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WPBeginner v4 – New Design, Features, and What’s Next

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Elegant Themes
WPBeginner v4 – New Design, Features, and What’s Next

Wow, it was just a little over 7 months ago, when I wrote about WPBeginner version 3.0. After a lot of hard work, reconsideration, and optimization, I am proud to present WPBeginner 4.0. We pushed this new design live right before BlogWorld, so roughly 2 weeks ago. If you read our website via email or another feed reader, then I would highly appreciate if you take a look at the website. Let us know your thoughts. There were a lot of major changes in WPBv4 new design and site structure.

Why we switched to WPBv4 so fast?

When I first launched the redesign, some of my good friends asked: didn’t you guys do a redesign not that long ago? Yes we did about 7 months ago. Having two major redesigns in a year period must demand explanation. So why did we switch to WPBv4? Well I think the main reason was poor conversion. Ever since WPBeginner was launched, we had a signature “orange” bar at the top. In the last design, we got rid of that. That not only made the site look very dull, but a lot of our users complained that they couldn’t recognize the site. The last design was really cool because it attempted to emulate the WordPress dashboard however that got old really fast. I started missing the orange myself.

Another big complaint that we heard from a lot of users was that the content was very hard to find. To see blog categories, the user had to be under the blog section of the website. Having the site responsive for numerous screen sizes demanded shifting of content. This resulted in decrease of conversion (opt-ins, sales, potential clients, etc). I knew that we had to do something about it FAST. I got to the white board and started making a list of things to do. With so much feedback and complaints, I saw that to-do list just got out of control. Next thing I know, we were having the talks of a re-design. Now here we are with a new design.

What the Heck Changed?

There were a lot of changes (some major ones too). I will do my best to highlight each of them and explain why we made those changes.

  • Gallery Shutdown – We launched our gallery in the hopes to showcase the best WordPress designs. All the content was user-submitted. The task ended up being a lot harder than expected. Over 90% of the sites submitted didn’t meet the cut. I almost felt that we weren’t making any progress there. We would moderate through the sites daily just to find out “No Quality Site Submission” AGAIN. So I decided to pull the plug.
  • Coupons re-branded as Deals – Do you remember our coupons section? Well, it has a new name now. Its hosted under Deals. It is no longer a multi-site subdomain. Instead it is a custom post type. There were a few reasons why we made this change. The biggest reason was better structuring the site. Coupons were limiting us to post only coupons on the site. This made the News section of the blog fairly crowded. With a new name, Deals, we can now post everything in one place. Having it as a custom post type makes it much easier for us to integrate it through out the site.
  • Videos Launched – We finally launched WPBeginner WordPress Videos. We were suppose to launch it a month or two after the last redesign. Because of all the feedback/complaints, we decided to hold back on the launch. Currently there are 17 videos that will show you the WordPress Basics. There are plans on adding more video tutorials in there as time goes by.
  • WPBeginner’s Blueprint – After doing the case-study of List25, we got bombarded with emails from users asking for a Behind the Scenes of WPBeginner. This is why we have launched WPBeginner’s Blueprint. This gives us a single place where we can list all plugins, tools, and services that we use. It also allows us to keep it fairly up to date. Blueprint Videos are in the works to make that area more personal.
  • Guides Initiative – Often we would get emails or tweets from users asking us where is the guide? I always felt like smacking my head on the wall. My answer was like, the whole freaking website is a guide. However, I understand that it is our job as a team to make our site easier to navigate. The guides will have a step by step guide of using WordPress. Currently its fairly basic, but we will be adding more items there. For those who are wondering, this is just an area where we show hand-picked articles that we have already covered.
  • WordPress Hosting – In the past, we had a list of recommended WordPress hosts. In the new release, we want our user’s feedback as well. We have added the ability for users to RATE each host and leave reviews. Please take a look at our WordPress Hosting page to see if your hosting provider is listed there. If they are, then please consider leaving a review. This will help others making the right decision.
  • Services – In the past, our services page was never super elaborate. We provide a wide-variety of services that we do not market. Never found a need to because we have always been packed with clients. As we hire more people, we have decided to make our WordPress services public. That page is still in the works. I want us to have a custom landing page for each.
  • Genesis Framework – WPBeginner is now powered on Genesis. The last design was a stand-alone, but we are back with our favorite framework.
  • Livefyre – In the new design, we have switched back to the default WordPress comments. We switched away from livefyre. We wrote an article about it already “6 reasons why we switched away from Livefyre“.
  • Visual Changes – There are a lot of visual changes. Fonts, font-size, etc.

