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Create With Confidence — and Better Blocks

In the last few years, the teams working on the block editor have learned a lot about how people build sites now and how they want to build sites in the future.

The latest version represents the culmination of these discoveries, and the next stage in the editor’s evolution.

With better visuals and more advanced features, it’ll keep designers, developers, writers, and editors productive and happy, and — tension-building drumroll — it’s in your editor right now!

What’s new

With a comprehensive visual refresh, a plethora of new features, and dozens of bug fixes, the new block editor comes with a lot to unpack.

What follows is just a small (but delectable) sample of the many ways we’ve upgraded your editing experience. (You can get the full list of goodies in the release notes.)

We hope you enjoy.

A revamped editor UI

The first thing you’ll notice is the slick UI. Buttons, icons, text, and dropdowns are all sporting a contrast boost, with bolder colors and more whitespace between buttons, text labels, and menu items.

The world is made of blocks
The new block editor’s UI

As you navigate through the editor’s menus, individual items are clearly highlighted, allowing you to quickly identify what you’ve selected.

Active menu items have distinct highlights

The block toolbars are now simpler, displaying the most commonly-used features. For example, paragraph blocks show only bold, italic, and link formatting buttons. You’ll find all the extra options in the dropdown menu.

The block toolbar options are simpler and uncluttered

What’s more, instead of listing blocks within a fixed-height container, the block inserter now spans the height of the window. You’ll now see more blocks and block categories at once with less scrolling.

Block inserter spanning the full height of the window
The block inserter spans the full height of your screen

Introducing block patterns

With the block editor as your canvas you can design almost any layout you can imagine – but building intricate page structures should never get in the way of your creative process.

Here’s where the blocks really shine: along with individual blocks, the editor now includes block patterns, a library of predefined and reusable block layouts, that you use on any page or post.

To check out the list of available patterns, click on the block pattern icon (on the top right) to reveal a collection of pre-built layouts:

Block patterns are groups of individual blocks combined to create elegant layouts

Pick the pattern you want to use, and it will appear in your editor ready for you to customize with your own content.

Right now, you’ll find a few introductory patterns – Two Columns of Text, Two Buttons, Cover, and Two Images Side by Side – but we’ll be adding more and more patterns as they’re available. When the block patterns API opens up to third-party authors, you’ll also be able to develop and share your own.

(Have an idea for a great pattern? The block editor developer community is actively seeking ideas. The more ideas they receive, the better your editor will be!)

Colors, colors everywhere

When it comes to words and columns, websites aren’t newspapers: things don’t have to be black and white.

Use the new Text Color selector tool to change the color of sentences, and even individual words and letters. Highlight the text you’d like to change, then click on the arrow dropdown and select “Text Color.”

Select “Text Color” from the options
Pick the color of your word or character

 

To change the background colors of your columns, select the column and head to the sidebar, to Color settings.

Columns get background colors too!

The road ahead is paved with blocks

There’s still a long way to go, and the editor’s community of contributors hasn’t given its collective keyboards a moment’s rest. Work on polishing UI elements like the sidebar and dropdowns continues along with advancements to block patterns and other exciting features.

Are there ways we could improve the site editing experience even more? Please let us know! We’re always keen to hear how we can make the web a better place for everyone.

How to Move Your Classes Online — and Charge for Them

We are proud to host many websites for language tutors, yoga schools, and personal fitness coaches around the world.

It’s exciting to see how educators and consultants across different industries are getting creative with their online offerings: language teachers conduct 1:1 sessions to help students hone pronunciation, yoga studios livestream group sessions, and instructors lead writing boot camps via Zoom breakout rooms. Even my own strength coach is monitoring my workouts — I launch the camera on my phone, place it against the wall, and do deadlifts while he supervises.

Last year we launched Recurring Payments to support creators, consultants, small businesses, and other professionals in establishing dependable income streams. We were very pleased to discover that online educators using this feature are thriving as well!

Marta, for example, runs Spanish Teacher Barcelona, a Spanish language school located in — you guessed it! — Barcelona. She offers 1:1 sessions and classes in a coworking space in the city’s Gracia neighborhood. For customers that cannot meet in person, she hosts private lessons online, available with a subscription. She offers three subscription plans to meet the variety of needs of her students.

