Hey, did you see that WordPress 5.5, the second major release of 2020, happened last week?
WordPress 5.5 is named after Billy Eckstine, William Clarence Eckstine, an American jazz and pop singer and a bandleader during the swing era. As Wikipedia shares, Mr. Eckstine was noted for his rich, almost operatic bass-baritone voice. His recording of “I Apologize” (MGM, 1948) was given the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999. Cool.
I’m really excited about this WordPress release, mainly because it adds some key features and improvements. It’s shaken out and if you haven’t already… it’s time to update your site.
Here are some high points…
First, you’ll notice a speed bump from lazy-loading of images. This is huge as it waits to load images until just before they scroll. Why does this matter? So. Many. Images. and Limited. Bandwidth. Trust me that it’ll take some of the pressure off your visitors bandwidth. Interested in the details, you’ll find them here.
Know how you’ve been using plugins that automatically generate and add your sitemap? Well, it’s in there… They’ve added that basic feature to WordPress, finally. Yup, you’ll still want to use your favorite SEO plugin (which will disable this new built in sitemap feature) but if you don’t use one, know that you’re covered and well… it’s in there.
Because this is a big deal release, there are so many more things. Here are the high points, scroll to the bottom if drilling down into the details is your thing.
- Our (still somewhat new) friend, Gutenberg, continues to get better. With each release, our new block editor gets better and easier to use. 5.5 is no different.
- Auto theme and plugin updates. This is easier now. My only caveat here is to be careful. Most themes and plugins do solid testing but they can’t test every scenario. If you enable this be sure you’re regularly visiting and testing to know if your update is creating waves.
- More accessibility features are being folded into WordPress. Making life easier is always good. Now we can press a button instead of triple clicking (or whatever) to grab that image link in the media lib. Nice!
- Developers will be happy with the updates to Dashicons, bundled libraries and server-side registered blocks in the REST API to name a few…