WordPress 5.5 “Eckstine” – New Features & Updates

WordPress 5.5 was released on 11 August 2020. This new update has been named "Eckstine" in the honor of Billy Eckstine (an American jazz and pop singer). No, the new features have nothing in common with the singer! Click To Tweet

Let’s get you up to date with the latest and greatest changes introduced!

This is Old Content, we do not publish Digital Marketing Content anymore. We have kept this intact, as it is beneficial for the users.

Main Updates

The major categories where the updates have been made – Security, Speed, Search, and Gutenberg (block editor).

Security

WordPress’s security can be compromised in case a person is using an older version of a plugin. Since most plugins are 3rd party codes added to your site, using an older version may make you vulnerable to hacks or spam that people may develop over time.

Keeping the plugins up-to-date is no guarantee that your website cannot be compromised; however, it reduces the probability of the same. If you made your Blog or Website on WordPress, then updating plugins is probably never a problem for you since you do regularly update your website with content and hence make sure to update the plugins, PHP version, themes, etc.

However, this new update should be beneficial for people who got their websites built by a web designer and don’t have access to the WordPress admin dashboard.

New Features

Auto-Updates – Plugins and Themes

As the heading suggests, WordPress can now auto-update plugins and themes for you! That’s right, no more checking your website or blog regularly to make sure everything was working optimally.

Are you using custom code on plugins or pro plugins (non-activated) that came along with your theme? Do not worry! You have full control over which plugins and themes you allow WordPress to auto-update. See the screenshot below. If you are still not satisfied, read the next heading!

The new Enable Auto-Updates feature for plugins - Successchakko

You can also disable auto-updates for plugins where you face challenges every time a new update is made, e.g., when a link breaks or an image doesn’t load, etc. A major example would be a security plugin.

The same applied to Themes! See screenshot below.

The new Enable Auto-Updates feature for themes - Successchakko
Custom Update of Theme and Plugins – Upload Zip File

Most advanced WordPress users, plugin and theme reviewers, and people who use non-activated plugins and themes for testing new features for their websites need not feel that the latest updates are useless for them!

The new WordPress update provides you with the brilliant new feature of updating your plugins and themes by merely clicking on Upload! Click on Add New in the relevant menu and then Update Plugin or Upload Theme and upload the latest version in a zip file. See the screenshots below.

Uploading Themes button and interface - Successchakkho
Uploading Plugin button and interface - Successchakkho

No more fiddling with the Cpanel or using a plugin to make updates to such custom, non-activated themes, and plugins. This functionality is now custom-built right into your WordPress admin panel!

Speed

Speed has, is and will probably remain the craze amongst the human population. We are constantly trying to speed up our automobiles, machines even life!

The world wide web is no exception to this rule! You will find thousands of groups on Facebook, forums and Blogs dedicated to improving speed and helping people share thoughts and making website load quicker.

Every millisecond counts! Hence, a simple yet effective update has been launched by WordPress.

New Features

Image Lazy-Loading

Lazy loading an image means that when a page is loaded and present to a user, the text on the page loads first, and the image starts loading only when a user scrolls down to the image on the screen. This saves the internet for the user in case he or she doesn’t scroll through the entire page.

This feature is now part of core WordPress functionality i.e., as soon as you add or upload an image to your website, it will immediately have a [loading=”lazy”] attribute tag attached to its back-end code.

That means you don’t need to search and activate this feature in WordPress.

Earlier, people needed to use lazy-loading plugins or cache plugins with this functionality. That meant having extra load on your servers and ultimately adding to the page load times.

With this feature enabled by default, you save up a lot on server resources, and your page loads fast! To give you an estimate, some images can be heavy enough to block 1 to 1.5 seconds of load time, thereby creating immense trouble to an otherwise superbly built website.

The below image shows that currently, the lazy loading is not supported by Safari (laptop and mobile), Opera Mini, Internet Explorer, UC Browser for Android, and older versions of Edge and Samsung Internet browsers.

So if your website analytics suggests most people coming from these websites then the lazy loading is not exactly going to be of any use to your website. However, having this feature enabled by default doesn’t make your website heavy or problematic for these browsers either!

Lazy loading tabular information showing compatibility with different browsers - Successchakkho
Lazy loading via attribute for images & iframes (Source: caniuse.com)

A sitemap is used to help a search engine understand how a website is structured. It is also useful to put a new website on the map i.e. enable it to be searchable by users.

