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Preview WordPress 3.8 Features You Can Test Drive TODAY

WordPress 3.8 is scheduled for release on December 12th. YAY!

WordPress 3.7, released about a month ago, was all about functional improvements. We saw plenty of  “behind the scenes” features  like automatic updates to help simplify and streamline workflow.

WordPress 3.8 features are focused on enhancing the user experience. The church Web worker’s user experience. Lots of exciting visual and accessibility improvements to the interface are on tap.

Unlike previous WordPress updates, the “cool factor” for this release is that some of the new features have been developed as plugins. That enabled contributors and developers to work in tandem on their projects.

You can test drive these plugins now. But a word of caution: since they’re still in development, I don’t recommend using them on a “live” website. If you’re feeling adventurous, take them for a spin in a development environment.

New WordPress 3.8 Features

Visually Overhauled Admin Area

The WordPress Admin area hasn’t seen a major visual upgrade since WordPress 2.7. The MP6 plugin is currently in use on WordPress.com websites, and greatly simplifies the Admin user interface. Approved for core, MP6 gives WordPress 3.8 a complete visual overhaul right out of the box.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3090″ caption=”Wordpress 3.8 Default Color Scheme” alt=”Wordpress 3.8 Default Color Scheme” align=”left” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true”]

The updated interface sports the Open Sans font, cleaner styles, flatter elements, and lots of spacing among elements. The upgrades work together to create an interface that’s very user friendly and easy on the eyes.

In Users » Profile, you can choose from eight beautiful, high-contrast color schemes to customize your experience.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3092″ caption=”Wordpress 3.8 Ectoplasm Color Scheme” alt=”Wordpress 3.8 Ectoplasm Color Scheme” align=”left” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true”]

Redesigned Dashboard

When I activated the Dashboard plugin, I was like, “Whoa!” My Dashboard went from this:

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3097″ caption=”Current WordPress Dashboard” alt=”Current WordPress Dashboard” align=”left” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true”]

To this:

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3098″ caption=”Wordpress 3.8 Dashboard” alt=”Wordpress 3.8 Dashboard” align=”left” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true”]

As you can see, this new feature rearranges, tightens, combines, and cleans up the Dashboard nicely.

So what’s changed?

  • WordPress Blog, Other WordPress News, and Plugins are now combined to form WordPress News.
  • Recent Comments as well as your scheduled and recently published posts have been merged into Activity.
  • QuickPress and Recent Drafts are now Quick Drafts.
  • Number of columns screen option is removed and replaced with a new responsive Dashboard. Now, the appropriate number of columns will automatically display based on your screen resolution.

A few extras are also added, including that  fun little smiley in Activity if you delete all posts and comments.

Simpler widgets area interface

I work a lot with the Striking Theme by Kaptinlin. The theme is packed with widgets and sidebars. On top of that, the ability to create custom sidebars is built in. I love that! Then, some of the plugins I use add even more widgets to the Widget area. I love that too. But, the current layout and “drag and drop” functionality has always made working with widgets and sidebars a pain in the neck.

This problem is solved beautifully with the new Widget area User Interface. The new Widgets Area Chooser allows you to simply click a widget and choose where it goes. Juggling lots widgets and sidebars will definitely be made a lot easier.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3107″ caption=”Widgets Area Chooser Plugin” alt=”Widgets Area Chooser Plugin” align=”left” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true”]

If you try out the plugin, be sure you have the MP6 plugin installed and activated first. The developer of the Widgets Area Chooser notes that if you don’t “things may look a little wonky.” This is a true statement.

Better theme browsing and full-screen previews

The Themes area is currently very text heavy and overloaded with information. The THX38 plugin transforms the WordPress Themes experience into an interface that’s uncluttered and easy to use. And when previewing a theme, you’re now able to completely collapse the sidebar for a  full-screen theme preview.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3113″ caption=”Wordpress 3.8 Themes Experience” alt=”Wordpress 3.8 Themes Experience” align=”left” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true”]

As with the Widgets Area Chooser, if you want to try out this plug, you’ll need to have the MP6 plugin installed and activated first.

Other goodies on the way

Omnisearch

Omnisearch enables users to search once and get results from all of your posts, pages, comments, and feedback. The plugin is currently available for JetPack plugin users. But, it’s still “in development” for core, and won’t be included with the new WordPress 3.8 features.

Twenty-Fourteen Theme

Twenty-Fourteen is a beautiful magazine layout theme that is scheduled for release with WordPress 3.8. It will become the default theme for the new year. A customizable Featured Content area and stunning treatment of Featured Images are just two of the many design changes, performance tweaks, and UI enhancements rolled into this great looking theme.

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”3119″ caption=”Twenty-Fourteen WordPress Theme” alt=”Twenty-Fourteen WordPress Theme” align=”left” width=”628″ autoHeight=”true”]

If you want to take a peek, a live demo is available. A beta release is available at GitHub, if you’ve got a hankering to get your hands dirty.

Which features are you most excited about?

I hope you’re as excited as I am about the new features coming with WordPress 3.8. Actually, I have a confession to make. The new Widgets Area Chooser made me squeal! {blushing}

Do any of the new features make you especially giddy? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

And, if you found this post helpful, please be sure to share it with all of the WordPress lovers you know!

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Tools & Resources

Urban City Theme Review

I am starting a new, hopefully weekly, feature were I review various church website services and offerings. This week I wanted to take a look at a WordPress theme from ChurchThemes.net. I was initially very impressed with their offering and designs. It appeared to me that maybe finally a theme company could put great efforts into their design, and functionality, not only in their code.

Does Urban Theme deliver what your church will need? Keep reading to find out.

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Tools & Resources

8 Best WordPress Themes for Churches or Non-Profits

[icon style=”calendar” color=”blue”]Last updated on Jul 7, 2015 @ 6:58 pm[/icon]

I love WordPress. When done right, using WordPress for your church website is a great choice for a CMS. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of choices when it comes to beautiful WordPress themes for churches. I spent some time digging for quality WordPress themes churches could use, and I found eight that stood out over what is out there. All of these are paid themes and their features vary.

Have a WordPress theme you love? Share in the comments! Enjoy!

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Tools & Resources

7 Donation WordPress Plugins for Your Church Website

Developing your church website on WordPress is a great solution for most churches. It’s free, there are thousands of great themes, and you can extend the functionality of your site by using plug-ins. Today I wanted to share with you my favorite donation WordPress plug-ins. Online giving is a huge reason to have a church website. Online giving makes giving convenient for your church members to give regularly.  So enjoy this list of the best WordPress donation plugins.

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Tools & Resources

Why Thesis Theme Rules

Recently we posted a list of top content management systems for churches and ministries. While all of these systems are great for building your website on, for me one platform stands out: WordPress. There are many reasons to build a website using WordPress. First, it’s free. All you need to do is download a copy, upload to your webhost and you’re set. WordPress.com now supports the ability to map your domain to your WordPress hosted site! Second, the amount of free themes available are simply crazy, if you setup your website on WordPress you will have thousands of great design choices.

For the next few weeks I want to take you through my process and why I am building all of my websites utilizing an amazing framework for WordPress called Thesis. I can literally design, build, and launch a website within a matter of days, not weeks or months. Ready to see how Thesis will change your life? Good, keep reading.

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Tools & Resources

Outreach and Genesis WordPress Theme Review

Studio Press is a WordPress template company that has over 20 different WordPress themes that are ready for your WordPress site. StudioPress is also one of the few providers that have created and are actively selling church themes. All their themes are build on the Genesis framework, which provides first time WordPress users the ability to easily update and modify their site.