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The Evolution of WordPress UI (Significant Changes From 2003 to 2021)

The Evolution of WordPress UI (Significant Changes From 2003 to 2021) image
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If you want to build your own website, then you know about WordPress. What you might not know is how significantly WordPress UI has evolved since its humble beginnings in 2003. What once started as a simple blogging platform is now the most popular website management system of them all, running more than 40.6% of the entire web.[1]

What’s more, it is used not only by small business owners, bloggers and people in the web development ecosystem, but also by some of the biggest celebrities and brands out there.

The evolution of WordPress UIThe evolution of WordPress UI

Though, I’m not entirely sure Beyonce is actually aware that she has WordPress running her site, but I digress! Back on topic:

Anyone who has tried setting up a WordPress site knows very well what the platform is capable of nowadays. But what about those early versions? Do you even know what WordPress 0.7 used to look like? Or, when WordPress actually started looking like the WordPress we know now?

Let’s answer these questions today.  Here’s a rundown through all of the major versions of WordPress to see how the WordPress UI has been evolving over the years. 

The evolution of WordPress UI – 2003 to now

I tried getting and installing every version of WordPress from the official archive, but that turned out much more difficult than it might at first seem.

Long story short, modern PHP and web servers aren’t exactly compatible with those early versions of WordPress (or, rather, it’s the other way around).

Anyhow. After a number of custom modifications to the WordPress installer files, server tweaks, and who knows what else, I managed to get most of the major versions of WordPress up and running! Here’s the evolution of WordPress UI:

TL;DR: Would you rather see a quick video? Suit yourself:
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The Evolution of the #WordPress #UI (2003 to now) 📃📃📃 Click To Tweet

WordPress 0.7 – where it all started – May 27, 2003

Release post. This is where it all started. Not much going on yet, though.

WordPress 0.7 UIWordPress 0.7 UI

WordPress 1.0 “Miles” – January 3, 2004

Release post. Permalinks, multiple categories, comment moderation, all that and more we got in WordPress 1.0.

WordPress 1.0 UIWordPress 1.0 UI

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WordPress 1.2 “Mingus” – May 22, 2004

Release post. WordPress 1.2 brought us plugins! Also, sub-categories and post previews.

WordPress 1.2 MANAGEWordPress 1.2 WRITEWordPress 1.2 LOGINWordPress 1.2 MANAGEWordPress 1.2 MANAGE WordPress 1.2 WRITEWordPress 1.2 WRITE WordPress 1.2 LOGINWordPress 1.2 LOGIN

WordPress 1.5 “Strayhorn” – February 17, 2005

Release post. The introduction of themes!

WordPress 1.5 DASHBOARDWordPress 1.5 MANAGEWordPress 1.5 WRITEWordPress 1.5 LOGINWordPress 1.5 dashWordPress 1.5 dash WordPress 1.5 editWordPress 1.5 edit WordPress 1.5 writeWordPress 1.5 write WordPress 1.5 loginWordPress 1.5 login

WordPress 2.0 “Duke” – December 31, 2005

Release post. We get a new WordPress dashboard, plus WYSIWYG editing, user roles, and header customizations.

WordPress 2.0 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.0 MANAGEWordPress 2.0 WRITEWordPress 2.0 LOGIN20-dash20-dash 20-edit20-edit 20-write20-write 20-login20-login

WordPress 2.1 “Ella” – January 22, 2007

Release post. Autosaving added, plus the ability to switch between visual vs text editing.

WordPress 2.1 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.1 MANAGEWordPress 2.1 WRITEWordPress 2.1 LOGIN21-dash21-dash 21-edit21-edit 21-write21-write 21-login21-login

WordPress 2.2 “Getz” – May 16, 2007

Release post. This version brings us widgets, and full Atom support.

WordPress 2.2 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.2 MANAGEWordPress 2.2 WRITEWordPress 2.2 LOGIN22-dash22-dash 22-edit22-edit 22-write22-write 22-login22-login

WordPress 2.3 “Dexter” – September 25, 2007

Release post. Tags get introduced, plus a new post status – “pending review.”

WordPress 2.3 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.3 MANAGEWordPress 2.3 WRITEWordPress 2.3 LOGIN23-dash23-dash 23-edit23-edit 23-write23-write 23-login23-login

WordPress 2.5 “Brecker” – March 29, 2008

Release post. The main dashboard gets redone. There are new dashboard widgets, multi-file uploads, and a password strength meter.

