WordPress 3.8 and Flat Design

It seems like everyone is going with with flat design ethos and that includes the new WordPress 3.8 update.

WordPress 3.7 arrived at the end of October and you would be forgiven for not even noticing it.

Visually there was no change from its predecessor.

But that’s all about to change and you’re going to notice WordPress 3.8.

Dashboard Design Update

After updating to 3.8 the first thing you are going to notice is the new design of the Admin Dashboard.


Gone are the subtle grey tones of the past.  Black is the new grey and the updated interface punches out for attention.

It’s not all black though and the deeper contrast allows a splash of blue colour to be used effectively to highlight areas.

For me, the plugin area is one that reaps this benefit straight away.


Inactive plugins are “greyed out” and the active ones really stand out with a bold title and a splash of blue.

It’s very easy on the eye.

Features as Plugins

On a side note, the new Dashboard UI has been developed through the publically available MP6 plugin setting a new way for future WordPress features to be explored and developed prior to consideration of being added to the core.

Have a look at Make WordPress Core for other WordPress features that are being developed as plugins.

You too can get involved in enhancing WordPress, even if you’re not a designer or developer you can provide valuable user feedback.

And that’s the whole idea of this new features as plugin development method – to get more people involved in the WordPress core.

Flat Design

The world seems to have gone flat.

Flat design is the current user interface (UI) trend with big players such as Apple’s iOS 7 and Microsoft’s Windows 8 leading the charge.

Flat Design

And now it’s the turn of WordPress with lovely newly designed set of flat vector icon font called Dashicons.

You can download the source from github and use them in your own themes and plugins to give a bit of consistency to your users.

What is Flat Design Anyway?

According to Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan’s article entitled the same..

it’s revolting against: skeuomorphism

I suggest you read Kelsey’s article or Adrian Taylor’s Smashing Magazine post to find out more about flat design.

Responsive Dashboard

As well as visually enhancing the Dashboard UI it has had a responsive overhaul as well.

responsive dashboard

The menu tabs disappear on small screens giving more screen real-estate to the Dashboard content.

Menu access is via the now popular three horizontal bar (burger) icon at the top right sliding the menu back in when clicked.

Profile Colour Schemes

Not a big fan of the new black Dashboard?

No worries.  You will find a few alternative colour schemes in your User Profile settings page.

user profile colour schemes

I’m sure these will be extended by the plugin community fairly quickly allowing you to create your own colour schemes.

Dashboard Homepage &  Widgets

The Dashboard homepage has undergone an overhaul too.


You’ll notice that the widget boxes have changed and are a lot smaller.

The dashboard columns also nicely responsively scale up for large monitors giving more columns for wider screens.

The “Right Now” Dashboard widget has been replaced with a smaller “At a Glance” widget focusing on posts and pages while consolidating comments.

Twenty Fourteen

Just when we were all getting used to the Twenty Thirteen blog inspired theme, 3.8 ships with Twenty Fourteen.


The inspiration for this theme comes from magazine / news sites.

Other Changes

  • Appearance > Widgets now scales up on wide monitors with more columns making dragging widgets an easier task on sites with large numbers of widget areas
  • Appearance > Themes has a new theme selection look and theme customisation has been extended slightly too.
  • 250+ trac issues have been dealt with and closed.

There is just so much going on on WordPress 3.8 that I could keep going on and on but you should really explore it for yourself.

The update is due to ship on December 12th, 2013.

Tell us what you think about the new UI design.  Love it or hate it?

Disclaimer: Screenshots were taken with WordPress 3.8 RC1 and may have changed slightly upon release.

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Wil is a dad, WordPress consultant, WordPress developer, business coach and mentor. He co-organizes the WordPress Sydney meetup group and has been on the organising committee for WordCamp Sydney since 2014. He speaks at many special events and contributes to the WordPress open source project. His likes are chillies, craft beer and electrogravitics.