WordPress 3.8’s Proposed Features: Have Your Say

Four plugins are vying for inclusion in WordPress 3.8, which is due out in early December.

The contenders include: MP6 (a visual overhaul of the admin area), DASH (a redesign of the dashboard landing page), THX38 (a reimagining of the theme installation experience) and Omnisearch/Global Admin Search (merges the various admin search forms into one).

Unlike previous versions of WordPress, development of WordPress 3.8 began in tandem with 3.7. This will also be the first release where each of its major features have been developed first as stand-alone plugins before their integration in core.


WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg is leading the development of 3.8, which he said – in his State of the Word address at WordCamp San Francisco this year – would be an “experimental release”.

Mullenweg will be holding a WordPress 3.8 feature planning/decisions meeting later today to decide which of the proposed plugins makes it into the final release.

So if you want to have your say on what makes it into core, head along to the meeting this afternoon at 4pm EST in the WordPress-Dev IRC channel.

Ahead of the meeting, here’s a rundown of each of the proposed features:



Work on MP6 started after an attempt to modernise the icons in the WordPress admin area. The new icons were originally intended to be part of WordPress 3.6, but the project was scrapped back in February in favor of developing the icons – and overhauling the admin area’s visuals – as a standalone project.

The admin area hasn’t had a major visual update since 2.7, so it’s definitely time for a redesign.

The responsive redesign aims to solve four problems with the current design (its outdated appearance, outdated technology, low contrast and sub-optimal readability) by introducing a modern approach – use of the Open Sans typeface, cleaner and minimalistic styling and increased spacing between elements.

MP6 also comes with improved contrast and readability: a high contrast dark default color scheme designed to appeal to “eyes of all ages,” a lower contrast light default color scheme helpful for people with dyslexia and sensitivity to light and refined typography (larger font sizes).

According to UI/UX designer Mel Choyce, who is on the MP6 team, the plugin is a “movement towards modernity”.

MP6 has been available for testing in the WordPress Plugin Repository for months now and has also been running on WordPress.com for some time.



The existing WordPress dashboard hasn’t been updated in years and is confusing at best with its unnecessary widgets.

DASH is an attempt at cleaning up the existing dashboard by:

  • Combining “WordPress Blog”, “Other WordPress News” and “Plugins” to form the new WordPress News area
  • Renaming “QuickPress” to “Quick Drafts” and putting the emphasis on drafting ideas before publishing
  • Merging “Recent Comments” into the “Activity” widget to display scheduled and recently published posts
  • Removing the number of columns screen option and instead having a responsive dashboard screen that looks good on any screen resolution
  • The “Right Now” widget has been made smaller

DASH aims to improve the user experience when people first login. While the DASH team has done an okay job of cleaning up the messy dashboard, the plugin is hardly revolutionary. DASH is nowhere near as beautiful as what Ghost offers. We’ve posted in the past about our aversion to WordPress Planet so it’s disappointing to see it’s still going to be part of the redesign.



THX38 aims to improve the existing text and information heavy screen users see when viewing an existing theme or installing a new one.

This plugin moves the theme descriptions to a details overlay and the tabbed interface has also been replaced with a grid layout.

Theme browsing is also much faster and fully responsive and there is basic support for multiple screenshots and bigger display.

Omnisearch/Global Admin Search


This plugin adds three new ways to search the WordPress admin area: a dashboard widget, an admin page under Dashboard in the sidebar and a search box in the top admin bar. All three options display search results on the same page.

The aim with this plugin is to help users search for a term or phrase without having to search through individuals areas of WordPress. For example, if you want to search for a phrase but can’t remember if it was in a post or a comment, Omnisearch/Global Admin search can search through both posts and comments.

For a more in-depth look at the features, head to Make WordPress Core.

What feature are you most looking forward to in WordPress 3.8? Do you think there are better features that could have made it into this version? Tell us in the comments below.

8 Responses


    These are going to be nice UX improvements whatever they end up going with. Intuitive is what comes to mind here and there are certainly many features of WordPress that could make more sense. I do like with THX38 it takes on more of the media uploader qualities and UI. If they do that with the themes they need to stay consistent and also adjust the Plugins upload and viewing function. Personally I find that I have to research repository plugins off of the dashboard and then go back to the dashboard and search for it to install it. Would be nice to be able to do it all in one place…more like the WPMU DEV dashboard plugin layout and search functionality but incorporating drag and drop for installing.


    I’d like to see them add something like Pagebuilder from SiteOrigin that would work with existing themes to give easy access to drag and drop layout flexibility. I know Headway, Catalyst (or whatever it’s called now), OptimizePress 2.0, and a few other “Landing Page” design themes and plugins have it already. But, it would be great to be able to create layouts on the fly, and use widget elements anywhere on the page. A really good, professional level graphics library would be great too.


    The proposed additions all look great, and are much needed. I don’t know how realistic it is to hope for all of them to make the cut for this release…if I had to choose just two of them, I would most benefit from the improved dashboard and admin search.

    That said, it seems to me a smart idea to approach these changes from a plugin-first perspective, to stay nimble and only merge into the core when ready. That way, proposed feature additions/changes can evolve separate from core.

      Joel G Goodman

      MP6 (the new UI for the Admin) has been out in the wild for past… 6 months or so and is already at a version 2.1.1 (as of this comment). Most of these plugins were being tested and developed before the 3.7 cycle started. Omnisearch, for instance, is a part of Automattic’s Jetpack plugin and has been in there, stable, since early this year.

      I think we could easily see all of these included in the 3.8 release.


    I’m all for the UI chnages and I hope most will make it in, However, I looking for some real changes to be made. I run over 100 website all on WordPress and I run into these roadblocks all the time. Customizing the back end for my clients, and custom post types on the fly. I hope that enough of us speak up and Matt take notice and 3.8 in January shows better improvement in areas that really matter.


    I would love to see all the UI changes plus I would like to suggest another change to the “Insert Media” pop-up window. On my site, some of the “Attachment Display Settings” in the sidebar seem to go below the “Media Selection” div where the selected images and “Insert Into Page” button resides. My colleagues many times forget to scroll this area (which has no scrollbar visible) to locate the hidden options such as “Link to” and “Size”.

    Does this happen to anyone else?

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