If you’re dialed into the WordPress world, you may have heard some buzz about the new WordPress update. WordPress 5.8, which will be available at the end of July, brings several significant changes to the table. Most notably, it’s the latest step in a fundamental shift in how WordPress users build and design websites.
The new WordPress update focuses on making the block editing approach more flexible and powerful for developers and clients alike. Read on to learn more about this update and what you can expect moving forward.
One of the most significant changes in the new WordPress update is the addition of a pattern directory. Block patterns allow you to create a consistent look across your website. You can create custom block templates that will enable you to drop content into the same format across different pages of your site.
Thanks to the new WordPress update, you can review patterns other people have created for their websites. Right now, the submission process to have a pattern included in the directory is a bit awkward. But in future updates, WordPress plans to allow you to submit blocks through the pattern directory itself.
Suggested Block Patterns
In addition to adding the new pattern directory, WordPress took block pattern innovations a step further. The WordPress editor will now suggest block patterns that you might want to use on your website. You can simply put in text as a heading, query, social icon, button, or paragraph, and the editor will automatically suggest a pattern for you.
To see the suggested block patterns, plug in some text and click on it to pull up the editing window. From there, if you click the quote marks, you’ll see block patterns available for you to choose from. At the top, there will be a suggested pattern, and if you select it, WordPress will automatically format your content based on that template.
WebP Image Support
When you’re designing a website, keeping the load speed down is critical. About 40 percent of users will abandon a web page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. And when you’re pursuing the holy grail of web page load speed, keeping pictures formatted properly is an enormous factor.
WebP images are much smaller than their JPEG or PNG formats, which can help keep your web pages moving fast. The update for WordPress will now support WebP image formats so you can boost your site performance. This improvement even allows you to use pictures in places like your home page and landing pages without compromising site load times.
While having more pictures on your website can breathe a whole new life into it, getting the right images can change everything. For instance, think about the way an all-black-and-white website feels compared to a full-color website. And thanks to the new WordPress update, you can have more power than ever before to make your photos look just how you like.
Duotone filters allow you to select specific colors for the shadows and highlights of a photo. You can choose from presets, colors from your website’s theme, or completely custom colors. When you select this option, the image will take on a stylized look that can blend in with your site’s theme or add a fun pop of character.
No More IE 11 Support
Internet Explorer has long been known as the bottom of the barrel when it comes to popular internet browsers. In recent years, Microsoft has pivoted to a new browser program called Edge and is systematically withdrawing support for older IE models. Most recently, they announced that Microsoft 365 would no longer support IE 11.
With this announcement, WordPress has decided to join the group of companies leaving Internet Explorer in the past. For most users, this change will have no impact or will have a positive effect. Because future releases will not be tested against IE 11, IE-specific support codes will no longer be required, which may improve performance.
Site Health Interface
WordPress’s site health tool is designed to help you keep a better eye on your website’s overall function and performance. It scans your WordPress installation for any common configuration errors or known problems. And in the new update, WordPress has expanded what information you see in the site health tool.
In addition to the usual scanning parameters, developers can now add their own interfaces to the site health searches. You can add tabs for themes and plugins, as well as extending out into other interfaces. You can even see if various plugins and widgets interfere with each other’s performance and make sure your whole site is running smoothly.
Block Widgets Editor
If you like the WordPress block format and you like the customization options of widgets, you’ll love this next update to the new WordPress platform. WordPress is working on shifting from a widget-based customization platform to completely customizable blocks. The block widgets editor is the next step in that direction, blending the best of both worlds for developers.
You can now migrate the widgets you use on your web pages to blocks that provide the same functionality. You can even transform a Legacy Widget block into the new block format with the same customization. You can also turn a widget into multiple blocks if you have a few layers of functionality you want to preserve.
Another new layer of the block approach to web design is the ability to embed PDFs in a block. PDFs can be a great way to include information that’s formatted in a specific way. These files are also easily downloaded, transferred, and edited, all while preserving the original formatting.
WordPress users have been asking for the ability to embed PDFs in their web pages, and WordPress has listened. Now you can use the File block to embed PDFs on your page, in addition to pictures and other files. This can make it easier for you to provide downloadable information to your site visitors without sending them through an outside link.
