Hey there and welcome back!
Well, WordPress 5.9 was delayed from the typical December release, but it will be coming out here now on January 25. And it’s a pretty massive update that brings a lot of really cool features into WordPress core. And the big centerpiece of it all is the much awaited full site editing.
So today let’s take a look at what you can expect when WordPress 5.9 is finally released in January.
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Now let’s get started.
Full site editing in core
So the biggest change coming in WordPress 5.9 is going to be the full site editing features that are going to fully land in core with this update.
The first thing with full site editing is the addition of global styles. You can access this by going to Appearance and then hitting “Editor”. From there you can select the “Styles” tab, or the one with the half filled in circle, to access the global settings. You can set the global typography, colors that are used for things like links and background images and some themes might utilize the layout section as well, although the TwentyTwentyTwo theme really doesn’t.
And for theme developers, there’s also a theme.json file you can include in your theme that sets up all of these settings when the theme is activated. You can learn about that in a link in the description below.
Also new-ish for full site editing is a new home for template and template part editors. These were included in WordPress 5.8 on a limited basis, and you could find them under “Appearance”. Now you can go into the editor and then hit the icon in the top left to bring in the navigation and select templates or template parts. This is how you can edit various templates, like the home page template, single post template, and template parts like the header and footer.
Next up, there are also new site-wide blocks you can use for these templates. They include a much-improved navigation block, which will make creating menus really easy, a template part block, header and footer blocks, post author, post navigation blocks, archive title and description blocks and a comments block. This truly allows you to craft every template out of blocks with full site editing.
With regards to the block editor itself, it really got a whole lot easier to move blocks around in your posts, pages and templates. Simply hit the list view icon in the top tool bar to open up a list view of all of the blocks on the post, page or template. You can then grab a block or a group of blocks and drag them to where you want them to be on the page. No more having to tediously drag and drop in the content themselves or endlessly hit the up or down buttons.
Also, the block pattern inserter got an update as well. Simply go to add a new block and hit the patterns tab and patterns are organized into different groups. This makes it much easier to grab the pattern you need to insert.
Finally, there also have been other really small, but powerful changes to how you can style blocks. You can add in borders to different elements, better control how your featured images look, control how the buttons block looks for your website and so much more.
If you can, I would highly recommend finding a way to play around with WordPress 5.9 and the TwentyTwentyTwo theme to see just what you can do with this version of WordPress without breaking your live site. Because I think it might just be the most free-ing version of WordPress ever … once you get the hang of it.
Lazy loading improvements
Now moving away from full site editing and the block editor, one of the biggest changes is the improvement to the lazy loading images on the front end of your website.
Essentially what happens with WordPress 5.9 is that the first image or the first iframe on the page will be loaded automatically. There won’t be any hiccup in loading that image later after the rest of the page is done. This is because the team found an improvement in the Largest Contextual Paint score from Google when the first image or iframe was not loaded lazily. It’s a relatively small thing, but it could make a sizable difference in your page load time.
Finally, there are a few other enhancements that you can expect with WordPress 5.9. Most of them are pretty minor or developer heavy, especially the improved PHP 8 support and the update with jQuery 3.
But improvement that might help bigger websites that utilize multiple languages for their authors, editors and admins is the ability to change the language for the login screen. If you have multiple languages installed on your WordPress website, you’ll see the dropdown beneath the login screen. This will allow registered users to view the login, forgot password and register user screen in the language they want.
Will your website break with full site editing
So now we ask the big question that I’m sure a lot of people are asking right now: Will WordPress 5.9 break your website? Well to be quite honest, every website is unique and your exact mileage may vary depending on what you do with your website or what plugins you have and all of that. But on the whole your website should not break with WordPress 5.9 and full site editing.
In order to access those full site editing features we talked about, you need to be running a theme that supports full site editing, like the new TwentyTwentyTwo theme. And I would be willing to guess that the chances are pretty high that you’re not using one of those themes right now.
The next section that we discuss will talk about how to safely update to the next version of WordPress, or any WordPress core, plugin or theme update for that matter. But don’t worry. Overall, this update should be pretty safe your website.
How to safely update to WordPress 5.9
So how do you safely update to WordPress 5.9?
Well first off, you need to take a backup of your website before you run the update. If your web host has on-demand backups, use that. If your host doesn’t allow for backups, you can use a plugin like Updraft or BackupBuddy to take a backup of your website.
Next, take a look through some of the pages of your website to see if there’s anything off before you run the update. That way you know what things look like before the update.
After that, you can run the update to WordPress 5.9. Once that has completed, take another look around the website to see if anything has broken. If there is an issue, take a screenshot of the issue and then revert to your backup you took earlier. Then report that issue on the WordPress forums for help.
Otherwise, you can continue on using the latest and greatest features that come along with WordPress 5.9.
So what questions do you have about WordPress 5.9? What feature are you most excited for with this release? Or is there anything that you’re concerned about? Be sure to leave them all down in the comments section below.
If you don’t want to have to worry about running another WordPress update or a plugin or theme update, you might be interested in one of the WordPress website care plans. You’ll get top of the line website hosting, accessibility testing, security and much more.
Also, if you want to see more videos about WordPress, ecommerce, web design, digital marketing and other website related topics, be sure to hit the subscribe button and to ring the bell for notifications.
But until next time, I wish you and your business the best of luck.