Ready to set up your own subscription-based service or move your existing classes online? Here’s a quick guide to get you set up with the right tools, so you can focus instead on providing the best educational environment possible. 

Set up your online class today

Below, we’ll cover the steps you can take to get your classes or private lessons up and running with the Recurring Payments feature. We’ll also recommend tools to make scheduling 1:1 sessions and operating your classes easier, like the Calendly block and various video conferencing tools. 

1. Create a “Subscribe” page to promote your class or service

You need to convince your customers that your subscription is worth paying for. A typical way to do this is with a “Subscribe” page where you explain the benefits of your services.

Take a look at the “Join” page on Longreads.com, an online publication that publishes and curates nonfiction storytelling on the web and funds stories with memberships:

A few tips to make your offer irresistible:

  • Focus on the benefits for the customer.
  • Provide a few subscription options, such as classes at different frequencies and at different price points.
  • Add testimonials if you can — people love to read reviews.

Create this page by going to My Sites → Pages → Add New.

2. Add a subscription with the Recurring Payments feature

Recurring Payments allows you to create renewable payments. Your subscribers will enter their credit card details, and will then be charged automatically every month or every year.

Recurring Payments is currently available on any of our paid plans. To get started, you’ll need to create a Stripe account, which is a global money transfer service. We partner with Stripe to make sure payments end up safely in your bank account.

You can start collecting Recurring Payments in five minutes.

On the “Subscribe” page you created above, search for the “Recurring Payments” block:

After clicking “Connect to Stripe,” you’ll be able to connect your existing Stripe account or create a new one.

Now you can create your first subscription.

Set the price, frequency (we recommend monthly for start), and the title of your subscription, like Writing Bootcamp, 3 breakout sessions/month or Conversational French for Beginners, 4 classes/month.

That’s it! Your subscription is now created. Once you publish the page and activate your Stripe account, your customers will be able to subscribe to this service.

Subscriptions are dependable: your subscribers will be automatically charged at the beginning of the next renewal period (in a month or a year). You don’t have to remind or nudge them, and they also don’t have to remember to pay you — everything is handled.

For more details, please read this Recurring Payments support article.

Would you rather sell access to your services as a one-time purchase? Check out the Simple Payments feature.

3. Schedule your lessons

Your subscribers can set up a time for their lessons using a service like Calendly, a handy tool that allows them to select a free slot in your schedule. We recently created the Calendly block to bring some of the service’s key features to you. While editing your page, search for the “Calendly” block.

Remember to check if the subscription is active

Before hopping on an online meeting, you need to confirm that the person scheduling a call is indeed a paying subscriber. Check the list of your active Recurring Payments subscribers located in your WordPress.com dashboard under My Sites Earn Payments.

Read more about managing your list of subscribers.

4. Select a tool to host your class

Video conferencing tools are very useful for teaching. Apart from seeing the other person, you can share your screen, send files, or even host a session for multiple people, lecture-style.

You can use Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom (which is what we use for our meetings here at WordPress.com). Zoom has put together a handy tutorial for teachers.

If you’d like additional setup tips on selecting a theme for your website, adding content and media, and adding students as viewers or contributors, read our support tutorial on building a virtual classroom.

What amazing class are you going to launch?

Expert Advice: How to Make a Great Website for Your Small Business – Webinar

Whether you already own a small business or are exploring the idea of starting one, you’ll come away from this free, 60-minute live webinar with a wealth of actionable advice on how to maximize your digital presence.

Date: Thursday, April 2, 2020
Time: 11:00 am PDT | 1:00 pm CDT | 2:00 pm EDT | 18:00 UTC
Registration link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/4215849773038/WN_at0PB64eTo2I0zJx-74g2Q
Who’s invited: Business owners, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and anyone interesting in starting a small business or side gig.

Hosts Steve Dixon and Kathryn Presner, WordPress.com Happiness Engineers, have many combined years of experience helping small-business owners create and launch successful websites. They’ll give you tips on site design, search engine optimization (SEO), monetization, and mobile optimization. You’ll be able to submit questions beforehand—in the registration form—and during the live webinar.

Everyone is welcome, even if you already have a site, and even if your site wasn’t built on WordPress.com. We know you’re busy, so if you can’t make the live event, you’ll be able to watch a recording of the webinar on our YouTube channel.

Live attendance is limited, so be sure to register early. We look forward to seeing you on the webinar!

