PHP 7.4 Just Came Out, and So Did Our PHP Version Switcher

PHP is still one of the most popular languages used to build the web. The newest version, PHP 7.4, was released today — and Business and eCommerce plan customers can opt to start using it immediately.

WordPress.com sites run PHP 7.3 by default — it’s still our recommended version, since it’s been stress-tested across all of WordPress.com — but if you have a site on the Business or eCommerce plan and want to be on the leading technological edge, you can opt to switch to version 7.4 immediately.

Head to My Site > Manage > Hosting Configuration to find the new PHP Version Switcher:

Choose which version of PHP you want your site to run on, click the “Update PHP version” button, and voilà.

(Note: All sites with eCommerce plans can make the switch right now. Sites on the Business plan need to have either an active plugin or a custom theme to use the PHP Version Switcher.)

PHP’s evolved with each version 7 release, and PHP 7.4 promises to have the strongest performance yet. It will eventually power all WordPress.com sites, but Business and eCommerce customers can take advantage of the update today!

WordPress.com and Fiverr Partner to Launch “WordPress.com Fundamentals” Course

Getting your new business website ready for launch? Want a little hand-holding — a step-by-step tutorial on setting up a WordPress.com site from start to finish, that you can work on at your own pace and on your own time? “WordPress.com Fundamentals,” a comprehensive video course created with our friends over at Fiverr, walks you through all the fundamentals in 90 minutes.

The course covers the basics of setting up a business website, but anyone new to WordPress.com can benefit from lessons on how to create an account, set up a site, customize a theme, publish content, and share it on social media. It was developed by WordPress.com Happiness Engineers with years of experience guiding thousands of new WordPress.com customers in chat, email, forums, and concierge sessions, so you know you’re getting expert guidance from people who know every WordPress.com tip and trick.

The entire course is just $31, which includes unlimited access to all the course materials, quizzes, and downloadable resources. Take it all at once, or learn at the pace that works for you — the course is divided into bite-sized chapters that you can refer to as many times as you need.

Students are also eligible for a discount of 25% on WordPress.com plan upgrades! So if you’ve been hesitating to explore the advanced features in the Premium, Business, or eCommerce plans, the course gives you both a great introduction to the ease and power of WordPress.com and a lower-cost way to try them out.

To get started, head over to the course page on the Learn from Fiverr website. Click on the green “Buy Course” button, and follow the prompts to create an account and purchase the course. And until the end of September, get 30% off the course fee by entering coupon code learnwordpress at checkout.

And if you do take the class, let us know what you think. Fiverr will send out a survey to all students after completing the class, so be sure to fill it out. We want to know what works for you, what you’d like to see more of, and where we can improve.

New in the WordPress.com Business Plan: Jetpack Search

The WordPress.com Business plan combines fully managed hosting with the freedom to grow and scale your site without limits. Today we’re adding Jetpack Search to WordPress.com Business so you can enjoy powerful and fast on-site search functionality as part of your plan.

 

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Once you activate Jetpack Search, you’ll be using the same search engine powering some of the largest sites on the web. Jetpack Search provides a more engaging experience for your visitors: it relies on modern search algorithms that take phrase matches and the recency of your content into consideration, which in turn produces better search results.

In addition to more relevant matches, you can also configure the Jetpack Search sidebar widget to let your visitors sort their results or filter them by tags, categories, dates, and post types.

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Whether you run a news site or sell products on your online store, a more engaging search experience will help readers and customers dig deeper into the content on your site and keep them there for longer visits.

As recently as three years ago, our enhanced search functionality was a $6,000-a-year add-on to our enterprise plan; we’ve since been able to scale the service and can now offer it as part of a Business plan that costs a fraction of the original price. Moreover, most search solutions come with limits on the total number of indexed posts or the number of monthly queries. Just like the rest of your WordPress.com Business site, unlimited is the name of the game. We want your business to be successful, so we don’t place arbitrary limits on the amount of content or number of searches that your visitors can run.

You can join the thousands of websites already using Jetpack Search by upgrading your site to WordPress.com Business today.

