WordPress 5.5 was released today. It is the second major release of 2020. It includes some long-awaited features that are making their debut with this release. In WordPress 5.5, your site gets new power in three major areas: speed, search, and security.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that powers over 30% of the web. This means a massive ecosystem of website administrators and developers is watching out for what’s changing in every release. The latest version is dubbed “Eckstine” in honor of American jazz and pop singer Billy Eckstine.
Improved Block Editor in WordPress 5.5
Block directory is essentially a collection of WordPress plugins. They allow you to add different types of blocks to your site.
WordPress 5.5 now comes with an integrated block directory. This means that if you want to add a block that is not available on your site, then you’ll automatically see suggestions from the block directory. So, when you first launch the block editor in WordPress 5.5, a slightly different interface should grab your attention.
Native image Lazy-Loading
Lazy loading images means loading images on websites asynchronously. In other words, after the above-the-fold content is fully loaded, or even conditionally, only when they appear in the browser’s viewport. Moreover, this means that if users don’t scroll all the way down, images placed at the bottom of the page won’t even be loaded.
Also worth mentioning is that in WordPress 5.5 images will be lazy-loaded by default from now on. Which essentially means that the images on your page will not all be loaded at the same time. They will be loaded when they come into viewing range. This saves time in loading your page altogether and needless to say, this will make for some very happy site visitors. As they won’t have to wait that long to view your page.
Default XML sitemaps in WordPress 5.5
A sitemap is simply a file with list of URLs allowing search engines to quickly crawl your website. This helps them discover and index your pages and posts, which is quite important for SEO.
Before WordPress 5.5, sitemaps could be only added to WordPress websites using a plugin or other tools. Now, with this release, WordPress generates its own XML sitemaps. It’s great news that millions of sites will now improve their chances of ranking thanks to this core feature.
Auto update your WordPress theme and plugins
WordPress 5.5 takes a big leap towards security by introducing automatic updates for WordPress plugins and themes. You can now simply go to the Plugins page and enable auto-updates for any WordPress plugin that you have installed on your site.
Please note, if this is something you want to use, you do have to enable it yourself. This can be done by going to your admin dashboard. After that clicking on “Plugins” in your menu, and clicking on “Enable auto-updates” next to every plugin you want to have automatically updated from now on.
When you’re in doubt about whether you should use this functionality, keep the following in mind. It’s good practice to test new versions of plugins in a safe environment like a staging website, before using them on your live site.