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The WordPress.com Blog

  • Launching: All New Media Picker for Android

    There's this... thing... in the Android WordPress app that we refer to as the "seven-item menu." It would show up when trying to add a photo to confront you with a list of choices and we confess, we couldn't always remember what option we wanted, either.

    As of the 7.3 release, the seven-item menu is gone! We've replaced it with an all-new -- and much more streamlined -- media picker. See your recent photos below your post, multi-select using long-touch, browse your site's media library, take a picture -- all without leaving the app.

    We know that for many of you, your smartphone is your camera. We're working to make the best place to manage your WordPress media the place where you keep it -- your phone. This is just the beginning of the improvements you can expect to see. If you haven't already, download WordPress for Android on Google Play, give it a try, and let us know what you think!


    Filed under: Admin Bar

  • Inclusive Illustrations, By Design

    I like to think that designers solve problems, while artists ask questions. And when the two go hand-in-hand, real magic happens. Why? Because the right question gets answered with the right solution -- art asks, and design responds.

    Here at Automattic we were extremely fortunate to recently get to partner with independent artist and designer Alice Lee, who seamlessly integrates abstract ideas with concrete solutions. The following is an interview with Alice that is followed by another interview with Joan Rho, the designer who led the project.

    JM: How did you become an illustrator?

    AL: My path is a little nontraditional. I was always an artistically curious kid growing up, but was never of the "stand-out art star" variety. Rather, I went to business school, and after graduating, I worked at Dropbox as an early product designer.

    Some of my first few projects there involved designing for externally facing projects (new user education, onboarding flows, home & landing pages), and I found that adding illustrations really elevated my work -- understandably, no one wants to read paragraphs of text describing file sharing. At the time, there weren't any dedicated full-time illustrators on the team, so I decided to just do it myself, learning as much as possible on the side and receiving guidance from teammates. Eventually I transitioned over into brand and communications design at Dropbox, working full-time as a product illustrator. I left to freelance almost three years ago and have been illustrating since!

    JM: I've found that many people confuse an illustrator as someone who is "good at drawing." I've found that description to be terribly narrow-minded. Anything to add?

    AL: That's a really interesting question because it describes two key qualities to being an illustrator. The first is the technical ability to draw -- one doesn't necessarily need to be the "second coming of art," but it is important to possess a foundation in basic draftsmanship. The second is the conceptual ability to think like a designer -- as an illustrator, you're interpreting challenging design prompts and figuring out how to present visual ideas that often represent complex topics.

    Having one piece but not the other is extremely limiting; a great illustrator balances and sharpens both. If you have more of the technical art / draftsmanship piece, this limits the type of high-level projects that you can take on and requires a heavy hand by an art director to guide you through. If you're more of a conceptual thinker but lack drawing fundamentals, it limits the way that you can express your ideas -- e.g. perhaps you can only work in a few basic styles. It's never so black-and-white, of course, but putting the two together in illustration yields high-quality, conceptually brilliant work.

    JM: Having worked in the technology world for many years, what recurring patterns have you seen in the kinds of commissions you've been awarded?

    AL: I'm excited by the fact that illustration has become a huge part of the tech branding landscape; so many companies are incorporating illustration as keystones of their brand. Companies are now developing their own unique illustration styles that build into their brand voice, exploring different mediums, differentiating themselves, etc.

    This is exciting to me because I love to work in a variety of styles and mediums; it's a great feeling to extend yourself as an artist. Many of my recent projects have involved building illustration branding systems in addition to creating the illustrations themselves, and I love bringing analog media and textures into a traditionally vector world. We experimented with this a bit on this WordPress.com illustration branding project, of adding a subtle, candid brush stroke to accent vectorized, precise shapes. With little touches here and there, under an editing eye, this interplay between mixed media does a lot to elevate what an illustrative voice is saying.

    JM: Tell me about your commission from Automattic.

    AL: This project had two parts: 1) the first, building out an illustration branding system: the voice and style guidelines for how to create illustrations that extended the brand; 2) the second, producing 50 illustrations that expressed this style to be used for the product and marketing collateral.

