What’s Coming in WordPress 5.8

July 20th, 2021 stands are the release date for WordPress 5.8. Seeing that this is the second major update in 2021, it brings quite a few updates, along with new features and improvements. If you wish to compare them to the old version of WordPress, you can easily do so. But, for now, let’s take a more in-depth look into what is coming in WordPress 5.8.

New things coming in WordPress 5.8

In the following paragraphs, we will outline all the new features of WordPress 5.8. and how they will impact the overall performance. But words can only do so much in explaining what the new update brings. So, unless you’ve already updated your WordPress and are only reading this to get the full idea of the update, know that you can still try out the beta version. While it is usually quite beneficial to update your WP version, it can be sometimes useful to familiarise yourself with the update beforehand. That way there won’t be any surprises.

Template editor

WordPress is making strides in creating a full-fledged site editing tool based on the block editor. Until they succeed, we have to make do with incremental updates. The newest one is the template editor. With the 5.8 version of WordPress, you’ll be able to create and save templates for your website. This allows you to use them later for posts and pages that you deem fit.

Different website templates showing one of the updates coming incoming in WordPress 5.8.
Templates can be quite useful when creating a full website from scratch.

By switching to the template editor you’ll be able to incorporate the Site Editing blocks. These blocks include:

  • Site Logo, Tagline, Title.
  • Query Loop.
  • Post Title, Content, Date, Excerpt, Featured Image, Categories, Tags.
  • Log in/out.
  • Page List.

If you are not fond of the template editor, you can easily turn it off. After all, it is an optional feature.

Blocks as Widgets

Another notable feature is the new blocks as widgets interface. In the 5.8 version, users will be able to try out the new widget feature simply by going to the Appearance -> Widgets page. The blocks and widgets change brings the flexibility and customizability of blocks to your widgets. Therefore, you’ll be able to change things like:

  • Colors.
  • Spacing.
  • Typography.
  • etc.

And you’ll be able to change them without the need for external tools or plugins. You can even use the Widgets block to access the classic widgets, which are not yet available as blocks.

WebP images

WebP format of images has the distinct advantage over JPEG and PNG in that it is smaller. On average, the WebP image will be 30% smaller, while the image quality remains the same. If you are familiar with the importance of image size when it comes to website performance, you will soon realize how valuable this difference is. And, you’ll appreciate the fact that in the 5.8 version, you’ll be able to make full use of the WebP image format.

A person looking at a website with a lot of images.
Image-heavy websites can make great use of the WebP format.

The one potential downside to consider is that no all users can view WebP images. If they are on a browser that doesn’t support the WebP format, they simply can’t view the image. And, as it is currently, WordPress won’t automatically transform it into JPEG or PNG. If you feel that the majority of your audience will have issues with WebP, you might be better off sticking with JPEG or PNG and compressing the images as need be.

General editor improvements

Seeing that most WordPress users tend to spend the largest amount of time in the editor, there are some notable improvements to enjoy in the 5.8 version. First off, you can select parent blocks in a nested block with much more ease. Secondly, with the 5.8 version, you get the improved list view panel. There you can see all the list of blocks in your post or page. If you need to move a particular block in a complex layout, you will have a much easier time navigating.

Another notable editor improvement is the select tool with block handles. In the new version, you will see a better block outline with a handle to move the block. You can also notice the highlighting that showcases which block you move your mouse cursor over.

Design enthusiasts will be thrilled to find out that the 5.8 version comes with Duotone Filters. Whether you wish to edit single images or entire galleries, Duotone filters are at your disposal. The few presets that you get are quite limited. But, they should give you a good idea of what can be done.

Two computers with images on then.
A couple of updates coming in WordPress 5.8 are quite useful for designers.

Under the hood changes

The 5.8 update has its set of under the hood changes that we should go over. Among the more notable ones are:

  • Support for Internet Explorer by the end of 2021.
  • Block editor API is now used on content-aware filters on multiple Admin screens.
  • You will now only see the WordPress recovery mode email message when the email can be sent.

How to make good use of the new WordPress version

All things considered, the 5.8 version comes with a decent set of upgrades. As we can see, WordPress is fully embracing the block-based interface as it allows for more intuitive editing. We wouldn’t be surprised that future updates bring design and content creation even closer together and help people design the WP website that they want.

What we would recommend that you keep track of is how browsers keep up with the updates. Besides those coming in WordPress 5.8, there might be others in the future that are not compatible with outdated browsers. While it is in everyone’s interests to keep their browser updates, people often fail to do so. And if you are running a company website, you might refrain from using new technologies until the majority of your audience has caught up. Besides this, always keep your WP up to date as doing so keeps it both safe and optimized.


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