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1. Early Theme Adopters: Kelly

Kelly, which was designed by Automattic’s own Kelly Hoffman, is an inviting, fun theme for bloggers of all stripes. Its clean, one-column layout makes it perfect for text-heavy posts, but can be just as ideal for a tumblelog-like stream of images.

With bold featured images, the ability to customize the header and the background, and three widget areas in the site’s footer, you can make it your own with just a few quick tweaks. Here are some examples of the theme’s versatility.

Curated Style

curated style

Curated Style, a Toronto-centered fashion blog, makes great use of Kelly‘s out-of-the-box look. The theme’s cursive font in the header injects a stylish playfulness, while the generous white space in the posts makes the images of Toronto’s fashion scene stand out.

The blogger behind Curated Style effortlessly added a few personal touches, like a patterned custom header image, a splash of bright pink in the custom background, and an easy-to-navigate custom menu.

The Lens Less Traveled

lens less traveled
Created by a photoblogger based in the Southeast (of the US), The Lens Less Traveled shows how radically different Kelly can look with just a few small changes.

The site uses a more neutral palette than the theme’s trademark bright greens and pinks, as well as a serif custom font instead of the default cursive. The focus is squarely on the gorgeous photography, like the picture above, taken in a state park in Georgia. The splashy featured image in each post creates a particularly striking effect, drawing viewers in and enticing them to explore more.

Lorenzo Setale

lorenzo setale

Taking Kelly in a very different direction than its default design, Italian software developer and entrepreneur Lorenzo Setale recognized the theme’s inherent strengths, and used them to create a tailor-made look for his site.

The dark background and sans serif font join forces to become a modern, clean canvas for Lorenzo’s thoughts, while the theme’s original focus on readability and balance stay as effective as ever.

Have you customized Kelly as well? Is there another theme you’d like to see featured in this series? We’d love to hear your input!

 


Filed under: Customization, Themes

12 Comments on Early Theme Adopters: Kelly, last added: 8/6/2014
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2. Veterans’ Blogs Offer a Glimpse into Life on the Front Lines

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:

Carrying the Gun

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.

carrying the gun

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

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.

o-dark-thirty

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.

O-Dark-Thirty accepts submissions year round — find their guidelines here — and the Veterans Writing Project holds workshops around the US.

Paving the Road Back

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.

paving the road

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 Warwhich 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.”

Filed under: Community, Reading

11 Comments on Veterans’ Blogs Offer a Glimpse into Life on the Front Lines, last added: 6/15/2014
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3. A Blog-to-Book Adventure: Mommy Man’s Jerry Mahoney

Writer and superdad Jerry Mahoney chats with us about his new book based on his popular blog, Mommy Man, and his experiences blogging on WordPress.com.

10 Comments on A Blog-to-Book Adventure: Mommy Man’s Jerry Mahoney, last added: 5/21/2014
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4. From Modern Art to Medicine: Exploring Museum Blogs

With International Museum Day approaching on May 18, let's browse the blogs of some museums on WordPress.com -- from premier art institutions to science and natural history organizations.

10 Comments on From Modern Art to Medicine: Exploring Museum Blogs, last added: 5/19/2014
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5. Planet Automattic: April 2014

One WordPress.com staffer challenged the others to a month-long blogging challenge... and you'll never guess what happened next! (Spoiler: we blogged a lot.)

10 Comments on Planet Automattic: April 2014, last added: 4/30/2014
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6. Early Theme Adopters: Hemingway Rewritten

In our Early Theme Adopters series, we focus on bloggers creating great-looking sites with the most recent additions to our Theme Showcase. Today, let’s visit some of the sites that are already using Hemingway Rewritten, a free theme that makes both words and images shine.

10 Comments on Early Theme Adopters: Hemingway Rewritten, last added: 4/23/2014
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7. WordPress.com by the Numbers: The March Hot List

Another month is in the books! The WordPress.com community made March a month to remember with an avalanche of great achievements. Here's a look at some of the highlights.

10 Comments on WordPress.com by the Numbers: The March Hot List, last added: 4/2/2014
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8. New themes: Tonal, Gridiculous Pro and Mina Olen

Whether it's a business-friendly design or a minimalist look you're after, this week's crop of new themes delivers the goods.

11 Comments on New themes: Tonal, Gridiculous Pro and Mina Olen, last added: 3/13/2014
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9. Monday Morning Edition

In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com.

