The latest version of WordPress, still the most popular content management system (CMS) on the planet, is out now. For custom web development, web design, SEO, and content marketing folks, this is big news.
What does this mean for your business website? Read on to learn everything you need to know about WordPress Version 4.7.
New Version Out Now
WordPress Version 4.7 was released to the public in early December. Keeping in line with version IDs related to jazz performers, this version is codenamed “Vaughan” after jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan. The new version follows close on the heels of WP Version 4.6 “Pepper” which came out in late August.
There are some notable improvements this time around that warrant a closer look for all our readers who use WP for their business websites. The CMS, after all, continues to pick up new users and has now ticked up a percentage point to be the CMS of choice for 27% of all websites on the planet.
Updates and Backups
Firstly, before you consider updating to WP 4.7, please take a moment to make a full backup of your entire website — both files and database. In the unlikely event some feature of your site isn’t compatible with the latest release, you will want a way to get back to a working version of your site before you or someone else on your team clicks “update.” If there is a problem, you can always keep your existing site while checking with your web development inhouse team or agency on what needs to be done to get your site up to date. If you’re unsure whether your site is ready for an update, web development test environments can let you try out updates before applying them to your live site.
And yes, you absolutely should keep your website up to date — so don’t skip this update. Out of date CMS software and decommissioned plugins and code are the primary avenue for hackers. Keeping your site as up to date as possible is the best protection against a data breach, not to mention it gives your customers the best possible web experience.
New and Notable Features
For this version of WP 4.7, some new features jump out right away. While WP 4.6 focused on a number of under-the-hood improvements, many WP 4.7 features are front and center, including:
- A New Theme, “Twenty Seventeen”
- Theme Starter Content
- Edit Shortcuts
- Video Headers
- A New Menu Building Workflow
- Live Preview Custom CSS
- PDF Thumbnail Previews
- New Dashboard Language Options
- And REST API Content Endpoints
This is a big update, and there are also more technical updates for you web developers to dig into:
- Post Type Templates
- New Functions, Hooks, and Behavior Changes
- Custom Bulk Actions
- An Overhaul of the WP_Hook
- Settings Registration API Enhancements
- And Customize Changesets
Front and center is the new Twenty Seventeen default theme. It’s sleek and designed to appeal to businesses or other sites that want to custom-build multiple sections on their front page. The theme shows off WordPress’s “immersive” feature images and new “atmospheric” video header feature.
Starter content is also another huge feature. Think of it as the idea of furniture staging for a home sale applied to web design. Starter content gives site builders an idea of what a finished site could look like — what might look good where — while it’s still being designed and built.
Taking a look at new editing features, “edit shortcuts” allow for a new click-and-edit workflow for site customization, while live-previewing your work; a new “smooth” menu-building workflow lets developers add pages as they build menus; and “custom CSS” also gets a live-preview option. The gist with all three of these features is faster, more efficient website building.
In technical features, the custom bulk action feature is likely to be popular. In WP’s example, a site admin can choose to email a selection of blog posts to a teammate with only two clicks. Developers could build a number of such custom actions to suit their clients.
Implications and Advice
The latest version of WordPress looks like it will have some positive implications for content marketing and web development professionals who use the software, as well as for the many, many businesses who rely on the WordPress CMS.
Our advice is always to aim to use the latest version of CMS possible (which may be limited by your specific website build and requirements, so check with a professional). Staying up to date will give your web customers the best and most secure user experience possible.
For those business owners who are not very familiar with web development and the technical use and maintenance of their WordPress site, always consult with a trusted web development professional before trying to backup, update, or alter your site yourself.
Need help updating to WordPress 4.7? Considering an upgrade to your existing website or a fresh start with a new web presence? Call us at 313-338-9515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how our full-service digital agency can help.