WordPress 4.3 has just been released, with this latest version named “Billie” after influential Jazz singer Billie Holiday, with a real focus on adding an extra layer of polish to the world’s premiere Content Management System (CMS). My role with Conetix involves managing quite a number of WordPress sites, so I’m always excited to see what new goodies are bundled in each new version. While there are no big game-changing features in this release, with the tagline of “a more refined blend” making an already great product front and centre (and still with the price tag of free!!). So let’s see what’s new:
So many websites forget the golden rule in the web world, that content is king. And what makes a great CMS is making authoring and publishing content simple and easy, with a clean workflow. Compared to all the major CMS’s this is where WordPress is the undisputed champion, and in this latest release we now have some great keyboard shortcuts for formatting on the fly. Now, settings "headings", adding "ordered" and "unordered lists", and adding italicised quotes can be added while typing, without needing to switch to the mouse for selecting formatting options, thus interrupting the work flow. While this might not seem significant, if you run a busy site, or you don’t have lots of time to spend to be on your business's website making changes, little efficiencies add up over time, and who couldn’t use a few extra minutes in the day.
One of the pillars of any modern marketing strategy is branding, and with the new “Site Icons” feature in WordPress, stamping your logo on your site just got that little bit easier. By adding an icon through the customizer, WordPress pushes your logo to the bookmark menu and browser tabs. And for mobile users, when they create a shortcut to your website your logo appears as a icon on their homescreen. Its quick and easy to do, but when it comes to building a brand, paying attention to detail pays off in the long run.
Better password security
Password1 is a really bad password. I don’t care that ‘technically’ it’s got both an uppercase letter and a number, it’s terrible and it’s insecure. But yet every year it seems to top poor password lists. Password security is one of the most fundamental components of website security and the easiest to get right, yet it’s constantly overlooked. Anyone who’s worked in the web industry that has seen first hand what happens when a password is compromised will tell you how important secure passwords are. WordPress has thus taken it upon themselves to help protect users by generating a difficult password for new users by default. Furthermore, if users change their passwords WordPress now displays how secure the new password is, so there’s no more excuses for your next password being ‘12345’!!
Menu’s in the customizer
Tools are there to make work easier, but well designed, user friendly tools do more than that - they encourage creativity and experimentation. WordPress is full of these little gems (in my review of WordPress 4.2 I had high praises for the live theme preview) and Menu’s in the Customizer is one of the absolute highlights of this release. From within the Customizer you can now create a ‘menu’ where you can restructure your site’s navigation in a live test environment by simply dropping and dragging elements in order. Getting your sites flow can be critical to getting visitors what they need quickly or for streamlining the process between decision and purchase. But for anyone who’s tried this before it can quickly become a philosophical debate with lines and site models scrawled across multiple white boards. And until you actually see it on the site, and use it from the user perspective it can be hard to get in right. Now you can without needing to create a copy of the site in a development environment and spend hours doing restructure after restructure.
Prior to publishing this article I was able to successfully update several WordPress sites all running 4.2+ with no issues, including using the new WordPress management tools integrated into Plesk 12. For customers on our Managed WordPress service, this latest update will be rolled out to you in the coming days.