    We went through lengthy explorations of the illustration style: what brand did we want to express, and how could it be expressed visually? A key tension was in balancing the friendly, fun, accessible direction of the brand with the business need of still being professional and refined. In many ways, our final output reflects this: it's a combination of sturdy, grounded shapes that fill out most of the composition, guided by the expressiveness and imperfection of linework that adds in quirky detail. The solidness of these geometric shapes is still tied in to the prior style of illustration used in the product, but the linework adds in personality, playfulness, and a hand-drawn quality.

    JM: What was the same with respect to your past work for tech companies, and what was different?

    AL: One thing I've noticed is that this balance of "warm, relatable, friendly, fun" and "polished, serious" is a common tension in past work for tech companies. I think this is due to a few factors: first, it's a natural tension to exist when you're trying to express complicated, often technical concepts via visually appealing illustrations. Second, though I work with each company's unique brand voice, you can still see my personal voice coming through across all of my work: energetic, bright, and purposeful.

    Something different that I loved was how the team uses the WordPress product to document and comment on the design process, because everyone is remote! We had a central illustration blog where I would post up each round of exploration, pose questions to the team, and receive feedback. At the end of each major deliverable, it was nice to look back on the progression and evolution of the style and work produced. It was a very structured way to document the process, which is lacking when your working files exist solely in emails or asynchronous chat tools.

    JM: How did it feel to be pushed harder on the inclusion question?

    AL: It was something that I deeply appreciated. We all carry our own internal assumptions and biases; and just like in design, assumptions should be challenged and improved with different perspectives, user research, and critical thinking.

    For instance, John, you had just gotten back from doing user research in the field, talking to small mom and pop shops and individual entrepreneurs in the suburbs. In some early illustrations, I had drawn a lot of younger characters sipping coffee on their computers to illustrate people working on WordPress.com, and you challenged the "perfect latte / laptop world" that is a common backdrop in tech illustrations.

    This made me realize that there was a whole range of characteristics I was missing from my internal definition of inclusiveness in illustration, due to my own biases: age, occupation, location, lifestyle, socioeconomic background, etc. I worked to place characters outside of the "perfect latte / laptop world," drawing different backdrops in the larger scenes, expressing different jobs and backgrounds through props and attire, and including a section on how to depict age in the style guide.

    JM: What is difficult about taking this direction? And what is easier?

    AL: It is always challenging but necessary to address your own biases and assumptions in order to produce better work. In the above example, for instance, user research about who actually uses the product helped inform what the brand illustrations looked like -- which in turn results in visuals that are more in line with the business objective of catering to the actual users.

    It can be difficult because it's also personal: the biases in a person's artwork can also reflect their personal biases. Sometimes it can be hard to be challenged on that, but it's necessary to acknowledge and no one is ever finished with this journey. I also think it is easier to start with inclusion and representation as core values than it is to tack it on after you've finished the branding process.

    JM: What are your hopes for how people use this language you've produced for us?

    AL: Artistically, I hope that this language can be extended and applied across the platform by many collaborators: designers, illustrators, animators, etc. I always love to see how a style evolves, and I also think it is really cool to have distinct mini-styles within a larger brand family -- so that would be neat to see.

    Socially, I hope that we can use these conversations around inclusivity to spark a larger dialogue in the illustration community about what it means to be inclusive in the work we produce. For instance, I personally rarely see people of color depicted in tech product illustrations (or, on a personal note, even Asian characters). When John pointed out the "perfect beautiful latte / laptop world" bias that's common in tech illustration, I sat back and thought to myself, "you're so right!" It made me realize some of my own assumptions about what should be depicted in illustration, and I hope that we can continually challenge each other within the illustration community.

    Just like photographers, art directors, and designers, we as illustrators have the power to be thoughtful and inclusive in our work, to create artwork that shows people that anyone can use these products, not just a certain perceived stereotype of who "should" be.

