Screen shot of Twenty Sixteen WordPress default theme.On Tuesday 12/8/15, WordPress 4.4 was officially released. This release has a few new items for the end user and plenty of new functionality to allow developers to create bigger and better plugins and themes for the rest of us to use.

Responsive Images

The WordPress software is now written so that all images are responsive. It no longer depends on a theme to be written correctly and for you to place images properly to have them display properly on different devices. Check your iPhone against your laptop against your large screen monitor and watch your images scale.

More Support for Embeds

Version 4.4 of WordPress includes more support for embeds. In the past, entering a URL from YouTube and some other providers would automatically embed that information into your post. Support has been extended to embed Cloudup, Reddit Comments, ReverbNation, Speaker Deck, and VideoPress.

WordPress 4.4 will also act as an embed provider, meaning if you paste a URL into your post from a site running WordPress 4.4, it will display as an embedded excerpt.

Screen grab of WordPress 4.4 post embed.

This is a screen grab of an embed from the post

Twenty Sixteen – The Newest WordPress Default Theme

Each year, WordPress releases a new default theme. Default themes are important for multiple reasons. First, the default theme is always guaranteed to work with the latest WordPress releases. If you are having problems with your site, one of the first things you will be asked to do is to activate the default theme. This allows you to make sure that the issues aren’t being caused by a theme conflict. Second, the default theme gives you a quick way to get started building a WordPress website with a theme you can trust to work.

Twenty Sixteen is a minimalist blogging theme that features a right hand sidebar and a featured header image. Once installed, all features can be set using the WordPress Customizer.

How to Install Twenty Sixteen

If Twenty Sixteen is not in your installation, add it from the Dashboard by selecting Appearance > Themes. Click on the Add New button to add a new theme. Twenty Sixteen may appear at the top of the Featured Themes listing. If not, search for it in the search bar.

Select the theme to add and then Activate it to make it the site’s theme.

Once activated, you can view the site to see the default layout. Select Dashboard > Appearance > Customize to configure the theme to your liking.

Add a Header Image to Twenty Sixteen

Twenty Sixteen has the option to display header images. The default header image size is 1200 x 280 pixels. If you load a larger image, you will be given a box to select the area you want to crop for the image.

  1. From the Customizer, select Header Image.
  2. Upload the image you want to use as a header.
  3. Crop, if necessary.
  4. Save the images.

Note that multiple images can be uploaded for random display. These images are displayed in Posts and Pages.

Screen grab of WordPress Customizer header image selection for Twenty Sixteen theme.

Customizing the Colors of Twenty Sixteen

From the WordPress Customizer, you can select one of the four default color schemes to use with Twenty Sixteen or you can configure your own colors.

Screen grab of Twenty Sixteen WordPress theme color customization options.

Twenty Sixteen Theme Widgets

The only widgeted area in Twenty Sixteen is the sidebar. Twenty Sixteen presents a right sidebar as part of its minimalist design.

A New WordPress Version is Availiable, Time to Upgrade

Of course, the arrival of a new WordPress release is your notice to upgrade. As always, make sure you have a backup before performing the upgrade. In some cases, upgrades fail. For the easiest rollback functionality it is recommended to have a full backup of the site including the WordPress version, database, theme, uploads, and plugins. Check with your web host or backup software to see what you are backing up and have available to restore.

Some backup software doesn’t include the WordPress core software. The philosophy is that it can always be reconfigured, so don’t take room in the upgrade. The challenge with this is that when upgrades go horribly wrong, you need your site back up and running ASAP. Have a full backup that can be restored with the click of a few buttons is a life saver in these situations.

You might also want to look at managed hosting options that have a 1 click rollback. Nothing makes recovering after a failed upgrade easier than a 1 click rollback.

Consider an Upgrade, Maintenance, and Support Partner

Is keeping WordPress updated, maintained, and secure more problematic than it’s worth? Consider hiring a company who manages the tedious tasks of updates, maintenance, and support so that you can focus on creating great content and running your business. We recommend for all of your maintenance and support needs. For more information on the importance of website maintenance, updates and support; join me soon as I interview Jonathan Denwood of Make sure you’re on the mailing list to get the alert when we go live. logo