I know, for all you seasoned bloggers out there this isn’t really news. But we thought it would be a great way to ring in the New Year by talking about the new WordPress 3.5 in our weekly WordPress Wednesday. There are some cool new features and changes and now that we have had some time to play around with it, here is what we thought were the best new features about WordPress 3.5
The folks at WordPress.org released version 3.5 on December 11, 2012. Code named Elvin, after drummer Elvin Jones, version 3.5 is WordPress’ attempt at streamlining the use of media within the framework. A series of changes have been made to simplify getting started with WordPress, and a clear effort to remove as much clutter as possible from the dashboard has been made as well.
Many of the updates are back-end updates, but in this version, WordPress has included a number of changes on the front end that the average blogger will actually notice and in most cases enjoy.
New Default Theme
Twenty Twelve is the new default WordPress theme being packed in with version 3.5. As a default theme, Twenty Twelve improves upon the previous through a very clean fully responsive design. With mobile traffic constantly on the rise, the built-in mobile support within the WordPress default theme is a welcome change.
Twenty Twelve is also the first default theme to come with a front page template, allowing users to create an actual homepage that isn’t the default blog page.
While the improved default theme is the most obvious update to come with Elvin, it’s also one of the least meaningful. Most users will alter their theme immediately upon installing WordPress. It’s nice to see them moving it forward, if only to show theme designers what features should become standards in the future.
New Media Manager
This is the part of the update that everybody should get excited about. The new media manager has a much better looking user interface and helps streamline the creation of galleries. You can drag and drop multiple images to upload and even reorder images within a gallery by drag and drop.
These new features aren’t limited to gallery-building. The media manager now allows you to add meta-data on the fly, as well. It’s a much quicker, simpler experience to upload and update your images than it was before. It’s quicker and more manageable than it used to be, but more importantly, it’s more pleasant to use than it ever has been in the past.
The improved media experience is the most welcome change to come with Elvin. By introducing a simpler experience for managing images within your blog posts in a quick, user friendly way, the folks at WordPress have helped simplify the blogging experience and ensured that adding quality images to your posts is as quick and easy as possible. Finally.
Streamlined User Interface
The new welcome screen has been cleaned up and they’ve added a little box up at the top including links that you may actually use. This change is most likely to be helpful to new users of WordPress, where the links now lead you down a path that will help you set up a new blog from the start.
The dashboard has been updated to be Retina-ready with high resolution graphics and a new color picker. Even the icons have been updated to be much more detailed and modern. Essentially, the new user interface has been optimized to simplify the use of the WordPress dashboard from screen readers, touch devices and other such devices.
Part of streamlining the user interface included the complete removal of the Link Manager for new users. The Link Manager formerly allowed you to create lists of links that could be moved around and inserted into widgets on the fly, but it was a rarely used feature for most users. If you already had links within the area, the feature remains, but brand new installs of WordPress 3.5 and later simply won’t have a Link Manager tab at all (For users that miss the Link Manager, you can install the Link Manager Plugin at WordPress to bring it back).
A series of other minor changes were made that will cumulatively make a big difference. Links to skip to the content on all dashboard pages and even just altering the text on a few buttons to be clearer definitions of what lies behind them will help streamline the WordPress experience for old and new users alike. Another update that would be helpful for newer bloggers is the improvement of Help Text throughout the WordPress interface.
A new tab on the plugins page will allow users to carry their favorite plugins across multiple blogs. If you have an account on WordPress.org you can save your favorites and view them directly within the WordPress plugins page. This will benefit people who use WordPress across multiple sites or frequently set up new blogs, as you will be able to start a fresh install and immediately add all of the plugins you consider necessary.
WordPress has also announced that the ability to log in at WordPress.org and add favorite plugins to your account is only the beginning of what’s to come. Expect more features to be associated to your WordPress.org account in future updates.
New Changes for WordPress Developers
Many of the back end changes won’t be of concern for the average blogger, but many of the changes that were made are meant to help improve the performance and speed up your site. For complete details of changes that effect developers, check out the Version 3.5 at the WordPress Codex
Streamlined Experience for All Users
The updated media editor is reason alone to rejoice over the new WordPress update, but Elvin has a lot of changes packed in to help streamline the user experience for everybody who runs a blog. If your blog’s images aren’t optimized for SEO or you’ve had issues with the media interface in the past, the update to 3.5 is the excuse you needed to go back in and clean up your blog’s images.
By dropping some of the clutter and emphasizing features that people wrestle with every single day, the folks at WordPress have shown that they are continuing to support and help expand upon the WordPress framework. The new update to the default theme is a pleasant change and the updates to the WordPress dashboard show a clear understanding and dedication to the needs of their user base.