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5 Killer Features in WordPress 3.9 'Smith'

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

WordPress is, by far, the leading Content Management System (CMS) on the planet. In plain English, it is the platform that 60 percent of the market uses, including such household names as The Washington Post and Time magazine. But it's not just for the big boys -- it powers everything from major media outlets to smaller topical sites, such as law blogs.

The reasons for WordPress' popularity are numerous (it takes only a few minutes to set up, plug-ins make it capable of powering any type of site you can imagine, and it's very user friendly), and with this new update, it just got even better. For do-it-yourself law bloggers, there is no better or easier platform for making and managing a professional online presence.

Here are five killer new WordPress 3.9 "Smith" (named after Jimmy Smith, a jazz organist) features that have us tingling:

1. Drag-and-Drop to Add Pictures.

There was once a time, long ago, when putting a picture into a WordPress post required you to manually upload a photo to your media gallery. Then you'd have to go to the post, click a button, choose the photo, tweak sizes, then hope it inserted correctly. It would also only show up as a grey box placeholder.

Now? Drag it into the post editor and it uploads automatically. Resize, crop, and edit at will. It shows up as it will on your site.

2. Whitewash Word Code.

Anyone who has ever blogged in Microsoft Word knows that once you try to paste the text online, it turns into gibberish. Word inserts extraneous code that either shows up in code on your page, or throws off the formatting of the post. You'd have to turn to a third-party tool to "clean" the text first.

Now, you can paste directly into WordPress and it'll strip the nastiness out while preserving your formatting.

3. Easy Embedding of Audio and Video.

Do you podcast about the law? Care to promote your newest lawyer advertisements? Instead of uploading the videos to YouTube or finding a third-party site like SoundCloud for the audio, you can host it on your own site, if you so choose.

This is a mixed blessing. Native hosting of a file means it will probably load faster, and not rely upon third-party sites that can crash. Then again, a video is far more likely to get exposure on YouTube. (You can, of course, upload the video to both places.)

4. Theme Browser.

It's hard to put into words how much of an improvement this is aesthetically from the old themes directory. The new theme browser allows you to quickly skim through visual previews of dozens of themes until one jumps out at you. And while you've always been able to "Preview" how a theme would look on your site, the feature is now easier to find.

5. Working With Widgets.

This might be the biggest. Many WordPress themes are emphasize widgets, miniature bits of code that add helpful features to your site, such as a "Recent Posts" widget, a "Categories" widget, or especially for lawyers, a "Contact Us" form widget.

The new widget system allows you to move the widgets around, with a live preview to see how a small change will impact the look of your site. So, if you move your "Contact Us" widget to the footer, you can tell instantly if visitors will ever actually see it.

Got a favorite WordPress feature? Are you as enamored with 3.9 as we are? Share your thoughts on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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