Released on 11th August 2020, WordPress 5.5 is an updated version of the WordPress 5.4 release and is the second major release of 2020. This new version features a lot of improvements, and many of them are focused around the WordPress block editor. It also includes a few long-awaited features that are coming with this new release. If you’re involved in WordPress website development, then you shouldn’t miss out on this new update.
In this article, we will share what WordPress 5.5 is released with and which features you should use after updating your WordPress website. WordPress is an important release; however, if you’re on a managed WordPress hosting service, you’ll have to start the update manually.
Please Note: Before initiating the update, make sure you create a complete WordPress backup.
New Features of WordPress 5.5 Update
1. Enhanced Block Editor in WordPress 5.5 Release
The block editor helps you create content for your website. It has been regularly maintained and each new version of WordPress brings improvements to the block editor. WordPress 5.5 release also brings some major changes to help you use the block editor more efficiently.
A. Integrated Block Directory
The new WordPress version comes with an integrated block directory. This means that if you need to add a block that is not present on your website, then you’ll automatically see suggestions from the block directory.
Block directory is a collection of WordPress plugins that allow you to add various types of blocks to your site. It does not include block library plugins that feature many useful WordPress blocks that you can use instantly after installing a single plugin.
B. UI Improvements in the Block Editor
One of the biggest reasons why WordPress website development gained so much popularity is its user-friendly interface. The block editor is where users spend most of their time creating content and therefore, WordPress has made certain UI improvements in the block editor.
The visual enhancement to the block editor is the most remarkable thing in WordPress 5.5. The improvements in borders and highlighting make the block editor more accessible. The ‘Add new block’ button (+) is now clearly visible and looks more like a button with a black ground.
C. Edit Images inside Block Editor
The latest WordPress 5.5 version allows users to edit images within the block editor. You can easily adjust image height, width, crop, aspect ratio, and rotate without leaving the post editor.
Surely, you can still do basic image editing in the media library as well. However, inline image editing will now help users to easily explore these built-in image editing options.
D. Introducing Block Patterns
The block editor already provided reusable blocks and groups that enable users to save the most commonly used blocks and reuse them whenever required.
WordPress 5.5 brings a new feature called block patterns. These are commonly used blocks that come with pre-configured settings that you can instantly add.
This helps you to quickly create page layouts while maintaining consistency in design and style throughout your website. A few of them are already available in the new WordPress 5.5 version. A few more will arrive as WordPress themes and plugins register their block patterns.
E. Better Block Navigation and Movement
Block navigation is one of the commonest issues that many WordPress beginners struggle with. Especially, if you’re using nested blocks, for example, columns or groups, then it becomes quite difficult to select the parent block or move a child element inside it.
WordPress 5.5 now offers improved block navigation, making it easier to select the parent block or a nested element inside it. You can even move blocks via drag and drop options.
2. Automatic WordPress Plugin and Theme Updates
This is another major improvement brought by WordPress 5.5 version. By introducing automatic updates for WordPress plugins and themes, this new update has taken its big step towards security.
You can now directly go to the Plugins page and activate auto-updates for any WordPress plugin that you’ve installed on your website.
Similarly, you can do this for updating your WordPress themes. You can simply go to the Appearance -> Themes page and then click on a theme to select it. A theme overview will pop up where you’ll find the option to enable auto-update for that theme.
This functionality was already available in WordPress but you had to either adjust WordPress configuration or use a third-party plugin to handle auto-updates. WordPress 5.5 has now made it easy to ensure that your websites are always up and running on the latest code.
3. Update Plugins by Uploading a New Version
Usually, you would either update WordPress plugins with auto-updates or by clicking on the update notification. However, in some cases, you may have to update a plugin manually. In such a case, your only option is to use an FTP client to upload the new version.
The good news is that WordPress 5.5. has fixed this problem and now you can simply go to the Plugin page -> Add New page -> and then upload the new version just like you update any new plugin zip file.
WordPress will automatically find that you already have this plugin installed and the new file has a different version. You can easily ‘Replace current with uploaded’ version.
You can do the same thing for the WordPress theme as well. Just go to the Appearance -> Themes page, and then click on the ‘Add New’ button at the top.