How to Enable Jetpack Search

  1. If you don’t already have it, go to the Plans page and add WordPress.com Business to your site.
  2. Go to My Sites → Settings → traffic to enable Jetpack Search on your site.
  3. If you want to enable sidebar filtering, customize your site and add the Search (Powered by Jetpack) widget. Configuration of filters is simple and can be done with a few clicks.

Read more about this new feature on the Jetpack Search support page.

The WordPress.com Business Plan Now Supports Plugins and Third-Party Themes

For many years, WordPress.com has been a simple way for people to create their own beautiful WordPress website in minutes.

But that simplicity came with a tradeoff — WordPress.com did not offer built-in support for the thousands of third-party plugins and themes that helped make WordPress the world’s largest and most open web publishing platform.

Now, we’ve made a significant change to the WordPress.com Business plan: you can access and add third-party plugins and themes built by the WordPress community. It’s the simplicity, speed, and expert support that you’ve always loved about WordPress.com, plugged in.

People love WordPress because it is totally customizable. With support for plugins and third-party themes, WordPress.com Business users will be able to connect their sites to great email and social media tools, ecommerce solutions, publishing and subscription services, and more.

This is a big step for us, and there’s a lot more work to do — over the coming weeks and months, we’re going to be working with partners and developers to help make the experience even easier for you to install and use these plugins and themes on WordPress.com.

And every WordPress.com Business user gets real-time concierge support – live chat with one of our Happiness Engineers and we can help you make the most of these new features.

WordPress is the world’s most popular web platform, and we’re proud to keep this community growing and thriving. Thanks for your continued support.

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Three Ways to Showcase Instagram Photos on Your Website

Your Instagram account is a great way to share your life, products, and services online. With all that great content, why not showcase your Instagram account on your website or blog? Learn three ways WordPress.com makes it easy and discover other sites that are doing it well.

Activate the Instagram Widget

The Instagram Widget allows you to display your latest Instagram photos in your site’s sidebar, footer, or other widget areas available with your theme.

La Colombe is a chain of coffee shops in New England. Their blog, The Daily Grind, runs on WordPress.com, using the MH Magazine theme. They display their Instagram account prominently on their site using the sidebar widget area.

 

Daily Grind Blog

If you’d like to show off your latest shots like La Colombe, begin by adding the Instagram Widget to the widget area of your choice. You’ll have to grant WordPress.com access to the Instagram account from which you want to display photos. You can only display images from an Instagram account that you own or manage.

Embed an Instagram photo on a post or page

Whether you’re blogging about your new pair of flip-flops or your recent summer road trip, you can add snaps from your Instagram account to tell the story. Embedding an Instagram photo includes the likes and comments the photo is generating and encourages your readers to follow your Instagram account.

Ily Magazine is a new digital magazine founded by Erika Ramirez. It uses the Goodz Magazine theme and features essays, interviews, and poetry about love, passion, and relationships. 

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In an interview with Amy Forsyth, author Jessica Rovniak includes a throwback Instagram photo right in the body of the post. 

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To embed an Instagram photo in a page or post, copy the link of the Instagram photo on any public account and paste it into the WordPress.com editor. Your photo will appear along with the caption and likes.

Add an Instagram social media icon

Another way to make Instagram a part of your website is to link to your account using a Social Media Icons Widget.

Pine and Crave is a food blog by Mackenzie Schieck. She shares her recipes, home-decor ideas, and lifestyle tips with beautiful photographs and thoughtful writing using the Zuki theme. 

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Mackenzie features her Instagram account with the Instagram Widget as well as the Social Media Icons Widget in her theme’s sidebar. To help her Instagram followers find the related content on her website, she’s also created a dedicated page called Instagram Bites, where she publishes the Instagram images and links to the related posts.

Pine and Crave website

To add the Social Media Icons Widget just like Mackenzie, launch the Customizer and click on widgets. Select the widget area and the widget, then add your Instagram username in the proper field.

 

If you have an awesome Instagram account to share, try out these features on your website today!

