As you are already aware WordPress recently released 3.8 Parker. With it there were a lot more than just cosmetic changes. Take a look inside as I go over everything from the new look to the Admin page, to how the new Theme preview works, the changes with Widgets administration, and the fact it is finally responsive!
WordPress 3.8 Parker
I wasn’t aware of this but the reference to codename Parker is to Charlie Parkeran awesome 50’s Jazz musician. If you haven’t listened to his stuff you are definitely missing out! With WordPress 3.8 though they have taken it to the next level. The highlights of this release are:
Changes to the Admin Panel
After performing the 3.8 update the first thing you will notice is that you are now offered to choose one of the 8 pre-defined color themes. Yes you can still choose the boring grey if you wish. But now it defaults to a very nicely contrasting dark design.
Tip: If you want to change your Color theme after updating? Just go to your User Profile and you can change it from there.
Typography and Vector Graphics
The other thing you’ll noticed is the way everything is laid out now. No more cramped looking hard to read interface. From the use of the new fonts, to how everything is laid out it makes it simple to use and read. No more do I feel like a gnome pouring over some cryptic tome while in the Admin UI.
Oh, and if you didn’t notice the changes to the icons? You really should. Its these little details that stick out for me. The use of Vector Graphics make everything look great and pop. But more importantly the use of them along with the other changes makes the Admin panel perform a lot faster than before.
Responsive Design – Usability on Smartphone or Tablets
Finally I can ditch the horrid Google App to manage WordPress on my smartphone! Now I can log directly into any WordPress site I manage and actually work in the Admin Panel. With the new backend design you can easily access and read everything you need to access from your smartphone or tablet.
Changes to Theme Manager
With 3.8 there was a change to how you manage themes in WordPress as well. It has a better overall layout as well as a great Preview screen so you can review the theme you were thinking of installing before committing to activating it.
Changes to Widget Manager
Another one of the biggest changes you’ll notice in WordPress 3.8 is the Widget screen. If you have a custom theme with a lot of Widget areas? It was difficult to try and drag and drop Widgets into different Widget areas. Especially if you had a smaller screen say… like a smartphone or tablet?
Now WordPress has a much better system for managing your Widgets. The overall layout is much cleaner and easier to read and follow. Sure you can still drag and drop if you want. The new (and easier) way now though is you can click on the widget you wish to use and then use a drop down to select the Widget area you wish to place it in. Then you go to where you just installed the widget and configure it. If you wish to remove it? There is now a Delete option right on the Widget itself instead of trying to drag it off the screen… which never seemed to work right for me.
New Default Theme Twenty Fourteen
Along with this release if you did the full auto update you will receive their new default theme Twenty Fourteen. With it you can use it as a “Magazine” layout with default sliders included. Or you can still use it to run a minimalistic blog. It is also of course completely responsive and displays correctly on smartphones and tablets now as well. Since I’m a bit biased due to the fact I use Genesis here I didn’t really like it. But who knows maybe you will!
Is it Safe to Update?
As with any WordPress update it is always wise to do a full backup of your website including your database just in case something does go wrong you can easily roll it back. With that being said I was able to update without any issues with the theme or Plugins I’m currently running on the site.
Note: It might be wise to update your Plugins first before updating WordPress – just in case.
Warning: I would also highly suggest if you are using any other types of frameworks other than Genesis? You should check with your frameworks support forums to make sure it is safe to update.
If you want to see a complete list of what was changed with this release? Check out the WordPress 3.8 Codex.
What Do You Think?
I know I’m silly for getting excited over a WordPress update. Considering the last super major design change was back in 2008 with “Coltrane”? Then you can understand why I’m excited. What do you think of the new WordPress changes though? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts on it.