WordPress 3.8: A Spiffy New Look and More

3 minute read
Anthony Myers avatar

WordPress 3.8 Released with Upgraded Frontend, Backend UI
WordPress 3.8 is out,  a minor update with lots of visual tweaks to both the front- and back-end interfaces. It features a modern new design — “most beautiful update yet," the company claims — and a default theme that is responsive on mobile devices.

WordPress is one of the largest open-source content management systems, used by upwards of 72 million websites.

Cleaner, Smoother, Sleeker

The update offers the Open Sans typeface, a clean and modern sans-serif typeface designed by Steve Matteson and commissioned by Google. The new Wordpress dashboard is clean and uncluttered, and everything seems a bit smoother and sleeker.

Think of it as a WordPress evolution, not a revolution, explained Matt Thomas, a designer at Automattic, the professional services company behind WordPress."The basic structure and layout of items is the same, but with a rethought visual treatment."

Released just two months after version 3.7, the update uses a single color for both the top toolbar and sidebar menu to delineate  the navigation from content. The goal was to offer a fresh update without overwhelming  long time users, Thomas wrote. Furthermore, the core team attempted to adjust some visual elements without flattening out buttons or form fields.

Besides the general look and the new typeface, the update adds vector based icons using the icon font Dashicons. These make admin icons stay in focus when resized, and even change color according to the color scheme of the selected theme. Whats more, they are not pixel based, which means pages load faster.

"Wordpress has been slowly but surely weeding out the clutter from the Administration interface and giving the user interface (UI) a consumer friendly look and fee," Gavin Heaton, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research stated in an email to CMSWire.

"So while this feels like a small update, it appears to be setting the scene for a much more robust market push in 2014."

Learning Opportunities


The Twenty Fourteen theme highlights featured content in a magazine style format.

Responsive Default Theme

The new default theme, Twenty Fourteen, is a responsive magazine style theme that supports two different layouts. It allows sites to display content based on a grid or a slider (above image). On the back end, admin schemes now include eight colors for even more personalization (title image).

For websites that use multiple WordPress themes, they can now thumbed through using the arrow keys. No more scrolling and dragging. The same goes for managing widgets. The widgets screen has been reworked so they stack side-by-side to take advantage of a large screen.

Visually, these updates represent the biggest change to WordPress in a long time. For those using more customized versions, of course, the update will have less of an impact. The same goes for those who decide not to upgrade right away. Many large websites don't update with every release, so it will be interesting to see just how many downloads v3.8 gets versus v3.7 and v3.6.

"WordPress has done the hard yards with bloggers, and it's bound to be looking at new markets like small business and medium enterprises in a much more serious way," Heaton said. 

You can find details about all the changes on the official WordPress Codex page.