Up until now, WordPress users needed to use a SEO plugin to automatically create sitemaps or manually create one and then uploading it on the webmaster tools of different Search Engines.

It all changes now!

New Features

WordPress Sitemaps

Sitemaps are now automatically generated by WordPress as part of core functionality. This should help all the new WordPress users be searchable almost instantly after a website is published.

There are limitations to the WordPress generated XML Sitemaps, though. The following are not part of the sitemaps created by WordPress and can only be included by using an SEO plugin:

  • Images
  • News
  • Videos

However, if you were using a specific SEO plugin just to get that automatically generated sitemap, now is the time to get rid of the burden!

For new users: If you want to check the sitemap for websites, add – “/sitemap.xml” at the end of the website address. It will show you the sitemap as well as the sitemap generator i.e., WordPress or the name of an SEO plugin. Example below:

Preview of XML sitemap of Successchakkho

Gutenberg – The Block Editor

Gutenberg was made the default WordPress page builder back in 2018. Although we have a lot of 100% front-end Page builders in the market now, Gutenberg remains the favorite for most users. It is especially useful for fast editing of a blog post such as this one!

There is no unnecessary clicking or dragging involved, and the entire post or page can be created with just the keyboard and shortcut keys.

To each their own! Nevertheless, WordPress has been focusing on the editor for almost 2 years now by adding regular new updates and features every time they update versions. This time they have brought in significant changes, although it would require a subtle eye or an advanced user to see these changes.

New Updates

New UI (User Interface)

If you have used an older interface of Gutenberg, the following will catch your attention as soon as you start writing.

  • New icons – More straightforward, more precise; yet Bolder icons for almost everything
  • Block movers – You can now move around block by clicking on the up or down arrow without the need to copy and paste the content as was previously required
Block moving functionality
  • Device Previews – You can now preview how your page will look right from the editing screen.
The new Device Preview options - Successchakkho
  • Improved Drag & Drop – Now, it is easier to drag a block around on a page and place it at the right point. With other blocks shifting to accommodate the change.
  • Multiple Block Formatting – This receives a major like from me! I have a specific setting that I apply to each of my blocks. Earlier typing out a 2000+ words Blog meant me clicking each block to apply styles separately! Now I can select all the blocks and make formatting changes in one go! [One limitation – If you choose two blocks of a different kind, for example, a list and a paragraph, then you cannot apply formatting changes to both together. The blocks need to be of the same kind!]
The new multi-block editor menu options - Successchakkho
Multi-Block formatting
  • Superscript & Subscript – These functionalities are mostly used by science blogs and have now been integrated into the main block editor UI.
Menu showing the new Subscript and Superscript options - Successchakkho
  • Block Patterns – Not only can you add all types of Blocks but can now create nested, intricate, and beautiful looking Block Patterns. These patterns can make your life easier when you want to add Call to Action buttons or would like to present information in a creative way using columns, modals, etc. You can now select from pre-built patterns that can be modified as you wish. See the image below that shows the searchable patterns while editing with Gutenberg.
New Block Patters search feature - SuccessChakkho
  • New Block Directory – Blocks always had a directory, but now it has new blocks as well as a preview feature that lets you see how the block will look like on the page.
  • Inline Image editing – I have used inline image editing on this page, and trust me; it is saving so much time! Now you can edit image sizes, image dimensions, cropping, rounding off edges, etc. right from the editor as soon as you add the image. You can also zoom and rotate the image! Earlier, one had to remember the dimensions of the image uploaded to make sure every image added to the WordPress post looked the same size!
New inline image editing interface - SuccessChakkho

The above list of changes are the major changes that almost everyone uses or will be used by new users.

However, if you are a developer or are curious to find out the tiniest bit of details that were added along with the features mentioned above, then you can refer to the official WordPress Core Updates Blog.

I will upload a guide on the New Gutenberg updates and features soon on my YouTube Channel. Please do Subscribe for visual guides as well as other bells and whistles that are added to other social media channels.

Summary

WordPress 5.5 brought with is some amazing features that makes the lives of non-experienced users a lot simpler while also giving powerful functionalities for developers.

While we embrace the new changes, the WordPress core developers are already on to the next set of changes to be implemented in WordPress 5.6. There is also a rumor of an all-women team spearheading the next WordPress update! I am looking forward to the next level of sophistication that comes with it!

If you’re starting a Blog on WordPress I’d highly recommend the following articles: