You may have noticed the little message when you logged into your website reminding you to update to the latest version of WordPress. I know, I know. You popped in to the dashboard to get some work done, so not right now. Right? Uh uh. You WANT to hit that upgrade link ASAP. And be prepared to bask in the awesomeness that will greet you.
Version 3.8 of WordPress is all about the admin dashboard. It’s been completely redesigned to be gorgeous and easier on the eye. While it is still the familiar WordPress dashboard, it looks so much spiffier now with a high contrast theme as the default and some improved typography. And even better, you can now change the color scheme of the backend! Don’t like the high contrast? Go to your profile page and choose the Light color scheme and it should go back to looking a lot like the pre-upgrade colors. There are actually eight color schemes to choose from right out of the box. And like everything WordPress, there are plugins that can be found to add more color schemes if none of those are to your liking.
All releases of WordPress are named after a Jazz musician, this time “Parker” for Charlie Parker who brought us bebop. Parker is focused on responsive design and the admin dashboard now works better on the various devices that are used to access the internet these days. The design enhancements were made with speed in mind too, making load times much faster.
One other area of notable improvement is the theme management screen. Now laid out in a grid, you get a better view of installed themes and a more relevant and beautiful interface when exploring your theme options. Also changed is the widget area which now offers the ability to click on a widget to add it to a widget area in addition to the familiar drag and drop procedure.
And of course there’s a new theme included in this version, this time called Twenty Fourteen. Clever, huh?! Twenty Fourteen is a magazine-style theme that to some extent reflects the design of the changes in the admin. A high-contrast, black sidebar on the left and a heavy emphasis on featured images make this a really stunning theme, but it may not be suitable for all purposes.
Having been heavily tested through the “try it out as a plugin for a while before adding it to core” method of WordPress development, Parker is likely to be a very stable release that should be installed as soon as possible. (Words of wisdom: ALWAYS BACKUP before any major upgrade. Just saying.)