveals an industry ruled by sexism, and she talks about what it was like to be a teenager working in it while growing into her own self-confidence:
For me, I had to stop sitting shiva, remove the blanket from my mirror and look. I had to look at my gorgeous face, with my piercing blue eyes, my pouty lips, small chin, slightly crooked nose, full teeth and smile. I had to really look at myself and see my beauty, and once I could accept the harsh reality that I was indeed, not only f—able, but f—ing beautiful, everything started to change.
Following the community’s reaction to the post, Matarazzo confessed:
“Originally this piece was a lot angrier. I called people out, and it felt good, but then I realized that this is not the kind of person I desire to be. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently being angry. Theres a lot to be angry about, but sometimes it can cause one’s soul to atrophy into a dark mass of negativity, and that’s not what I want for myself. It’s hard to stay positive in this business — hell, its hard staying positive as a human being, with the state of the world right now — but I see that even after writing this, I feel more more hopeful, and I hope it brings the same to you.”
Matarazzo’s latest piece is a very personal childhood story about her quest to discover who her biological parents were, and how her mother reacted:
Back at home, my mother is leaning against the counter, arms crossed, staring at me. The ice out has begun. I stare back at her, my eyes inadvertently causing her head to look shrunken. I’m waiting for her to say something, anything, but she just continues to stare. Her eyes begin to well with tears as her head shakes in disappointment. When she finally does speak, she asks what she’s done wrong that would make me do something like that. She proceeds to tell me that I have everything, and keeps asking, “What did I do? Tell me.”
She also begins with an admission that will resonate with many writers and bloggers: the desire to be so personal in expressing herself, and the fear of doing so in public: “I have been hesitant to write anything about my life that is deeply personal, because that requires an incredible willingness on behalf of the writer to be vulnerable and honest.”
I spoke with Matarazzo via email about what led her to decide to start sharing these stories. “There wasn’t a specific moment where I decided to start a blog. I had been toying with the idea for awhile, and had no idea how to do it, or where to begin. I talked to a friend of mine (Lexi Alexander) who told me to just go for it. I also have to credit her for giving me the title and suggestion to write ‘What the F— is F—able?’
“I have been writing since I was a child. I make it a point to write every day. It’s not always personal, sometimes it’s a script or a play.”
As for the response to her stories, “I was overwhelmed.”
“In any kind of storytelling, whether it’s film, blog, or fictional narrative, what speaks most to me as an artist and human being is the relatedness of feelings,” she said. “For example, I’ve never been alone on a planet battling aliens, but I do relate with the characters feeling of aloneness, fear, etc. That’s what storytelling is all about. We are continually looking for ourselves in others (subconsciously or not), whether it’s on the screen, in a book or on a blog. And I firmly believe that we all have stories to tell along with experiences to share. That’s one of the ways that we create change. One story at a time.”
Filed under: Admin Bar, Community, Freshly Pressed, Reading, WordPress.com
New Theme: Blask 6 Aug 2015, 8:02 am
Today I’m happy to introduce Blask, a free portfolio theme designed by Mel Choyce.
Blask is a modern portfolio theme that uses a clean, minimal layout to showcase your work. The bold grid design keeps the spotlight on your projects, and scales to fit any screen size. Blask also lets you share your thoughts and engage in a conversation with your visitors through the beautiful blog page, which shares the same minimal look.
Blask – single post view
Whether you’re an illustrator, designer, or photographer, Blask is the perfect outlet for your creativity.
Read more about Blask on the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your site from Appearance → Themes!
Filed under: Themes
Whimsical Worlds: Artists to Follow Now 5 Aug 2015, 8:00 am
From colorful journal pages to creatures made of salvaged materials, here’s a glimpse at the imaginative worlds of textile and multimedia artists on WordPress.com.
We discovered Glasgow-based textile artist Johanna Flanagan after stumbling upon her post, “Artist’s Statement: Part Two,” and were immediately pulled into her curious world of dolls that are hand-drawn, sewn, and embroidered. We love her delicate, narrow-waisted figures in cross-legged positions, many of which are created with recycled fabrics and threads she’s collected over the years.Sketch theme and built-in portfolio feature showcase Johanna’s characters in a simple yet sophisticated grid, which is separate from her blog posts. (You can enable a portfolio on a number of free and premium themes.)
The world of Anouk de Groot, a folk artist based in Edinburgh, Scotland, is full of fantastic creatures — ones you’d encounter in fairy tales or eerie dreams. Think mermaids on jaw bones. A sheep skull with gold and black illustrations. A textured painting of a folk tale bride.website, she houses her label of textile and paper art dolls (Pantovola: Cabinet of Childhood) and a blog “where wild things are drawn” (Baba Yaga Land) both on WordPress.com. It’s important for artists to establish their brands online, so we like how the winged woman illustration on her website’s left sidebar transforms the premium Studio theme into her own, via Studio‘s custom logo feature.
Mica Angela Hendricks’ blog name says it all: she’s always busy working on art projects, from custom portraits to resin monster puppy dolls to her well-known series of collaborations with her young daughter. She often shares her own takes on characters in popular culture, too (check out her recent Mad Max illustrations).custom background of select illustrations in circular frames. A custom background is a simple, immediate way to showcase your style (and it’s a free feature on many of our themes).
“I feel compelled to articulate living and loving with my hands,” writes Nat at The Smallest Forest. The bookbinder and illustrator, who is currently exploring Venezuela with her husband, observes new places and cultures and translates them in vibrant ways, splashed across personal journal pages.
“Making Money in My Spare Time,” The Smallest Forest (CC BY -NC 2.0)
Filed under: Community
Google Fonts: Free Typefaces for Your Site 31 Jul 2015, 8:50 am
We’re really happy to announce that we’ve added over 30 free Google Fonts to your Theme Customizer. Even better, you don’t need any upgrades to access them; these fonts are free for everyone.
Go to WordPress.com → Customize to see the new Fonts section in the sidebar. From there you can browse and preview typefaces like Gentium Book Basic, Libre Baskerville, Merriweather, and Ubuntu. When you select a font, you’ll immediately see your site in the preview with that font applied. For most font choices, you can also change the size and style of the text.Click to view slideshow.
We can’t wait to see what you do with the new Google Fonts on your site! If you have suggestions for other typefaces that you’d like us to consider adding, please let us know in the forums or in the comments below!
Filed under: Customization, Features