Expanded Button Formatting, New Spacing Controls, and Drag-and-Drop for List View Now in Block Editor

This month, our team released features in the block editor that give your site a little breathing room: spacing controls for buttons and paragraphs. And the List View tool keeps getting better with drag-and-drop.

Powerful Expanded Button Formatting

Buttons never looked so good with custom padding.

Padding is empty space within the border of a block, which can bring clarity to your content and adjust the balance of the page’s layout.

Custom control over a button’s spacing, color, and aggressiveness of the corner radii — all within the visual editor — can elevate it as a powerful design element of your website.

Make a punchy set of buttons themed in your brand’s colors or place an effective Call to Action button to attract your visitors.

To try, add a button with the Buttons block, and in the block’s menu go to the Dimensions section and select Padding. Adjust the padding uniformly around the button by changing the one value. If you click the unlink icon, you can adjust the four sides independently. Experiment with changing the Border and Color as well. To quickly create a grid of similar buttons, select the Options icon (…) in the toolbar above the block in your post editor and select Duplicate.

New Spacing Controls

Manually adjust the padding of other blocks as well, like a Paragraph block.

Custom-indent an entire section of text or generously pad a small amount of text for a big effect.

Experiment by wrapping a couple paragraphs with a Group block. Select the Group block and in the block’s menu go to the Dimensions section and select Padding. You can adjust the padding in this block just as you did with the button.

Drag-and-Drop for Persistent List View

We mentioned updates to the List View in June and July.

Accessible in the top-left menu of your post editor, the List View is the table of contents of all the blocks used in your post — select the diagonal hamburger icon to open this list. For deeply nested layouts, you can expand and collapse certain sections of this list, making navigation more efficient.

Now, with drag-and-drop functionality, you can reposition blocks within your post. Drag-and-drop a block within the list to reposition it, but if you prefer to organize visually, you can also drag the block’s label from the list into the post editor. List View is more powerful than ever to reorganize a post.

Keep Building, Keep Exploring

Your feedback is crucial to expanding the block editor’s capabilities, so keep it coming. Watch here for more updates, and in the meantime, go forth and create!

Meet the Customers We’re Featuring at the WordPress.com Growth Summit

Last summer, as the world adjusted to pandemic life, Jessica Petrie knew that she had to make changes to how she ran her studio, Yoga Next Door

She quickly figured out how to stream her classes from her studio in the beautiful woods of Maine, and adapted her business model to offer video learning and online payment. While looking forward to a return to in-real-life classes and retreats, she refused to be set back by the pandemic, and found a way to allow her students to continue their yoga practice from the safety of their homes. 

We are always learning from customers like Jessica — or Steven Gaither, Wali Pitt, and Tolly Carr of HBCU Gameday. The trio doubled down on understanding their growing audience, while staying focused on their important coverage of sports and culture at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Their expert use of SEO tools has helped them increase site traffic along the way. 

They are not alone: many WordPress.com creators have grown their audiences while publishing on social and cultural movements around the world, signaling their resilience, adaptability, and impact in challenging times.

We are proud to feature Jessica Petrie, HBCU Gameday, and other inspiring customers at the second Official WordPress.com Growth Summit, on Tuesday, August 17 (Wednesday, August 18, for Asia-Pacific timezones). You can still buy your ticket and learn from these incredible customers:

Muslim Girl

Amani al-Khatahtbeh started a website, Muslim Girl, and a movement. Whether highlighting prominent Muslim women in the Olympics or in the media, or diving into issues like human trafficking and marriage in modern Islam culture, Amani has created a platform focused on raising awareness, amplifying young voices, and fostering open dialogue. Beyond this, Amani is building a community around the diverse identities of Muslim women in the West — on #MuslimWomensDay (heading into its sixth year next March) and every day.

CalMatters

CEO Neil Chase and VP of Product Strategy Kim Fox will talk about their nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom, CalMatters, with our own Kinsey Wilson, the head of Newspack (the open-source publishing and revenue-generating platform for news organizations.) CalMatters not only covers policy and politics in California; they also help empower emerging publishers with their digital platforms. We’ll learn how they started, how they sustain their operation, and what they see ahead in digital news.

