The second major WordPress release of 2020, WordPress 5.5 “Eckstine” was released on 11 August 2020. As always, it comes with exciting improvements to Block Editor, security, performance, and search optimization.
The update option is available at your WordPress Dashboard > Updates, and with a click of a button, you can easily update your WordPress core to the latest version.
Before starting the update process, I highly recommend you clone the production site to a staging environment (The Cloudways Platform greatly simplifies the process of setting up staging sites) or test it at a local setup.
Because at times, the installed plugins or themes may not be compatible with the new version and could break the live site.
After successful updation, you’ll see a welcome screen that has all the important WordPress 5.5 details.
Block Editor Improvements
The WordPress core team has put in a lot of effort to make the Block Editor more stable. In this release, you’ll see a lot of enhancements and improvements to the editor. I think this is in line with the WordPress push to make the Block Editor the standard (read default) at every installation.
You’ll see a new Welcome Guide that contains information about Editor.
A New UI
The first thing that you’re going to notice is the visual appearance of the block editor. The interface is more noticeable now with the Add Block button getting a new black color and a visible position. You will also notice that the entire interface has been moved to the top left corner of the block editor.
The old block icons are replaced with new darker and cleaner images.
New Block Patterns
There is a new option Pattern in the Add Block menu. This is an entirely new feature where you can add a combination of blocks or patterns (galleries, images, buttons, etc) that can be used together as a single entity. This speeds up the drafting process and allows for more consistency in design.
With patterns, you can think of creative ideas and beautiful layouts that you can instantly add to your posts. By default, some patterns are available to kickstart things, but eventually, you’ll find a wide variety of patterns as WordPress themes and plugins introduce their own.
New Inline Image Editing
Inline image editing is another exciting feature that is designed to solve your image editing process and improve your editing workflow. Now, you will be able to edit your images inside the Block Editor where you can easily adjust image size (height and width), zoom images, crop images, and do a lot more.
New Block Directory
The next amazing feature of this new update is “Block Directory” that contains different block types. This means now you can add different block types to your WordPress site. If you are searching for a block that is not available or does not match with your search, you’ll automatically see suggestions from the block directory.
Version 5.5 is also focused on security improvements with two important updates to the security processes:
Auto-Update WordPress plugins and themes
Before version 5.5, if a user wanted to enable the auto-update feature for a WordPress plugin or theme, they would have to do it through the wp-config.php file. In this version, you have an option right on the WordPress dashboard from where you can manage plugins or theme auto-update option with a click of a button.
Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins, you’ll find a new option Automatic Updates that you can use to enable or disable auto-update for individual plugins.
And for the themes, you’ll find this option in Appearance > Themes > Theme Details where you will see the option Enable auto-updates.
Updating WordPress Theme or Plugin with ZIP File
If you want to install a plugin/theme manually, you know you have the option Upload Plugin/Theme to install it. But what if you want to update a plugin/theme by uploading the latest zip file? A common answer would be to use the SFTP to update the plugin/theme but now you don’t need to do that.
Thanks to WordPress 5.5, you can now also use the upload option to update the plugin or theme. This is a pretty cool feature, as this will help you save time and make the manual update process (themes or plugins) very smooth. WordPress will automatically detect the zip file and update it with that particular plugin/theme (replace it with that version of the plugin/theme).
Site speed plays a vital role in the success of any online store or blog. Site owners dedicate a lot of efforts and resources to improve the performance of their WordPress application.
In WordPress 5.5, lazy load images are introduced as a core feature that improves site performance and speed.
Lazy Load Images
Lazy loading is the technique where images are loaded when you scroll down your site to the image’s location. As such, images are loaded with the entire post – instead they load when the image section appears on the screen of the user.
WordPress 5.5 uses this same technique to improve the site speed. The picture we have recently uploaded to our post shows the “loading” attribute in img tag.
Search engine optimization is an essential for bringing in organic traffic, and eventually leads. Version 5.5 introduces native XML sitemaps to help search engines discover your site content and index it.
- Server-side registered blocks in the REST API
- Dash Icons – 39 block editor icons along with 26 others
- Now you can pass arguments in the template loading function
WordPress 5.5 offers various new features, improvements, and enhancements. I really love these new features and most importantly, the improvements in the block editor.
Do test the new features and let me know your experience in the comment section below.
You can check their official release page for the full documentation of the release.
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Farhan is a community manager at Cloudways. He loves to work with WordPress and has a passion for web development. Mostly, he spends his time interacting with the people in the WordPress community. Apart from his work life, Farhan spends his time gaming and playing sports. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]