    I've found over the years that behind every innovative project launched by a company partnering with an outside artist, there's a special somebody within the company who cared enough to make the case for doing things differently. That person, in the case of this project, is Joan Rho -- one of our new Marketing Designers here at Automattic.

    JM: How did you come by the work of Alice Lee?

    JR: I'd seen Alice's illustration work before and admired both the quality of her work and range of styles she was able to execute. After a brief initial chat with her about her work, her process, and learning that she was already familiar with our platform having been a longtime blogger on WordPress.com, I could tell she'd be a great collaborator who could help us elevate and unify our brand's visual language.

    JM: What is "design"?

    JR: It's communication, it's innovation, it's aesthetics, it's optimization, and it's strategic. Design shapes the way a message or experience is delivered. Good design is informed by human behavior--it makes things easier to use, more intuitive, and more enjoyable to experience.

    JM: Can you describe the development of this project -- from its conception to completion?

    JR: Our company, Automattic, was founded on open-source principles: community, collaboration, and hard work. We're fully distributed with our ~550 employees spanning the globe representing over 50 countries and over 76 different languages. WordPress.com, our major product in our family of offerings, is powered by WordPress, the open-source software project (which was co-founded by our CEO). WordPress.com has been around since 2005 and is primarily known as a powerful blogging platform. However, these days, you can use WordPress.com to do much more--such as starting a website for your business, creating a portfolio, or even just getting a domain name. So, as part of updating our message to communicate this better, we wanted our visual language to also reflect what we stand for and what we offer.

    This illustration project was a collaborative effort that looped in many different members of our Automattic team spanning various timezones, cultures, and backgrounds. Some of our collaborators weren't even designers, but one thing they all had in common was that they intimately knew WordPress.com and Automattic, which helped me greatly as a relative newcomer to the company. I had the benefit of working closely with Kjell Reigstad, a more veteran designer on the team, who was my "brand partner" in this project from the start. Kjell's knowledge of our brand's history helped us develop an illustration language that combined a geometric style in line with how we historically represented the WordPress.com brand with a newer, organic style that felt more distinctive and embodied our brand values and personality.

    JM: What are a few turning points in its evolution where you saw "inclusion" coming into the picture?

    JR: During one of our creative reviews, we were exploring the representation of human characters (which we hadn't ever used before across our site pages or UI) and it was actually a comment by you, John, that initiated the discussion of introducing more diversity in skin tones, body types, hair color, age, etc. into these characters. Many Automatticians joined the conversation thanks to a prompt by Mel Choyce, sharing personal stories and pictures of themselves and their friends representing a wide variety of people, backgrounds, and personal styles. This provided inspiration for the diverse cast of characters you can now see across our brand illustrations. As a minority female who grew up seeing mostly Caucasians represented in media and design, it's been very rewarding to help shape a more inclusive brand identity.

    JM: When you consider our company, as a fellow newbie as we joined around the same time last year, what lessons do you take away from leading this project with Alice?

    JR: Your best work will always be the result of collaboration. Great collaboration happens only with equal trust, respect, and engagement from everyone involved. Leadership isn't about bossing people around; it's about fostering an environment that encourages great collaboration.

    JM: Any shoutouts for other designers who participated in this work?

    JR: Shoutout to Alice Lee, Kjell Reigstad, Ballio Chan, John Maeda, Ashleigh Axios, Dave Whitley, Davide Casali, Mel Choyce, and all of the Automatticians who participated in the brand discussions and creative reviews throughout the process.

    You can find these new illustrations by Alice Lee on any of our main pages, such as /create-website, /create-blog, /business, /personal, /easy, /premium, and more!

    And you can read the complete story behind these illustrations at Alice Lee's site right here from the same titled post, Inclusiveness in Illustration.


    Filed under: Design, Diversity & Inclusion, WordPress.com

  • The Best of WordPress.com in April

    You're off to a strong creative start in 2017! Here are a few recent updates and stories from the WordPress.com community in April that we wanted to share with you.

