Over the last eleven years WordPress has dramatically evolved from being a simple blogging platform to a fully-fledged CMS. Whilst still a great platform for blogging, WordPress is capable of so much more including running powerful ecommerce websites, thanks to it’s dedicated community and wide range of quality plugins.

Did you know that out of the top ten million websites ranked on Alexa, twenty three per cent of them use WordPress? The platform also accounts for 61% of the CMS market, dwarfing the likes of Joomla and Drupal, which only hold 8% and 5% shares of the market respectively. Today top companies like eBay, Flickr and the New York Times all use WordPress to power their websites, proving just how reliable and scalable the platform is.

WordPress 4.0

Last month the latest version of the platform, WordPress 4.0, was released and whilst it does not represent as significant an upgrade as its predecessor 3.0, it does offer a number of improvements, giving WordPress users little reason not to upgrade.

Here we will provide details of some of the key changes and improvements made to WordPress 4.0.

wordpress 4.0 Benny
WordPress has recently released a brand new version of it’s software, WordPress 4.0 also known as ‘Benny.’

Improvements to the content editor

Although WordPress has always benefited from a user-friendly dashboard, the latest version aims to make it even easier for site admins to create content, install plugins and manage their media.

The latest version of WordPress has added to its list of supported sites, with the likes of CollegeHumor, Issuu, Mixcloud and TED Talks joining already supported platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and YouTube.

Whereas before WordPress users could not see their embedded media in the WYSYWIG editor, with 4.0 this is possible. Thanks to this feature upgrade, WordPress users can now get a more accurate preview of their posts.

wordpress 4.0 media library

New grid view for the media library

The most anticipated new feature of WordPress 4.0 is the new Media Library layout, which makes it easier for users to browse local media. When viewing the standalone Media Library, you will now notice it has a grid layout complete with thumbnails. This makes it much easier for users to filter their media by type rather than just by date.

When you click on your media, it will pop up in a new window (rather than a completely separate page) so you can see a larger preview of it. From there, you will also be able to edit the image data and navigate between your other media files. You can also choose to view multiple files simultaneously by checking the boxes presented in the top right hand corners of the files.

wordpress 4.0 plugin installation

Improved plugin installation experience

WordPress 4.0 also uses a grid display for the plugin installation processes. Each plugin has a card that neatly summarises its title, purpose, author, rating and last update, making it easier for you to obtain the plugin information you require. You will also find that WordPress’ ‘Featured’ plugins have been broken down into categories such as ‘Performance,’ ‘Social’ and ‘Tools,’ allowing you to locate the type of plugin you are looking for much more quickly.

wordpress 4.0 language selection

Site language feature

WordPress is an open source platform, meaning that anyone, anywhere can use it. Seeing as many people write in other languages than English, it only seemed right that WordPress addressed this in its latest version. When you install WordPress on a new website, you will now be presented with a ‘Language Selection’ panel. If you need to change the language of an existing WordPress website, you can simply go to Settings > General and then find the new ‘Site Language’ option at the bottom of the page.

Security

Security is always a major concern for webmasters and unfortunately WordPress is a prime target for hackers. Whilst WordPress 4.0 does not have any significant new security features, there is no reason to believe it is any less secure than the previous versions. Having said this, it is always recommended that you update to the latest version of WordPress, as newer versions are always harder for people to hack.

Taking extra precautions by installing security plugins that harden WordPress against attacks and avoiding installing free plugins from unreliable sources will also help you to improve the security of your WordPress 4.0 website.

How do I update?

When you login to WordPress, you should see a message prompting you to update to version 4.0, but before you commit to the update, make sure you have made backups of your current website and files. Once you have done this, simply click on the link in the message and it will take you to a screen where you can either choose to automatically update or download the latest files.

Conclusion

Whilst WordPress 4.0 isn’t necessarily as ground breaking an update as we have experienced in the past, it is packed with some new and updated features that promise to deliver a better user experience, making it a valuable update to WordPress users everywhere.