On Working Remotely: An Automattic Reader

How does a distributed company — a group of people with shared business goals but spread out around the world, representing different cultures, family settings, and local health considerations — stick together during a major health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic?

We don’t intend to make it sound easy. And we are aware — from our families, our communities, the businesses we support, and our customers — that many, if not most companies cannot actually work 100 percent remotely because of the nature of their business.

For those who can transition to distributed work in the wake of this evolving crisis, we wanted to suggest ideas that might help colleagues work well together even when you’re no longer all sharing the same physical space.

We’re lucky that many Automatticians have shared advice and best practices based on their many years of working from home — and we’ve compiled some of these resources below to empower others to listen to and support their coworkers during a difficult and disruptive time.

Of course, from his first post on remote work to his most recent one reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, to his Distributed podcast and beyond, founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg is a prominent voice on remote work and distributed culture. To send you off on a lighter note, Matt shares regular “What’s In My Bag” posts.

We hope these resources are helpful to you during these trying times, and that you and everyone in your communities stay safe.

WPBlockTalk: A Free Online Event Focused on the Block Editor

Ready to explore the possibilities with the block editor? WPBlockTalk is a free and live virtual event that will bring together designers, developers, and other WordPress enthusiasts from across the WordPress community.

Topics to expect:

  • Building the block editor: what it takes to develop the block editor, what features are on the roadmap, and how you can contribute
  • Developing blocks: inspiration and ideas for developing your own custom blocks
  • Designing with blocks: learn more about using blocks to make powerful and versatile layouts and templates

If you’re passionate and curious about the future of WordPress, then this April 2 event is for you!

If you’re busy that day, don’t worry — all the talks will also be published on WordPress.tv for you to watch (and re-watch) whenever you like.

In the meantime, join the WPBlockTalk email list for registration details, speaker and schedule updates, and more. We look forward to seeing you online!

Announcing a New Scholarship for LGBTQ+ WordPress Community Members

The Queeromattic Employee Resource Group, Automattic’s LGBTQ+ internal organization, is proud to announce a scholarship for LGBTQ+ WordPress Community members who need financial support to attend a WordCamp flagship event for the first time. 

For those unfamiliar with WordCamps, they are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other. There are currently four flagship events each year: WordCamp Europe, WordCamp Asia, WordCamp US, and WordCamp Latin America. We’re going to sponsor one member of the LGBTQ+ community to attend each of these events!

Our hope in sponsoring folks to attend an initial WordCamp flagship event is that it will provide a career-enhancing opportunity for folks to connect more deeply with members of the WordPress community and level up their own WordPress skills to take back into their everyday life. Many of us at Automattic found our way here through the wider WordPress community and we’re really excited to share that chance with folks from the LGBTQ+ community who might not have the opportunity otherwise. 

Right now, we’re accepting applications to WordCamp US 2020. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a WordPress user, we encourage you to apply: https://automattic.com/scholarships/queeromattic/  To be considered, please apply no later than Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 12 a.m. Pacific Time.

If you know someone who would be perfect for an opportunity like this, please share it with them! We want folks from all over the world to have the chance to benefit from this new scholarship.

Important note: Due to COVID-19, we will be working closely with the WordCamp event staff to ensure the health and safety of all attendees. This means that scholarships are not guaranteed for 2020 events. Please keep this in mind when applying and sharing this opportunity with others.

Turning a Page with Page Layouts

Need to add a new page to your site but don’t know where to start? Making a brand new site on WordPress.com and want to design a homepage quickly? There’s a new addition to the WordPress experience that’ll help with exactly that.

Let’s take a look at Page Layouts! They’re pre-designed pages you can drop content into, without needing to decide what to put where.

To add a Page Layout to your site, head to My Sites > Site > Pages and click the “Add New Page” button — it’s the pink one:

Next, we’ll show you a selection of layouts you can choose from — there are layouts available for

  • About pages
  • Contact pages
  • Services pages
  • Portfolio pages
  • Restaurant Menu, Team, and Blog pages
  • and even starting points for Home pages

Here’s one of the available Portfolio Page Layouts, for example.

These layouts are all made using blocks in our block editor, which means you can edit the images, content, and layout all in one place. Start by replacing the default images and text, and you’ll be on your way!