8 Comments on Monday Morning Edition, last added: 3/4/2014
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10. Make a Great First Impression with a Homepage

Most bloggers display their latest posts first — reverse chronological order is the classic blog format, after all. Many WordPress.com users, however, choose to build a static front page — a homepage — that creates a website feel and brings your long-term content to the front.

A well-designed homepage has always been a staple of major websites, like The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation — a WordPress.com VIP partner. You don’t have to be a large company or non-profit organization to see the advantages of a homepage, though. Artists and other creative professionals enjoy the benefits of portfolio sites and personal pages to showcase their talents. Increasingly, so do personal bloggers across a wide variety of niches. To give you a taste of what a homepage can do for your blog, here are some sites that use this option in a smart, creative way.

Groovy Bow Sequence

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 1.43.54 AM
Claire, the Seoul-based kindergarten teacher behind Groovy Bow Sequence, put together a sleek-looking homepage for her travel-focused personal blog

She uses Moka to great effect. The theme offers the option of adding a splashy post slider to the homepage, enticing visitors to click on Claire’s striking landscape images and read her posts, while still maintaining the easy navigation and streamlined look of a fixed front page. While sites with a homepage often still feature a blog section, Claire has opted to forego one altogether, presenting some recent posts on the homepage itself, and letting the rest be easily accessible through the sidebar menu.

Alexandra Corinth

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 1.18.07 AM

Writer-blogger Alexandra Corinth deploys a homepage — and especially her site’s primary menu — to direct readers to her various writing projects, from her young-adult books, to her multi-genre portfolio, to her personal blog.

She chose the clean, easy-to-navigate Suits, and kept most of the theme’s out-of-the-box look. The focus here is on her content, and her homepage is a distraction-free zone — visitors will only find an author’s portrait, along with a short bio tucked into a Text Widget in the sidebar. They can then quickly decide which section of the site to explore first.

redstuffdan

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 1.20.20 AM

Dan, the blogger behind redstuffdan, is a retired expat living in the southwest of France. His blog is mostly about his art — a mixture of photography, digital art, and painting — and he’s opted for a homepage to showcase his creations. Right beneath a short introductory text to his site, visitors quickly plunge into a colorful tiled gallery full of Dan’s art. The gallery’s composition can be modified whenever new material is uploaded — just because the page is “static” doesn’t mean it can’t be updated and refreshed.

For the rest of the content on redstuffdan, the sidebar gives visitors easy access to the site’s top posts and pages, most recent posts, as well as to older content through monthly archives.

Up From The Deep

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 1.21.16 AM

Up From The Deep is the labor of love of Mark Ellinger, a musician-turned-photographer who chronicles the gentrifying streets of San Francisco’s grittiest neighborhoods. Creating a homepage allowed him to highlight the different types of writing on his site: a blog to which he uploads new photos regularly, as well as long-term project pages, like the ones on the Tenderloin and Mid-Market neighborhoods.

The homepage layout features a selection of images that whet the visitor’s appetite, and its primary menu leads not only to the site’s main content, but also to an extensive bibliography page and a Prints page, where interested readers can order copies of images from Mark’s website.

Creating a homepage

If you’d like to try out a front page that isn’t populated by your latest posts, setting one up is a breeze. Go to the Settings → Reading tab in your dashboard, and select “a static page.” Then, choose your desired page from the “Front page” drop menu, and you’re set. If you wish to add an optional blog section to your site as well — where your posts will be displayed in reverse chronological order — specify a separate “Posts page” in the second drop menu. Note that you can also set up a homepage from the Customizer, where you’ll need to go to the “Front” panel.

Looking for more ideas for your homepage? Here are a few more examples to inspire you:


Filed under: Better Blogging, Customization, HowTo

10 Comments on Make a Great First Impression with a Homepage, last added: 2/12/2014
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11. The Day We Fight Back: Protest NSA Surveillance on Your Blog

Today, a broad coalition of interest groups, websites, and people around the world are joining together to fight back against government surveillance. We’re supporting the “Day We Fight Back” on WordPress.com and have created a banner that you can easily add to your WordPress.com blog to get involved, too.

The “Stop NSA Surveillance” banner shows support for this important cause and provides a link to a page of resources to help visitors to contact members of the US Congress to support much needed anti-surveillance legislation. For more information, please visit thedaywefightback.org.

