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Back in January, we partnered with Support Driven and launched the first version of the Learn User Support Workshop, which helps women in the Asia-Pacific region develop the skills they need to succeed in a technical support role. We had 24 students enrolled in our first cohort.

Today, we’re happy to share that the next edition of the Learn User Support Workshop will launch on August 19, 2019. The course is entirely web-based — there’s no need to travel anywhere to attend — and completely free. So if you identify as a woman, are based in the Asia-Pacific region, and are serious about a career in user support, this might be a perfect match for you.

Building a better, bigger workshop

The strong positive feedback we received from our students earlier this year, as well as the increasingly long waitlist, inspired us to improve the course content and to design it to accommodate more learners. 

What topics will we cover? As a participant, expect to learn how to…

  • Develop your own support philosophy.
  • Build successful troubleshooting strategies.
  • Manage challenging interactions.
  • Implement productivity tools.
  • Optimize your approach to applying and interviewing for jobs in support.

This six-module course will start on August 19 and will run through September 29. We will publish a new module every Monday, and each learner will have one week to complete it. We’ll include lots of hands-on work, and by the end of the course, each participant will also develop a résumé and portfolio site on WordPress that they can then share with potential employers.

Meet your friendly organizers

As for your teachers, the people who lead this workshop are Automattic Happiness Engineers — master communicators with deep, wide-ranging experience in distributed technical support. 

Automattic, which offers the workshop, is a fully-distributed company — there are more than 930 full-time Automatticians spread across 70 countries and speaking 88 languages. We serve users from every corner of the world via products like WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce, among others

As people who believe in the benefits of distributed work, we love helping remote professionals level up their skills. Our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion leads us to look for ways to make the tech sector more representative of the wide and varied world it serves. As a result, this virtual workshop will equip Asia-Pacific-based women who are — or want to become — support professionals with skills that are specifically tailored to the demands of remote work.  


Registration for this cohort is now closed.

Make sure to sign up to be notified about future course offerings from Automattic.

CLICK HERE TO GET NOTIFIED!
Four New WordPress.com Color Schemes - 24 Jul 2019, 11:00 am

We heard you: You want bolder and brighter colors on WordPress.com. Today we’re bringing your WordPress.com dashboard to life with four new color schemes: introducing Midnight, Sunset, Ocean, and Contrast.

You may recognize some of these colors as old friends. Midnight, Sunset, and Ocean are based on early versions of WordPress — a nod to our roots as we evolve:

  • Midnight color scheme
  • Sunset color scheme
  • Ocean color scheme

If bright and bold isn’t your jam, you might prefer Contrast, a black-and-white scheme meant to bring your WordPress.com dashboard into sharp focus:

Screenshot of the WordPress.com dashboard with Contrast color scheme applied.

As part of our commitment to inclusive design, the new palettes are optimized for contrast and increased legibility. Whichever color scheme you choose, your dashboard remains stylish and readable.

Here’s how to customize your color scheme:

  1. On your desktop, sign in to the WordPress.com account that you’d like to customize.
  2. Click your account avatar in the upper right corner.
  3. Select Account Settings
  4. Select one of the options under Dashboard Color Scheme
  5. Click Save Account Settings to apply the change
Screenshot of the WordPress.com Account Settings.

If you’re like me, Stats is one of your most-visited screens in your WordPress app — we all want to know people are reading! Whether you use iOS or Android, the latest versions have Stat updates that bring you more useful data, faster. Updates to the layout, available statistics, and how they’re handled behind the scenes mean you can hone in what’s most important to you and to your site’s growth.

What’s new?


All-new design

Stats got a facelift! The numbers are easier to read, easier to compare, and easier to track over time.


Customise your stats

Blogger who wants to keep an eye on your follower count, a business owner who wants a quick update on daily views? Insights Management lets you choose what stats to include so your at-a-glance updates include what’s most important to you. (This feature is only available on Android at the moment, and is coming soon to iOS.)