    What's new

    This Year's WordPress Default Theme, Twenty Seventeen, Is Now Available

    "Great looking theme!" - Jason Thornberry

    Independent Publisher 2 Is Here

    The Independent Publisher theme has long been beloved for its simplicity and legibility, and we're happy to announce that it has been improved, ever so slightly. Read our interview with the designers, Caroline Moore and Kjell Reigstad.

    Check Out the New Look, Products, and Features of the WordPress Swag Store

    For a chance to be featured on the website, post WordPress swag pics to Twitter and Instagram using #WPSWAG. Use code WPSWAG for 20% off all items. (Offer ends May 12.)

    Longreads Just Turned 8 Years Old. Here's What the Next Eight Years Look Like

    Longreads is rapidly becoming the best place on the internet for personal essays, and there are ambitious plans to do even more. Read more on our plans, and contribute to the Longreads story fund -- WordPress.com will even match your contributions.

    Designing for [X]: inclusion

    Better conceptualizing, designing, building, and improving how to meet the needs of underserved users is a core part of how we work at WordPress.com, and that was the focus of April's Design and Exclusion (#DesignX) conference (check out the complete video and transcript at x.design.blog).

    How can we help entrepreneurs working in cities around the world? That's the challenge Hajj Flemings explored in an April essay for Design.blog. He shares some of the insights which came out of the 100 Project Hackathon -- a project tasked to build nine small business sites in a 48-hour period in Detroit.

    Perspectives: 'But Wait, Is Your Last Name Filipino?' (Samantha Hankins)

    In your toolbox: inspiration insights

    10,000 Kilometers: Quintin Lake on Walking and Photographing Britain's Coastline

    Two Aprils ago, Quintin Lake set off from St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The journey? To walk 10,000 kilometers around the coast of Britain. We caught Quintin just before he embarked on a 15-day adventure around the edge of Snowdonia, North Wales. Read about Quintin's epic walk along the sea.

    Quotables: "If you really love writing, it's like eating. You can't live without doing it." - The writing life of Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore (Harvard Gazette).

    Case Study: A collection of portraits, street scenes, and details from Bangkok.

    Try it out: Importing Google Docs -> WordPress.com.

    Now following

    "WordPress was the best... I'm very happy to be back." -- welcome back, Leo Laporte!

    Check out Amazon CTO Werner Vogels's new site, Werner.blog.

    Hang out with us on Instagram and tag your 'grams with #DiscoverWP.

    That's all for now!

    What did you love about your own work in April? Comment with a link to a post you're proud of, or something new you learned about designing your site. Feeling motivated? Download the WordPress app on iOS and Android.


    Filed under: Design, Discover, Themes, WordPress.com

  • Independent Publisher 2 Is Here

    The popular Independent Publisher design is a WordPress theme that has long been beloved for its simplicity and legibility. So we are happy to announce that it has been improved, ever so slightly, with the design talents of Caroline Moore and Kjell Reigstad.

    Introducing Independent Publisher 2:

    Independent Publisher was first designed, developed, and released four years ago by Raam Dev in his introductory post to the Independent Publisher Project:

    "I've been using WordPress for the past 8 years and in that time my site has always had a modified version of someone else's theme. I always found it easier to start with a theme created by someone else and then modifying it until I had it the way I wanted." --Raam Dev, 2013

    I recently caught up with Raam to learn about the origins of Independent Publisher.

    JM: How did Independent Publisher come to be?

    RD: I had that design swimming around in my head for years--it's the culmination 7 years of hacking away at a constantly-evolving WordPress theme for my personal site, tweaking and updating it every few months to apply my latest understanding of what 'good design' meant. Over the years I had gotten so many requests from people who wanted to use the theme that I was using, but the current theme was always so hacked-together that I wasn't able to easily share it. Finally in 2013 I decided to put everything that I'd learned into building a theme that could be shared and that's where the Independent Publisher theme was born. I've been amazed by how many people use it--it's such a weird feeling to visit the site of a stranger on the internet only to discover they're using the theme that I helped build!

    JM: Are you a designer or a developer? I mean, your last name is ... "Dev."

    RD: I'm definitely a bit of both. I love building things but I also love thinking about the ultimate purpose of what gets built, the 'why' behind the 'what.'