Block List View
With all these blocks floating around, managing the different pieces of your website design can get confusing. You may even have nested blocks that provide layers of additional content for your site. Until this update, there hasn’t been a simple way to see all your blocks and how they fit together simultaneously.
WordPress has added a list view option for your blocks so you can see exactly how they all work together. You can find this view option in the top toolbar of your Block Editor page. You can access and edit any element in your block list to quickly transform page layouts.
When you’ve been editing blocks in the past, you may have noticed some inconsistencies in the block editing toolbar. All the symbols may have appeared in a different place, depending on what sort of block you were working with. This can get confusing and may lead to misclicks if you expect a button to be in a different spot.
WordPress is working to standardize the block toolbar, although it is a slow process. One by one, they’re transitioning each block toolbar to a standard format that places the block settings first, followed by any tools you may need to edit the block. Other editing tools, such as a replacement tool or inline formatting, appear next. Finally, you have the universal more option.
Parent Block Selector
If you’re editing a group of blocks, you may have noticed that it can be challenging to access the parent block. You may need to change a setting that would impact the entire group and then click into each child block to see the impact this change had. This process is time-consuming and frustrating, and WordPress is taking action to fix it.
The new WordPress update includes a parent block selector that allows you to see the parent block at any point when you’re editing the block nested inside. The parent block editing toolbar remains visible to help you quickly select the entire group of blocks you’re working on. This added agility allows you to manage your nested blocks with greater ease and less time.
Block Shortcut with Multi-Word Autocomplete
If you’re the sort of person who loves moving quickly and taking the most efficient route possible, you’ll love this next update. The past several versions of WordPress have allowed you to add a block simply by typing “/” in your WordPress editor. From there, you could search for the specific type of block you wanted without having to reach for your mouse or trackpad.
But if you wanted to search for a block that had a two-word name, the search would cut off as soon as you hit the space bar. However, in the new update, you can search for multiple words to get precisely the block you’re wanting. This saves you tedious scrolling through block options that aren’t the ones you’re looking for and keeps your fingers flying.
With WordPress moving more towards the block model of site design and editing, it’s become crucial to have reusable customized blocks. As we mentioned earlier, you can custom-design blocks that you and other WordPress users can employ repeatedly. But in the past, users have had to go back later to give their blocks a unique, identifiable name.
The new WordPress update aims to make it easier for you to keep all your blocks organized. As soon as you create a block, you are prompted to name it, which can help you find the correct block next time you use it. You can also find a revision history in the block editor now to help you keep up with the changes you’ve made on that block.
Using tags can be a great way to organize everything from blog posts to products on your site. But until now, users have had to guess which tags would be best to use for various products or services. You may have had to remember which tags you used in other locations or try to come up with a reasonable tag for a new post.
With the new WordPress update launch, users will now have an easier time managing their tags. WordPress will show suggested tags that include the top ten most popular tags from your website. You can select from these or launch a new tag that can define a new section of your site.
Full Site Editing
As we mentioned, WordPress is moving more towards a block-based system of editing in all their themes. While you may find some newer themes with a block-based format, older themes haven’t been updated with this new approach yet. But the latest update moves WordPress farther along this path with complete site editing with block-based themes.
The update gives developers more power to build their themes around the block system while enabling complete site control. These new themes will include a template editor that allows users to assign block templates to specific pages and posts. There are also new theme blocks, including post title, post tags, query block, site tagline, and many more.
To Sum Everything Up
WordPress is continually improving, and this latest update takes several important steps towards a fully block-based web design experience. The new WordPress update gives users greater flexibility in a more accessible format from complete site editing capabilities to the new block pattern directory. They are also working to streamline site performance and standardize features to create the best experience for all their users.
All websites currently running on Pressable will be automatically updated to WordPress 5.8 on July 20, 2021. If you’re a current Pressable customer and have questions about WordPress 5.8, please sign in to your account and start a chat with our friendly, knowledgeable support team.
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Jessica serves as the Director of Operations for Pressable and is dedicated to creating the best managed WordPress hosting experience possible. She's been using WordPress since 2008 and has been serving in WordPress-focused roles since 2010. When she's not working, you can find her spending time with her family, serving in her community, watching hilarious dog videos online, or brewing a pitcher of iced tea.