How to add the banner to your site

Here’s how to add the banner to your site in three steps:

  1. In your WordPress.com dashboard, go to Settings  Protest NSA Surveillance.
  2. Click on the checkbox labelled Protest Enabled.
  3. Click on the Save Changes button for the change to take effect.

The banner will remain on your site until midnight on your blog’s time zone. Here’s what it will look like:

no-nsa


Filed under: Community, Privacy

10 Comments on The Day We Fight Back: Protest NSA Surveillance on Your Blog, last added: 2/11/2014
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12. New Themes: Outspoken, Studio, Sorbet, Ampersand

Happy Theme Thursday, all! Let’s jump right in and say “Hello!” to four awesome new themes.

Outspoken

Outspoken by WPShowerOutspoken, by new seller WPShower, is a premium magazine theme with loads of customizable features. Multiple front page configuration options allow you to tailor the presentation to your liking, while generous featured images let your visual content stand out.

Studio

Studio by Pixel UnionStudio is a new, minimal, grid-based portfolio theme by Pixel Union, designed for photographers and curators. It’s simple, sleek, and powerfully flexible, pairing chiseled aesthetics with crystal-clear organization.

Sorbet

SorbetEnjoy a taste of Sorbet, a colorful, mouth-watering treat for your personal blog or website. Post formats highlight your best content, while secondary content remains tucked away in the header, allowing your posts to take center stage. If you’re seeking a fun, playful new look for your site, Sorbet is just the theme for you!

Ampersand

Ampersand by Okay Themes Ampersand is a clean and professional portfolio theme for creatives by Okay Themes. Featuring a minimal, responsive layout, Ampersand looks just as good on your mobile device as it does on your desktop.

Outspoken, Studio, and Ampersand are premium upgrades, while Sorbet is free. Check out each theme’s showcase by clicking on their screenshot above, or preview them on your blog from Appearance → Themes.


Filed under: Themes

17 Comments on New Themes: Outspoken, Studio, Sorbet, Ampersand, last added: 1/31/2014
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13. New Theme: Awesome

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new Graph Paper Press theme here on WordPress.com, the aptly-titled Awesome.

Awesome by Graph Paper Press

Awesome is a theme that stuns from the start, with full-width images, video, and other post formats; bold yet elegant typography; and a strong visual balance. Necessities like menus and social links are accessible yet cleanly tucked away to one side, showcasing your content distraction-free in a single sharp column. At the bottom, three distinct footer widget areas Awesome keep all the power of sidebars at your disposal.

Awesome: mobile narrow view

Awesome: mobile narrow view

Post formats are treated with care in Awesome. Videos, Images, Galleries, Asides, and Quotes each get a crafted treatment to maximize impact. Videos are presented full-screen at the top of their post, while Galleries get large, dramatic layouts. Not to be outshone, Asides and Quotes flow with eye-popping color highlights.

Of course, Awesome is fully responsive and adapts to all mobile devices, from the smallest phone right to the biggest display. Custom Headers and Custom Backgrounds are supported as is a a logo uploader; tweak and preview changes in real-time with the WordPress Customizer.

Awesome is simply that; an awe-inspiring display of your content, bold and confident.

A premium upgrade for your blog, you can get more information on the Awesome Theme Showcase, or preview it on your site from Appearance → Themes.


Filed under: Themes

4 Comments on New Theme: Awesome, last added: 12/24/2013
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14. New Themes: Adventure and Basis

We have a special treat this Two Theme Thursday: new premium themes from two of our most popular sellers, Organic Themes and The Theme Foundry.

Adventure by Organic Themes

Do you have stories to share from a trip to timeless Angkor Wat, or a camera full of images from the surreal landscapes of Iceland? Organic Themes are back with their fourth theme here on WordPress.com, the travel-inspired Adventure theme.

Whether it’s a trip around the world, or a personal journey that needs to be told, Adventure has been designed to share your travels with excitement and grandeur. A tight top menu and customizable logo allow the sweeping, full-width images to command any viewer’s attention. Bold, clean typography and a fully responsive design ensure the tales of your voyage are crisp and clear on all devices, from the smallest phone to a full desktop.

Organic Themes knows that to share your adventures, you need a choice of layouts and page formats. Adventure is bursting with no less than six custom page templates, including a specialized home page template, three-column and full-width layouts, slideshows, and more. Every experience will have the right showcase for it to excite your readers, while easy-to-use social icons allow everyone to stay up-to-date with all of your travel adventures.