Looking to do more with your website?

If you’re eager to make your mark on the web with a professional website or an impressive blog, consider the Personal Plan.

The Personal Plan includes:

  • A personalized domain that’s all your own.
  • No more ads on your site — just your content.
  • 3GB Storage Space for all your files.

In addition, WordPress.com Plans come with fast, friendly help from our expert Happiness Engineers: ask any question from theme help to setting up pages to adding widgets on your WordPress.com site. We’re ready to help make your site even better.

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Customize Your Site’s Footer Credit

Every WordPress.com site displays a footer credit — a line of text at the bottom of the page — which links to our homepage and to the theme you’re currently using. These links help your visitors set up a WordPress site of their own, and highlight the reach and scope of our community. It’s a way to show the world the pride we take in building WordPress.com, which so many of you have chosen as your home on the web.

Over the years we’ve received feedback about the footer credit, where the language didn’t always align with the goals for your website or blog. So today, we’re rolling out the ability to customize the footer credit. We wanted to give you more control over your site’s appearance while maintaining an important part of WordPress.com.

Custom Footer Credits

What’s new? As of today, all WordPress.com users can choose among several options for the footer credit, from a minimalist WordPress.com logo to new options like “A WordPress.com Website” or “Powered by WordPress.com.” If your site is on our Business plan, you now have the option to remove the footer credit altogether.

To find these options, head to My Sites → Customize and select the site you wish to change. In the Site Identity section, look for the Footer Credit option. Choose the option you would like to use — the Customizer will let you preview how each one looks on your site — and hit Save & Publish when you’re ready. Your site will be updated instantly.

We currently offer five footer options, but we’ll keep an eye on your feedback, and will consider adding other alternatives in the future. If you have a suggestion, we would love to hear it — leave a comment with your ideas. Enjoy!

Customizing Twenty Sixteen: Four Takes on Our Annual Theme

Every year we release an annual flagship theme as a blank canvas for bloggers, artists, professionals, and business owners. This year’s creation, Twenty Sixteen, is a gorgeous theme that celebrates a classic WordPress layout yet injects it with new energy and precise, minimalist flare.

Twenty Sixteen‘s customization options allow it to support any type of site — from a traditional blog to a professional web page. Here are four sites that caught our eye.

Shakespeare Confidential

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Some of you might know blogger John Kelly from his superb etymology blog, mashed radish. John has embarked on a new adventure this month. Since 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, he intends to read the Bard’s entire corpus of plays and poetry by year’s end, and chronicle the journey on his blog.

He chose Twenty Sixteen for this project, and the theme’s crisp typography and nods to print culture work perfectly with his topic — check out the neat post intro which gives readers a hint of the post’s content (see screenshot above: “In 2016, it’s not the shrew that’s the problem. It’s the taming.”), or the magazine-like pull quotes (below).

A few other well-chosen elements, like a clean serif font (Libre Baskerville) and a custom header image based on a famous Shakespeare etching, come together to create an unobtrusive but memorable look.

YINKABOKINNI

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A pop of color, a punchy tagline, strategically positioned social icons: with just a few brushstrokes, D.J. and radio presenter Yinka Bokinni has crafted a homepage full of personality.

Yinka, a UK-based music and fashion lover, hosts a morning show at London’s Rinse FM, and you sense something of that early-morning, big-city vibe in the site’s design, from the shocking pink custom background to the slender sans-serif fonts she uses (like Droid Sans Mono in the site’s title).

Yinka has opted for a static front page, but the site’s other sections — her blog and contact info, for example — along with her other social profiles are all one click away thanks to the well-placed custom menu and Social Media Icons Widget.

Lucão

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Even if you don’t read Portuguese, Brazilian poet Lucão’s blog is a hymn to the virtues of minimalism — in writing as well as in design.

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Lucão — real name Lucas Brandão — has cultivated a huge audience on social media, with more than 300,000 followers on Instagram alone. His blog — where he gathers all his handwritten, aphorism-length poems — is a comfortable hub where readers can explore his deep archives (he’s been publishing here for almost a decade). The black-and-white aesthetic of the poems work especially well against the backdrop of Twenty Sixteen, whose clean lines and focus on readability let the words speak for themselves.

