Armada Blog

Latest Web Hosting News and useful articles!

WordPress 5.5 is coming soon with exciting updates and improvements

6 minutes reading


Exciting times for WordPress users! WordPress 5.5 beta is released with massive boosts to the WordPress ecosystem. Although version 5.5 is still in development, we are eager to inform you what is new in it and get you well prepared before the actual release date, which is only four weeks away, targetted on the 11th of August.

As a provider of fully managed WordPress hosting solutions, here at HostArmada INC we are focused on ensuring the smoothness of the upgrade and acquainting our customers to the upcoming changes.

WordPress 5.5 is going to be the second major release for 2020. Version 5.5 brings significant new features and improvements of the Block Editor, automatic plugin and theme updates, XML sitemaps, support for lazy-loading images, and overall better accessibility. We are going to review the majority of the upcoming updates and how they will improve your user experience as well as the performance of your website in the next lines of this blog post.

If you are impatient to test the beta version you can do so in a few ways:

  • By installing the WordPress Beta Tester plugin directly through your WordPress Admin Dashboard. When installed, go to Tools Beta Testing choose “bleeding edge nightlies” and save the changes.
  • Using the Beta Archive.

In any case, make sure to test the new version on a development or staging environment. As it is still in development, it is not recommended to run it on a production website.

Block Editor Features and Improvements

The WordPress Block Editor comes with a long list of new features and improvements, which not only ease the development process but improve the loading speed of pages built with it.

  • Device Previews – A new feature is added directly into the builder, allowing you to preview how your website appears on different devices – Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile.
  • Block Patterns – Block patterns are ready to insert and customize block layouts. They can drastically reduce the time needed to design your page, as they are effortless to work with. Several patterns will be included by default with the new release.
  • Block Movers – Quite more flexibility of moving blocks around and getting the desired layout. Blocks can now be dragged-and-dropped to any location, as well as to be copied and pasted in any available position.
  • Block Directory – The Block Editor now allows you to discover and install new block directories right through it. You should be aware that any of these block directories will be installed as a separate block plugin on your website, which we would not recommend as a good practice. You might consider an entire block package as a suitable alternative.
  • Inline Image Editor – You can crop, rotate, and zoom images on the go right from the image block. You will be able to select different orientations and styles for the images.
  • User Interface Improvements – The block inserter panel has been refined. It displays streamlined categories and collections. It also supports patterns and integrates by default with the new block directory.
  • Fixed Block Panel – When expanded, the Block Panel stays fixed while you scroll through the page you are editing.
  • Backgrounds and gradients – Backgrounds and gradients can be added to a wider range of blocks, such as groups, columns, media, and text.
  • More types of measurements – Along with pixels, now ems, rems, percentages, vh, vw, and even more are supported.

WordPress 5.5 comes along with over 1,500 valuable improvements, dramatically enhancing the Block Editor experience.

XML Sitemaps

Native XML Sitemaps are now included and enabled in the WordPress Core by default! The primary purpose of XML sitemaps is to help Search Engines better index a website. Previously, users who wanted to have a sitemap had to install a plugin in order to implement it. With WordPress 5.5, the home page, posts page, core post types, custom post types, core taxonomies, custom taxonomies, and users (authors) will be included in the sitemap with consideration to improving site visibility and SEO ranking. The URL of the Native XML Sitemap will be:

domain.com/wp-sitemap.xml

Auto Theme and Plugin Updates

This is arguably the most significant update that comes with WordPress 5.5, which will expand the CMS’s auto-update capabilities. Presently, automatic updates are available only for the WordPress Core. Starting version 5.5, users will be able to control whether their plugins and themes to be automatically updated as well. A new feature will be implemented, allowing users to enable an auto-update for particular plugins and themes. We would not encourage our customers to enable this new feature unless they are using quality plugins and themes from trusted sources, known to perform thorough tests before releasing an update.

Manual Theme and Plugin Updates

With version 5.5, users will be able to manually update their plugins and theme by upload the corresponding archive. Previously, if the auto-update feature failed for some reason, the process of manually updating a theme or a plugin was inconvenient and complicated. Upon uploading the update files, users used to encounter an error stating the plugin/theme already existed, and they had to altogether remove it in order to update it properly. In version 5.5, that issue is eliminated, and now you can seamlessly upgrade the desired theme or plugin.

Lazy-Loading Images

Another performance improvement coming with WordPress 5.5 is native lazy-loading images support. For those who are not familiar with the concept of the lazy-loading image – only the images in the viewport of the visitor are being loaded. Generally, this is useful for long pages that require a lot of scrolling. Loading the images on-the-go when the visitor actually reaches them reduces the bandwidth usage, improves the website performance and the user experience.

Release Schedule

The WordPress team is focused on ensuring the high quality and reliability of WordPress 5.5 before the official release. You can keep track of the schedule and stay informed about the upcoming bug fixes and additional improvements.

  • 7 July 2020: Beta 1,
  • 14 July 2020: Beta 2
  • 21 July 2020: Beta 3,
  • 28 July 2020: Release candidate 1
  • 4 August 2020: Release candidate 2
  • 11 August 2020: Target date for the release of WordPress 5.5

Conclusion

To wrap up, WordPress 5.5 will simplify the process of building websites even more by enhancing the functionalities of the Block Editor and bringing everything together in one place. The second most important aspect is the improvement of the loading performance and the ability to achieve that with less effort. We are positive your expectations will be met and even exceeded by the ner version!