    About my last name, it hadn't even occurred to me how appropriate my last name was for the type of work that I do until my developer friends started asking if it was really my last name.

    JM: What advice do you give for budding designer/devs like yourself when starting off in creating a theme?

    RD: Start with the end in mind. When I built the Independent Publisher theme, I kept revisiting the same set of questions at every step along the way: What's the ultimate purpose of this theme? What is it trying to do? What is its ultimate objective?

    JM: How have mobile devices changed how we consume content these days?

    RD: If there was ever a good example of the importance of considering the design impact of what we build, mobile would be it. With mobile devices, users don't get to choose the size of their web browser. They have little choice about the constraints imposed on them by the devices in their hands. That means it's up to us developers and designers to ensure that content can be consumed as easily as possible on mobile.

    In case you are wondering, "What is a theme?" I can tell you that according to Automattic founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg, "themes" began from WordPress version 1.5 way back in 2005. A theme is an encapsulation of code and design knowledge -- it lets you customize the look and feel of a WordPress site to be exactly the way that you want. If you are a designer that is new to themes, I suggest that you read this short essay by Mel Choyce on "3 Reasons Why Every Designer Should Create A WordPress Theme."

    Because Independent Publisher came out in 2013, it deserved a tiny set of enhancements. We thought the best two people to lead the design challenge needed to be our theming veteran Caroline Moore and our typography expert Kjell Reigstad.

    JM: What makes a good theme?

    CM: A rock-solid code foundation like Components and a design that feels like home. My favorites are bold, colorful themes with lots of personality; Scratchpad by my colleague Laurel Fulford comes to mind.

    JM: What makes for good typography?

    KR: Good typography doesn't get in the way. It's balanced, legible, and subtle.

    JM: Are there any aspects of Independent Publisher that caught your attention when it was first released on WP.com?

    CM: Using a Gravatar as a site logo wasn't common around the time Independent Publisher was released, so that stood out to me as a neat way to make the theme more personalized right out of the box.

    JM: What makes one paragraph more legible than the other?

    KR: There are a number of variables that affect the readability of paragraphs. Aside from the more obvious ones like typeface and font size, I find leading and column width to be the most important.

    Leading (also known as "line-spacing") is the space between lines of text. If the space is too wide, your eyes have to work hard to jump from one line of text to the next. If it's too narrow, your eyes have to work hard at differentiating each line as you're reading. Leading adjustments can be very subtle, but the right balance makes a big impact.

    Column width is a little more self-explanatory. If a paragraph of text is too wide, your eyes will have to take a large horizontal jump each time you progress onto a new line. If the paragraph is too narrow, your eyes will have to make the jump more often. Both of these cases can cause eye fatigue. An ideal column width is somewhere in the middle.

    JM: What about this Independent Publisher refresh benefits the reader?

    KR: In my opinion, the best update is the switch to using system fonts by default. More often than not nowadays, websites load in custom font files to display all their text. This is great visually, but it does lead to slightly longer page load times.

    System fonts are are included with your device by default. These are pretty standard fonts, and tend to be very widely available. You've probably heard of many of them: Helvetica, Times, and Georgia for instance. Switching to use these fonts means we don't have to load in additional font files every time your site loads. This saves time, and is especially handy when visitors are on a slow or unstable mobile connection.

    Best of all, the system fonts we used are beautiful! Headlines are set in your computer's default sans serif font Apple's San Francisco font, and Android's Roboto for example, and body text is set in Georgia by the beloved Matthew Carter.

    JM: Where do you see the world of themes heading, Caroline?

    CM: I want to see themes condensed into a single CSS file, applied over different components that you can mix and match to build any kind of site you can imagine.

    JM: If I'm a beginner to design and want to learn more about typography, how do I start, Kjell?

    KR: This is a quick, 6-minute video that I made last year to share the joy of typography:

    JM: Thank you Raam, Caroline, and Kjell!

    So there you have it -- enjoy the new power of Independent Publisher 2, and set yourself free to write with enhanced legibility, special tweaks for mobile, and an overall faster experience for your readers.