Zaloa Languages 

Anja Spilker is the founder of Mexico-based company Zaloa Languages, which offers online language learning with native teachers to an international audience. Anja is that rare and powerful combination of founder, CEO, and influencer. She’s equally adept at sharing her life behind the scenes as she is in shifting her business model, significantly increasing revenue, and creating a compelling brand with a sophisticated ecommerce approach. Listening to her tell the story of Zaloa Languages will be a masterclass on its own.

HBCU Gameday 

With HBCU Gameday, Steven J. Gaither spotted an underrepresented niche in the vast sports media landscape. He teamed up with experienced journalist Tolly Carr and digital technologist and video producer Wali Pitt to create a publication with an important focus on HBCU sports stories of culture and substance.  They’re hands-on in understanding how their audience finds them, all while adopting new formats (video!) seamlessly.

Workprint

David Nitzsche is a master of short-form storytelling, and he’s making a business out of it. We’ll learn how he weaves trailers, music videos, and creative for Apple, Marvel, National Geographic, Red Bull, Netflix, Google, and more. David will also talk about how he’s evolved his career from freelance editor to launching his own post-production studio, Workprint, in Los Angeles in the middle of the pandemic.

Yoga Next Door 

If the story of how Jessica borrowed her son’s GoPro camera to quickly experiment with offering her classes by online video doesn’t inspire you, Yoga Next Door’s return to real-life retreats will. But you just may learn most from Jessica’s  on-the-fly business savvy, including how she set up a digital library for customers while continuing to share her mindfulness and yoga expertise willingly. (So willingly that she’ll offer attendees a mid-Summit yoga and mindfulness session.)

STATURE

Which of Nick Engvall’s ventures can you learn most from? We found him via Sneaker History, the podcast he launched with and for fellow sneakerheads, drawing on his own content-creating background with brands like StockX and Finish Line. But we’ll also explore his creative agency STATURE, his hands-on thought leadership for podcasters and creators, his advocacy of WordPress, and how he finds time for it all!

If we have time, that is. Because all of these speakers have many stories to tell and ideas to share, and we have a packed Summit agenda that also includes sessions with our own talented Happiness Engineers, who will lead workshops on blogging, podcasting, building an audience, and SEO.

We hope you’ll join us at the Summit this week — and just as importantly, we hope you’ll keep working on your thing, too. We’d love to feature you someday soon.

Faster, More Flexible Editing of Your Sidebars, Headers, and Footers: Blocks for Widgets

The block editor makes site creation fast and flexible. Now, you can use that same huge library of blocks available when editing your pages and posts to edit and customize your sidebars, headers, and footers.

What are Widgets?

Sidebars, headers, and footers on your WordPress.com website are powered by widgets. Widgets are small but powerful modules to arrange and display content and tools around the edges of your posts and pages. Until now, widgets have been the best way to insert a variety of content — from calendars to social icons — into the sidebar, header, and footer of your site.

Flexibility with the Block Editor

Setting up and managing widgets was a very static and often tricky process. The block editor you’re familiar with in pages and posts is now part of the widgets editor. This aims to put editing power in your control.

You’re no longer limited to just widgets — any block is for your choosing.

For example, in your sidebar, header, and footer, you can now:

  • Tweak the structure by adding columns or spacers
  • Quickly add content like a Search block or a header
  • Format content via colors and rich text editing

What About Older Widgets?

Every widget that exists today will be incorporated into blocks.

But don’t worry — your current widgets will still work and can be used alongside your other blocks. Even legacy widgets that don’t have a block equivalent will work. Just use your preferred method of inserting a block, search for the widget’s name, and insert.

Getting Started

If you’ve never edited the content in your sidebar, header, or footer, now is a great time to experiment!

To edit the content, go to Appearance → Customize → Widgets and you’ll now be able to directly add widgets and any blocks, while previewing exactly what they’ll look like on your site.

This update is just one more step on the way to a more intuitive site editing experience. Go forth and create!

5 Ways to Get Started On Your Side Hustle

At Automattic, we believe in making the web a better place by helping people get access to powerful tools that help them tell their stories and turn their passion into an income generator.

During the pandemic, we noticed that people were focusing on their side hustle and building a trusted brand online. We’re focused on making it easier and quicker to launch your website, so that you can focus on building your community. 

