I gave up using my WordPress.com blog when I decided I needed a bit more control over my content and my design. I hadn’t looked at my account in more than 6 months. But a recent barrage of spam comments that slipped past Akismet had me log in to clean up the presence as it still redirects to my present virtual home. Wow, all I can say is that WordPress has done some incredible things that may make me rethink recommending the self-hosting option for folks who want to start their own blog but desire, like I did, more control over appearance and its domain name.
The Dashboard – what used to be a rather plain interface with a single option now has 6 sub-sections: Dashboard, Blog Stats, Feed Stats, Friend Surfer, My Comments and Tag Surfer. Now as you pore through you will notice that a lot of these are still in Beta but it is nice to see development occurring in WordPress nonetheless! I’ve included screenshots below of the new Dashboard features. All of these screenshots are available from my Flickr account in larger sizes so that you can see the detail but in the interest of keeping download sizes small, I’ve opted to simply place thumbnails inline.
The next set of big changes comes in the Presentation tab. Where there used to be only the option to use the pre-loaded templates, there are now additional options: Extras, Custom Image Header, Sidebar Widgets and EditCSS.
Your Profile now allows for the inclusion of an image attached to your profile which serves as your avatar.
Options has a new feature,Domains and one that if it isn’t new bears reinforcing particularly for those educators who are concerned over having their class content shared with too broad an audience or for those using their blog for private collaboration. This feature is the Privacy filter.
The last tab in the WordPress menubar is entitled Upgrades. This is an interesting twist as it represents the first time I’ve seen WordPress charging for add-on functionality. Via PayPal, one can purchase credits which will then allow them to purchase one of the five current upgrades: Custom CSS (which enables use of the Edit CSS function), Unlimited Private Users, and then a1GB, 5GB or 10GB Space Upgrade.