    Read more about Raam Dev, Caroline Moore, and Kjell Reigstad on their respective websites:

    Raam Dev Caroline Moore Kjell Reigstad
    Filed under: Better Blogging, Design, Themes

  • New Theme: Twenty Seventeen

    We're excited to announce that this year's WordPress default theme, Twenty Seventeen, is now available on WordPress.com.

    Designed by Mel ChoyceTwenty Seventeen is a business-oriented theme that allows you to create a stunning front-page layout with multiple sections. The theme can be topped with a large custom header image or atmospheric video of your choosing.

    Twenty Seventeen can be customized further by adding a logo, custom color or fonts, or widgets.

    We paid special attention to making sure the theme's typography works well with as many languages as possible. Font adjustments for the following alphabets improve readability:

    Arabic Chinese Cyrillic Devanagari Greek Gujarati Hebrew Japanese Korean Thai

    Twenty Seventeen has also been designed to look good on a variety of screen sizes.

    Learn more about WordPress's latest default theme here, or check out the demo site!


    Filed under: Themes

  • A New WordPress App Update, Designed for the iPad

    Over the past few months we've been working to dramatically improve users' experience on iPad -- and we're proud to share those with you now, in our WordPress app for iOS, available in the iTunes Store.

    The apps were originally designed with only iPhones in mind, so we wanted to make better use of the space available on the iPad and especially iPad Pro, to maximize your productivity in the app. These changes shipped incrementally, with the very final ones being included in the 7.1 release that went out last week.

    We've improved the My Sites management to make it easier to handle multiple sites on iPad. Now you can see the posts from that blog alongside the list of blogs, and site management is now all on one screen - no more back and forth!

    Managing profiles follows the same pattern.

    Notifications has been overhauled, too.

    We're really excited about these improvements and hope iPad users of WordPress will be, too! We look forward to continuing to improve your WordPress experience, no matter what device you use.

    Get the app on iTunes.


    Filed under: Admin Bar

  • Unlimited Premium Themes Now Included in the Premium Plan

    Finding just the right look for your site can be a fun task. If you're on the Premium plan, it's about to get a lot more fun: the Premium plan now includes unlimited access to all our premium themes.

    With over 200 premium themes on WordPress.com -- and new themes added regularly -- that's more than $16,000 worth of premium themes. We bring the best premium theme designs to WordPress.com, meaning you get new, unique themes to choose from more often. From niche- and industry-specific themes like Aperitive and Marquee to beautiful blogging themes like Radiate to themes with colorful, stylish touches like Gema or Jason, you have more chances than ever of finding your perfect style.

    This new addition to the Premium plan gives more of you the opportunity to try our great premium themes and make your sites shine!

    Visit the Plans page to learn more about what WordPress.com Premium has to offer, or browse all our premium themes to get excited about the possibilities. Ready to upgrade your site? Head to My Sites -> Plan.


    Filed under: Features, Themes

  • Field Notes: CMS Africa Summit

    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 in the community.

    This year's CMS Africa Summit was my third attendance at this amazing conference. My colleagues Marjorie, Sarah, Hannah, and Luminus joined me for the event and in doing so we sent Automatticians from three different continents.

    Democratizing eCommerce

    For several years now, Automattic has been the title sponsor for CMS Africa Summit. After conferences in Kenya (2015) and Uganda (2016), the 2017 edition took place in Abuja, Nigeria. The team behind the summit consists of industry leaders from all three of those countries. Together they also represent some of the world's most popular open source content management systems (CMSs): Joomla, Drupal, and (of course) WordPress.

    As one of the tech hubs in Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is leading tech innovation on the continent. The conference by consequence focused on the practical use of CMSs, more so than in previous years: how they can boost local businesses and grow the economy.

    For that reason, the attendees were very interested in eCommerce as a way to take their startups online. We introduced them to WooCommerce as an open source tool for economic empowerment, and shared practical and localized guidelines. Many of the entrepreneurs we encountered expressed their love for open source software because it doesn't require them to invest their precious startup budget in software.

