What’s New in WordPress 5.5?

WordPress, the world’s most popular CMS (Content Management System), turns 17 years old this year, and what a year it has been! WordPress 5.5 “Eckstine” is the second major release this year and includes over 307 bug fixes, 157 enhancements, and feature requests, and 31 blessed tasks. 

From auto-updates to new improvements and block updates, WordPress 5.5 is feature-packed! Let’s jump in and take a look at some of the most significant updates: 

Automatic Theme and Plugin updates:

Maintaining a WordPress site can be a time-consuming task, especially if you run multiple WordPress sites. A simple plugin update across numerous websites can range from minutes to hours, depending on how many websites you manage.

Keeping the WordPress core and your plugins and themes updated is crucial in keeping your site secure. What was once only a feature available from a plugin or managed WordPress hosting providers is now available in WordPress 5.5: Automatic Theme and Plugin Updates! You can now select to keep your plugins and themes automatically updated. 

Accessibility Improvements:

WordPress takes accessibility seriously. Version 5.5 includes 34 Accessibility fixes and enhancements. 

  • Alternate view modes for List tables.
  • Convert Link-list widgets to HTML5 navigation blocks.
  • Copying links in media screens and modal dialogs can now be done with a simple click of a button.
  • New disabled button styling.
  • Move Meta boxes with the keyboard.
  • Custom logo on the front page no longer links to the front page.
  • Status messages in the Image Editor for Assistive devices. 
  • The shake animation indicating a login failure now respects the user’s choices in the prefers-reduced-motion media query.
  • Redundant Error: prefixes have been removed from error notices.

Block Updates:

WordPress 5.5 includes eleven releases of the Gutenberg plugin, bringing a long list of exciting new features. In all, Version 5.5 brings more than 1,500 useful improvements to the block editor experience. Here are just a few:

  • Inline image editing: Crop, rotate and zoom photos inline right from image blocks.
  • Block patterns: Building elaborate pages can be a breeze with new block patterns. Several are included by default.
  • Device previews: See how your content will look to users on many different screen sizes. 
  • End block overwhelm: The new block inserter panel displays streamlined categories and collections. As a bonus, it supports patterns and integrates with the new block directory right out of the box.
  • Block Directory: Discover, install, and insert third-party blocks from your editor using the new block directory.
  • Backgrounds and gradients: You can add backgrounds and gradients to more kinds of blocks, like groups, columns, media & text.
  • Advance measurements support:  Choose ems, rems, percentages, vh, vw, and more! Plus, adjust line heights while typing, turning writing and typesetting into the seamless act.
  • Smoother editing experience with: 
    • Refined drag-and-drop
    • Block movers that you can see and grab
    • Parent block selection
    • Contextual focus highlights
    • Multi-select formatting lets you change a bunch of blocks at once 
    • Ability to copy and relocate blocks easily
    • And, better performance
  • An expanded design toolset for themes.

Image Lazy Load:

WordPress 5.5 now includes native support for lazy load images utilizing new browser standards. Lazy-loading images will not be sent to the user’s browser until they approach the viewport, saving bandwidth, and increasing site speed. WordPress 5.5 makes it a default option by adding the ‘loading’ attribute to img tag. This attribute is supported by most modern web browsers (sorry Safari users).

ZIP file theme and plugin updates:

Before WordPress 5.5, users could not update a theme or a plugin via a ZIP file install without using a plugin. In this latest version updating a theme or plugin works in the same fashion as uploading a new one. WordPress now directs users to a new screen that compares the currently-installed version with the uploaded version after clicking the Install Now button.

XML Sitemaps:

Sitemaps are essential to SEO and users discovering the content on your website. XML Sitemaps are now included in WordPress and enabled by default. 

Final Thoughts on WordPress 5.5:

We couldn’t be happier about these fantastic updates to WordPress! Our cPanel Blog, the one you are reading now is based on WordPress and we are excited to get started with WordPress 5.5!

For more information on the latest and greatest version of WordPress, visit the WordPress 5.5 landing page.

As always, if you have any feedback or comments, please let us know. We are here to help in the best ways we can. You’ll find us on Discord, the cPanel forums, and Reddit.

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