Strap on your pack, and let the Adventure theme be your journal to the world.


Basis by The Theme Foundry

We released The Theme Foundry’s Collections theme just a few weeks ago, but they’re already back with their first foray into business themes: Basis.

This is not your usual WordPress business theme; being The Theme Foundry, they’ve taken the business theme into the next generation with a built-in HTML builder app. This unique app allows the user to quickly and easily add product features, highlight services, and create slideshows for demonstrating the best your business has to offer. Keeping your business website fresh, dynamic and exciting is simple for even the least technically-inclined on your team, with a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to further tweak the layout and order of each of these sections, without any coding necessary. Just watch:

Of course, it wouldn’t be a theme from The Theme Foundry without sharp, clean typography, responsive layouts for mobile and tablets, and a strong sense of aesthetic and design. Basis also includes a Minimal Mode which, by removing the site header and navigation, further simplifies your landing pages for maximum impact.

Your business deserves more than just a website; let Basis be the foundation of your business web presence, a valuable tool for keeping your customer base engaged and coming back.

Adventure and Basis are premium upgrades for your blog. Get more information on their Theme Showcases (Adventure, Basis), or preview them on your site from Appearance → Themes.


Filed under: Themes

12 Comments on New Themes: Adventure and Basis, last added: 11/21/2013
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15. Embed a Follow Button for Your Blog

Today, we’re excited to introduce a new way for people to engage with your WordPress.com blogs: an embeddable version of the Follow Button that you’ve seen in your toolbar for some time now. Like similar buttons you’ve seen for other social networks, this Follow Button can be added anywhere on …

11 Comments on Embed a Follow Button for Your Blog, last added: 11/1/2013
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16. NaNoWriMo 2013: Want to Write a Novel?

It’s just a few days until November, and you know what that means: National Novel Writing Month, better known ’round these parts as NaNoWriMo, is near. Have you always wanted to write a novel? We know some of you have been waiting all year for this month! For those of …

14 Comments on NaNoWriMo 2013: Want to Write a Novel?, last added: 10/28/2013
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17. WordPress.com News and Numbers: The September 2013 Hot List

After a red-hot August of publishing news and impressive numbers, we wondered what was next for the WordPress.com community. Here’s a snapshot of September: You blew up the internet. Again. Month after month, we’re blown away by what you publish. Talk show host Matt Walsh‘s post, “Dear parents, you need …

11 Comments on WordPress.com News and Numbers: The September 2013 Hot List, last added: 10/9/2013
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18. Digging In the Dashboard, Part II: Features for Longform Posts

As we discussed in the first installment of Digging in the Dashboard, WordPress.com has so many great features that it’s tough to be familiar with them all. I’m still discovering new ones myself! Let’s keep the discovery going with three more features that might be new to you. This time, …

12 Comments on Digging In the Dashboard, Part II: Features for Longform Posts, last added: 9/27/2013
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19. Create an A+ Site with WordPress.com Classrooms

WordPress is an elegant solution for education professionals looking to create a website for their class, and today we’re excited to announce the launch of WordPress.com Classrooms. Whether you need a group blog for your high school history project, or to keep your 3rd grade students’ parents up to date about the next field trip, you’ll find the solution here at WordPress.com.

WordPress.com Classrooms

WordPress.com Classrooms

Get up and running — fast

We know you’re busy educating the world’s young minds, so we’ve made the site creation process as easy as 1-2-3: Register your site, customize your theme, and start posting — that’s it! No more excuses about how the dog ate your homework website.

Connect and collaborate

We’re all about engaging discussion. Invite students to post their thoughts on your latest lecture and submit their reaction papers as comments. Or maybe you just need a place to get the word out about class happenings — turn off comments entirely and make your site an informative online newsletter. You can even share class forms and documents with parents by using the media uploader.

Comments

Collaborate in comments

Your privacy is paramount

We get it — not everything can be public, especially in education. With blog privacy and password-protected pages, you control who sees your content.

