WordPress 5.5 was released on August 11, 2020 and it comes with lots of improved and new features. This latest version of WordPress focuses on the speed, search and security of this CMS. The latest version includes 150+ enhancements, 1500+ changes to block-editor interface, 300+ bug fixes and other features aimed at improving the performance of WordPress 5.5.
Main Features of WordPress 5.5
WordPress 5.5 has made ‘Lazy-Load Images’ a default option for all websites with the inclusion of ‘loading attribute’ into the ‘img’ tag. This attribute is supported by almost all modern web browsers.
The images load slower than the plain text which increases the overall loading time of the web-pages. The ‘Lazy-Load Images’ option optimizes the images for a website and increases its loading speed and overall performance. When using the WordPress 5.5, only the immediately visible part of an image will be downloaded. The rest of the image will download as a user scroll’s down a web-page. This modification increases a website’s loading speed.
The XML sitemap is a file which lists all types of content of a website in XML format. This file is not visible to the visitors of a website. It assists all search-engines to effortlessly navigate/discover/index the content of a website, as the list of content is received in a machine-readable format.
All major WordPress SEO Plugins have built-in XML sitemap. However, WordPress 5.5 comes with a built-in sitemaps feature. This feature will create a new ‘sitemap index file’ that will be known as ‘wp-sitemap.xml’. It is going to contain the links to all sitemap files generated by a website.
The default Sitemap feature will support all types of posts along with the taxonomies (categories/tags/custom taxonomy) and author archives. Due to having this feature, a large number of people can quickly find any WordPress websites. It provides a better opportunity for the site-owners to engage, retain and convert the visitors into customers or subscribers.
The powerful ‘updates’ management system increases the security of the WordPress websites with the release of WordPress 5.5. Using this feature, you can turn on auto-updates for all WordPress plugins and themes. You can change the configuration or use a third-party plugin to enable this feature and may use the admin dashboard for automatic updating.
- To auto-update the plugins, you may go to the plugins page and select a plugin. You have to click on the ‘Enable auto-updated’ feature to ensure that the selected plugin becomes automatically updated.
- You may enable auto-updates for themes in the similar manner. You may find a theme on the ‘Appearance » Themes’ page. You may click on a theme that you want to automatically update. After the selection, you may click on ‘enable auto-updates’ link.
Hence, a website will always run the latest available code. Users may even turn on/off the auto-updates feature for each installed plugin/theme based upon their unique needs or preference.
Highlights from Block Editor
With the release of WordPress 5.5, block-editor receives various updated features. These new features and updates will improve your writing experience manifold. Here are a few examples of the latest features.
- UI Improvements: Significant UI improvements have been made to the Block Editor. This difference in interface will instantly grab your attention. You will find the following changes…
- Improved drag and drop option
- Simplified block toolbar
- New Icons
- Improved Color Contrast
- Surrounding elements
- Block movers
- Device previews
- Unified and improved block focus styles across the entire UI
- Users can format multiple blocks at once
- Formatting options for subscript/superscript text through ‘Rich Text Controls’
- New ‘toolbar button’ (users can select ‘parent blocks’ in nested contexts)
- Block Design Tools: Block design tools will be included into the core with the release of WordPress 5.5.
- A set of design tools provide control over background-colour or dimensions for multiple blocks
- There will be ‘Padding’ control for ‘Cover’ block
- Link color-control for Paragraph/Heading/Group/Columns/Media/Text blocks.
- Users receive enhanced height control
- Developers can add support for Custom Units
- Image Editing Feature: Users can edit images directly from the ‘Image’ block with the inclusion of a new editing feature to the core. They can crop/rotate/zoom/adjust the image positions without launching the ‘Media Library’.
- Block Inserter Panel: Blocks and patterns have become easier to find with the release of WordPress 5.5. Blocks/patterns are displayed in categories due to redesigning of the ‘Block Inserter Panel’.
- Improved Block Directory: The Block Editor of WordPress 5.5 has a built-in Block Directory. Therefore, you can install new block types to a website without having to leave the Block Editor.
- Plugin Directory: You also receive a ‘plugin directory’ with the latest version. It has a list of ‘block plugins’. If you search for a block that has not been installed, then you will be prompted a list of plugins. You can add these plugins to the Block Editor in one click. This feature also enables you to build new blocks and publish them on the Plugin Directory. These creations will be available to the entire WordPress Community.
- Block Patterns: Block Patterns are predefined block layouts. These design elements allow users to quickly and easily include the complex structures of the nested blocks to the web-pages. They improve the editing experience of the content creators and website admins. In Gutenberg 8.0, block patterns were available through a ‘Block Inserter’. In WordPress 5.5, these patterns have been placed on the left side of Block Editor and are available in the following categories.
WordPress 5.5 brings an array of improved features for web-developers.
- Addition of Block Types Endpoints
- Defining a website’s environment type (staging, production etc.) in standardized method
- With the final update, 39 Block Editor Icons and 26 other icons have been added to the Dashicons library.
- The template loading functions [get_template_part(), get_header() etc.] have a new ‘$args’ argument. Now, users can pass the data of an entire array to those templates.
- PHPMailer library has been updated to 6.1.6 version
- Improved control of redirect_guess_404_permalink()
- The ‘wp_opcache_invalidate()’ function ensures that websites using OPcache receive a more reliable cache invalidation during updates.
- Default Terms can be specified for custom taxonomies in register_taxonomy().
- REST API supports specifying the ‘default metadata values’ via register_meta().
- WordPress 5.5 also brings updated versions of the following bundled libraries –
So wrapping up here… For an optimum performance of your WordPress website, we would advise you to go for upgradation to WordPress 5.5. And if you find any difficulties, feel free to contact our expert WordPress Development Team.