The WordPress.com Year in Review (and Resolutions for 2018)

Some years go by slowly — not because they’re busier, but maybe there’s just more out there in the world to stop and notice. We hope the WordPress.com and Jetpack community offered you some of those moments this year.

Maybe it was a helpful chat with someone on our Happiness team, or maybe you discovered a cool new feature that made business or blogging even easier. Perhaps you read something on WordPress.com that inspired you. We just want to say thanks for being here, and we’re excited to see what you all accomplish in 2018 and beyond.

Below are some highlights from the year in WordPress.com — and make sure you check out WordPress.com Discover to see more favorite moments from 2017. Happy New Year!

Viral Hits and Notable Moments

• TIME, powered by WordPress.com VIP, announced its Person of the Year — The Silence Breakers.

• WordPress.com blogger Hospey used an online resume to score an internship with Chance the Rapper:

• Baby Ellie became the youngest person to thru-hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail! She made the trip with her mom Bekah and her dad Derrick, who wrote about their adventure.

• One user got a nice surprise: JK Rowling tweeted their blog post:

• Robert E. Kelly and his family became worldwide celebrities when his appearance on the BBC was interrupted by his children. “We are just a regular family, and raising two young children can be a lot of work. Because of that, it seems that the video has resonated with parents around the world,” he wrote on his blog.

• Over at Longreads, Laurie Penny wrote the site’s most popular story of the year — The Unforgiving Minute.

• We wished a happy 11th anniversary to Smitten Kitchen, one of the web’s most popular and longest-running food blogs.

• INFJoe, the cartoon persona of artist and blogger Aaron Caycedo-Kimura, released his book Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life.


The Year in Building Your Business

This year we worked to make it even easier to create the perfect website for business and ecommerce — from fashion to fitness, salons to school fundraisers.

In March we introduced unlimited themes for Premium and Business Plan users so you can experiment with more designs — including the new Radcliffe 2 theme for small business. We made it easy for you to collaborate in Google Docs and publish straight to WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered sites. In May we launched Business Plan support for third-party plugins and themes, giving you total control over customizing and monetizing your site:

Of course, no website is an island: it’s more important than ever to distribute your blog posts and pages across social media, so in July we introduced social media scheduling, allowing you to plan tweets and Facebook posts far in advance and resurface popular posts from your archives:

social scheduling

Then in August, we made it even easier to earn money from your site with the new Simple Payment feature:

To top it all off, we teamed up with Rebrand Cities to bring 10,000 small business online, and we partnered with inspiring folks like Creative Mornings and legendary designers like Michael Bierut and Marian Bantjes to create new sites with students in Appalachia as part of Project A3.


The Year in Photos (and Making It Easier to Post the Perfect Shot)

You published some incredible images and illustrations in 2017! Take a look:

Ascending the Andes

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb – Nelson Mandela.” Thirdeyemom ascended the Andes, and captured this stunning photograph.

Illustrations by Jeremy Graboyes

We fell in love with the illustrated work of Jeremy Graboyes, a Washington, D.C.-based artist who specializes in pen-and-ink and watercolor.

Child laborers of Bangladesh

Photographer Sophia Hsin documented the child laborers of Bangladesh. The Vancouver-based Hsin is using the project to raise awareness among consumers about how some products enter their food chain.

Street photography in Puerto Rico

Omar Z. Robles brought dance and street photography together. Robles captures moments with dancers around the world, from the streets of Cuba to Hong Kong. (Above: dancer Courtney Stohlton in Puerto Rico.)

We also wanted to simplify the process of sharing your gorgeous images: You can now connect your Google Photos account and insert images straight from Google, as well as export photos from Lightroom straight to WordPress.com.


The Year in Publishing on the Go

mobile apps

Photoblogging is even better with a world-class mobile app. We made a ton of improvements to WordPress for iOS and Android, with a brand new editor, new features to manage your site, and a whole lot more.