Privacy

Protect your class’ privacy

Dozens of education themes

Maybe your English Grammar class needs a formal, college-ruled look — Runo Lite should do the trick. Or perhaps your kindergarten website needs a whimsical touch-up — enter our newest theme, Chalkboard:

New Theme: Chalkboard

New Theme: Chalkboard

Designed by Edward Jenkins, Chalkboard is the perfect theme for a K-12 classroom website. It looks just like its namesake, complete with bottom-resting eraser and chalk, and supports multiple widget areas, custom header, background, and more. Read more about Chalkboard on the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your blog by going to Appearance -> Themes in your Dashboard.

Whatever style you seek, we’ve got your class covered.

Beautiful, functional themes

Beautiful, functional themes

Your lessons come alive

Add images and photo galleries to your posts with our easy-to-use multimedia interface. Quickly embed videos from services like YouTube or Vimeo. Want to make your class even more dynamic? Consider adding VideoPress and a Space Upgrade so you can upload video and audio, too.

Multimedia

Easily embed images, galleries, and videos

Customize your site

Sticking to your school’s brand? No problem. Set a custom header or background with your logo or colors, or use the Custom Design upgrade to change your site’s colors, fonts, and CSS. Finally, add Domain Mapping to point your existing domain to your blog.

Lots of custom design options

Plentiful customization options

At the head of the class

Check out these awesome classes, educators, and schools already taking advantage of WordPress.com’s great features:

The Coop

The Coop

West Des Moines Community Schools Technology

West Des Moines Community Schools Technology

CRS 5th Grade

CRS 5th Grade

What are you waiting for? Get a head start and build your class website now!


0 Comments on Create an A+ Site with WordPress.com Classrooms as of 2/20/2013 11:38:00 AM
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20. Create an A+ Site with WordPress.com Classrooms

WordPress is an elegant solution for education professionals looking to create a website for their class, and today we’re excited to announce the launch of WordPress.com Classrooms. Whether you need a group blog for your high school history project, or to keep your 3rd grade students’ parents up to date about the next field trip, you’ll find the solution here at WordPress.com.

WordPress.com Classrooms

WordPress.com Classrooms

Get up and running — fast

We know you’re busy educating the world’s young minds, so we’ve made the site creation process as easy as 1-2-3: Register your site, customize your theme, and start posting — that’s it! No more excuses about how the dog ate your homework website.

Connect and collaborate

We’re all about engaging discussion. Invite students to post their thoughts on your latest lecture and submit their reaction papers as comments. Or maybe you just need a place to get the word out about class happenings — turn off comments entirely and make your site an informative online newsletter. You can even share class forms and documents with parents by using the media uploader.

Comments

Collaborate in comments

Your privacy is paramount

We get it — not everything can be public, especially in education. With blog privacy and password-protected pages, you control who sees your content.

Privacy

Protect your class’ privacy

Dozens of education themes

Maybe your English Grammar class needs a formal, college-ruled look — Runo Lite should do the trick. Or perhaps your kindergarten website needs a whimsical touch-up — enter our newest theme, Chalkboard:

New Theme: Chalkboard

New Theme: Chalkboard

Designed by Edward Jenkins, Chalkboard is the perfect theme for a K-12 classroom website. It looks just like its namesake, complete with bottom-resting eraser and chalk, and supports multiple widget areas, custom header, background, and more. Read more about Chalkboard on the Theme Showcase, or activate it on your blog by going to Appearance -> Themes in your Dashboard.

Whatever style you seek, we’ve got your class covered.

Beautiful, functional themes

Beautiful, functional themes

Your lessons come alive

Add images and photo galleries to your posts with our easy-to-use multimedia interface. Quickly embed videos from services like YouTube or Vimeo. Want to make your class even more dynamic? Consider adding VideoPress and a Space Upgrade so you can upload video and audio, too.

Multimedia

Easily embed images, galleries, and videos

Customize your site

Sticking to your school’s brand? No problem. Set a custom header or background with your logo or colors, or use the Custom Design upgrade to change your site’s colors, fonts, and CSS. Finally, add Domain Mapping to point your existing domain to your blog.

Lots of custom design options

Plentiful customization options

At the head of the class

Check out these awesome classes, educators, and schools already taking advantage of WordPress.com’s great features:

The Coop

The Coop

West Des Moines Community Schools Technology

West Des Moines Community Schools Technology

CRS 5th Grade

CRS 5th Grade

What are you waiting for? Get a head start and build your class website now!