Here are five ways to get started: 

  1. Create your website on WordPress.com
  2. Get your own domain name to make it easier for people to find you
  3. Setup Professional Email to connect with customers using your own domain
  4. Create a logo to make your brand memorable
  5. Start collecting payments with Earn tools 

Whether you’re a blogger, an entrepreneur, a small business owner, an artist, an educator, or you have a new idea you want to turn into a side hustle, we want you to have the opportunity to amplify your message through the web and find your own community and customers here. We’re ready to help you get started on your journey. Are you ready?

Start my three-month free trial for Professional Email!

Heading Font Weights and List View Toggles Arrive in Block Editor and WordPress 5.8

Let’s dive into some recent block updates meant to improve your efficiency and spice up the look of your blog or website.

Stylish Heading Font Weights

Headings not only draw your audience in, they help get your message across. Now you can enhance the font weight of headings with the click of a dropdown menu. Between the options for font size and font weight, you’ll be able to create the perfect look you’ve been aiming for.

To start experimenting, select the Heading block you want to edit, then head to the right-side block menu. Under Typography, change the Font weight. When you select a new option in the menu, you’ll see your heading font change on the left.

Persistent List View Toggles

As we mentioned last month, the List View button acts as a table of contents and outlines all the blocks in use on your page or post. And most importantly, this outline is persistent — meaning it won’t disappear as you edit your content so you can quickly find and edit any block on the list.

The List View just leveled up: you can now expand and collapse nested blocks in the list.

Deeply nested layouts will benefit from this feature. But even for straightforward layouts, certain elements such as content in columns can make the List View a little daunting. Less searching + more focus = improved editing.

WordPress 5.8

WordPress.com updated to WordPress 5.8 on July 20. This release starts the wave of functionality centered around Full Site Editing.

Full Site Editing aims to bring blocks to every aspect of the WordPress experience, including navigation menus, site logos, templated content, global styles affecting your site’s overall look, and much more. Between adding functionality to your site or editing what’s already there, Full Site Editing will allow you to do it with a visual editing experience — without the need to learn code.

Learn more about Full Site Editing here.

Keep Building, Keep Exploring

Your feedback is crucial to expanding the block editor’s capabilities, so keep it coming. Watch here for more updates, and in the meantime, have fun experimenting!

The Second Annual, Official WordPress.com Growth Summit is Coming and You Won’t Want to Miss It

You’ve got an idea; let’s get it online.

Join us for the second Official WordPress.com Growth Summit on August 17th in the Americas + EMEA and August 18th in APAC. 

Calling all creators, small businesses, and publishers! 

Are you a blogger looking for ways to drive traffic and attract more visitors? Are you a small business owner that wants to start selling products and services on your site? Are you an artist or creator who wants to learn how to share your work and generate leads? The WordPress.com Growth Summit will cover these topics (and many more). We’ll provide indispensable advice to help you succeed!

Speakers include:

You’ll have direct access to our Happiness Engineers —  ask your most pressing support questions and check out on-demand product demos. 

Social network with fellow attendees to grow your community connections.

To stay accessible to a global audience, we’ll hold the event twice:

  • Americas + EMEA — August 17th, 2021.
  • Asia Pacific — August 18th, 2021.

Register today to take advantage of the special rate of $25 USD at checkout. Special pricing ends July 31!

Make Your Best Photos Shine

We’ve recently launched an upgraded photo carousel experience that takes photo viewing to the next level on mobile devices. Now your visitors can swipe, zoom, and double-tap with ease and get the best look at those beautiful snaps!

Video Overview

Here’s a short video overview of using the photo carousel on a mobile device and the upgrades we’ve introduced:

What’s New

Smooth, Hands-on, High Resolution Photo Viewing

  • Full-width photos expand to the display of your device
  • Swift, smooth pinch-to-zoom, and double-tap-to-zoom through your photos
  • New, higher resolution images that stay crisp and clear however far you zoom
  • A simpler, faster tap-to-close button to move back into the thumbnail gallery view

Faster, Clearer Navigation Between Photos

  • Responsive, fast swiping between your photos
  • Clear photo numbering navigation to show where you are in your gallery
  • With 5 or less photos, a dot navigation system you can tap to jump to any photo in the sequence

Easy Access Metadata and Comments for Every Photo

  • One-tap metadata for every photo
  • Per-photo comment notifications, with a single tap to view comments

Getting Started

If you’ve previously used our image carousel feature, your site has been upgraded automatically so your visitors will get the new experience starting right now.