A Warm Welcome to WordPress!

Did you know that nearly 30% of all sites on the internet are powered by WordPress? Here’s just a small sampling of the new sites we welcomed to WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WordPress.com VIP in 2017:


Resolutions for 2018

We resolve to keep working to make the web a better place — and work with all of you in the WordPress.com community to keep building your dreams.

What do you want to accomplish in the coming year? Tell us in the comments.

Filed under: General, Jetpack, VIP, WordPress, WordPress.com
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Managing Your Blog On a Mobile Device

Have you given the WordPress mobile apps a try lately? We’ve been working hard to make sure our iOS and Android apps are simple to use and have the features you need to blog right from your phone or tablet. Here are a few recent additions and updates that make blogging on the go easier:

Add Categories and Tags

Before publishing a blog post, you can add categories and tags right in the app’s post editor. To add categories and tags to a post in the iOS editor, tap the at the top right, then Options. On Android, tap the gear icon at the top right.

(Need a refresher? Categories allow you to group related posts together on your site, and tags help people find you in the WordPress.com Reader. Keep in mind that the Reader will filter out posts using more than 15 categories and tags total, so stick to 15 or fewer.)

Edit Post Slugs and Excerpts

A post slug is the part of a post’s URL after the .com (or the .blog, .org, .net, or whichever kind of address you use). WordPress generates one for you automatically based on your post’s title — but if your post has a very long title, it will also have a very long URL. Now, you can edit your slugs in the apps to shorten them.

You can also add and edit excerpts — little summaries of your posts — in the app. Some themes display post excerpts on your home page; if yours does, you’ll want to add one to each post. They also display in the WordPress.com Reader, giving you more control over what appears there.

To find the slug and excerpt in the apps, go back into your post’s settings: head to a post and tap on … → Options (iOS) or on the gear icon (Android), Scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the slug and excerpt options.

Add a Featured Image

Lots of themes use Featured Images to draw readers’ eyes to your posts and pages. And when readers share your posts, the Featured Image is often used by Twitter, Facebook, and other networks. It’s the first part of a post most people see, and plays a big role in whether people decide to read.

To add a featured image to a post, open a post and go back to — you guessed it! — …→ Options (iOS) or the gear icon (Android). You can change an existing featured image there, too.

Easier Reading and Accessibility

The apps have seen several changes to make them easier to use, including better button and image descriptions for screen readers and improved zooming to increase text size. If you’ve had trouble with small text in one of the apps before or found something to be inaccessible, give it another try and be sure to let our support team know if you see areas where we can improve further.

In-App Support

If you have any questions, you can reach our support team right in the apps by going to Me → Help & Support → Contact Us. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Don’t have the WordPress mobile app yet? Download it here.

Filed under: Mobile
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New Premium Themes: Small Business and Photo Blog

Today we’re excited to announce two new premium themes: Small Business and Photo Blog.

Small Business

Small Business is a new premium theme for your entrepreneurial endeavors. At an introductory price of just $5 (or free with the Premium or Business plans), it’s a worthwhile investment for your business.

Small Business Theme Setup Instructions

We know that running a business is no small task, which is why Small Business includes comprehensive video instructions for its key features so you can get your business’ website online faster.

Small Business was designed with a simple, single-column layout for a consistent reading experience no matter the device or screen size, and uses system fonts to reduce page-load time. We’ve also included a few tailored features just for small businesses, like:

Contact Information: Your customers are busy people – that’s why easy access to essential information like your phone number and address is so important. Small Business displays a banner with your contact information on every page and turns all the information into links, so your customers can call, email, or find you on a map with a click.

Small Business - Contact Info

Promo Area: Do you have a new product coming out? A seasonal sale? A special event? Whatever it is, you’ll want to put this information right on the front page to make sure your customers see and act on it. Small Business includes a Promo Area area that makes it as easy as flipping a switch!

