What’s New in WordPress 5.3 (New Blocks, Updated Theme and Admin UI)

Features of WordPress 5.3

WordPress 5.3 is scheduled to be released on November 12, 2019; however, the second beta version has become available for users through ‘WordPress Beta Tester’ plugin enabling them to take a look at the new features before the final release. WordPress 5.3 is equipped with the enhanced versions of some earlier features whilst introducing some new features. For example,

  • Significant improvement of the Site Health Tool
  • Addition of a default theme that is known as TwentyTwenty
  • Enhancement of the Admin User Interface
  • Enhanced support for PHP 7.4
  • Enhanced accessibility

Special Features of WordPress 5.3

Twenty-Twenty – Brand New WordPress Theme

Updated Theme TwentyTwenty

‘Twenty-Twenty’ is the default theme of WordPress 5.3. Anders Norén designed this theme based on Chaplin (a feature-rich theme enabling the users to have complete control over the colours and fonts) with a special focus on Gutenberg. This theme works with all the latest WordPress Page Builders.

  • ‘Typography’ is the most sophisticated part of ‘Twenty-Twenty’ theme. It is fitted with Inter typeface (font) that is available in varying widths, such as italics, bold and extra-bold. It is possible to create prominent headlines using these font features.
  • Twenty-Twenty includes a full-width template as well as a cover for the posts and pages.
  • There is no left/right sidebar to the content, as the theme features a single column layout.

These additions and updates enable users to create interesting content layouts for various pages/posts and let them make the best use of the ‘WordPress Block Editor’.

Updated Design & User Interface

Updated Design and UI - WordPress 5.3

The overall appearance of the ‘User Interface’ has undergone changes in WordPress 5.3; however, users may not notice these subtle changes at first. These changes bring a coherency into the looks of the admin area. Users may notice the following changes in the appearance of ‘User Interface’.

  • Improved colour contrasts on buttons as well as form fields
  • Addition of a new colour palette
  • Combining the look and feel of the WordPress admin screens and WordPress Editor

Advanced Blocks

The Gutenberg Block Editor is fitted with updated features with the release of the latest version of WordPress. However, all 13 releases of Gutenberg plugin are going to be integrated into the core, at once, with the release of WordPress 5.3. Hence, Gutenberg Block Editor is going to include a variety of updated and new features with the release of the latest version.

Block Appender

In Group and Columns blocks, the users may notice a ‘Block Appender’ on the empty state which is an addition to the latest version. It is a grey area that has a ‘Plus’ sign (+) in the middle. This new feature is supposed to improve block usability and make the UI clearer.

Grouping Blocks by Group Interaction

Grouping Blocks by Group Interaction

In WordPress 5.3, it is possible to create a group of blocks and to interact with these blocks as a group. There are two different ways to group the blocks.

  • You can simply build a ‘Group’ block by ‘group’ interaction. This feature enables you to select multiple blocks and to assemble these blocks with a few clicks of the mouse.
  • You may even drag the existing blocks and drop the blocks into the ‘group’ block.

Therefore, you can save multiple block items as a single ‘group’ block. You also have the power to duplicate the ‘group’ block, add the background colour to the block or insert various items before/after the block.

Customized Column Widths

Customized Column Width - WordPress 5.3

The latest version of WordPress enables you to set a customized width for each column, as the ‘Columns’ block of WordPress-5.3 supports a sliding control in ‘Block’ settings.

Pre-defined Layouts for Columns Blocks

The ‘Layout Picker’ is another addition to ‘Columns’ block of WordPress 5.3. This feature has been added to the editor with Gutenberg 6.0 and users can perform the following tasks with this feature.

  • Select a layout from a diverse collection of pre-defined layouts/patterns
  • Skip to the default layout
  • Add speed to the editing process
  • Creating a user-friendly block for less tech-savvy users
Improved Table Block

Improved Table Block

A variety of new features has been added to the ‘Table Block’ for enhancement. Now, this block supports background colours, table header and footer and text alignments in columns.

Block Navigation Mode

The Navigation Mode was introduced in Gutenberg-6.3. The users can navigate between various blocks using the ‘Tab’ button or ‘arrow’ keys with the help of this feature. Hence, this latest feature significantly improves the usability and saves a user from going into the block content to navigate between the blocks. A user can easily switch to ‘Edit’ mode from ‘Navigation’ mode and can return to the earlier mode after pressing the ‘Enter’/‘Esc’ button due to this feature.

