A major overhaul of WordPress, Vernon 5.5 (code name Eckstine after jazz great Billy Eckstine) was released on August 10 and there are some new, close-to-the-bone features and updates that could affect your WordPress website.
Auto Update of Themes and Plugins
WordPress comes with a powerful updates management system. And now you can allow WordPress to automatically update your themes and plugins when new versions are released.
WordPress 5.5 will allow you to enable automatic updates for plugins and themes via the admin dashboard. You’ll be able to go to the plugins page and click on the ‘Enable auto-updated’ next to the plugins that you want to be automatically updated.
We do not recommend that you do this unless your site uses just a few plugins and those plugins are very basic. You never know whether an update will cause the site to break due to incompatibility with another existing plugin, some custom code, or the WP core itself.
The New Default WordPress XML Sitemaps
An XML sitemap is a file that lists all of your website content in XML format. This helps search engines like Google to easily discover and index your content. It plays a very significant role in the WordPress SEO set up. All top WordPress SEO plugins come with XML sitemap feature built-in.
WordPress 5.5 will come with a built-in sitemaps feature enabled by default. It will create a new sitemap index file called wp-sitemap.xml which will contain links to all other sitemap files it will generate.
However, if you care about SEO, and most business people running websites do, you likely are using Yoast or some other robust SEO plugin.
If you are already using a WordPress SEO plugin that comes with its own XML Sitemaps, then you don’t need to do anything. The two biggest SEO plugins, All-in-One SEO Pack and Yoast SEO, have decided to continue providing their own sitemaps because they offer advanced customization features to help you get higher rankings.
If you are using another SEO plugin, you will need to check that plugin’s documentation or ask its developer how to handle that issue.
Lazy Loading Images
WordPress 5.5 will make it a default option for all sites by adding the ‘loading’ attribute to img tag. This attribute is supported by all modern web browsers (except Safari).
This is an important performance bump not just for your WordPress site but for the whole internet. This technique saves a lot of bandwidth and improve the performance of WordPress hosting servers. It will also make websites load faster.
The Takeaways From This? Backup, Backup, Backup!
Automattic and the team of dedicated WordPress developers are always looking for ways to improve and streamline your online experience with WordPress. Sometimes, they make changes to the WordPress core that could potentially break a site. Especially a site that is running custom or legacy code. As with any update, but most definitely a major one such as 5.5, always create (and test) a backup of your entire site and dat base before deploying the latest version on your live site.
More Links for Reading About WordPress 5.5
- WordPress.org Official Announcement
- iThemes Top 20 New Features in WordPress 5.5
- Extratime Media These Changes Are Coming in August
- Krista.com WordPress 5.5
Joni Mueller has been designing web sites for hire since 2003, when she first blew up her web host’s server by insisting on running Greymatter. Since then, Joni has designed for Blogger and Movable Type, TextPattern, WordPress and CMS Made Simple. She lives with her cat and shoe collection in a bucolic old section of Houston called Idylwood. For some strange reason, Joni likes to refer to herself in the third person. When she’s not working on web design, she’s ordering lawyers around. And blogging about it. Or both.