Dec
19
2013

WordPress Changes

Just updated WordPress, and WOW! Where the heck did that come from? 3.8 has some of the biggest changes I have ever seen, which does tell us that it is mostly visual, but still…

This release is focused on improving the user interface for WordPress admin area meaning a lot of visual improvements. In this article, we will show you what’s coming in WordPress 3.8 and how you can try some of these features right away.

Many of the proposed features for WordPress 3.8 are already available for testing and development purposes as plugins. This features-as-plugin approach allowed contributors and developers to work on their projects simultaneously. You can try these plugins in a development environment. However, since most of them are highly experimental, it is not recommended to use them on a production site.

New User Interface For WordPress Admin

We wrote about how MP6 could become the future of WordPress. It is official now. The MP6 plugin will become part of WordPress core in 3.8. It is already in use on WordPress.com sites, and you can give it a try by installing the plugin. It gives WordPress admin interface a modern, optimized, and polished new look that it deserves.

A new user interface for the admin area is announced for WordPress 3.8

MP6 features a streamlined and improved admin user interface with flattened icons and beautiful color schemes. You can choose a color scheme from Users » Profile.

The current default admin interface comes with only two default color schemes which makes it feel ancient, so these new refreshing colors will be a nice change. MP6 uses Open Sans font which will be shipped with WordPress 3.8. MP6 also brings great improvements to buttons, forms, and the overall appearance of the admin interface making it prettier and user friendly.

A New Less Bloated Dashboard

The dashboard screen will also get a face lift in WordPress 3.8. Based on the Dashboard plugin by @lessbloat and the team, the new WordPress dashboard will have fewer and more relevant widgets.

For example, the incoming links widget will be removed. ‘Right now’ widget will be replaced by ‘Activity’ widget. QuickPress on the dashboard screen will be renamed to Quick Draft and will be much simpler.

A new less bloated dashboard is expected in WordPress 3.8

Better Live Previews of Themes

Themes screen in current WordPress has too much text. WordPress 3.8 will bring theme experience plugin (codename Thx38) into core. This will transform the theme screens in WordPress admin area. It has larger theme screenshots and a clutter free user interface. Theme search is moved to the top right corner of the screen. To try this as a plugin on WordPress 3.7 or earlier, you would need to install MP6 plugin first.

Themes screen in development versions of WordPress 3.8

The new theme experience will greatly improve the theme preview experience. You can still see theme previews in WordPress 3.7 without activating a theme. However the new theme experience will provide a better user interface to do that. You can completely collapse the sidebar and see the full screen theme previews. It is also much faster and prettier than previous theme screen.

Theme preview screen in development versions of WordPress 3.8

A Friendlier and Easier Widget Area Chooser

Widgets are an easier way for users to drag-drop elements into their sidebars and other widget ready areas. This allows theme developers to build themes with multiple widget ready areas, so the users can create their own website layouts. With multiple widget ready areas and tons of widgets to choose from, sometimes it becomes difficult to drag and drop a widget into the right sidebar.

Widget area chooser in action

With WordPress 3.8, this problem will be solved with a new User Interface for the widgets screen. The new Widgets screen will allow users to easily choose the sidebar they want to add a widget to without dragging it across different sidebars. The new widget interface will be cleaner, clutter free, and visually appealing.

A New Default Theme – Twenty Fourteen

Twenty Fourteen will be the new default theme for next year which is expected to be released in WordPress 3.8. It is a magazine style theme with support for featured content to be prominently displayed across the site. If your site does not use featured images, Twenty Fourteen makes sure that it looks pretty out of the box without featured images as well.

Twenty Fourteen - The new default WordPress theme for next year

Twenty Fourteen will allow users to customize the featured content area. They can choose to have a grid style layout or a slider. Users can choose which content to be featured by adding a tag in the theme customizer. Twenty Fourteen will then look for posts with the tag and display them in the featured content area.

Setting up featured content area in Twenty Fourteen WordPress theme

We’re not huge fans of this left aligned layouts, but we’ll see if it starts to grow on us. From the current looks, this theme looks extremely crowded.

Other Features

Another much anticipated feature is Omnisearch. It is a global admin search feature that you can use to search for media, posts, pages, content, files, plugins and themes on your WordPress site. It is under development and will not be shipped with 3.8.

These were some of the top features coming in WordPress 3.8 that we’re looking forward to. Which one of these features are your favorite? What would you like to see in a future WordPress release? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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