First look at the new WordPress dashboard

From today WordPress.com users can get a working preview the look and feel of the next admin interface.

New WordPress admin design

Preview the Future Design of the WordPress Dashboard

We’ve drawn new icons, increased contrast and font size, and generally modernized the design from top to bottom. We’re still working on it, but you can preview it starting today! To step into the future, head over to Users → Personal Settings in your blog’s dashboard and check “Enable experimental admin design (MP6),” then Save Changes.

It looks very nice, but so far it’s just a cosmetic change. I reminds me a little of services like Squarespace and Virb, so I fear there’s a slight danger of WordPress losing its character.

Designers and developers can get involved on the Make WordPress UI blog.

New blog: Rapid Notes

Rapid Notes Yesterday I launched a new blog: Rapid Notes. It’s just hosted on a free WordPress.com account for now, and will probably stay that way.

I created this new outlet because I wanted a place to store and share the fascinating things I find online every day. I’m not going to put just any old thing up there, but it’ll be a busier blog than many of my others. Much busier. The idea is to help me identify what my real passions are by looking at the common themes of the items I post. I’ll be spending time getting the tags and categories — the taxonomy — just right. Then as the blog grows I’ll be able to look at my archives determine… well… something hopefully.

Follow the @foobot →

Visibility settings: Make your WordPress widgets context-aware

One of the things I like about using WordPress.com is getting an early look at features destined for the self-hosted version, WordPress.org.

For example, today I noticed new ‘visibility’ button on the bottom of each of my widgets. Clicking it expands these filtering options:

Widget visibility settings

Playing with these settings will make any widget you add determine whether it should be shown or hidden based on the page it appears on. For example, you could create a Recent Posts widget that only appears on posts, or a Top Posts & Pages widget that only appears on archive pages.

Some ideas for context-aware widgets →

Some custom CSS to pimp your WordPress blog

Recently I’ve been taking advantage of the WordPress.com custom design upgrade to pimp my theme, so I thought I would share some of the CSS I have written. Twenty Eleven is the second most popular theme in the WP.com directory, so why not make yours stand out too?

I’m a big fan of Twenty Eleven, however it is starting to show its age. It’s funny how these designs date so quickly. Twenty Ten looked positively cutting edge compared to Kubrick (which was itself a very modern theme back in 2006!). I have been tempted to update to the newer Twenty Twelve, but feel that I have invested too much time and effort into getting the look and feel of my blog just right. Instead I’m pulling some of the future back into the past.

Got custom? Get stylin’ →

Halfblog: 2012 in review

WordPress fireworks WordPress.com has produced some cool-looking reports for users, summing up blog activity for 2012. It’s really just a pretty stats page, but it’s very well done with CSS animated fireworks, parallax effects and colourful graphics. You can see the complete report for halfblog.net here.

Here’s the summary it provided:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2012, there were 133 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 657 posts. There were 306 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 91 MB. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 24th with 754 views. The most popular post that day was Minimalistic iPhone 5 wallpapers.

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Halfblog: Now AdFree

Aside

I’ve finally decided to remove the ugly WordAds from this site, and upgraded to AdFree. I asked WordPress.com support about the possibility of spending the $30 I had accrued with WordAds on AdFree, knowing that they insist on paying out only when a user has accrued $100 of funds but reasoning that since I was spending money with them they might be able to make an exception. Nope:

Our finance department isn’t able to do it. One challenge is that our ad partners like Google Adsense don’t pay until a site has earned over $100. So if our finance department paid out accounts less than $100 we’d always be losing money on those.

I did appreciate the honest and frank answer though. Continue reading

WordPress.com infinite scroll – the final straw

WordPress.com have added an infinite scroll ‘feature’ to two of their primary themes, including the Twenty Eleven theme I use here.

In the quest to make visitors engage with your content as effortlessly as possible we are rolling out a new feature to your blog home pages—infinite scrolling! Instead of having to scroll and click through older-pages links we are now pulling new content automatically whenever a visitor approaches the bottom of a blog.

Best thing, it should be entirely transparent to you or your readers. The feature is enabled for blogs with the Twenty Ten or Twenty Eleven themes.

We take care of the smaller details, such as removing the older/next links, integrating with your design as smoothly as possible. Having said that, please let us know what you think by posting any feedback you may have. Thanks.

Another way of looking at this is that they have deleted my footer from the main page of my site, and given me no way to return it (short of picking another theme and undoing all the work I’ve put into this one).

I don’t have the will to add my voice to the many, many complaints already being voiced in the forums. Instead I think I’ll be creating my own self hosted WordPress blog. Continue reading

WordPress introduces WordAds

I’ve just submitted this blog to be considered for the new WordAds for WordPress.com blogs.

We’ve resisted advertising so far because most of it we had seen wasn’t terribly tasteful, and it seemed like Google’s AdSense was the state-of-the-art, which was sad. You pour a lot of time and effort into your blog and you deserve better than AdSense.

My blog may get too little traffic or not be focused enough to easily pair the content up with appropriate ads (or the reviewers (hello there!) may simply not appreciate my post about the bad ads on WordPress.com), but I have my fingers crossed.

If you run a WP.com blog with a custom domain, you can apply for WordAds too.

Four fantastic WordPress logos

WoodPress logo For my recent post about the terrible quality adverts appearing on WordPress.com sites I created a nice high resolution blue glossy version of the WordPress logo. Then I was inspired to make a few variations.

They’re made avaliable here as 1000x1000px PNGs, with transparency, under a CC BY-NC-SA licence. Feel free to share and enjoy, but please remember to give credit (to Foomandoonian), ideally with a link back to this page.

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Low quality advertisements are damaging WordPress.com

A shiny WordPress logo, ruined by obnoxious ads. It’s been nearly two months since I switched halfblog.net from Posterous over to WordPress, and I’ve been generally very positive about the change, with some reservations. The truth is, I don’t think I will be recommending it so strongly to potential new bloggers any longer (as I have done at Social Media Surgeries).

The various reasons probably justify a separate blog post, but one concern is looming particularly large right now…

The low-quality on-site advertising WordPress uses to support free blogs.

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WordPress.com vs. Posterous

It’s been a week since I switched this blog from Posterous to WordPress.com. I’m very happy with the change, but it is clear to me that Posterous offer very compelling features for a free service.

What follows isn’t a complete comparison of the two services, it just highlights what I consider the most important differences between the two services for a typical blogger.

WordPress.com Posterous
Big library of free themes (100+). Premium themes. No custom themes. Decent library of free themes (46). No premium themes. Custom themes.
Custom domain mapping ($12 per year). Free custom domain mapping.
Regular users may see ads on your blog. Signed in WordPress.com users won’t. ($29.97 to remove.) No on-site advertising.
No direct HTML editing. CSS access paid upgrade ($30 per year). Full free access to HTML and CSS.
Image-heavy posts are a pain to manage. Excellent, intuitive image galleries.
Excellent, but expensive HD video support (VideoPress: $60 per year). Free video uploads (100MB per video limit).
A basic stats tool in the dashboard. No export functionality. No Google Analytics support. Support for Google Analytics.
Threaded comments. No threaded comments.
Fantastic commenting and comment moderation features. Comments can be a bit buggy for users. Poor moderation features.
Both services offer great customer support and have good iPhone and Android apps.
Neither service permits the use of JavaScript.

Note that I stopped using Posterous just before it transformed into Posterous Spaces. Their blogging service remains basically unchanged, so these points are still valid, but there is now a whole social aspect you may want to consider.

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