WordPress has been the most loved open-source website creation tool for a variety of developers. Over the years, WordPress has proved to be an excellent base for a wide range of websites, including e-commerce, blogging, portfolio, business, and more. It offers its users a lot of flexibility in terms of design and usability. 

After WordPress 5.4, on 11th August 2020, WordPress 5.5 version termed “Eckstine” was released for the general public. There have been a lot of welcome additions in this new version. Let us have a look at all the newly added WordPress features one by one. 

A New And Refreshed Block Editor

In the final and stable version of the WordPress 5.5, ten new Gutenberg plugins have been added. This has brought around a range of improvements in the UI, enhancements, features, editing aspects, and more. We will discuss here the most notable ones.

UI Design 

Every time there is an addition or upgrade in the Gutenberg plugins, it brings around changes in the overall editing experience of the user. Most of these changes are now a part of the WordPress core. This time when you open the WordPress, you will be greeted by a new and different interface. This will include: 

  • New icon sets 
  • Better and improved drag and drops 
  • A much simpler Block Toolbar 
  • Strong color contrast 
  • Improved performance 
  • Editing multiple blocks at the same time
  • Device previews 
  • Block movers 

Other changes in the new WordPress update include: 

  • Superscript and subscript options are now present under Rich Text Controls
  • Select Parent Blocks by clicking on the new buttons that appear after hovering your cursor on the left side of the toolbar

New Design Tools for the Blocks 

All the new design tools that have been added to the Gutenberg plugin in the past few months are now going to be an intrinsic part of WordPress 5.5 core. These include: 

  • Tools providing control over dimensions and colors of the background 
  • You can now easily customize unit and line-height values for the different blocks 

Editing Image in the Image Block 

Gutenberg 8.4 has introduced a new feature wherein users can now directly edit an image from the Image Block. You no longer need to launch the Media Library to do so. 

Now, you can adjust the image, crop, rotate, or zoom at a much faster pace. Once you are done just hit the apply button and your changes will be saved. 

A Brand-New Block Inserter Panel

 In WordPress 5.5, a brand-new block-inserter panel is introduced. Here you can find and choose blocks and patterns by categories. This will significantly improve your editing experience with WordPress. 

Introducing Block Directory 

Now it is easier to install third-party blocks directly from the inserter with the help of Block Directory. If in case, the block you are searching for is not installed, a prompter will direct you to install the plugin from the plugin directory. These “Block Plugins” can be directly added to the editor with just a click. 

This also gives you the benefit of creating your own block and adding it to the directory. This way your block can be used by the entire WordPress community. 

Block Patterns 

Gutenberg 7.7 and 7.8, released in March 2020, added a significant new option of Block Patterns for plugins and themes. This addition gave the user the bandwidth to add complex blocks to their pages with the help of predefined block layouts. This was done to give content writers a break from the infamous “blank page syndrome.” It allowed them to develop custom layouts with ease. This will also help speed up the editing process. 

These patterns are listed under various categories and can be easily searched for. The categories are: 

  • Text
  • Hero
  • Columns
  • Buttons
  • Gallery
  • Features
  • Testimonials
  • Uncategorized

Native Image Lazy-Loading

Lazy-loading is a simple optimization technique wherein the browser is given the command to load only the visible content on a page. The remaining part, placed below the fold, is loaded only when required. This deferred loading helped with the load time of a webpage and improved user experience. It works in WordPress with the following list of images: 

  • Template images using wp_get_attachment_image
  • Images in text widgets (widget_text_content).
  • Images in post content (the_content).
  • Avatar images rendered via get_avatar().
  • Images in post excerpts (the_excerpt)

WordPress 5.5 is making lazy loading a default setting for all the websites. It does so by adding the “loading” attribute to the image tag. All browsers, but Safari, support this feature. 

Automatic Updates for Themes and Plugins 

When it comes to having and developing a website, where you are hoping for millions of visitors to come, keeping track of the website’s security is extremely important. One way to keep your website secure is by regularly updating the software. 

WordPress has ensured this by introducing auto updates since version 3.7. However, even though it was a default setting, many users never did take advantage of this valuable feature. That was because it required a somewhat deeper knowledge of WordPress development. 

Now, with the release of V 5.5 auto-update settings for the WordPress themes and plugins can be accessed directly through the dashboard. 

Core Sitemaps 

A list of URLs with the help of which various search engines can crawl into your website is called a Sitemap. It allows the content to be indexed by the search engines, unlike the robot.txt files. Before the release of version 5.5, the only way to add sitemaps to your website was through a plugin or other tools, as is done by Feedbo.com currently. 

The new version has brought on board an XML sitemap feature. This feature is enabled by default and helps with the following: 

  • Custom taxonomies
  • Author archives
  • Homepage
  • Core taxonomies (Tags and Categories)
  • Core post types (Pages and Posts)
  • Posts page
  • Custom post types

It helps in making your website content even more visible to the search engines. Furthermore, through available filters and hooks, developers can customize the XML sitemap. 

Other Changes 

Along with the major changes mentioned above, WordPress 5.5 is coming with several under the hood modifications as well. These include:

  • Updated external libraries like phpMailer, Twemoji, SimplePie, and more
  • 65 new icons included in Dashicons 
  • Better scanning capabilities for PHP compatibility 
  • Option to update themes and plugins via zip files 

With these amazing new features, WordPress is sure going to win more hearts and bring smiles to the faces of all the developers out there. Head out to your dashboard to check out these WordPress updates and figure out how they can improve your website and its functionalities.