WordPress 2.5 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.5 MANAGEWordPress 2.5 WRITEWordPress 2.5 LOGIN25-dash25-dash 25-edit25-edit 25-write25-write 25-login25-login

WordPress 2.6 “Tyner” – July 15, 2008

Release post. Post revisions get introduced, along with the classic “Press This!” bookmarklet, plus there are new theme previews.

WordPress 2.6 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.6 MANAGEWordPress 2.6 WRITEWordPress 2.6 LOGIN26-dash26-dash 26-edit26-edit 26-write26-write 26-login26-login

WordPress 2.7 “Coltrane” – December 11, 2008

Release post. We get a completely new interface for the dashboard!

WordPress 2.7 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.7 MANAGEWordPress 2.7 WRITEWordPress 2.7 LOGIN27-dash27-dash 27-edit27-edit 27-write27-write 27-login27-login

WordPress 2.8 “Baker” – June 11, 2009

Release post. Various improvements to themes, widgets, taxonomies, and site speed.

WordPress 2.8 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.8 MANAGEWordPress 2.8 WRITEWordPress 2.8 LOGIN28-dash28-dash 28-edit28-edit 28-write28-write 28-login28-login

WordPress 2.9 “Carmen” – December 19, 2009

Release post. There’s a new global undo/”trash” feature, and built-in image editor.

WordPress 2.9 DASHBOARDWordPress 2.9 MANAGEWordPress 2.9 WRITEWordPress 2.9 LOGIN29-dash29-dash 29-edit29-edit 29-write29-write 29-login29-login

WordPress 3.0 “Thelonious” – June 17, 2010

Release post. Theme developers get new APIs – allowing things like custom backgrounds, headers, shortlinks, menus and more.

WordPress 3.0 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.0 MANAGEWordPress 3.0 WRITEWordPress 3.0 LOGIN30-dash30-dash 30-edit30-edit 30-write30-write 30-login30-login

WordPress 3.1 “Reinhardt” – February 23, 2011

Release post. The admin bar gets introduced!

WordPress 3.1 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.1 MANAGEWordPress 3.1 WRITEWordPress 3.1 LOGIN31-dash31-dash 31-edit31-edit 31-write31-write 31-login31-login

WordPress 3.2 “Gershwin” – July 4, 2011

Release post. The dashboard gets refreshed to tighten the typography and overall design.

WordPress 3.2 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.2 MANAGEWordPress 3.2 WRITEWordPress 3.2 LOGIN32-dash32-dash 32-edit32-edit 32-write32-write 32-login32-login

WordPress 3.3 “Sonny” – December 12, 2011

Release post. Users get a drag-and-drop uploader, hover menus, a new toolbar, and improved co-editing support.

WordPress 3.3 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.3 MANAGEWordPress 3.3 WRITEWordPress 3.3 LOGIN33-dash33-dash 33-edit33-edit 33-write33-write 33-login33-login

WordPress 3.4 “Green” – June 13, 2012

Release post. WordPress Customizer sees the daylight!

WordPress 3.4 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.4 MANAGEWordPress 3.4 WRITEWordPress 3.4 LOGIN34-dash34-dash 34-edit34-edit 34-write34-write 34-login34-login

WordPress 3.5 “Elvin” – December 11, 2012

Release post. Uploading photos and creating galleries gets redone, along with modifications to the main dashboard design.

WordPress 3.5 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.5 MANAGEWordPress 3.5 WRITEWordPress 3.5 LOGIN35-dash35-dash 35-edit35-edit 35-write35-write 35-login35-login

WordPress 3.6 “Oscar” – August 1, 2013

Release post. Improved autosave and post locking features, plus a revamped revisions browser.

WordPress 3.6 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.6 MANAGEWordPress 3.6 WRITEWordPress 3.6 LOGIN36-dash36-dash 36-edit36-edit 36-write36-write 36-login36-login

WordPress 3.7 “Basie” – October 24, 2013

Release post. Maintenance and security updates are now installed automatically, plus stronger password recommendations.

WordPress 3.7 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.7 MANAGEWordPress 3.7 WRITEWordPress 3.7 LOGIN37-dash37-dash 37-edit37-edit 37-write37-write 37-login37-login

WordPress 3.8 “Parker” – December 12, 2013

Release post. A fresh new look for the entire dashboard – the style that we know today.

WordPress 3.8 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.8 MANAGEWordPress 3.8 WRITEWordPress 3.8 LOGIN38-dash38-dash 38-edit38-edit 38-write38-write 38-login38-login

WordPress 3.9 “Smith” – April 16, 2014

Release post. Improved visual content editing, better image editing, drag-and-drop for images.

