What’s New in WordPress 3.3?

It’s that time again, time for a major new version of WordPress: WordPress 3.3. There are many fantastic new features, performance improvements, and fixes in this latest update.

Updated UI in WordPress 3.3

New WordPress 3.3 UI
The New WordPress 3.3 UI

The most obvious changes to WordPress are to the UI – primarily the drastically updated Admin Bar and changes to the primary navigation.

The Updated Admin Bar in WordPress 3.3

Updated Admin Bar in WordPress 3.3
Updated Amin Bar in WordPress 3.3

Personally, I hated the Admin Bar in WordPress 3.2. I found it ugly and far from useful. However, the new Admin Bar in WordPress 3.3 is much improved and I plan on using it.

While the old WordPress Admin Bar had many buttons in there that were very rarely used (and were ugly), the updated Admin Bar in WordPress 3.3 has greatly condensed the navigational items in it leaving only links that will be commonly used. It even adapts and provides different links depending on if you’re viewing the front end site or the dashboard. To put it simply: the WordPress admin bar is now very useful.

The Updated Sidebar in WordPress 3.3

Updated WordPress 3.3 Sidebar navigation with flyout sub menus

The primary navigation from within the WordPress Dashboard has undergone some changes as well. Personally, I cannot decide if these changes are an improvement or if they hurt the overall WordPress Dashboard UI.

Now, it is impossible to permanently expand a primary navigation’s sub navigation – a feature I personally relied upon. Now the subnavigation is accessible through a dropdown style flyout. While technically this can reduce the number of clicks required to get to a page in the WordPress dashboard, it does force a slight delay while waiting for the flyout.

Improved Help in WordPress 3.3

Improved Help in WordPress 3.3
WordPress 3.3 Help Menu

These past few major versions WordPress have been putting an emphasis on helping those new to technology and/or WordPress. They have done so by simplifying the UI, improving hierarchy, the adding of the Admin Bar, and other features. WordPress 3.3 is arguably the greatest improvement thus far.

Every page has their own help text relating to your current page. But now, some pages have additional tabs of help as well as links to the official WordPress documentation site and to the official WordPress support forums.

Improved Media Uploader in WordPress 3.3

WordPress 3.3 Media Uploader
The Media Uploader in WordPress 3.3 has been completely overhauled

The new Media Uploader in WordPress 3.3 has been condensed from an individual media uploader for each file type (images, video, audio, and other) into a single Media Uploader – simplifying things. It also now supports drag and drop functionality – streamlining the uploading process further. All users need to do is click on the “Upload/Insert” button, and click and drag files from their desktop to the media uploader. If you wish to browse for the files, that is still possible.

Responsive WordPress Dashboard

Responsive WordPress Dashboard
The WordPress Dashboard is now responsive for mobile devices

WordPress 3.3 now features a responsive WordPress dashboard – smart move by Automattic. Responsive Design is the practice of making a website adapt based on the screen size you’re on – making the web browsing experience much better across all device sizes.

While there is a WordPress iOS app, I haven’t ever used it. But I will make use of the responsive dashboard a lot.

Improved Permalink Performance in WordPress 3.3

Improved Permalinks in WordPress 3.3

This is the feature I am most excited about. For the longest time there had been a performance issue with WordPress permalinks causing WordPress powered websites to run slow when permalinks were started with the category name, tag name, author name, or postname fields (source). However, that has since been fixed (source).

There also has been a rather glaring bug fix where various special characters would break permalinks when used in a post title (ex: š, ž, č). These bugs have finally been squashed in WordPress 3.3 keeping WordPress permalinks from breaking (source 1, source 2).

Now, cleaner permalinks are possible with WordPress 3.3.

Just Scratching the Surface of What’s New in WordPress 3.3

WordPress 3.3 is a pretty major update that includes a slew of other features, improvements, and fixes to WordPress. For more info on what’s new in WordPress 3.3, check out the WordPress 3.3 release page or the complete list of closed tickets.


WordPress 3.3 is a massive update that includes many great new features, improvements, bug fixes, and security improvements. This is definitely an update all WordPress powered websites and WordPress plugins need to update to/for.

Want to learn how to use WordPress 3.3? Check out our free WordPress video tutorials. Our WordPress video tutorials will teach you everything you need to know about using the WordPress dashboard. Get access now!

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