What’s coming in WordPress 5.5

As of August 11, 2020 – WordPress is scheduled to release the 5.5 version. Luckily, the beta version has been out for a while. We took a closer look at what the beta version entails, and decided to write an article to give you a thorough rundown of what’s to come in WordPress 5.5. So, are we looking at a major overhaul, or are we looking at a couple of small features that are going to have no large impact? Well, let’s take a closer look.

Top updates that are coming in WordPress 5.5

While we will try to give you a full idea of what WordPress has to offer, it is important to note that the 5.5 version is still under development. Some of the features that we will mention may change, while others may be added. For now, WordPress 5.5 is shaping up to be the second large WordPress release in 2020 and should come with a fair number of noteworthy upgrades. So, let’s start going over the features that WordPress 5.5 stands to offer.

Auto-updates for plugins and themes

Regular software updates are a necessary part of maintaining the performance of your WordPress website. If you do not update your website regularly, your website will not only be poorly optimized, but you may also experience safety issues. One of the things coming in WordPress 5.5 is the introduction of auto-updates for plugins and themes. So far, WordPress only had automated updates for the CMS core. But, in the 5.5 version, we will see fully automated updates for plugins and themes.

Zip file update for themes and plugins

Unfortunately, while automatic updates are nice, they are not always enough. This is why one of the most sought after features that are coming in WordPress 5.5 is the Zip file update. As of 5.5, you will be able to update themes and plugins through the WordPress dashboard. By clicking on the “Upload Plugin” button you’ll be able to easily upload the Zip file plugin that you previously downloaded. If you want to replace the current plugin, WordPress 5.5 will automatically detect and give you the option to override the previous version of the plugin or theme.

A person scrolling over Settings in WordPress.
Updating plugins in WordPress will be easier than ever.

In a similar fashion, WordPress 5.5 will allow you to upload themes via the Zip file. If you already have the theme installed, you’ll be able to select the “Replace current with selected” option and replace your theme with ease.

UI improvements

One of the first things you will notice once you open WordPress 5.5 are the new U.I improvements to the block editor. Things like:

  • Borders around toolbars.
  • The border around buttons.
  • Block movers.
  • Patterns categories.
  • New icons
  • Focus highlights as you write.

greatly improved our experience in WordPress 5.5 beta. So, we are pretty confident that you are going to enjoy them as well. An important aspect to note is the new block directory. This plugin adds new blocks to the block editor, therefore giving you a larger degree of control. If you feel like trying out these UI aspects, we suggest that you also take a look at:

  • Navigation block.
  • Core block patterns.
  • Widget-block screen.
  • Navigation-menu screen.

Better image editing

As it is now, WordPress allows you to perform some basic image editing, like crop, resize, or rotate. But, in order to perform these edits, you need to find the images in the media library. Well, as of 5.5, you will be able to edit images without leaving the block editor. Whatever alteration you see fit, you will be able to implement and see how it fits with the rest of your post.

Images getting added to a website highlighting one of the features coming in WordPress 5.5.
Live editing makes visually designing posts a whole lot easier.

XML sitemaps

Having good XML sitemaps is a great way to better integrate your website with Google, and therefore yield better search results. We’ve written already about the importance of sitemaps and how creating and submitting them regularly is a great way to boost your SEO. Well, the whole process of creating XML sitemaps has been made much easier in WordPress 5.5. It comes with a sitemaps feature that is built-in by default. Once it is operational, it will create a sitemap file called wp-sitemap.xml. If you make any further sitemaps, they will be shown in that file.

While this is a great addon to WordPress. Especially since it supports all the post types and taxonomies, it is still a bit limited. In its current state, it only covers the basic functionality of the XML protocol. If you want to make further alterations to sitemap this, you will have to install extra plugins.

Lazy loading images

Seemingly a simple feature, lazy loading images can have quite an impact on web page loading speed. By enabling only the images that are currently visible on the user’s browser screen, customers are able to gain access to the page faster. WordPress postpones other images until the visitors scroll to them. As a result, this saves up bandwidth and makes your website that much more efficient. Larger-sized images can reduce page loading time, often leading to higher bounce rates and a drop in UX. Lazy loading images can test your website speed and make it faster in the process.

Website with a speed test next to it.
A lot of features coming in WordPress 5.5 help websites run better and faster.

In 5.5 version, WordPress will have lazy loading images option. To activate it you simply need to add the “loading” attribute to the “img” tag. We should also mention that by implementing lazy loading images you are not only making your website more optimized, but you are also making the internet less cluttered.

Final overview of WordPress 5.5

In our experience, the new version of WordPress will bring a bunch of much-needed improvements. Some of the features coming in WordPress 5.5 were the simple quality of life changes that we didn’t even realize that we need. But, after using them for a while in WordPress 5.5 beta, we started wondering how we ever did without them. If the version 5.5 sounds interesting, and you don’t feel like waiting until August 11, we suggest that you try the beta and start getting used to what WordPress will be like in the near future.

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