Brian Casel is a web designer and owner of ThemeJam WordPress Themes and CasJam Media.  You can follow Brian on his blog at or on Twitter @CasJam.

WordPress has long been known as a dedicated blogging platform, giving users the tools they need to publish their message and interact with readers.  However, with the official release of version 3.0, set to drop this month, the platform will be much closer, if not well within the territory of a content management system (CMS).

The list of new features in WordPress 3.0 isn’t very long in comparison to previous releases.  However, the changes that are coming will certainly have a significant impact, particularly if you use WordPress as a CMS.  Here is a rundown of the most important new features arriving in version 3.0.

Let us know in the comments which features of WordPress 3.0 you are most looking forward to.

1. Custom Post Types

By default, WordPress lets you publish two types of content: “Posts” and “Pages.”  In version 3.0, you can define additional content types with their own attributes.  For example, if you’re running a WordPress site for a design agency, you might create a custom post type to display portfolio items, another for employee pages, and another for client testimonials.  From there, you can customize your theme to better suit each individual post type.

You might even want to turn your WordPress site into something more like Tumblr.  This will be easy to do in WordPress 3.0 simply by creating custom post types for Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio, and Video.

Thanks to custom post types, there are many new possibilities for how you use WordPress to publish any sort of content.

2. Menu Management


Menu management is one of the most exciting and talked about features in WordPress 3.0.  This feature gives you full control over your site’s navigation menus.  With an easy drag and drop interface, users can create menus that include any mixture of links to internal pages, external URLs, categories, you name it.  Then you can embed these custom menus as a widget wherever your theme allows.

So let’s say you’re running a site which has several informational pages, plus a blog, featured video posts, and you also want to promote your social media presence.  You can customize your main navigation to look something like this:

  • HOME
  • BLOG (links to the main blog page)
  • VIDEOS (links to the video category, or post type)
  • TWITTER (links to your Twitter profile)
  • FACEBOOK (links to your Facebook Fan Page)

Changing the order, titles, and destination of these links is a piece of cake with menu management in WordPress 3.0.

3. Custom Taxonomies

While this new feature may seem a bit complex to non-developers, it certainly brings WordPress 3.0 closer to a true CMS.  Custom taxonomies allow you to create additional pieces of meta information.  By default, there are “Categories” and “Tags.”  Now we can add additional types, with the option of being hierarchical or not.

So what does this mean exactly?  Here are some examples of what you can do with custom taxonomies:

Let’s say you’re a film fanatic and you use your WordPress blog to post reviews and rate new movies.  You can create a custom taxonomy for “Rating,” then add R, PG-13, PG, G to every review.

Another example would be real estate listing websites.  In addition to photos and descriptions, you might use additional taxonomies to provide a list of specs on each property such as asking price, number of bedrooms, year built, etc.

4. New Default Theme: “Twentyten”


Twentyten is the long-overdue default theme packaged with new installations of WordPress 3.0.  It features a clean, yet bold design and introduces some nice functionality not found in many themes.  Two features built into Twentyten are particularly useful if you’re new to WordPress and don’t have the coding skills to customize your theme.  They are:

Custom Header Image

The Twentyten theme gives you the ability to easily change your site’s header image.  Packaged with the theme are eight interesting banner images to choose from.  You can also upload your own image.  This feature isn’t limited to the Twentyten theme.  It can be activated and included by theme developers as well.

Custom Background Image

Another nifty feature found in Twentyten is the ability to upload your own background image for your site.  You can also set a solid background color if you want.  While this is likely an easy thing to tweak even for those with only light knowledge of web development, it’s certainly useful for those who don’t want to get their hands dirty and edit CSS.  Again, custom background functionality can be included in other themes as well if activated by the theme developer.

5. Multi-site

You can’t discuss WordPress 3.0 without mentioning the new multi-site capabilities.  That is, you can manage several different websites (with different domains and/or sub-domains) all with a single installation of WordPress.  What was previously known as WordPress MU (Multi-User) is now merged with the core WordPress system in 3.0.  Enabling multi-site capabilities likely isn’t something for the average user, as it requires some tinkering with the code and configuring server settings.  That said, the average user likely isn’t interested in having multi-site capabilities.

So who benefits from running a multi-site installation of WordPress?  It’s perfect if you’re running a blog network, or manage a large news organization with many different departments.  Perhaps your business has each employee running their own blog with a unique design or even their own domain.  These are situations where multi-site functionality can be useful.

What Else?

Here are a few of the minor feature enhancements arriving in WordPress 3.0:

Get Shortlink (with your own domain)

We all know how useful URL shorteners can be, especially for tweeting links.  WordPress 2.9 gave you the ability to use the URL shortener.  WordPress 3.0 takes this feature a step further by allowing you to get a shortlink for your post based on your own domain name.  You don’t need to mask your URL with other services like  Now you can keep your branding intact when you tweet your links.

Author Templates

New in 3.0 is the ability to create unique author templates.  This is great if you’re running a multi-author blog and you’d like to apply unique styles or layouts to individual author pages.

Select Username and Password During Installation

Before WordPress 3.0, new installations automatically set your master account to username “admin” with an auto-generated password.  Now, you can define these during installation, saving you the hassle of changing them later.  It also adds a new layer of security.  WordPress sites have been known to be compromised simply because they use the most common username, “admin.”

Get the entire list of new features and changes at the official WordPress Codex page for 3.0

Which feature are you most excited to get your hands on in WordPress 3.0? Let us know in the comments!