Unpacking WordPress 5.5: Features And Screenshots

Last updated on October 17th, 2020 by Samuel Ryan, copyright reserved

WordPress 5.5 is here! The update for the self-hosting WordPress CMS focuses on speed, search, and security, delivering a number of improvements for its users.

You can learn more about the WordPress platform, and how to start your own WordPress.org blog, here.

WordPress 5 5 On A Computer Screen

A List of WordPress 5.5 Features:

Lazy Loading Included In WordPress By Default

Lazy Loading can significantly improve web-page loading times, and now it’s included in WordPress, by default.

Felix Arntz, from the WordPress Core Development Team, explains: ‘This will drastically save bandwidth on both servers as well as user agents across sites where images further down the page used to be loaded right away, even in the case the user might never scroll towards them.’ Source: WordPress.

The addition of Lazy Loading will benefit bloggers and small business owners, who normally don’t have the time to learn about website performance. And, as it’s included by default, they don’t need to make any changes.

Learn more about improving website performance in my guide: Website Speed Optimization.

WordPress 5.5 Features A XML Sitemap

Sitemaps tell search engines where all of your content is located. It’s an organised list of URLs that search engines can use to review your website.

A sitemap helps the search engine (or any other interested party), explore your website more efficiently. This is what my sitemap looks like.

While many plugins currently provide the option of generating a sitemap, like Yoast and Jetpack, now it’s a core function of WordPress 5.5.

You can find the new WordPress sitemap by adding /wp-sitemap.xml to your domain address.

Note: If you’re a Yoast SEO user, you won’t see the new WordPress sitemap, because Yoast automatically disables it. Learn why from Yoast here.

Auto-Update Themes and Plugins (With Screenshot)

If you plan on taking an extended break from your website, you may have one less thing to worry about; updates.

With WordPress 5.5, you can now choose auto-updates on Themes and plugins. You can make changes by visiting the Plugins page in your WordPress sidebar. Now, you’ll notice a new tab on the right-hand side which reads: ‘Automatic Updates‘. Simply toggle your selection to Enable or Disable:

WordPress 5.5 Update Auto Update Plugins feature Screenshot
Where to configure WordPress 5.5 Auto-updates

To manage auto-update options for website Themes, Go to Appearance, then Themes in your WordPress sidebar. Now, hover over a Theme and click, ‘Theme Details’. On the page that appears, below the Theme title, you will now see, ‘Enable auto-updates’. Toggle as required.

This is a fantastic addition to WordPress, however, you may still want to monitor changes in updates from some providers.

Wordfence, the WordPress security plugin, provides a comprehensive guide to help you choose what plugins to auto-update.

WordPress Pattern Blocks 5.5 Update (Block Editor)

The WordPress Block Editor was introduced in December 2018, establishing a new standard for creating content on WordPress.

Before, users would simply write their post, adding images and custom HTML, as required. The Block Editor was designed to remove the need to write any HTML at all.

The goal was to bridge the gap between WordPress and the other more basic (user-friendly) website creators, like Squarespace, WIX and Weebly.

WordPress 5.5 improves the Block Editor in a significant way, with the introduction of Pattern Blocks.

Pattern Blocks are pre-formatted blocks of code, allowing for the easy creation of Buttons, Columns, Galleries, Headers, and Text.

The design for this section of the post you are currently reading, was created using a new Column option, within the Pattern Block range.

The entire Block Editor itself has also received a number of enhancements, including a new Block Directory, and new Post Preview option.

The Block Directory is a new side panel, where all of the blocks available to use are shown (see below to find it).

While the Post Preview option, allows you to preview your post on Desktop, Tablet or Mobile.

You can find Pattern Blocks by clicking the + sign to add a new Block. You will now see a black box along the bottom of the pop-up menu which reads: Browse all. Click that, and a new panel will appear on the left-hand side of your screen. Pattern Blocks can be found in the centre of the 3 columns:

WordPress 5.5 Update Auto Update Plugin Screenshot Example
Where to find WordPress Pattern Blocks

A List Of WordPress 5.5 Features

  • Lazy Loading
  • XML Sitemap
  • Auto Update Themes and Plugins
  • WordPress Block Editor Enhancements
  • Introduction of Pattern Blocks
  • Mobile and Tablet Post Preview
  • Text Editing: Custom Line Heights
  • Improved Image Editor
  • Over 307 Bugs Fixes and 157 Further Enhancements

There’s a lot to explore in this update, and I look forward to discovering more in the coming months. You can find all of the technical details about this update, at WordPress here.

What are your thoughts on the WordPress 5.5 update? Let me know in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Unpacking WordPress 5.5: Features And Screenshots”

  1. Great article. I was curious about what was in this latest update (but not curious enough to install it this morning.)

    I’ve learned the hard way in the past to not install the latest bright, shiny update.

    Am I being too conservative if I wait a bit and let the plug-in and theme developers work out any kinks that might appear.

    Reply
    • Hi Nancy,

      No, I don’t think you’re being conservative at all. As you say, sometimes updating too early can lead to website malfunctions, which you then have to waste time trying to fix.

      Personally, I see this new feature as an opportunity to set Wordfence, the security plugin, to auto-update (for obvious reasons). But like you, I’ll probably wait 12/24 hours before updating the rest manually.

      It’s also good idea to check the wordpress.org plugin forums before an update, because you can see if any Early Birds are having issues, before committing yourself.

      Reply
      • Thank you!
        I thought waiting a bit was the right move-yes, I’ve been burned many times. In my day job as a software developer, our software is pretty much the cream filling in the Oreo cookie, stuck between Microsoft & Intuit (Quickbooks) and the people who love to live on the bleeding edge. Meaning they update as soon as something new comes out, even a beta, and they expect us to fix what the others break.
        Thanks for confirming it’s best to wait 😊

        Reply

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