If you haven’t added a carousel to your site so far, now’s a great time to give it a try. Simply insert a gallery block using our editor and your photos will show using the carousel whenever your visitors click or tap an image.

WordPress.com Managed Hosting Webinar with Rudy Faile, Automattic Systems

On June 16, 2021, WordPress.com presented a live webinar focused on Managed Hosting with WordPress.com. The topic expert was Rudy Faile, Automattic Systems Engineer. Hosting the webinar was Sam Vaidya, Automattic Happiness Engineer. If you missed the live event, don’t worry. You can watch the recording at your convenience on Youtube or view it right here.

What Does the WordPress.com Managed Hosting Webinar Cover?

In this webinar, you’ll learn from WordPress.com Happiness Engineers and product experts how to build a fast, secure, and scalable website using WordPress – the publishing platform that now powers over 41% of the web. 

Managed hosting is a convenient service offered by WordPress.com, which is 100% dedicated to hosting the open-source WordPress software. Managed hosting is an excellent option for people who don’t want to deal with running a website’s back-end technical operations. You get all of the freedom of WordPress, with none of the hassles. 

Here’s what you get with WordPress.com managed hosting: 

  • A faster website. 
  • Powerful, built-in SEO. 
  • Security and systems experts. 
  • Scalability and uptime you can depend on. 
  • Automatic WordPress Updates. 
  • Real-time backups.

Watched the Webinar but Still Have Questions?

Attendees at the live event asked great questions throughout the presentation. We’ve created an FAQ that answers many of them, along with other questions you might have. If you want to know more about WordPress.com’s managed hosting, the FAQ is a great place to start.

Popular Podcast App Pocket Casts Joins Automattic

We’re excited to announce that Pocket Casts will be joining Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com. More than 80M people in the US listen to a podcast weekly, and this critically acclaimed podcast app makes it easier for fans to discover podcasts and customize their listening experience. Pocket Casts has been recognized by The New York Times, WIRED, The Verge, and other top publications for its exquisite design and user-friendly features.

Pocket Casts should be the podcast app you listen to and through which you distribute your content. Here’s why:

  1. Discover hidden gems with powerful search tools and human-curated recommendations. Pocket Casts helps you discover premium content with next-level search and discovery tools. You can use the episode search feature to look for a topic or special guest you want to learn more about or rely on the advice of human curators to help you find new podcasts that you’ll enjoy.
  1. Easily navigate with a beautifully designed interface. Pocket Casts is a thoughtfully designed app built by podcast listeners for podcast listeners. Easily follow and find your favorite podcasts and build a playback queue for a seamless listening experience.
  1. Personalize how you listen. With built-in features like variable speed playback, trim silence option, volume boost, a sleep timer, personal media storage, and standalone playback for Apple Watch, Pocket Casts delivers a streamlined and customized listening experience that users love.
  1. Listen on the go across all of your devices. Once you are ready to hit play on your next podcast, Pocket Casts allows you to listen anywhere across platforms, including iOS, Android, Web, Windows, macOS, CarPlay, Android Auto, watchOS, Alexa, and Sonos.
  1. Have your own podcast on WordPress.com? Make it easy for people to subscribe to your podcast on Pocket Casts by adding the Podcast subscription block pattern to your site.

As part of Automattic, Pocket Casts will continue to provide you with the features needed to enjoy your favorite podcasts (or find something new). We will explore building deep integrations with WordPress.com and Pocket Casts, making it easier to distribute and listen to podcasts. We’re thrilled that we can continue to give our users a multitude of ways to tell and engage with stories that matter.

Co-founders Russell Ivanovic and Philip Simpson will continue to lead Pocket Casts as part of Automattic. 

6 Ways WordPress.com Courses Help You Grow

WordPress.com experts invite you to join our community-driven courses to get your blog or podcast started, launched, or taken to the next level. Join today for on-demand content, access to a course community of peers, weekly office hours with our dedicated experts, and virtual meet-ups to connect with other learners like you. Start learning here

Overheard on our Blogging for Beginners Course Community: “Taking this course has pushed me to think beyond my comfort zone and take a step back in my journey to become a better blogger and focus on what I truly want to write about.

Join the WordPress.com Course Communities here.