What’s new in WordPress 5.5

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If you log in to your WordPress desktop these days ( if you have automatic updates enabled) you might see the update notification for WordPress 5.5.

Version 5.4 was nothing special, but 5.5 is an update that comes with a lot of new features and aims to bring WordPress closer to the general public.

What makes WordPress 5.5 special

One of the most notable features of WordPress 5.5 is that it makes users and webmasters less dependent on the use of plugins, as some features that previously depended on the use of plugins are now available natively within the WordPress core.

In this post we will review what’s new in WordPress and what features have been added to the CMS.

Features integrated with this update

The following features that previously required plugins are now integrated into WordPress functionality.

Lazy-loading o deferred image loading

Deferred loading or Lazy-Loading is now built into WordPress on both desktop and mobile.

Lazy-loading functionality prevents files that don’t need to be loaded (because they don’t appear on the screen) from being loaded.

This feature saves data and helps preserve battery life on the phone of your users. It also makes your website load faster.

In case you don’t know what exactly lazy-loading is, it means that when there are images below the visible area of the screen, they will not load until you scroll to the area of the web page where the image is.

Plugins used for that and what to do now

The plugins best known for having integrated lazy-loading (and which we sometimes use and recommend) are ShortPixel and WpRocket. These plugins have much more functionality than lazy-loading, but you can now disable this feature in these plugins.

logo wp-rocket
logo short pixel

If lazy-loading works well in WordPress natively, many people probably won’t need these plugins anymore, which is bad news for those developers but a step in the right direction.

Why is having this feature natively a move in the right direction?

Because WordPress has to compete with website builders like WIX (I’m sure you’ve seen YouTube ads for WIX more than once), and WIX and all visual web builders have that functionality built in by default, without the need to install additional plugins.

Integrated XML Sitemap

Another step in WordPress’ race to incorporate more features natively is the option to create sitemaps in XML format (for search engine consumption) automatically and without the need for a plugin.

This feature has never been available natively in WordPress until this update.

The most popular plugins used for XML sitemap creation are Yoast or RankMath, but now this functionality may be competing with these plugins.

Automatic update of plugins and themes

From WordPress 5.5 you can activate the automatic update (or not) of plugins and themes that you have installed. This is interesting if you want to make sure that your website will work and function based on the latest code available.

WordPress says that the plugins and themes that will auto-update will do so after being reviewed by the WordPress development team.

However, you should be aware that having automatic updates enabled, especially for a very strategic website, may not be the best idea.

WordPress offers this functionality as an option, so you can always turn it off without any problem.

Finally, if you prefer to update your plugins with a ZIP package, from now on you can also update them to the latest version with this method, a feature that is very popular with users, especially in the case of premium plugins.

What’s new in Gutenberg blocks

The visual editor of WordPress, known as Gutenberg, comes with some new features.

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Logo of Gutenberg

Templates for sections

A section has been created within Gutenberg called “Patterns”, which are nothing more than pre-built templates designed to facilitate the formatting of pages and posts:

patrones en wp gutenberg
You can upload “patterns” with a click

New media options

New features have been added to media (images) in WordPress:

  • Use image as the background of a block or section.
  • Set that background to “paralax” mode (fixed)
  • You can edit, crop or rotate an image without leaving the post (previously you had to go to the media gallery to do this)

“Copy URL” button integrated in media

From this version it is possible to copy the URL of a file uploaded on our server with a single button, without the need to manually copy the URL from the URL field.

url de medios en wordpress
Copy the URL of a file from the library with a click