Zero in on time periods

Use the new dedicated date bar on the days, weeks, months and years tabs, to explore date ranges.


Stats at a glance

Your Insights tab is now optimised for quick updates so you can get key information about your site’s performance all on one screen.


How do I find this?

Update your app to the latest version. You can find them here, or in your Apple Store or Google Play. And that’s it! Head to Stats for any of your site for a new and improved analytics experience.

We understand how important stats are — we run websites, too! — so we’re always working to develop and improve them. We’d love to hear about your experience with the latest and greatest!

The mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing: to make it possible for anyone — no matter their background, location, or identity — to bring their ideas to life on the internet. This mission inspires thousands of volunteers all over the world to contribute to the WordPress open source project, building and supporting the software that makes this possible.

But as in most technology organizations, the people who work on WordPress aren’t always representative of all the people who use WordPress. The majority of WordPress core developers, conference speakers, and other volunteers are young men. That’s where the WordPress Diverse Speaker Training Working Group comes in.

Breaking Down Barriers

A group of WordPress community organizers and volunteers, led by freelance developer Jill Binder, is working to change this. They’ve developed a workshop that trains women and other people from traditionally underrepresented groups in technology who’d like to present at conferences and WordCamps. These training events are organized by local WordPress meetup groups, and are always completely free of charge.

Small groups of women sitting in circles, talking and holding paper
WordPress Vancouver Speaker Training Workshop, 2015

The workshops help attendees address some of the common barriers and fears underrepresented people have around public speaking: “I don’t know what I could speak about.” “I’m not an expert.” “I don’t know how to write a proposal.” “I don’t know how to create a presentation.” “I don’t have any experience speaking in front of groups.”

In 2018, the group supported and advised 55 WordPress communities in 26 different countries. New speakers were trained in 12 different WordPress meetup groups in the US, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, and Venezuela.  

All of the communities that held this workshop experienced a real change in the speaker roster for their annual conferences; many of their WordCamps went from having 10% women speakers to having 50% or more women speakers in less than a year. In 2017, Seattle had 60% women speakers and in 2018, Vancouver had 63%.

Why WordCamps?

A woman holding a microphone, in front of a lot of people with raised hands.
Jill Binder, speaking at a WordCamp

Speaking at WordCamps is a consistent path to leadership in the WordPress community, so having more diverse speakers directly supports the goal of more diverse leadership in the WordPress open source project. WordCamps are where many WordPress enthusiasts choose to become professionals. When more people see speakers like them on stage and feel welcome in the community, a more diverse group of people participate in the WordPress project.

When WordPress events are more diverse, the WordPress project gets more diverse — which makes WordPress better for more people.

Help Us Grow This Work

Jill kicked off the Diverse Speaker Training Working Group at the beginning of 2018, and dedicated a year to it training facilitators and supporting organizers as an unpaid volunteer.

This year, Automattic has signed on as a 50% sponsor of Jill Binder’s diverse speaker outreach and training work. Her work is already making a noticeable impact on the WordPress project, and we want to make this training as accessible as possible to WordCamps globally. Like anything worth doing, this is a marathon and not a sprint — it’ll take time to see a more diverse contributor pool — but we’re dedicated to making sure this necessary groundwork happens.

Would you like to help foster diversity across the WordPress project? Automattic invites interested partners to pick up the other 50% of this project’s costs. Get in touch with Jill today!

Happy Pride Month! My favorite parts about celebrating this month are the stories shared from LGBTQ+ folks, their loved ones, and organizations looking to show support. At WordPress.com, we strive to be a platform that democratizes publishing so that anyone can share their stories regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world. This month is a great reminder for why we work hard to expand the open web.

For me, democratizing publishing means more than just my ability to publish my own story. It’s about being able to share, but also being able to receive. As I celebrate Pride Month as a young, queer person, I think back to early online communities on which I found other LGBTQ+ people and how much I resonated with their stories. I feel lucky to be able to share my own story, but there are many LGBTQ+ folks who can’t.