Three Hour Brunch Friend

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In our book, any food blog with “brunch” in its name is already ahead of the curve; Patricia, a Toronto, Canada-based food blogger went a few steps further and used Twenty Sixteen to create an inviting, bright space for her recipes.

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Patricia’s blog demonstrates how the theme’s out-of-the-box look, including its default font and white background, are the perfect foundation for lovely photos and fun food writing. She’s added a handful of widgets — an Image Widget to introduce herself, a Categories Widget for easy navigation, an Instagram Widget for even more eye candy — and let the theme (and a winning custom header image featuring bacon) take care of the rest. We particularly liked how her wider images overhang the text (see the screenshot to the left), one of Twenty Sixteen‘s signature touches.

Have you added your own tweaks to Twenty Sixteen? Have you seen other beautiful customizations of the theme? Let us know in the comments.

Three Ways to Refresh Your Website in 2016

The new year is a great time to hit refresh and set new goals. If your website looks and feels a little stale, now is the time to make a change! Here are three quick ways to freshen up your personal or business website:

Take Inventory

Is your content still accurate? Do you need to update your photos? Are the important links working? Take a step back to think about your site’s purpose and audience. Have your personal or business goals changed since you launched it? Make a list of what needs to be fixed and set a timeline to get it done. Take a look at your most popular posts to know what’s working and target those posts and pages first.

In 2012, three friends — Jeri, Erin, and Allysa — founded a full-service event and styling company, bon évé Events. After refocusing their company’s priorities and goals, they recently relaunched their website. Their rebrand includes a new name (My Simple Soirée), a logo, and WordPress.com website.

 

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Refocusing our business meant an extensive rebrand and rename. This can be challenging for a small business as your brand and name are your lifeline. WordPress.com made it easy to implement the changes we needed for social media first impression.

— My Simple Soirée

Evaluate your website in light of your objectives and make the most of what WordPress.com has to offer, from uploading a new site logo or custom header image to exploring our Premium and Business plans to unlock more space for media, design customization, and eCommerce integration. 

Boost Your Brand

Every website can benefit from custom branding, from hobby blogs to eCommerce websites. Create a cohesive brand experience by aligning all the elements that identify and set your website apart: domain name, website name, and logo. 

Adding a logo to your website is an achievable first step to branding your site. In your menu, click on Customize to launch your Customizer, and click on Site Title, Tagline, and Logo. Here, you can upload a new image or select one from your Media Library.

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Click the Save & Publish button at the top right of the Customizer to activate your new logo.

In a few clicks, you can take your website to the next level with a custom logo. (And if you switch to and from any logo-supported theme, your logo will still be there!)

Textile artist Krista blogs at Looming Jane. She has a custom logo at the top of her website — a stylish cursive display of her brand and shop name. While each theme’s default fonts are carefully selected, you can transform the look of a theme by swapping out the Header Text with your own designs.

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Add Fresh Content

The best way to have a vibrant and active website is to publish new content regularly. If you feel stuck, look to Automattician Andrea Badgley, who has developed a great strategy to help you meet your blogging goals this year.

In her post Publish in 10 Minutes Per Day, she shares her secret sauce for blogging regularly. It has two ingredients: carve out 10 minutes per day and keep topics on hand.

Giving yourself meaningful topics to write about and then carving out the time to write will get you not only practicing, but will get you publishing again. It will make your blog active and will bring visitors to your site.

— Andrea Badgley

Committing to a blogging schedule can be a challenge, so a New Year’s resolution is the perfect motivation to kickstart a new routine. Make your resolutions a reality by investing in your WordPress.com website.

Planning on Turning Your Website into a Lean Mean Marketing Machine?

Consider upgrading to WordPress.com Premium or Business to unlock features like advanced customization, more space for your photos and videos, and stellar customer support.

Our Premium and Business plans also include a custom domain and access to premium themes. Try it out for 30 days.

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