WordPress 3.8 New Features

with Morten Rand-Hendriksen
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WordPress 3.8 New Features
Video duration: 0s 8m 54s Beginner


WordPress 3.8 is here and there are a lot of exciting changes. Get up to date with the new features and start enhancing your blog or website today. Morten Rand-Hendriksen reveals the redesigned dashboard, which is high contrast, clean, and more customizable than ever, and the new Twenty Fourteen theme, which provides a (highly requested) featured content area on your front page.


WordPress 3.8 New Features

- [Voiceover] Hi, I'm Morten Rand-Hendriksen, staff author at lynda.com. And in this movie, we're going to take a first look at what's new in the just released WordPress version 3.8. When you install or update your site to WordPress 3.8, you are taken to the welcome screen, which gives you an overview over what's new and what's different in this release. And there's a lot of new things to look at. Take the time to look over this page and follow some of the links.

And remember to check out the credits and the freedoms section to learn about who builds WordPress, and what WordPress is all about. Now let's take a closer look at the new features. The first thing you'll notice is that the dashboard user interface has been completely redesigned. Over the years, the dashboard has gone through many different iterations, each more modern and user friendly than the next. And this latest iteration builds on the lessons from all the previous designs.

The new UI has high-contrast colors for easier readability, uses the clean and modern Open Sans font throughout, and is fully responsive. Meaning, for the first time, you can visit the WordPress dashboard from your tablet or phone and see the content presented in a nice and user friendly manner. When you do scale the dashboard down to phone size, you'll also notice the main menu is enlarged to make it easier to click on with your fingers.

And the contextual menu is hidden under a button in the top left corner. Another key feature in the new design is the use of font icons in place of images. You'll notice that all the icons, like the ones you see here in the tools and the editor, and also the ones you see in the menu on the left-hand sidebar, are crystal clear and a single color. And if you're using a high-resolution display, these icons will still have crisp edges.

All thanks to a custom font named Dashicons, created specifically for WordPress. The new dashboard also ships with eight different color schemes, giving you more options and the ability to customize your experience to fit your own personality and aesthetic. The color schemes are found under users, in your profile, or up in the right-hand corner, under your name and edit my profile. In addition to the classic default and blue options, we now also have light, coffee, ectoplasm, midnight, ocean, and sunrise.

Changing this color scheme of the dashboard changes the experience completely. So I urge you to experiment with the different options and find one you like. Just remember that this color change is only for the dashboard, not for the front end of your site. That each individual user can set their own color profile, and that if you pick a color scheme and you decide you don't like it, you can always come back here and change it to something else. The themes page, found under appearance, and themes, has gotten a refresh to bring it up to speed with the overall redesign.

The new lander page has a grid display that shows you the current theme alongside the other theme options that are installed on your site. From this page, you can get details about all your installed themes by clicking on the thumbnail for any of the themes. This brings you to a pop-up window that shows you all the information about the theme and allows you to either activate a not active theme or click on live preview to see what this theme would look like on your site.

It also allows you to navigate between the installed themes on your site using the navigation in the top left-hand corner. For the currently installed theme, you can also access the customizer, change your widgets, customize your menus, your header, and your background. All directly from the themes page. The theme installer, found under add new, has also gotten some minor updates. In particular, if we go to a new theme here, you'll see the theme preview option has been updated to look more like the customizer.

In particular, the theme preview has been redesigned to borrow the stylings from the customizer to get a more consistent experience. The widgets section, found under appearance and widgets, has also been overhauled to match with the new design. And a new and very useful feature has been added to make it easier to assign widgets to specific areas. When you are in the widgets area, click on any of the available widgets, and you can select what widgetized area or sidebar that widget should appear in.

This is a very useful feature that takes away the frustration of having to drag and drop widgets when you also have to scroll. Of course, the drag and drop functionality still works in the same way that it did before. Drag and drop your widget to where you want it and then edit it in place. Finally, no WordPress release is complete without a new default theme. And bundled with 3.8 you'll find a new theme, Twenty Fourteen.

Whereas the Twenty Twelve was for CMS applications and Twenty Thirteen was primarily for blogging, Twenty Fourteen is a magazine style theme. This means heavy focus on images and featured content, lots of customizability, and flat design. So let's take a look at the new theme. Twenty Fourteen has all the features you've come to expect from a default theme. You can create a custom header image. You have two custom menus, one here at the top and one in the left-hand sidebar.

You have a widget area on the left-hand sidebar, another one in the right-hand in the content area, and a third in the footer. And in addition, you have an optional featured content area right here at the top. This featured content area can be displayed either as a grid pattern as you see here, or be switched out for a slider. The content that's displayed is either sticky posts or posts with a specified tag. And all of this is controlled from the customizer. So if I go to the customizer, and go down to featured content, you'll see currently it's set to a grid pattern and showing posts with a tag featured.

But I can change it to the slider, and now you'll see a fully functional slider in my theme. This eliminates the need for a featured slider plug-in or featured content plug-in, and answer one of the primary requests that have always been voiced for previous default themes. As you can see, version 3.8 is making all the things we already love about WordPress better and easier, and adding long awaited improvements, especially in responsiveness on mobile devices, ease of use, and high-resolution screens.

Now it's your turn to take it for a spin and see what you think. If you haven't done so already, go to your dashboard and click update to update to the current version. Or, if you're new to WordPress, go to wordpress.org/download and download WordPress 3.8 directly from this website. I'm in the studio right now recording a full update to lynda.com's WordPress essential training course to showcase the new dashboard design and dive deeper into how to use WordPress and how to make use of the new features.

And you should see that update go live shortly. I'm also recording a new start with a theme course for Twenty Fourteen, showing you how to get the most out of the new theme and getting you up and running with a magazine style site. In the meantime, get yourself updated to WordPress 3.8. Explore the new and improved user experience, and check out the many WordPress courses we have in the lynda.com library. And if you want to get in touch with me to talk WordPress or ask a question, hit me up on Twitter @mor10.

Thanks for watching and go get cracking with WordPress 3.8.

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