WordPress 3.9 DASHBOARDWordPress 3.9 MANAGEWordPress 3.9 WRITEWordPress 3.9 LOGIN39-dash39-dash 39-edit39-edit 39-write39-write 39-login39-login

WordPress 4.0 “Benny” – September 4, 2014

Release post. Media Library gets redesigned. There are improved embeds, and improved UI for finding new plugins right from the dashboard.

WordPress 4.0 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.0 MANAGEWordPress 4.0 WRITEWordPress 4.0 LOGIN40-dash40-dash 40-edit40-edit 40-write40-write 40-login40-login

WordPress 4.1 “Dinah” – December 18, 2014

Release post. Distraction-free writing gets introduced!

WordPress 4.1 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.1 MANAGEWordPress 4.1 WRITEWordPress 4.1 LOGIN41-dash41-dash 41-edit41-edit 41-write41-write 41-login41-login

WordPress 4.2 “Powell” – April 23, 2015

Release post. “Press This!” gets improved. There’s now the possibility to switch themes in the Customizer, plus more streamlined plugin updates.

WordPress 4.2 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.2 MANAGEWordPress 4.2 WRITEWordPress 4.2 LOGIN42-dash42-dash 42-edit42-edit 42-write42-write 42-login42-login

WordPress 4.3 “Billie” – August 18, 2015

Release post. We can now edit menus in the Customizer, and we get Formatting Shortcuts (Markdown-like).

WordPress 4.3 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.3 MANAGEWordPress 4.3 WRITEWordPress 4.3 LOGIN43-dash43-dash 43-edit43-edit 43-write43-write 43-login43-login

WordPress 4.4 “Clifford” – December 8, 2015

Release post. WordPress can now handle responsive images better. New REST API infrastructure gets put in place.

WordPress 4.4 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.4 MANAGEWordPress 4.4 WRITEWordPress 4.4 LOGIN44-dash44-dash 44-edit44-edit 44-write44-write 44-login44-login

WordPress 4.5 “Coleman” – April 12, 2016

Release post. Inline linking gets introduced. The Customizer now has previews for different screen sizes.

WordPress 4.5 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.5 MANAGEWordPress 4.5 WRITEWordPress 4.5 LOGIN45-dash45-dash 45-edit45-edit 45-write45-write 45-login45-login

WordPress 4.6 “Pepper” – August 16, 2016

Release post. More streamlined updates. Your system’s native fonts are now supported.

WordPress 4.6 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.6 MANAGEWordPress 4.6 WRITEWordPress 4.6 LOGIN46-dash46-dash 46-edit46-edit 46-write46-write 46-login46-login

WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan” – December 6, 2016

Release post. Themes can now include starter content packages. Video headers are now possible. Users can change admin language in their profiles. REST API Content Endpoints added.

WordPress 4.7 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.7 MANAGEWordPress 4.7 WRITEWordPress 4.7 LOGIN47-dash47-dash 47-edit47-edit 47-write47-write 47-login47-login

WordPress 4.8 “Evans” – June 8, 2017

Release post. We get new widgets for images, video, audio, and rich text. Nearby WordPress events get displayed on the dashboard.

WordPress 4.8 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.8 MANAGEWordPress 4.8 WRITEWordPress 4.8 LOGIN48-dash48-dash 48-edit48-edit 48-write48-write 48-login48-login

WordPress 4.9 “Tipton” – November 16, 2017

Release post. There’s been quite a number of cool new features in this one – things like the new scheduler and draft saver for your Customizer changes, a new code syntax error highlighter, and more.

WordPress 4.9 DASHBOARDWordPress 4.9 MANAGEWordPress 4.9 WRITEWordPress 4.9 LOGINWordPress 4.9 dashWordPress 4.9 dash WordPress 4.9 manageWordPress 4.9 manage WordPress 4.9 writeWordPress 4.9 write WordPress 4.9 loginWordPress 4.9 login

WordPress 5.0 “Bebo” – December 6, 2018

Release post. Finally, the big milestone in WordPress evolution! This new WordPress 5.0 version brought us the highly-hyped block editor called Gutenberg.

WordPress 5.0 DASHBOARDWordPress 5.0 MANAGEWordPress 5.0 WRITEWordPress 5.0 LOGINWordPress 5.0 dashboardWordPress 5.0 dashboard WordPress 5.0 manageWordPress 5.0 manage WordPress 5.0 writeWordPress 5.0 write WordPress 5.0 loginWordPress 5.0 login Go to top

What to expect next?

I wonder what WordPress will look like in another 5, 10, 15 years. Where do you think the evolution of WordPress UI will take us next? Feel free to share in the comments.

The Evolution of the #WordPress #UI (2003 to now) 📃📃📃 Click To Tweet

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