Style Packs: If Small Business’ bold design doesn’t feel right for you, choose one of the three included Style Packs — Modern Flair, Country Charm, or Classic Elegance — for a different look and feel with the click of a button.




Learn more about how to use all of Small Business’ features with these step-by-step instructions and videos or by checking out the demo — or just try it out on your own site!

Photo Blog

Photo Blog is our new premium theme for visual storytellers. It’s available for $36, or comes free with the Premium or Business plans.

Photo Blog comes with many features that help your photographs shine:

Layout: Along with its default square layout, Photo Blog comes with two additional layout options. The Grid layout adds space between your images, while Masonry creates an interlocking grid, which respects your image orientation and pieces them cleanly together.



Featured Images Filter: Photo Blog comes with a variety of image filters you can apply to your Featured Images. Choose from faded Reyes, black-and-white Willow, saturated Lo-fi, or one of the other 23 options.




Style Packs: If you’re searching for a different look for Photo Blog, check out its Style Packs — Elegant, Retro Photo, or Vintage Paper — to change up your site’s appearance.




You can learn more about Photo Blog by checking out these step-by-step instructions and videos, or visiting the theme’s demo site!

Filed under: Themes
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Updated Privacy Policy

As part of our commitment to privacy and transparency, we’re updating our Privacy Policy. We want to give you more and clearer information about how we collect and use personal information — in a more organized and readable format.

Your privacy is critically important to us. These are the first words of our Privacy Policy, and words we live by when designing and building our products.

Here are some of the updates you’ll see:

  • We split the Privacy Policy up into sections titled: “Information We Collect,” “How We Use Information,” “Sharing Information,” “Choices,” and “Security.” Our aim is to make the Policy easier to follow and understand. We really want you to read the whole thing!
  • We added specific information about how our Privacy Policy applies to Jetpack sites and the WordPress mobile app.
  • We included real-world, concrete examples to illustrate our policies and give you a clearer picture of how we collect and use personal information. For example, to explain our disclosures about access to mobile device data, we say: “[i]f you give us permission to access the photographs on your mobile device’s camera roll, our Services may access the photos stored on your device when you upload a really amazing photograph of the sunrise to your website.”
  • We provided more information, in the “Choices” section, about how you can limit and control the data that you provide to us when you use our services.

New Privacy Policy Effective January 3, 2018

Our new Privacy Policy will take effect on January 3, 2018. We’re releasing it now to give you time to take a look at it. If you continue to use our services on or after January 3, 2018, that will indicate your consent to the new Privacy Policy.

….And Stay Tuned for What’s Next

Our commitment to your privacy means more than just updating our Privacy Policy. We’re continually thinking about new ways to be more transparent about how we use data, and are building new tools and features to give you more control over the data you entrust to us.

Some of these efforts are in anticipation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — a new EU privacy regulation that will affect Automattic and many of our customers. You can read more about our GDPR-readiness plans here.

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Although we updated a lot of the wording in our Privacy Policy, our core values remain unchanged: We strive to be fully transparent. We help protect our users from overreaching government demands for information. We keep the data we have a reason to keep. And we are thoughtful about how we collect, use, and share personal information.

Filed under: Admin Bar
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Update Your Avatar on WordPress.com

We’ve given one of our favorite features a boost! You can now manage your profile photo, or avatar, right on WordPress.com. This avatar, powered by a service called Gravatar, is the image that represents you online — a thumbnail that appears next to your name when you interact on blogs and websites. With this recently refined feature, you can upload, edit, and update your avatar at wordpress.com/me.

Your avatar shows up in many places on WordPress.com. For example, you’ll see it on your site next to your blog posts:

And when you like someone’s post:

Or when you comment on a post:

As you can see, your avatar helps to establish your identity and credibility on WordPress.com — but also across the internet. It will also appear on other websites that use Gravatar, like Stack Overflow and Hootsuite. This means that you don’t have to re-upload the same photo multiple times across the web.

