The much talked about WordPress 5.5 is finally here and many WordPress users are yet to update to try out the new features this update has to offer. Just in case you haven’t updated yet, WordPress 5.5 aka Eckstine is named after an American jazz musician Billy Eckstine. Eckstine comes with three new major areas of enhancement to improve speed, search, and security all built-in on the WordPress core. You’ll find some of the highlights of these new features below:
Say hello to lazy-loading
Images are crucial for bringing life to blog posts or web page design. Sometimes, it is the key element that slows down a website. In the previous versions of WordPress, only third-party plugins were used to make image lazy load in order to optimize the website speed. Currently, lazy loading features now ships with WordPress 5.5. This feature enables images to load on-demand when they are requested for as website visitors scroll through webpages instead of loading all images at once on the first view, this drastically reduces load time and pressure on the host server, CPU and other Web host resources, another key advantage of lazy loading is helping website visitors avoid unnecessary strain on their battery life and also saving them from unnecessary data wastage while browsing through a website. To learn more about lazy loading you can read this article on Kinsta.
Welcome the brand new sitemap
For a WordPress website to rank well on various search engines it needs a sitemap to inform search engine crawlers of all its pages and contents. Previously creating a sitemap on WordPress requires an additional step by using a third-party plugin like Google XML Sitemap, Yoast SEO, and the likes of others. Now by default WordPress 5.5 is now equipped with an XML sitemap that assists search engines crawlers to discover your most important page contents of your website right out of the box.
Setting auto-updates for Plugins and Themes
Security is one of the key worries for most WordPress users. Securing a WordPress website requires consistent updating of plugin and themes to enable the site get access to new security patches or bug fixes. Presently, in WordPress 5.5 you can now set auto-update for your plugin and themes right from your WordPress admin dashboard, you can now toggle between enable/disable options to set auto-updates for any of your plugin or theme installed on your site. Thanks to auto-updates for Plugins and Themes features you don’t have to always click on the update button manually to get an update for your plugin or theme, with this auto-update option this task is now fully automated for you so you can spend your time managing other areas of your website knowing that your plugins and themes are always updated.
Another useful added feature for updating your plugin or themes is the ability to update via a ZIP file upload. Now you can manually update your theme or plugin by uploading a zip file just as you would upload a plugin from your WordPress admin dashboard.
Highlights on some other exciting features on Eckstine
Some other improvement in WordPress 5.5 is the block editor which currently comes with loads of new features added to it which I have highlighted below:
It is now easy to find varieties of block patterns with the use of plugins and themes which can be easily installed and added to your website.
Inline editing for images
Manipulating images is now easier with features like cropping, zooming, and rotating, photos right from the block editor. These new features would come in handy for many users to stay efficient while working with photos in WordPress customizer.
Responsive website preview
Many WordPress users have always wanted to preview their websites on different screens before deploying on the web. However, This is already available on other premium web builder plugin like Elementor which is called mobile editing. In the new WordPress 5.5 release, a responsive preview is now available for desktop, tablet, and mobile screen to help you preview how a website would look in these different screens before deploying it to the web.
New Block Directory
Getting organized and finding the right blocks for your website design can be problematic, that is why a new block directory is introduced in WordPress 5.5, which is equipped with capabilities of finding the correct blocks needed while designing your website, with this new block directory, it is now possible to install a new blocks on your website to extend the functionality of your block without leaving the block editor. There are also other exciting features you’ll discover when working with Eckstine.
All WordPress new releases come with accessibility features added to it and WordPress 5.5 aka Eckstine is no exception. Now it is possible for copying links in media screens and modal dialog box with a button which was only possible by copying the text directly. It is now also possible to move meta boxes with keyboard and also edit images with assistive devices due to the compatibility of these devices with WordPress to read instructions from image editor.
WordPress 5.5 comes with a lot of flexibility for developers. To learn more check out the WordPress 5.5 Field Guide.
While updating to WordPress 5.5 from other WordPress versions, it is important to back up all data on your websites before initiating an update. Many WordPress users who have updated to WordPress 5.5 have also complained of their website been broken after the update. If you’re experiencing a hard time loading to your WordPress admin dashboard or having broken links or other issues after updating to WordPress 5.5 you can take a look at my WordPress.org help forum thread post and join the discussion. Meanwhile, feel free to tell us about the features you love the most in Eckstine in the comment area below.