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WordPress 3.3 Improves Usability in Open Source CMS


From the 'More Than Just a Blog' files:

Yeaah, I know, WordPress is blogging software right? Well yes and no. WordPress has evolved to become the most popular open source Content Management System (CMS) in recent years besting Drupal and Joomla (as far as I can tell) in terms of sheer user numbers (admittedly not the best metric). WordPress itself claims a staggering 65 million downloads since the 3.0 release.

One reason why WordPress continues to gain fans (and you can count me among them) is their predictable and relatively non-disruptive update cycle. This week, WordPress 3.3 came out roughly six months after the 3.2 update. With 3.3, there are a lot of little improvements that add up to whole lot for the user experience.

In limited testing, one of the first things that jumped out at me was the improved admin toolbar that shows up whenever you're logged into your site. The admin toolbar now makes it easier to see what updates you need to make and if you're running a cache (who isn't) you get the option to delete it. For new (and old) users, there is improved contextual help which is a nice touch.

The 3.3 release also fixes a number of usability flaw that have plagued recent WordPress releases.

The way you used to get media (video/audio/pics) into WordPress was with separate icons for different media types. Now that has change with a new drag and drop unified media updloader. The other old usability flaw fixed in 3.3 is instead of having to click a menu item to see sub-menu (i.e Themes under the Appearance tab), now it's just a hover menu. -- So you can save your fingers the extra click.

Sure the changes in WordPress 3.3 are relatively small changes but don't doubt for a second that they provide big usability improvements.

That's why WordPress does so well. It has always been a easy to use system, but the community of developers keep on finding way to make easy even easier.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.