To this end, we wanted to provide resources, inspire, and highlight organizations to support as you celebrate Pride Month in your own way, whether that’s seeking out stories or writing your own.

Resources

The LGBTQ+ community is vast — I’m part of it, but I’m still learning new things daily. Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or not, make sure you properly represent the community at large when you share your story with the help of these resources:  

We know how important it is to find an image that perfectly fits your writing and, since stock-image libraries have historically struggled to represent all experiences, we wanted to share some free image options to ease your search this month:

Have any resources to recommend? Please share them in the comments below! Part of our company creed is to never stop learning, and I’d love to learn what resources you all have found useful.

Tip: Use the #celebratingpride tag to connect with other folks sharing their stories. Here’s more information about using tags.

Inspiration from WordPress.com Bloggers

If you want to write but are feeling stuck trying to find the words, take some inspiration this month from these writers with strong voices and varied perspectives:

Tip: Make sure to follow these sites so you don’t miss any future posts.

Organizations to Support from Around the World

In partnership with Out in Tech, volunteers, including some of my awesome colleagues, have worked together over the last few years to create websites for LGBTQ+ organizations around the world. As you look to find organizations to support, remember to think globally, especially considering there are still 73 nations with laws against being LGBTQ+. We hope this list gives you a great place to start:

Happy WordPress-ing. Happy Pride.

For those of you sharing your own stories of being LGBTQ+ in this world, thank you for your bravery and vulnerability.

For those of you who can’t share your story, please know that it gets better and that you aren’t alone this month.

For those of you seeking out other people’s stories, thank you for being supportive, being open, and seeking to expand your perspective.

Sharing is a core part of the iOS experience, and WordPress is committed to helping people share their stories, products, or services freely and widely.  So when the fine folks at Shiny Frog—makers of the excellent writing app Bear—asked for an easier way turn Bear notes into WordPress posts, we enthusiastically said yes. We’ve been working together to create a great publishing experience, and today Bear and WordPress both have app updates that incorporate this latest and greatest integration.

Go ahead, give it a try!

A 10 second screen recording of the process of sharing a note from Bear to WordPress

The Bear and WordPress apps work together seamlessly to turn your note into a fully-formatted blog post.

  • Update your Bear and WordPress apps to make sure you’re using the latest versions.
  • Open Bear, and tap the share icon at the top right of a note.
  • Tap WordPress in the top row of options (learn how to enable app extensions on iOS).
  • The WordPress app will open and prepare a new blog post with the contents of your note, complete with proper formatting of headings, links, formatting, lists, and even photos.

To automatically give your blog post a title, make sure your Bear note begins with an H1. You’re all set—the only thing left to do is publish.

How we did it

If you’re curious about the technical details: our mobile team updated the app to support TextBundle files shared from other apps. On Bear’s end, the app now knows WordPress for iOS supports TextBundle, and automatically shares notes in that format.

TextBundle is made for sharing plain text files that include attachments like photos, and since it’s  built on an open standard, other developers can integrate their apps with it. If you’re an app developer looking to improve your WordPress publishing experience, you can start with Shiny Frog’s open source TextBundle library, the same one that’s used in WordPress for iOS.

Finally, if you try out this new integration, let us know what you think! Download the WordPress mobile app for iOS and Android.


Keeping your visitors interested is the key to a successful website—and one great way to do that is with email. A smart email outreach plan piques peoples’ interest, keeps them engaged, and brings them back to your website.

To send emails, you need a mailing list, and Mailchimp is the list-building tool of choice for lots of folks. With WordPress.com’s new Mailchimp block, you can add a signup form to any post or page. Give visitors the opportunity to join your list wherever they are on your website.

Using the Mailchimp block

If your website is on WordPress.com or uses Jetpack (version 7.1 or higher), the Mailchimp block is already waiting for you in the block editor. Open a post or page, add a new block, and either search for “Mailchimp” or select it from the list of available blocks.