What’s Next?

I still have a long list of things to do. I am super excited to see the direction we are heading in. We will soon start to offer Freebies. I want us to have a good compilation of books. If you have book recommendations, then please contact us. I want WPBeginner to cater to niche markets as well. There are some more interesting stuff in the works for that :)

A new giveaways section is in the works, then we will get back to doing our regular giveaways like we used to. I just don’t want to crowd the news section anymore. More news coming on that soon.

We are working on a “semi-responsiveness” of this theme. Basically you can call it a mobile-version. The biggest complaint we got from our users previously was that our mobile “responsive” design didn’t give them a way to switch back to the full version. So we are trying to figure out the best way to tackle this issue.

I will do my best to keep you guys updated as we add more features.

Yours Truly,
Syed Balkhi


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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Comments

  1. T Miller says:

    Hi, I like the look of your site. You mention the change in your deals section but don’t give any code tips on creating that look. Based on the name of your site, I was expecting a tut follow-up explanation, though you do mention that it’s a custom post type. Since, I am a beginner, it would take me a minute to figure out the style applied to get the same look on your coupon deal. Any chance, I just missed your instructional post on this? Thanks.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Interesting suggestion. The purpose of the article was to show users what changed not necessarily show users how we changed it. On a larger picture, often the things we change are fairly hard to explain for beginner users. Yes, you can argue there are multiple level of beginners. You might be on a level where you can understand HTML, CSS, and a little bit of PHP. Then there are those who don’t know how to upload an image.

  2. Sarah says:

    I think the new design is a vast improvement. The idea of the last once sounded good but in reality it just didn’t work.

  3. Gautam Doddamani says:

    i love the new design more…genesis is certainly the best framework compared to thesis and others and it handles seo very well…although i also liked the previous one…easy peesy…navigating to pages and stuff..this design is more like a businessey type of approach..i do like it but it can be made better :)

  4. Mairaj Pirzada says:

    Great News!

  5. iBru says:

    Great, but one more question,
    I wonder which plugin do you use to divide the email subscriptions into multiple categories. Thanks.

  6. Ankur says:

    Although I do like this design very much but previous one was very unique. The current design is typical blog/magazine type layout whereas previous one was quite unique. I could recognize the site just by looking a portion of it.
    Genesis is great addition, I use it myself and really admire it.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Thank you Ankur, Yes I can’t agree with you more. The last design was definitely very unique. I think for that vary reason, people had a hard time finding items. Because they were confused. Going back to a traditional layout made more sense.

  7. Dave Clements says:

    It’s definitely good to see the blog posts back on the front page. I couldn’t understand for the life of me why you took them away, but glad to see you experimenting. No venture is a waste unless you don’t learn from it. Big improvement over v3 in my opinion.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Thanks for dropping by Dave. The blog posts were on the homepage in v3 as well. But with no thumbnails, nothing was making them stand out.

  8. Aman says:

    Helly Syed,
    Everything is great; but can you give away the old theme (WP Beginner V3) to me!
    I really want that. Your old theme was also pretty good!

  9. Piet says:

    Strange that you didn’t realise yourself before launch that version 3 was a BIG mistake.

    I think with version 4 you have taken it the other way, it is super boring and way too narrow.

    A practical example: I am here lonesome in the bottom of your site writing this comment and I was looking for a link to the home page: no joy

    A back to top link then? Doesn’t Genesis come with that by default? No joy either!

    Already looking forward to version 5 as this is no good either.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Piet, I actually thought that version 3 was really cool. It started to grow old on me after a while. Version 4 definitely improves usability, and our numbers prove that. Will have to wait and see for more feedback. I think we have a good base here, now we are going to work on tweaking and optimizing it further.

      Back to the Top link, do people really use that? I guess we can do a heatmap test for that. Yes, Genesis comes with it by default. We took it out of our theme.

