WordPress was just updated to version 3.8 and all I can say is… Wow! If you’ve not updated your site yet you can do so either from your Dashboard or by downloading the new version via WordPress.org and updating manually. In this article I’ll discuss some of the new features of WordPress 3.8 and give you some insight on how to customize these changes to fit your personal preferences.
The New Dashboard
While there are many subtle tweaks and performance enhancements in this release, the biggest change(s) are in the aesthetics of the Dashboard area itself. The first thing you’ll notice is that the Dashboard is now completely flat in terms of color scheme and appearance. In previous versions, the color scheme of the Dashboard was very grey and had subtle gradients that made certain areas appear to be three dimensional. Now the appearance looks very much like iOS 7. You have the ability to change the color scheme of the Dashboard by accessing your User Profile. Currently, there are 8 new schemes to choose from including the default dark interface, a light interface (a la “old WordPress”), Blue, Coffee, Ectoplasm, Midnight, Ocean, and Sunrise. You can change the interface at any time, so I suggest trying them out and seeing which one suits you best. Personally, I’m a fan of the Light interface.
(Pictured above: default, Light, Blue, Coffee, Ectoplasm, Midnight, Ocean, and Sunrise)
The backend of WordPress is now completely responsive in 3.8, which means that the Admin areas will now adapt to your screen size whether you’re on a desktop, tablet, or even a mobile phone. This is big for those of us (like myself) who blog on-the-go and use our mobile devices to create content. I’ve been using an iPad Air as my blogging tool of choice lately, and this refinement is probably going to change the way that I work in some regards. Normally I compose my posts in an app called ByWord and then either directly upload from there or publish via the WordPress mobile app, which is very limited in terms of functionality. Having full access to my Dashboard is going to really help me manage my website regardless of where I’m accessing it.
Twenty Fourteen Theme
The new default theme in WordPress 3.8 is called Twenty Fourteen and it’s absolutely beautiful. They’ve migrated away from a traditional blog-style theme and created a more magazine-like experience. The theme includes both a grid layout and a slider to showcase your content on the homepage, and also several widgetized areas for you to customize the look and feel of your site as well. Twenty Fourteen is, of course, fully responsive as well, so you don’t have to worry about your content looking good on mobile devices. In general, I’m not a big fan of using the default theme for a WordPress site, but I think this one gives you a good foundation to build off of, and with some customizations it could be a really great look for just about any type of blog.
If you’re like me, you prefer to either use your own theme or install them from third parties, like ThemeForest. Well, in WordPress 3.8, the theme manager has been completely revamped. Now you have the ability to cycle through themes using your keyboard and also much improved way of live previewing potential themes as well. It’s hard to describe what makes this new system so great, so I highly recommend you check it out for yourself.
A Word of Caution
As is the case with any major update, you should do your due diligence before upgrading to WordPress 3.8. Always check to make sure that your themes and plugins are compatible with a new version of WordPress before you install it, and it’s always a good idea to create a backup of your WordPress site before updating as well, just in case something were to happen. If you’re unsure about whether or not your theme or plugin(s) are compatible with the latest version of WordPress you should contact the developer before proceeding with the update.
WordPress 3.8 isn’t the biggest update in terms of functionality that WordPress has ever released, but it is one of the biggest in terms of aesthetics that I can recall. Be sure to read all about 3.8 on the WordPress.org site for more information. Thanks for reading, and happy blogging!