Once you’ve inserted the block into your content, you can customize the following aspects of your form:

  • Placeholder text in the field for email address. Once your visitor starts filling out the form, this placeholder text will disappear.
  • Text on the submit button.
  • Terms of service disclaimer at the bottom. These terms and conditions are the contract between you and the subscriber.
  • Success message text that will appear after visitors submit their email.
  • Error message text if there was a problem in submitting the form.

First-time setup

The first time you add a Mailchimp block, you’ll need to to connect your Mailchimp account to your WordPress website and specify the mailing list that your new subscribers will join.

You will need:

Once you have a Mailchimp account, open wordpress.com/sharing, choose your site and select “Mailchimp” from the list of connections.

Mailchimp connection details in the Sharing section.

Once you click “Connect,” you will be prompted for the login and password to your Mailchimp account. Once you’re logged in, you will be taken back to WordPress.com:

Connection details after successful Mailchimp authorization.

After connecting your account, remember to select your Mailchimp list. You can read more about setting up your configuration options here.

Grow your audience with email

Email helps you build a relationship with your readers. Not sure what to send? Try:

  • Sending updates about new posts or products.
  • Sharing other interesting articles from around the web.
  • Writing more personal updates.
  • Expanding on your blog posts.
  • Offering discounts or early access to premium content.

Forging an email relationship can turn a one-time visitor into a loyal follower or customer. And the people who trust you with their email addresses are often your biggest fans, so it makes sense to give them some extra goodies.

Build better landing pages

Email signups are also perfect for landing pages or “Coming Soon” splash pages. A landing page is a simple one-page website that serves only one purpose: to collect email addresses. Usually, it’s a placeholder for a fuller site to come, or a new product or service that will launch in the future. With a Mailchimp block, you can collect emails right on your landing page:

Here’s a quick example of how easy it is to set up.

Collect the email addresses of interested visitors while you build your product or a larger site behind the scenes. Once your creation is ready to be unveiled, you can email your list to let them know.

You can use lots of different features to build and engage your audience — social sharing, blog comments, the WordPress.com Reader — and now you’ve got one more tool at your disposal!

Your website’s dashboard should be as welcoming to you as your website’s home page is to your visitors. One way to do that? Customize your WordPress.com dashboard with color schemes.

Today, you’ve got three new options for adding a little behind-the-scenes zing: introducing Powder Snow, Nightfall, and Sakura, designed especially for you by our Art Director, Eriko Kawakami.

Whether you prefer the gentle monotone of Powder Snow, the darker and soothing colors of Nightfall, or the vibrant, cherry-blossom-inspired Sakura, we hope you’ll find a look you love.

As part of our commitment to inclusive design, the new palettes are optimized for contrast and increased legibility. Whichever color scheme you choose, your dashboard will be stylish and readable.

Here’s how to customize your color scheme:

  1. On your desktop, sign in to the WordPress.com account that you’d like to customize.
  2. Click your account avatar in the upper right corner.
  3. Select Account Settings
  4. Select one of the options under Dashboard Color Scheme
  5. Click Save Account Settings to apply the change
Screenshot of the Account Settings page showing color schemes.
My dashboard, using the Nightfall color scheme.

More color schemes are coming, and we want your feedback! What colors do you want to see in your WordPress.com dashboard?

Distributed teams, different geographies, and complex dynamics are redefining the modern workday. Soon, “job perks” like flexible hours and work-from-anywhere will become table-stakes benefits that every company needs to offer to stay competitive.

WordPress.com’s parent company Automattic has long been ahead of this curve, growing a global software company of more than 850 people across 68 countries with no central office. Along the way, we’ve found that many business products are still locked into old assumptions about how a company runs, so we had to build our own internal tools to work the way we want. Now, we’re making these tools available to like-minded companies who need a better way to work.

Today Automattic is announcing Happy Tools, a suite of products for the future of work. Each product in Happy Tools has been used internally at Automattic to grow our company.

