The good folks at WordPress are constantly making fixes and improvements to the platform’s core program, and just this last December they rolled out the latest version, WordPress 4.7.
A major release from the designers, the update includes lots of great new features that all WordPress users will want to investigate thoroughly. From a shiny new default theme to lots of additions for creating shortcuts, it would seem that much of what went into the latest version is meant to make using the platform easier and much more seamless for both new designs and existing pages. In essence, users may find they can work smarter, not harder, on updates, page tweaks, content editing and the like.
Don’t forget: unless a site operates on a managed WordPress hosting service, users will have to manually initiate the update. And before starting the process everyone should be sure to do a complete WordPress backup—that means the core program, templates, plugins etc.
Here are a few of the new features that users should be checking out and tinkering with in 2017.
- Users may not be aware of the fact that it’s a WordPress tradition to release a new default theme each year and name it after the year itself. So welcome to Twenty Seventeen, a nicely crafted theme that focuses more on the business aspects for websites rather than the blogging side of things. With some nifty starter content, new users can build a site in minutes with beautiful new typography that translates perfectly to all formats. Featured images also got larger and header video goes full screen, and it’s all designed around a “mobile-first” concept.
- Speaking of header videos going full screen (many previous themes already had the option, but this is the first time it’s offered in the default theme), support for the option now makes it easier for developers to mesh video into the customizer with live previews. This means users can upload their own videos in a wider variety of formats and can even add a video from YouTube.
- More support comes in the form of starter content for premium themes. Starter content is handy in that it aids in site setup by inserting dummy content which can later be easily edited. And the fact that themes can now automatically add that starter content on new sites means the process of getting pages up and running is quicker than ever.
- Another new feature of WordPress 4.7 is the generation of thumbnail previews for PDF files which are automatically displayed in the media library. In short, when a user added a PDF document in previous versions they got a boring old document icon that required a plug in to render as a thumbnail. Now the first page of any uploaded PDF will appear as an image of that page, which is then stored in different sizes and displayed in the media library as well as the media upload popup window and attachment pages.
- As previously mentioned, 4.7 comes with some new and great shortcut features. And among them is the “Edit Shortcuts” in customizer preview. They appear as small blue icons on all editable items within a theme’s live preview, and will no doubt be incredibly useful as now users can just point and click at an item to edit and tweak it. This feature won’t be available on all current themes however, so some users may miss out.
- Lastly, the post editor section—the place where users spend most of their time creating content—has been revamped to improve the editing experience by making it easier and more logical. Keyboard shortcuts now appear in drop down menus and “tooltips”; the paragraph and heading selector menu now appears at the top of the page; and other buttons such as strikethrough and horizontal lines are moved around to different places to make them easier to see and utilize.