      Version 5 won’t be here anytime soon. Our goal now is to tweak and optimize this design. The numbers so far have been really promising. If you have more suggestions, please feel free to send it to me. Always love hearing from our users.

  10. Eric Suiker says:

    Hi Syed,

    The new design is looking great on the iPad and I can even read it without glasses. So that’s good.
    The video section looks promissing and the blueprint is great. Learned a lot from it.

    Thanks…

  11. Nicholas Tart says:

    Hey Syed, I think you’ve done a fantastic job. The orange bar is tremendous. I stared at it for a minute before I realized where the gradient was coming from. I also like how the breadcrumbs area is consistent with the Recent, Popular, Editorial links on the homepage. One thing, I found the deals page here: http://www.wpbeginner.com/deals/ instead of on a subdomain. Very nice job. I think it’s a big improvement.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Thanks Nick. Yes, got rid of the subdomain. Moved it from a MS install to a custom post type for better integration with the site.

    • Lenin Nongsiej says:

      To add to the above, the list items seems out of place. Consistent formatting would improve the overall looks. I am viewing the site on big screens so to me it does feel a little narrow. 1000px min width for desktops please. For the rest make it responsive. I like the details on everything else keep up the good work.

      • Editorial Staff says:

        Thanks for the feedback Lenin. Yes definitely has to make the list formatting better. I really appreciate the feedback.

  12. Mike says:

    I personally liked v3 myself… It looked more modern, more responsive (even if it wasn’t…can’t remember, but I see this one isn’t responsive), just all-around nicer.

    I’m sure I’ll get over it though :-)

    • Derek Jensen says:

      I’m with you, Mike. Not for the responsive design, but because it was something different and now seems like any other site out there. Sure the orange bar is back, but orange is quickly becoming the new blue with many sites.

      Point is that v3 was different and they should have tweaked the site for it to “convert better”. This drastic design looks worse than v2 if I remember correctly.

      • Editorial Staff says:

        Derek, thanks for the feedback. I cannot speak for others, but in the past two weeks (I made 60 sales of one product this month after the new design). Last month’s total was 40. Sales have increased. Opt-in has increased. Pageviews per user has increased as well. Having well-designed landing pages are key. With responsive it seems that you have to give up the custom styling in most cases. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for responsive design when it is necessary. With our audience, I don’t think it is. Very few actually read the site using mobile (less than 2% according to GA). v3 was surely unique however not everything that shine is gold. This is a work in progress, and like I said the mobile version will be ready hopefully soon.

        • Derek Jensen says:

          My point wasn’t focused on the move to not be responsive. My point was to think about tweaking v3 so it would be for the sake of this conversation v3.1.0 or something. Even though it didn’t convert as well I think I could have if things were played around with rather than switching to this Genesis Framework. It’s certainly a personal preference as I like to see people strive for different design and learning how to make it work will make you come out on top and lead the way. Wish you the best!

        • Editorial Staff says:

          Derek, one of the main reasons why it wasn’t working was because it wasn’t intuitive. Users really had no clue how to use that design. It was drastically different, nothing like they have seen on any other website. As to why we didn’t tweak that one? We tried tweaking it. Unlike WordPress, we don’t announce v3.0.1 or 3.0.2 … There were numerous tweaks that we made. But nothing seemed to work. Now maybe if we had better UI/UX guys, it might have worked out (maybe).

  13. Rich says:

    Nice update. You could use some spacing after each bullet – otherwise they run together (see above), and maybe a tad bit less line spacing for paragraph text. I also think the design could be 20-40px wider – 960 is narrow by modern standards.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Good advice regarding the bullet spacing. Will put a call for that. Yeah, we will stick with 960 for a while. Maybe in the future it will get wider.

      • Mike says:

        Might I suggest the 1140 grid when you do v5? We’ve started using it on a lot of stuff that’s coming up for us soon and it’s great to work with.

  14. Keith Davis says:

    Hi Syed
    I love the new design.
    Love anything built on Genesis, well almost anything.
    Howe come you aren’t responsive?

    I was thinking about moving from native comments to Livefyre, but your article kicked that one in to touch.
    I actually like your simple sign in with twitter or facebook comments.

    All in all… a big improvement.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Keith, we will have a responsive styling for only mobile browsers very soon. But that’s about it.

  15. stef says:

    its better nice ..

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