How to Update Your Avatar

While logged into your WordPress.com account, go to wordpress.com/me or click your profile icon at the top-right corner of the screen. You’ll see the edit screen for your profile:

From here, you can either click on your photo to change it:

Animated GIF showing clicking the button to change the Gravatar

Or drag and drop a new photo from your computer:

You can also edit the photo — rotate, flip, or crop — before setting or changing it:

Animation showing editing image

When you’re happy with your image, click Change My Photo and you’re all set!

We’ve also made this update for the desktop app. If you have questions, refer to the Gravatars Support page or contact Support for assistance. We look forward to seeing your faces around the web!

Filed under: Avatars, General, Profile, WordPress.com
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A New Media Picker for the iOS WordPress App

Sometimes it’s the extra touches that make all the difference; on your website, that’s the photos and video that give your content life.

You asked for streamlined access to your media library and the camera and photos on your device, to make uploading and inserting photos and videos easier. We hear you loud and clear! A freshly-updated media picker is now available in version 8.5 of the WordPress app for iOS.

What’s New

The new media picker was designed to allow quicker access to your media right from the new Aztec editor. Now you can insert videos and photos without leaving the editor. Click the plus sign — just like in the desktop editor:

 

The picker’s toolbar has buttons that provide full screen access to media already on your device, the camera, and your site’s media library.

ios_media_picker_toolbar

Whether you need to insert a photo you’ve already uploaded, capture a new video with your camera, or peruse all the special moments already on your device to find the perfect pic, you’re covered.

Open Source and Proud of It

Giving back to the software development community is part of Automattic’s DNA. That’s why our Android and iOS apps are 100% open source and will remain that way. In fact, the new media picker is a stand-alone iOS library that can be used in your own projects. We encourage you to try it out!

Thank You!

The Mobile team truly appreciates all of our wonderful users. Our goal is to build tools to help you make your site the best it can be. We look forward to your feedback and hope you enjoy the new media picker as much as we do.

Filed under: Mobile, Photos, Video

New iOS Media Picker Demo

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New Theme: Radcliffe 2

Today we’re happy to introduce Radcliffe 2, a refreshed version of a tried-and-true WordPress theme. We’ve optimized it for speed, and added new features specifically with small-business websites in mind.

Radcliffe 2 was a collaborative effort by several members of WordPress.com’s Theme Team. We wanted to update the popular theme for a more mobile-centric landscape, and to add new features that our small-business customers need.

Some specific design considerations for mobile include:

Standard fontsRadcliffe 2 uses system fonts — fonts that are already available on computers and mobile devices — rather than loading its own custom fonts. This reduces page-load time, since sites no longer have to load special font files, and benefits people browsing your site on mobile devices. Like with other WordPress.com themes, the fonts can be changed using the Customizer.

No sidebar: For a more consistent experience between desktop and mobile screens, Radcliffe 2 has a single-column, no-sidebar layout. This helps sites retain the same look and feel, regardless of the device used to load it.

We’ve tailored Radcliffe 2’s other major features for small-business sites:

Logo Resizer: For a perfect fit, increase or decrease the size of your logo.

Style Packs: Looking for a different feel for your site? Style Packs allow you to customize your design to match your brand in seconds. Check out Modern Bauhaus, Vintage Paper, or the Upbeat Pop Style Pack options! Each pack includes unique colors and fonts that create a cohesive style.



Contact Information: This is an easy way to display your phone number, email address, physical address, and hours of operation in your website’s header or footer. Mobile visitors can simply tap on your number to directly call your business’s phone.

Featured Prompt: Create an eye-catching area with text, a linked button, and a background image to draw visitors to a specific area of your site.

You can learn more about Radcliffe 2 by reading the Theme Showcase documentation, checking out the demo, or trying it out on your own site!

