WordPress Updates And Default Themes Explained & How To Update To 3.8

WordPress released its latest version, that is version 3.8, in December 2013. Accompanying WordPress 3.8 is the very cool Twenty Fourteen theme. To commemorate the new theme I thought it’d be a good idea to provide a brief explanation about WordPress updates and default themes.

To begin with, each version of WordPress will have a default WordPress theme associated with it. The table below lists the default themes associated with different versions of WordPress.

WordPress Version

Default Theme


Twenty Twelve


Twenty Thirteen


Twenty Thirteen


Twenty Fourteen


How often does WordPress provide updates?

WordPress updates are released several times a year. A  jump from WordPress 3.7 to 3.8 represents a major update. If the update is a minor one, instead of jumping a whole gargantuan 0.1 the update will look like 3.8.1, 3.8.2 etc.

What is a WordPress theme?

While the WordPress version refers to the version of the software that’s running your website, the theme is simply the design template that your site dons. Also get this: while each version of WordPress will have a default theme, there is no obligation to remain tethered to that theme.

So let’s say you have installed WordPress 3.8 – in this case your website will show up with the default theme i.e. Twenty Fourteen. But if you feel that Twenty Twelve is more a more suitable choice for your needs, you can choose the Twenty Twelve theme for your WordPress 3.8 website at Dashboard>Appearance>Themes.  Of course, you can go back to Twenty Fourteen (or any other theme) at any point.

Will updating WordPress impact your theme selection?

Another point to note is that the default theme is of consequence only when you install WordPress for the first time on your website. When you are just updating your WordPress website, your theme selection remains intact.

For example, say you are currently running WordPress 3.6 with the Twenty Twelve theme and you update to WordPress 3.8, in this scenario your website will continue to use the Twenty Twelve theme till you decide to switch to another theme. But if you are installing (as opposed to updating) WordPress 3.8 on your website either manually or using an auto-installer such as Quick Install or Fantastico, in that case, your website will automatically show up with WordPress 3.8’s default theme i.e. Twenty Fourteen.

In short, applying an update to the WordPress version will not have an impact on your theme selection.

How often does WordPress release new themes?

As is evident with the information presented in the table above, every major WordPress update is not necessarily accompanied with a new default theme; WordPress 3.6 and 3.7, both, have Twenty Thirteen as the default theme. In fact, the release of a new WordPress theme is an annual event and since the year 2010, the tradition has been to name each year’s theme after the year itself!

How to determine the WordPress version and theme of your website:

When you install WordPress on your website for the first time, using the manual installation method will ensure that the latest version of WordPress is installed.

However, if you choose to use an auto-installer such as Fantastico instead, it will not necessarily install the latest version. In order to determine the WordPress version and theme: log into WordPress, scroll down the dashboard region till you find the “At a Glance” panel (called the ‘Right Now’ panel in some versions of WordPress):


This panel will give you information about the exact version and theme installed on your website.

WordPress update notification

When a new version of WordPress is released, users are notified through the dashboard. Keep a lookout for a notification along the top of the dashboard:

Update notification in the dashboard area

How to update WordPress to the latest version:

You can easily update to the latest version of WordPress by clicking on the “Please update now” link in the notification. Alternatively, go to ‘Updates’ in the dashboard and then click on the ‘Update Now’ button:


Note: If your website has content, please create a backup before attempting an update.

How often should you update WordPress?

Theme selection is purely a matter of personal preference; it’s perfectly okay to run the Twenty Twelve theme even if we are in 2014 (as long as the theme is compatible). But for security purposes, it is best to update to the latest version of WordPress available.


  1. says

    First of all thank you so much for your book. I am following it step-by-step and learning awesome stuff. I have a concern that I hope you can assist me with. I began updated my site as per your instructions (and I have completely neutered the admin user) but I received an email in my inbox the other day and this was the email.

    New user registration on your site The Dog Training Lady.com:

    Username: qingdao.rent.qdfc.me

    E-mail: qingdao.propery.qdfc.me@yandex.com

    I have no idea where this came from or who this is and I am deeply concerned, should I be and what should I do?

    I went to my website and notice this was an actual user in the “user” section, of course I immediately deleted it.

    Any suggestions?

    Best Regards,

    Suzanne Dean

    • Reeta says

      Hi Suzanne,

      Glad you’re liking the book! About the issue: I visited your site and think it’s been disabled now, but at any point was the “Anyone can register” option at Settings>General selected?

  2. Jeff says

    I try to keep my version of WP up to date, but is it necessary to update TwentyTen, TwentyEleven, TwentyTwelve, TwentyThirteen, and TwentyFourteen, if I’ve never activated them? I’ve never updated or activated any of them. The only theme that’s activated is the one I purchased from ThemeForest.

    • Reeta says

      Jeff, it’s actually easy to keep all the themes that are installed on your site updated. Here’s what I like to do: go to Dashboard>Updates, scroll down to the section for themes, select all themes that have an update and just hit update.

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