13 Comments on Create an A+ Site with WordPress.com Classrooms, last added: 2/20/2013
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21. Customization Made Simple

Your blog’s design should reflect your personality, and we want to make that as easy as possible. That’s why, today, we’re releasing three big upgrades to the Theme Customizer on WordPress.com that make customizing your blog faster and easier.

1. A more-focused Customizer.

We’ve made the Customizer more compact; open it via Appearance → Themes → Customize, and you’ll notice that you have more room to view your customized design in the live preview. The panels open when you need them, and they slide out of the way when you’re done.

Closed Open for business

2. Your Custom Design tools, inside the Customizer.

Change your fonts

Change your fonts

What does this mean? Instant live previews of your CSS, font, and color changes. See your creativity immediately instead of repeating the old cycle of “edit-save-preview, edit-save-preview.”

Add some pizzazz

Add some pizzazz

3. Custom Design Snapshots.

Design Snapshots make it possible to save all of the Custom Design changes you’ve made in the Customizer, together, so that you can reapply them in the future as a group without having to recreate them. Save a snapshot of any customization combination you like; there’s no limit on the number of snapshots you can save.

snapshot

All of these features are included in the Custom Design upgrade for just $30 per year, and you can try them out before purchasing. If you don’t have the upgrade yet, just look for the “Custom Design” option under Appearance → Themes → Customize.

Looking for inspiration? Check out what other WordPress.com members have made in the Custom Design showcase.


10 Comments on Customization Made Simple, last added: 4/9/2013
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22. Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves

Where I live, it seems winter is refusing to loosen its grip, holding back a long-awaited spring. With two feet of snow still on the ground and frigid, breezy days, it’s nice to sit inside (by the fire) and lose myself in the delights of the Reader. Forget Calgon. Reader….take me away! Here’s just a few Freshly Pressed posts that gave us pause this week.

Roger Ebert, RIP

Yesterday, the world lost more than a prolific film critic when Roger Ebert died of cancer at age 70. In Roger Ebert, RIP, science fiction author John Scalzi hails Ebert as one of his most important writing teachers, a fair, incisive film critic, and above all, a man who refused to allow a devastating disease to take away his humanity:

In these later years and after everything that he’d been through with cancer and with losing the ability to physically speak, I read and was contemplative about the essays and pieces he put up on his Web site. Much of that had nothing to do with film criticism, but was a matter of him writing… well, whatever. Which meant it was something I could identify with to a significant degree, since that is what I do here. It would be foolish to say that Ebert losing his physical voice freed him to find his voice elsewhere. What I think may be more accurate was that losing his physical voice reminded Ebert that he still had things he wanted to say before he ran out of time to say them.

Lean Together

Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book, Lean In, challenges ambitious women to seek leadership positions to help shake off the ever-competitive socio-political status quo and reshape the world of work for the better. At The Purpose of Work, Mike Gammage suggests Lean In‘s fatal flaw is that Sandberg should be addressing society’s “all-pervasive competition” to always be “on” and working in Lean Together:

Almost wherever we look, the workplace is becoming relentlessly competitive. It’s an assumed ‘passion’ that jeopardises family life. And as work becomes more hyper-competitive, women’s opportunities shrink. Pregnancy and maternity leave especially become huge issues. Sandberg acknowledges her own fears that – even at her level and with her talents – her job and prospects at Google would be diminished if she took ‘too much’ time off [that is more than a week or two] after her first child was born.

What if we try instead to slow down and step off this devilish hamster wheel that we’ve created?

First off, I think, we would want to reflect on the culture of contest that is embedded into our societies and so into our working lives. We have to recognise the myth of the inevitability of all–pervasive competition.

Cursi

At Vocabat, author Katie gives us a reflective Spanish lesson on the word cursi, which in English means “cheesy.” Katie transcends simple translation, meditating on the cultural nuances between Latino and American culture, finally embracing cursi as an unfettered expression of love:

In sum: What is love if not cursi? Love is supremely sentimental and gushy and ridiculous. And love means leaving your self-consciousness at the door, as well as your ego. I feel like you’re not really in love if you’re not regularly making a fool of yourself! But why hide our cheesiness within the safe confines of relationships? I admire people who can unblushingly own their feelings, hopes, and even disappointments without pussyfooting or pretending to not care all that much anyway. Although cursi people could use some work in the originality department, at least they care in the first place. There’s a lamentable epidemic of nonchalance and numbness and self-absorption these days, and cheesiness is a much better alternative to these terrible modes of subpar living.