The original Radcliffe was released almost four years ago by Anders Norén, a prolific and talented themer.

Chatting with Anders about his theme, it’s clear we can credit Radcliffe’s bold images and typography to its predecessors. “Radcliffe was my fourth free WordPress theme,” says Anders. “The previous three, Lingonberry, Hemingway, and Wilson, are all pretty traditional blog themes with a thin content column and (in the case of Hemingway and Wilson) a sidebar with widgets. I wanted to do something a bit different with Radcliffe. Something that used the full width of the screen for people who want their images to take up more space.”

The original Radcliffe theme.

The result was a theme that balanced eye-catching featured images with a deft treatment of the written word.

Anders’s passion for creating free WordPress themes, originally a hobby, led to his career in web design. He notes that while technology and WordPress have changed, some things haven’t.

“The basic tenets of what makes a WordPress theme — and a website — great are still pretty much the same. Accessibility, a good layout, thought-through typography, smart functionality, and a couple of small, user-experience enhancing flourishes here and there.”

His design process has evolved too, but the core purpose of why he creates remains. “I start in whatever end I have in my head and pull on that thread to see how long it goes,” he says. “If the single view comes first, I try to get a feel for how the archive view would fit together with it, and vice versa. The rest grows from there. It’s not a very structured approach, I’ll admit. And that’s the best part about releasing themes for free. The only requirement I’ve set for myself is that I have fun doing it.”

Filed under: Themes
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Upload Once, Blog Anywhere: Photos from Google

Google Photos is one of the most popular ways of storing and sharing photos online. WordPress.com is one of the most popular ways to blog. Wouldn’t it be great if they played well together — if you could use photos you’ve uploaded to Google on your site?

We thought so, too: starting today, you can browse, search, and copy photos from your Google account right from your blog posts and pages. Introducing: photos from Google!

To get started, open up your Media Library and select the media source dropdown. Then choose the Photos from Your Google library option:

The first time you do this you’ll need to connect to your Google account by pressing the connect button.

Once you’re connected your WordPress.com Media Library will display your recent Google photos. Select the image you want to use, click the Insert button, and poof! The image will be copied to your Media Library and inserted into your post.

It doesn’t end there: since Google analyzes and automatically categorizes your photos, you can use their sorting to browse and search your photos whether or not you’ve added any tags or descriptions. (Thanks, Google!)

Have photos of cats you want to post? Search for “cats,” and Google picks out your cat photos. Want to create a gallery with photos of your trip to Japan? Search for “Kyoto” and you’re all set.

If you have a WordPress.com plan that offers video support, you can display videos from your Google account, too. And fear not, self-hosted WordPress users: you also can use this feature through the Jetpack plugin.

We’re working on integrating this deeper into your WordPress.com experience, and we hope to integrate more services with WordPress.com in the future. You can find more help at our Photos from Google support page, or by contacting us.

Filed under: Admin Bar, Photos, Posting
Source: 38

Simpler On-the-Go Publishing: Background Media Uploading for Android

Version 8.1 of the WordPress for Android app is now available, with some great enhancements to publishing: background media uploading.

Adding images to a post or page? Now, you can publish — and move on to other things — while your media uploads. No more waiting inside the editor while images gradually upload! Tap the Publish button and the app takes care of finishing the uploads and publishing, leaving you free to leave the post editor and get on with other things.

You can do the same thing while saving drafts. And yes, you can have multiple posts uploading media in the background at once.

We’ve also spruced up the interface, adding notifications so you always know the status of your posts and uploads. Visit your post list at any time for a progress report on all your uploads.

These features work best with the new Beta editor, codenamed “Aztec,” so be sure to enable it in your app for the full experience — check out the details and get instructions on enabling it.

If you haven’t already, download WordPress for Android from the Play Store, give it a try and let us know what you think!

