WordPress 5.5 Update: What Are the Main Changes You Need to Know About?

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January 1, 2021
WordPress 5.5 Update: What Are the Main Changes You Need to Know About?

Efficiency Boost with Lazy Loading

WordPress pages will now load up quicker than ever before thanks to lazy loading. Despite what you might think, lazy loading is an active feature that makes webpages more efficient. The way the system works is fairly simple. Images that aren't in view won't load up until required. In other words, images only appear when they're in an active portion of the page.

Because these page elements are only loading up as and when they're required, it makes the page as a whole load up faster. Moreover, the addition of lazy loading to WordPress 5.5 means mobile pages won't load files meant for other devices. Again, this "as and when" style of loading means everything is more efficient for the user.

Auto-Updates Mean More Security

Thanks to the latest WordPress 5.5 upgrade, you never have to worry about missing another update. You can now go into the admin panel of any WordPress site and switch on the auto-update function for every plugin and theme you're running. Alternatively, you can toggle the auto-update option for each individual plugin and theme.

Of course, if you prefer to handle your updates manually, you can do that as well. WordPress 5.5 allows you to upload ZIP files, extract them, and update the nuts and bolts of your site easier than ever before. Basically, whichever way you choose to handle updates, WordPress has you covered in such a way that installing the latest security features is extremely simple.

Better Blocks Build Better Websites

The WordPress block editor, Gutenberg, just got a bit better thanks to update 5.5. You can now create simple or complex block patterns with a few clicks. By opening the block editor, you can mix and match text and media blocks to create diverse pages. What's more, the new block pattern feature will also be available in various themes and plugins, which means you can select pre-set patterns with a single click.

Blocks have also become more powerful. Now, instead of having to edit images on your desktop or via a separate program, you can do everything inside a block. From cropping and rotating to zooming, you can put an image in a block and tweak it there. The beauty of this is that you'll know instantly if the image fits in the block/page because the editing is done in situ.

The final boost for blocks inside WP 5.5 is the directory. Instead of being forced to leave the page you're editing to look for blocks, a new directory has been built into the editor. This means you can search through the directory, find a block, and add it to the page without having to click back and forth.

Move Metas and More for Increased Accessibility

In the spirit of making WordPress slicker, quicker and more efficient, it's now easier to move meta boxes, copy links in media screens and get audio instructions in place of text. Put simply, WP 5.5 has ushered in a wave of features that make it easier to build, arrange and edit pages.

Regardless of whether you're a newbie, novice or intermediate user, WordPress 5.5 is more powerful than ever. However, it's not just the frontend features that have been improved. When you peel back the layers and take a look at the backend, advanced developers have also been given some exciting extras.

Something for the Developers

If you're an advanced WP user, here's some neat features you'll want to try:

Server-Side Registered Blocks in REST

Thanks to the addition of block types endpoints, it's now possible to retrieve definitions for any registered block on the server using JavaScript apps (e.g. block editor).

Standardized Way to Define Environments

The way you define environments have been standardized thanks to the "wp_get_environment_type()" function. This will ensure only the appropriate code is executed.


Thanks to WordPress 5.5, the dashicons library is now complete. 39 block editor icons have been added to the 26 previously installed.

Passing Data to Template Files

You can now pass more data to templates thanks to the new "$args" argument.

A Few Little Extras

Finally, sites that use OPcache now have a more reliable cache and the PHPMailer library has been improved. Additionally, default terms can made more specific using custom taxonomies and the REST API now supports specifying default metadata values.

WordPress 5.5 Updates In Summary

Overall, WP 5.5 has made it easier to build and tweak pages. The integration of block patterns and in-block editing allows you to create content-rich pages without leaving the editor. Add to this a new block directory, lazy loading, and accessibility features, and it really is easier to use WordPress than ever before. Finally, with auto-updates ensuring your website is always running to its potential, your pages should be as secure as they are efficient and visually impressive.

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