WordPress 5.5: What’s new in the update

It finally happened! WordPress 5.5 has finally been deployed. This second major update of 2020 is entitled “Ecksine” in tribute to the American jazz man and musician Billy Eckstine. “Ecksine” brings many improvements to the Gutenberg visual editor, security, and performance (including the lazyload on images we’ve been waiting for a while!)

WordPress 5.5 update

WordPress 5.5 being a major version (upgrade from 5.4 to 5.5), your site has normally not been updated automatically. The update will therefore have to be done manually from your back office or using WP-CLI. Be sure to make a complete backup of your site before proceeding with this kind of major updates, otherwise you risk to face different problems (themes or plugins not compatible etc…).

The LazyLoad of WordPress 5.5

The technique of LazyLoad is to load only the visible elements of a web page. Indeed, it is useless to load all the images of a page if the user only consults a third party. This consumes server resources and bandwidth unnecessarily. So it is both a UX improvement (pages load faster) and an eco-responsible gesture (imagine the energy savings it will generate worldwide!) ). Modern browsers have quite recently begun to support native lazyload (except Safari…) but this requires an upstream adaptation of the image tag coding nomenclature.

Classic image tag :

<img src="image.jpg" alt="my non-lazyload image" />

LazyLoad” image tag

<img loading="lazy" src=

“image.jpg” alt=”my non-lazyload image” /> WordPress 5.5 now natively integrates this feature allowing the deferred loading of images. It was possible before this update to set up LazyLoad via various plugins such as Lazy Load by WP Rocket for example

Automatic theme and plugins update feature

While automatic update was only available for the core of WordPress, the latest version now integrates automatic update management at the level of themes and plugins. This is disabled by default and it is possible to select the plugins or themes that can be updated automatically. Mise à jour automatique WordPress 5.5 This is a huge step forward in terms of WordPress security, because security flaws often reside in plugins or themes that are not updated. It is also now possible to update a plugin by returning the .zip archive of the plugin directly from the backoffice. Usually a plugin is updated by clicking on the update notification, but sometimes it is necessary to do it manually. Before WordPress 5.5, it was impossible to return a plugin with the same name, it was necessary to delete or replace it via FTP. WordPress 5.5 now knows the difference between a new plugin to install and a plugin to update. It informs you that the plugin already exists and offers to replace it. Very handy! Wordpress 5.5: What's new in the update 1

WordPress 5.5 and improvement of the block editor

Block patterns

Gutemberg now has block templates allowing to define pre-configured block patterns. Some block patterns are already integrated in WordPress 5.5, others will arrive later as WordPress core updates. Gutemberg is becoming more and more attractive because of its simplicity and functionality!

Direct modification of images

New Visual Editor feature, Direct Image Editing allows you to rotate, zoom and crop images directly from the image frame! This works wonders and will optimize the formatting time of an article.

Setting up a sitemap.xml file

A sitemap.xml is an XML file allowing to give the list of all the URLs of a site to search engines. It is an essential file for the natural referencing of your site. Before WordPress 5.5 it was necessary to use plugins such as RankMath SEO or Yoast to generate the sitemap.xml. It’s for me an aberration for such a popular CMS to not have all the basic SEO functionality natively. WordPress takes a small step forward by natively integrating an XML sitemap. The latter is available by adding /wp-sitemap.xml at the end of your website address. Come on, we believe it, in the version of WordPress 5.6 we will have the hand on the Title and Description tags! 🙂 If you use plugins dedicated to SEO optimization, this evolution will not be of any use to you because it will be disabled by default by them.

Updates for developers

The developers are not outdone regarding the update of WordPress 5.5. In particular, we can appreciate :

  • Updated Dashicons with the addition of 39 icons from the editor and 26 other icons
  • Added the possibility to define an environment (development, staging, production…) and retrieve the environment via the wp_get_environment_type() function. This feature is useful when you want to execute different code depending on the stage of development you are at.
  • Passing variables to template templates: get_header(), get_template_part() have a new parameter allowing to pass what you want to the included templates (arrays, string etc…)
  • Major update, from PHPMailer version 6.1.6 (originally 5.2.27)
  • Various enhancements to the REST API

Before upgrading WordPress to version 5.5

The update is now relatively recent. We recommend you, as for every major update, to wait until it is a little more mature and to make in any case a backup of the files and your database before launching. To learn more about the various changes, please click here:

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