Filed under: Mobile, New Features, Photos, Posting, Video
Source: 38

Add A Simple Payment Button To Your WordPress.com Premium Or Business Site

May 2016: Hajj Flemings, CEO of Rebrand Cities with renowned photographer, Shawn Lee, in a redesigned school bus en route to working with small business owners in Detroit.

Earlier this year, while working in Detroit with small business owners and the Rebrand Cities team, it became clear that entrepreneurs and publishers are looking for a simpler way to accept digital payments on their sites.

Our Happiness Engineering team — the guardians of our customers — also weighed in, and we knew that we wanted to make an existing process simpler. So we set a design goal of bringing a 15-minute-long process to under a minute — especially for a customer that has never used PayPal before.

So a small team of engineers and designers came together to solve that problem with the intent of releasing a “Version One” with which we could start to understand how a simpler payment button could be used by our customers. It’s currently limited to our Premium and Business Plan members while we tune and refine how it can work best.

Here’s how it works: Open a new post, select “Insert Content,” then choose “Add Payment Button.” You’ll fill out the details for what you’re selling, add the email address for your PayPal account (where the money will be sent), and that’s it! 

Read more about how to get started with the new Simple Payments feature for Premium and Business Plans on WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered sites.

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It’s easy to think that making simple things is, well, simple. But that’s never the case. Austin, Texas-based engineering leader Bob Ralian led the product team that pulled this live, working prototype together in record time. I had the opportunity to observe the design team in action working with the engineers, and the following is a brief interview with Bob on how all the pieces came together.

JM: So tell me a little about yourself, Bob!

BR: I’ve been building websites and web applications for the better part of 20 years, and I’ve worked at Automattic for four years. I’ve done a mix of engineering, team management, and project management. I live in Austin, Texas, with my wife, three kids, and two dogs.

JM: How does an engineer think versus how a designer thinks?

BR: As an engineer I usually think in terms of what I have and what I know. I can work within a system, take different pieces and turn them into something new. Take duct tape, dental floss, and a rubber band, and turn it into a bicycle. Or I can look at a process and think through how I can make it better. But I’ve found that designers are able to create something totally new out of nothing. They’re not intimidated by a completely blank slate. It’s a superpower that I greatly admire!

JM: They sound very similar!

BR: I think we’re motivated by the same things. We want to make something that people like and appreciate and makes their days a little better. Really, we just want our users to be happy and enjoy what we’re building.

JM: An unusual amount of planning went into this little button — it started in Detroit with a group of designers and then was packaged into a variety of concept sketches and little movies. Does all that up front work really pay off? If so, how?

BR: We spent a lot of time with customers, particularly small business owners, to learn about what they need from their websites. We learned that many of them just want a simple way to take payments. So we used that as our guiding principle, make it as simple as possible for these business owners to add a payment button to their site.

JM: What’s an “MVLP”? I heard the designers use that term with the engineers.

BR: MVLP stands for “minimum viable lovable product.” It means that rather than taking a long time to build a complicated product behind a curtain, we try to build small, simple features and launch them early. It’s ready when it solves a real user need and we can feel proud of it – something we can love. Then we let our customers tell us what they want next and how to make it better. This keeps us focused on building for real user needs.

JM: As an accomplished musical artist yourself, how does “love” play into the engineering of products?

BR: To me it’s all the same; composing a song, writing a blog post, building a new feature, or making something with my hands. I just really love the process of “making things.” Bringing something new into the world is an act of love. It’s an act of vulnerability and generosity. It’s saying to the world “I did my best, and I really hope this makes your life a little better.”

JM: Thanks Bob! Our huge thanks to the engineers who built it; Jason Johnston (who led the project), Artur Piszek, Damián Suárez, Don Park, Jarda Šnajdr, Payton Swick, and Rastia Lamoš! And special thanks to designers Takashi Irie and Dave Whitley for thoughtfully crafting the experience design for this very first MLVP of the Simple Payment button.

Filed under: Admin Bar
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