After that, you can now click on the Upload Theme button for uploading your theme zip file. WordPress will automatically identify the existing theme and will allow you to ‘Replace current with uploaded’ version.
However, if you have a PSD file, you can hire WordPress developers from us for PSD to WordPress conversion services.
4. Lazy Loading for Images
WordPress 5.5 release now lazy loads images on your website. This enables the website to only load the images that are visible to the user on the screen and delay loading other images. WordPress now makes it a default feature for all websites by adding the ‘loading’ attribute to the IMG tag. This attribute is supported by all popular web browsers, except Safari. This improves your website speed and performance drastically. This is also beneficial for WordPress hosting companies, ISPs, and the overall interwebs. There are more than 35% of websites that are powered by WordPress on the internet, and therefore, this major improvement in speed will save a lot of bandwidth, server resources, and power.
If your website has slow speed and performance, you can take advantage of our WordPress speed optimization services from WordPress experts.
5. The Default XML Sitemaps in WordPress
Now, the XML sitemap will be automatically published by WordPress 5.5 release. An XML file is a file that enlists all of your web content in XML format. This helps search engines like Google to easily discover and index your content.
Creating sitemaps is a crucial part of WordPress SEO and this feature would help WordPress beginners who are not following SEO best practices. However, the default WordPress XML Sitemaps has limited features and functionality. This is why the two most popular WordPress SEO plugins, Yoast SEO and All in One SEO will continue providing their own XML sitemaps.
If you’re already using an SEO plugin or Sitemaps plugin, then these plugins will automatically disable the default WordPress XML sitemaps.
If you need help with the SEO of your WordPress website, you can hire WordPress developers from us and we will offer you solutions that will help you achieve higher rankings in the search engine results.
6. Developer Features
WordPress 5.5 also comes with the below-given developer features:
• Dashicons: WordPress 5.5 comes with a final update of the Dashicons library. It adds 39 block editor icons, plus 26 others.
• Defining environments: WordPress now offers a standardized way to define a site’s environment type including staging, production, etc. The developer can retrieve that type with wp_get_environment_type() and execute only the suitable code.
• Passing data to template files: The template loading functions (get_header(), get_template_part(), etc.) now come with a new $args argument. So now you can pass a wide array of data to those templates.
• The PHPMailer library recently received a major update, upgrading from version 5.2.27 to 6.1.6.
• With WordPress 5.5, now you get a better control of redirect_guess_404_permalink().
• Websites using PHP’s OPcache will get more reliable cache invalidation, because of the new wp_opcache_invalidate() function during updates including to plugins and themes.
• Custom post types related to the category taxonomy can now support the default term.
• With the new version, the default terms can now be specified for custom taxonomies in register_taxonomy().
• The REST API can now officially support the specification of default metadata values through register_meta().
• The developer will find updated versions of these bundled libraries: SimplePie, Twemoji, Masonry, getID3, Moment.js, imagesLoaded, and clipboard.js.
So, these are some of the amazing features of WordPress 5.5. If you’ve indulged in WordPress website development, you can try using these features to make your website stand out from the crowd.
As a top-notch WordPress development company, we keep a hawk’s eye on the latest WordPress features and updates. Our WordPress developers incorporate the latest features into your website to keep your site up-to-date. So, what’s next? Hire WordPress developers from us and we will help you create the most powerful, feature-packed, and intuitive WordPress website for you.
Q.1. Is WordPress secure?
Ans. WordPress is regularly updated, at least 4 to 8 times per year, which is more frequent than any other type of software. The regular updates continue to improve the security of WordPress websites and ensure the very latest version is in use.
We, as an experienced WordPress website development company, strongly advise our clients to keep their websites up-to-date with the latest WordPress updates for a higher level of security.
Q.2. Why do I need to install updates?
Ans. To maintain the security of your WordPress website, it is imperative to install updates on your website. Each new version comes with fixes to any issues, additional functionality, or security patches. Since WordPress is very popular, a lot of hackers target it. Using an out-dated WordPress version or plugins makes you vulnerable to security risks.
Q.3. I need to convert my website to WordPress. Can you help?
Ans. Surely, we will help. We offer fast, seamless, and secure WordPress upgrade and migration services to help you make the most of the WordPress CMS and thrive in your domain.