    Presence

    The slides and summaries of our talks can be found on our respective websites. Here's a selection of some of the other talks we loved. Prosper Otemuyiwa, our favorite keynote speaker, focused on how to build a product the open source way. Nigerian CMS organizer Adedayo Adeniyi talked about the need for online growth in Nigeria and putting checks and balances in place for high-quality local web development. Software developer Idris Abdul Azeez highlighted the importance of documenting not only software configuration but also its development process, since writing readable code is a necessary cornerstone for the open source community and facilitates members' contributions.

    We were moved when lead organizer Oduor Jagero shared his excitement that Automattic had sent a team of staff to attend, present workshops, and connect in person with the Nigerian tech and open source community. Beyond the financial support, taking the time to teach and to listen to the local stories is especially appreciated. If you're ready to listen too, here's a great place to start: Jagero asked his friends on Facebook to share their blog posts about love. Three of the best stories will be awarded a basket of WordPress goodies. Here are the best ones he selected: Lovine Mboya, Akello, and Nepenthe.

    CMS Africa Summit 2017 was amazing, just as in previous years. As outsiders, the local community welcomed us with open arms. The eagerness to learn, grow, and be successful was inspiring. On to the next one!

    Below are some pictures taken by organizer David Aswani.


    Filed under: Automattic, Events

  • New in Reader: Combined Cards

    If you've ever followed a frequently updating site in Reader, you may have noticed a problem. When one of your followed sites goes on a posting streak, it can easily overwhelm your stream, causing you to miss posts from less frequent sites.

    Today we launched a new feature to alleviate this problem: Combined Cards. Now, when a site you follow gets prolific, we'll combine those posts into a single card -- provided the posts are all from the same day and uninterrupted by posts from other sites.

    Here's a recent example from Time Magazine. (Did you know you can follow Time in Reader? You can!) Before on the left, after on the right.

    For Writers: If you post once a day, your posts will never be combined in Reader. If you post more than once a day, it's possible your posts will be combined for some readers and not others -- it depends on how many other sites they follow and when they post. Posts will only be combined if they're uninterrupted by other posts.

    For Readers: Your Followed Sites stream still shows all the posts from the sites you follow, in exactly the same order. The only thing that's changed is that if a site posts a string of new posts, we'll combine them into one card so they take up less vertical space.

    We hope this change makes Reader more pleasant to use, and helps you feel comfortable following more frequently updating sites. If you'd like some suggestions, here are some great high frequency sites we recommend: Fortune, People, Laughing SquidUproxxThe Sports DailyHeavy, TechCrunchBlack America Web, and BGR. Remember to click the "Follow" link at the top of the page to add it to your Reader.

    WordPress.com members can visit Reader in the usual spot. Not a member yet? Join us. And thanks, as always, for being part of the WordPress.com community.


    Filed under: Reading

  • Save Your Favorite Images and Media on WordPress.com, Anytime

    We've added a new media section to your WordPress.com dashboard, allowing you to bulk upload, edit, and tweak your media files. Let's look at the changes:

    Upload Media in Bulk

    Add new items in bulk by going to Media -> Add New to activate the file picker. You can also drag and drop items right onto the page.

    Edit Media

    Now you can edit media files as you add them to your post or directly from the media section. To modify media information like the title or caption, select the items you would like to edit, then click Edit.

    In the details view, you can update the title, caption, and description. Any changes made in these fields will be saved automatically for you.

    Edit Photos

    If you have a photo that needs to be cropped or rotated you can now update this here, too! From the media detail view select Edit Image.

    In the Image Editor (see this guide for full instructions), you can crop, rotate, and flip images directly on WordPress.com.

    If you're happy with the changes you've made, select Done.

    Search

    Finding a previously uploaded media item is easier, too. Go to the filter tabs to sort media by file type, or select the magnifying glass to open the search field and search for images by title. In the details view, you can copy the URL link for use in a new post or page.

    We hope you enjoy these updates to your Media Library!


    Filed under: Admin Bar



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