Introduction of Motion to Block Changes

The introduction of ‘Motion’ to block changes, removal, creation, and reordering greatly improve usability. Using this feature, a user can easily change the overall state of a Group by changing the order.

Improved Image Gallery Blocks

Improved Image Gallery Block

The introduction of ‘Inline Image Reordering’ has improved the usability of the ‘Gallery’ block. Now, you can change the position of the images present in the gallery by pressing the ‘Move Image Backward’ or ‘Move Image Forward’ button. You are not required to open the ‘Media Modal’ screen to rearrange the images when using this latest feature.

Improved Latest Posts Block

Improved Latest Posts Block

In WordPress-5.3, the ‘Latest Posts’ block supports the post-content iteration as well as the excerpt.

  • In the latest version, the ‘block settings’ panel contains a section where you can toggle on or off the ‘post content’.
  • You may select between the Excerpt and Full Post options when the Post Content is active.
  • You may even use a ‘Slider’ to control the length of Excerpt when it is checked.
Improved Lists Blocks

In WordPress-5.3, Lists blocks support the ‘start value’, ‘indent/outdent shortcuts’ and ‘reverse order support’ for the ordered lists.

Addition of Social Links Block

Improved Social Links Block

The WordPress Editor now contains a ‘Social Links’ block enabling the users to easily add the social media icons inside the WordPress posts as well as pages. You can perform the following tasks using this block.

  • Easily add/remove the social media icons
  • Easily link the icons to the social media profiles
  • Select the links from a list of social media websites
Improved Button Block

Improved Button Block

The upgraded ‘Button’ block allows you to change the setting of the border and radius as per your desires whenever you want to add buttons to the posts/pages. Using this feature, you can set the target or add the ‘rel’ attribute to the link making it possible to open the button links in a new window or to assign a nofollow value to the ‘rel’ attribute whenever it is necessary.

Improved Site Health Components

Improved Site Health Components

The ‘Site Health’ tool was introduced through WordPress-5.2 in order to assist the administrators with the recovery of websites whenever it experiences any technical difficulties. In WordPress-5.3, the ‘Site Health’ tool has been upgraded with advanced features.

Removal of Percentage Score Grading

The upgraded version of the ‘Site Health’ tool does not show the ‘Percentage Score Grade’ of a website at the top of the status page. Now, it shows either of the following statuses –

  • Should be improved
  • Good

The latest ‘Site Health’ tool gives reminders instead of precisely indicating the status of a website’s security and performance.

Introduction of Recovery Email Filter

WordPress sends a recovery e-mail to a ‘site-admin’ whenever a failure occurs. The latest version includes a ‘recovery_email_debug_info’ filter capable of providing useful data to the site-admin through e-mail with regards to an issue along with the debugging information.

Extensive Result of Site Health Status Test

Now, a web-developer can filter the output of a website’s finished status test using the ‘site_status_test_result’ filter in order to learn the details of the status. This filter is available as the JavaScript implementation for asynchronous tests or in PHP for direct tests.

Improved Admin Experience

Upgraded Color Contrast

The upcoming version of WordPress improves the ‘colour contrast’ whilst resolving the accessibility issues.

Admin Email Verification

Admin Email Verification

An e-mail is sent to the site-admin if he/she does not log into a website for a specified period of time. The default period of the interval is set for six months. However, a developer can change the period of the interval using ‘admin_email_check_interval’ filter based upon a client’s request.

Resuming Uploads Feature

The ‘Resuming Upload’ feature makes it easier for the users to upload large images from a Smartphone, as it resumes the uploading of an image if it fails to upload at the first attempt.

Image Rotation During Upload

In WordPress-5.3, an image is correctly rotated when being uploaded in accordance with the EXIF orientation metadata.


The release of WordPress 5.3 brings some exciting new features for users along with improved previous features. For example, the ‘Site Health’ tool has been upgraded with new features or 13 versions of Gutenberg plugin has been merged into the core. The latest version also improves the admin interface and adds new features or features for the theme designers and web-developers. The latest version is set to deliver various other exciting features to maximize the usability of this user-friendly CMS.

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