The suite is launching with Happy Schedule, a new take on workforce management. Designed to handle the complexities that come up when business goals are planned around real-world schedules, it helps you treat your employees like humans instead of resources. Using Happy Schedule, Automattic is able to plan 24/7 customer support while offering flexible working hours to our 300+ Happiness Engineers spanning many timezones.

Happy Schedule helps you meet coverage goals across a distributed team.

Happy Schedule is just the start. Over the coming years Automattic will release more of its internal applications into Happy Tools, with smart integrations between the products that make them even better when used together.

We hope that by offering Happy Tools, even more forward-thinking companies will be able to move to a new way of working with customer support, internal communication, and people-management.

You can get a 30-day free trial of Happy Tools when you sign up for a Happy Schedule demo at https://happy.tools.

Electric Literature launched 10 years ago in Brooklyn, New York, as a quarterly print journal with a mission to make literature more relevant, exciting, and inclusive. And today they’re celebrating the launch of a new website on WordPress, at electricliterature.com.

Surviving (and thriving) for ten years as an independent publisher is no small feat. Over the years the nonprofit organization has grown its online audience — with offerings like Recommended Reading and The Commuter — while expanding its membership of readers who help fund its work. The website is free to everyone and relies on the generosity of its community to donate to the site and support its mission.

How does an indie website make its business work in 2019? We talked with Electric Lit’s Executive Director Halimah Marcus about some of the lessons they’ve learned in the past 10 years.

Slow and Steady Growth Can Be a Very Good Thing

Sometimes raising a lot of money from investors means you’ll grow fast — but also burn out sooner. “Slow and steady growth has been important to our longevity thus far. Ten years for some companies isn’t that long, but ten years for an indie online magazine is quite long. We’ve seen many of our peers close during that time and also many publications that were much better funded and larger than us as well.”

Focus On Your Mission

Marcus and company made a deliberate decision early to become a nonprofit with a mission to support writers. “That was an interesting discussion. For the most part I think it was the right decision, although there are many different ways to look at this question. We were definitely a mission-driven organization. With Recommended Reading we partner with other magazines and indie presses and publications to promote their work and to give an online platform to many stories that have never been published online and never would be published online.

“It was our goal to build a literary ecosystem, to showcase how diverse it was and to give access to it. There was nothing about what we were doing that was about making money [laughs]. Becoming a nonprofit to be mission-driven, to be able to have access to grant opportunities, to be able to solicit donations and make those tax-deductible was going to be important for our financial model.” As a nonprofit, Electric Literature receives funding from foundations including the Amazon Literary Partnership, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts — an important source of funding for a publisher when revenue from online advertising can fluctuate dramatically from month to month.

Memberships (and Your Members) Matter

Direct funding from readers makes a big difference for the business. Electric Literature does not paywall its essays or fiction — the site is totally free and readers have an option to donate or subscribe with a recurring monthly payment.

Its membership program hit some bumps when it briefly moved it to Medium — the platform switched its membership model in 2018 and Electric Literature was one of several publishers who were left scrambling. Marcus’s advice? Think carefully about who you let between you and your readers — it’s very hard to regain subscribers after you’ve lost them.

Most important of all is making sure those who do donate to your publication feel special. “I think the lesson that I’m always learning and figuring out how to do better is to make those people who have shown you that they care about your publication and that they’re invested in it feel included and appreciated. Make sure they know who they can talk to if they have a question or if they just want to make a comment or they have a problem. That’s something that is so important.”

Make Your Home on the Web Your Own

“You’ll see that on the new website the look is very vibrant and positive and is pulled through every article and every space. Icons inspired by electrical symbols such as signals and inverters are a part of the design we were able to bring through. It’s important to be able to have control over what our product looks like. Our editorial vision is now able to extend to the way the work is presented and what it looks like.”

For more on Electric Lit’s new site, check out Marcus’s letter to readers.