Did you read something in the Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed.

For more inspiration, check out our writing challengesphoto challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.


4 Comments on Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves, last added: 4/15/2013
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23. Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves

WordPressers, day in and day out, you entertain us, you make us think, you make us laugh, and you make us grateful to be exposed to so many voices all over the world. It’s a pleasure to read what you’re writing. Like everyone in the community, we value that feeling of connection that comes from reading something that speaks to you, that resonates, that makes you feel not so alone.

For this edition of Freshly Pressed Faves, we’re looking at three posts that do just that, all around the idea of “busy-ness.” Modern society seems to embrace the idea that unless you’re “swamped” or “super busy,” you just aren’t being productive enough. Free time? Fill it up, preferably with something that pays! This attitude permeates children’s lives, too, with scheduled after-school dance classes and soccer practices and violin lessons and foreign language tutors. The idle hours that once allowed kids to daydream seem to be no more. When’s enough enough, though?

Doing more only to do less — do we glorify busy?

Author Tim Kreider believes ‘Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness.’ We feel we are nothing, not worthy, unimportant or left out if we have nothing to do.

But there is another aspect to it. Perfectionism – that shadow from our childhoods. We want to be excellent – because if we are, we will be worthy of love. So we take on anything and everything that is thrown us. Even when we are aware we are overwhelmed, we find it hard to say ‘NO’. Because we fear that if we do – people will think less of us. So we end up doing more than our fair share.

Sofagirl at Campari & Sofa writes eloquently about her own fight with the “busy” beast and the scary personal episode that drove her to question it all. Weaving in others’ research on the topic, she presents a compelling argument for taking a step back — and a deep breath — and for refusing to participate in the tyranny of “busy” any longer. Bet you’ll find it difficult to disagree.

The Quiet Contemplation of Inactivity

As kids we could come up with 16 ways to put our lives on the line using the jungle gym in ways no designer ever intended. They were days when we simply looked at clouds and imagined animals (or teachers or, for the juvenile delinquents, body parts) hiding in the puffy expanse of the heavens. … We were bored, but no one was ever bored enough to learn something.

Except it appears, according to recent research, that boredom is good for the brain. Evidently, boredom switches our brain’s little buttons and the synapses and neurons start firing on more cylinders, pushing us to creativity and intellectual growth.

John Wegner of Consistently Contradictory harkens back to a time when “boredom” and free time were acceptable and even encouraged, when we didn’t rely on technology and scheduling quite so much, and when we allowed our brains to wander. Are we losing the benefits of this today? Should we re-introduce some “slack” into schools? Read John’s convincing and thought-provoking post and you’ll probably be answering “yes.”

The Kid Stays in the Picture

When I was a kid, Dad made it clear that ‘mere play’ was being idle—something lazy people did. And boy, you couldn’t get lazier than me.

Michael Maupin from Completely in the Dark takes us back to his childhood and the lasting effects of not being encouraged to “play.” He explains, “As a shadow, it darkened the room, filling me with anxiety and self-doubt: ‘What am I doing now? Is it practical? Is it useful? Shouldn’t I be ashamed?’ … For years that sound, that shadow, was all around. It blocked up my writing, my artwork, my self-esteem — everything. I was psychologically held at gunpoint by an ethic that carries little currency in my world.”

Not one to be bullied, however, Michael has found ways to protect and embrace his natural tendencies towards “play and reverie.” Read his post, and you’ll be inspired to do the same.

Did you read something in the Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed.

For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.


7 Comments on Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves, last added: 4/20/2013
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24. Five Minutes with Mel Choyce

Every once in a while, we sit down with an Automattician to help you get to know the people who work behind the scenes to build new features, keep Automattic’s wheels turning, and make WordPress.com the best it can be. In this installment, we’re delighted to introduce you to music …

14 Comments on Five Minutes with Mel Choyce, last added: 10/13/2013
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25. Blogging on the go just got easier and more fun: Introducing WordPress for iOS 7

Apple just released the new version of their mobile operating system, iOS 7, with a new user interface that streamlines both form and function — it’s colorful and intuitive, but stripped-down and clean. Apple fans have been abuzz since they announced the update a few months ago, and we started …

10 Comments on Blogging on the go just got easier and more fun: Introducing WordPress for iOS 7, last added: 9/20/2013
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