You can use Page Layouts to make great-looking pages with only a few clicks. For inspiration, here are a selection of layouts using a variety of WordPress.com themes.

And if you need help getting started you’ll find more detailed information on all of the above in our support documentation for Page Layouts.

What other types of pages and designs would be useful for your site? Let us know what you’d like to see — we’d love to hear from you!

A Crash Course in Remote Management

Remote work is a prominent topic lately, as people around the world are doing their best to live their lives and keep themselves and their families safe and prepared during the COVID-19 outbreak. The impact of this outbreak is felt across societies and cultures as well as in the workplace.  

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is a primarily distributed company with more than 1,000 employees across 76 countries. I’m an engineering lead, currently working on the Developer Experience team. As Automattic has grown, we’ve learned a lot about working remotely and across time zones, and have shared insights on what we see as the future of work on the Distributed podcast, hosted by our CEO, Matt Mullenweg. 

This week, Nicole Sanchez, the founder of Vaya Consulting and an expert on workplace culture, and I had an opportunity to co-present a Crash Course in Remote Management, a free one-hour webinar hosted on Zoom. Nicole has previously held social impact and leadership roles at GitHub and the Kapor Center for Social Impact.

Nicole and I walked an engaged audience through proven practices and what they’ve learned about leading, communicating with, and measuring the success of remote teams. Participants offered insightful questions, leading to lively discussions around:

  • Collaboration and relationship-building.
  • The cost, benefit, and ideal frequency of bringing teams together for face-to-face interaction (in general, if not as commonly right now).
  • Communicating and prioritizing messages across a variety of channels. 
  • Encouraging people to go outside, exercise, spend time with family, or otherwise step away from the computer (also known as being “AFK,” or “Away From Keyboard”) without the fear of being judged or anxiety over being less productive.

Some companies are encouraging employees to experiment with working from home, which can feel very different from in-person and office work. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the full video recording of the course:

Matt’s latest blog post, “Coronavirus and the Remote Work Experiment No One Asked For,” is also worth a read. For more information and advice on COVID-19, please visit resources from the CDC, World Health Organization, and other health authorities.

Improved Offline Publishing

The best technology is invisible and reliable. You almost forget it’s there, because things just work. Bad technology never disappears into the background — it’s always visible, and worse, it gets in your way. We rarely stop to think “My, what good Wifi!” But we sure notice when the Wifi is iffy.

Good technology in an app requires solid offline support. A WordPress app should give you a seamless, reliable posting experience, and you shouldn’t have to worry whether you’re online or offline while using WordPress Mobile. And if we’ve done our jobs right, you won’t have to! 

We all need fewer worries in life, so if you haven’t already head to https://apps.wordpress.com/get/ to download the apps.

Offline Publishing

On the go and without a connection?  No worries! The apps will now remember your choices and once you’re back online, your content will be saved and published as requested.  But if you changed your mind about publishing a post while you’re still offline, you can still safely cancel it.

The new Offline Publishing flow.

This improved publishing flow comes together with a revamped UI for your post status.  You’ll be able to clearly see which posts are pending, saving or publishing.

Smoother Messaging

We removed several alerts that were being presented while you were offline.  These blocking alerts required you to take action but often provided no insights on either what the problem was, or how to resolve it.

They have been replaced with contextual non-blocking messages both within the UI, and in notices appearingright above the toolbar.

As a result, you’ll see less disruptive and uninformative alerts, and more inline and informative messages, such as the one shown above.

Safeguards

We also added some safeguards to ensure there are no surprises!

You can cancel offline publishing.

Modifying posts that are scheduled for publishing will cancel the publishing action. Don’t worry, though – you can always reschedule the post for publishing.

All queued save and publishing operations will be canceled if your device stays offline for more than 48 hours.  We want you to be in complete control of what gets published and when.

The Block Editor is Now Supported on the WordPress Native Apps

Part of what helps WordPress power 35% of the web is language: WordPress is fully translated into 68 languages. Pair that with the WordPress native apps, which make WordPress available across devices, and you have a globally accessible tool.

Today we’re announcing app updates that bring the new Block editor to mobile devices, so on-the-go publishing is even easier for that 35%.

At Automattic, we speak 88 different languages, so we thought: why not use some of them to tell you about the editor updates? Instead of a few screenshots and bullet points, here are some of the people who build the editor and apps sharing their favorite tools and tricks for the mobile Block editor. To make it more accessible, we’ve also included English translations. 

(And for those who want more detail — yes, there are still screenshots and bullet points!)

Rafael, Brazilian Portuguese

Com o novo editor, a criação de conteúdo é mais intuitiva por que as opções de formatação de texto e inserção de arquivos são exibidas de uma forma bem simples.

Toque no ícone ⊕ enquanto estiver editando um post ou página para ver os blocos disponíveis como Parágrafo, Título, Imagem, Vídeo, Lista, Galeria, Mídia e texto, Espaçador e muitos outros.

Translation

With the new editor, creating content is more intuitive because the options to format text and add media are displayed in a simple way. Tap on the ⊕ icon when editing whether a post or page to see all the available blocks like Paragraph, Heading, Image, Video, List, Gallery, Media & Text, Spacer and more.

Anitaa, Tamil

பயணங்களில் மிகவும் விருப்பமுள்ள எனக்கு, பயண குறிப்புகளை பயண நேரத்திலேயே எழுதுவது வழக்கம். இந்தப் புதிய கைபேசி செயலி என் வேலையே மிகவும் எளிதாக்குகிறது. எனக்குப் பிடித்த சில அம்சவ்கள்:  

  • கி போர்ட்டில் உள்ள நேக்ஸ்ட் பொத்தானை அழுத்துவதன் மூலமே புதிய பத்தியை தொடங்க முடிவது.
  • பட்டியல் தொகுதியைப் பயன்படுத்தி எனது சொந்த பட்டியலை உருவாக்க முடியும்.

பட்டியலின் உள்ளெ பட்டியலை சரிபார்க்கும், அல்லது, துணை பட்டியலை உள்ளடக்கும் பட்டியல் பத்தியை ஆவலுடன் எதிர்பார்க்கிறேன். எனவே அடுத்த புதுப்பிப்பைப் பற்றி நான் மகிழ்ச்சியடைகிறேன்.

Translation

I love travelling and I spend a lot of time on my blog writing travel tips while on the go. My favorite features in the Block editor include:

  • Creating a new paragraph block by pressing the RETURN button on the keypad.
  • Adding a List block to create my own lists.
    • You can even add sub-lists!

I look forward to seeing what’s coming next!

Mario, Spanish

Cuando escribo, doy mil vueltas sobre qué palabras utilizar y me cuesta decidirme. Uso mi móvil porque me da la posibilidad de capturar mis ideas justo en el momento que se me ocurren. Es por eso que de las cosas que más me gustan del Editor es que puedo moverme de un bloque de texto a otro con facilidad y también cambiarlos de lugar. Además, se puede hacer/deshacer muy fácilmente, y siempre se mantiene el historial de edición lo que me da mayor seguridad a la hora de cambiar incluso sólo pequeñas partes del contenido que voy escribiendo.

Translation

When I write, I walk around in circles and can never decide which words to use. So I use my mobile phone, which lets me capture ideas right when they occur to me. That’s why the things I appreciate in the new Editor are the abilities to move from block to block with ease and to change their order and since you can undo/redo quite easily and can see your editing history, I have confidence when I change even small bits of the post I’m writing.

Jaclyn, Chinese

用過 Gutenberg 古騰堡後網誌效率高很多!因為寫旅行文章,很多時候是在旅途中或是平日空擋等候時間紀錄和寫下想法,行動 app 讓我隨時隨地都可以編輯文章。行動古騰堡簡化了移動文章段落重新排序的步驟,讓文章的架構變得很清楚,也更容易管理。

Translation

The new block editor truly makes a difference in my blogging efficiency and experience. Since my blog is about traveling, I often scribble notes and thoughts during my trips. The block editor on mobile simplifies the process of moving paragraphs around and organizing content, so the architecture of the post becomes clearer and easier to reorganize.

To start using the block editor on your app, make sure to update to the latest version, and then opt in to using it! To opt in, navigate to My Site Settings and toggle on Use Block Editor.

We hope you give the latest release a try; tell us about your favorite part of the mobile block editor once you’ve had a chance to try it.

We’d also love to know your thoughts on the general writing flow and on some of the newer blocks like video, list, and quote blocks. For specific feedback, you can reach out to us from within the app by going to Me Help and Support, then selecting Contact Us.