What’s New in WordPress 5.5 (+ Screenshots and Tips)
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It’s that time again! WordPress 5.5 will be out today if everything goes as planned. I feel quite excited about this new version. I had the chance to be part of the magic that happened behind the scenes of this WordPress release as a mentor and I would love to share the most important WordPress 5.5 features and improvements that will soon come your way. Our customers will receive the new version shortly after its official release, as always depending on the individual settings in the WordPress auto-updater for each of their installations.
Easy Control of Plugins and Themes Automatic updates
Since WordPress 3.7 users have been able to turn on/off WordPress native auto-update for their plugins and themes through their wp-config file. Now with WordPress 5.5 turning on/off plugin and themes, auto-updates can be done much easier by clicking a link in the admin interface.
Most of the massive attacks on WordPress websites happen through outdated vulnerable plugins. That is why making the option for plugin auto-update so accessible to all users in the interface has the potential to greatly improve WordPress security.
To review the Plugins auto-update feature in WordPress 5.5 when it rolls out, go to “All Plugins”, and you will see a new column “Automatic Updates”. We highly recommend that you keep plugin auto-updates ON for all your plugins, as this is the easiest way to receive security updates as soon as possible and keep your site safe.
The SiteGround auto-updater also provides an option for plugin updates in its interface. We check for new versions of your plugins when we do core WordPress auto-updates and we do automatic backups of your WP installation right before the upgrade begins to guarantee a safe failover in case anything goes wrong. Choosing which plugin auto-update option to use is up to you: if you want to get your plugins updated as soon as a new version gets out, make sure you enable the new WordPress feature. It will work fine, regardless of the plugin auto-update setting in our own auto-updater. If you feel you better wait and get a backup before any update, you may rely only on our system.
Based on our experience, auto-updating themes can be a trickier process than auto-updating plugins. That is why we have not included such an option so far in SiteGround WordPress auto-updater. After all, changing something in the theme can change the outlook of your website and you may not want this to happen automatically without being pre-viewed by you.
Still, we believe it is a good idea to keep your themes up-to-date from a security point of view. The best way is to create a staging copy of your site when there is a theme update, check how your site with the updated theme there, and if everything is OK, update the theme on your production installation.
If you none-the-less want to switch on the themes auto-updates, you need to click on each theme you have installed and enable the option from the theme screen.
There are a lot of factors that determine the performance of your website. However, images are one of the main culprits when it comes to slow web pages. WordPress 5.5 introduces image Lazy loading as a default feature in the WordPress core. This is a great optimization that stops images from loading in bulk when you open a web page and load them gradually instead as you scroll through.
At SiteGround we have been big fans of Lazy Load for a long time. It is a feature we provide to our users through of SiteGround Optimizer plugin since 2018. Since we initially launched the Lazy Loading optimization we have been actively developing it adding support for iframes, videos, WooCommerce products, shortcodes, and much more. At this point, Lazy load options in the SiteGround Optimizer are more advanced than what is introduced in the WordPress core. That is why, for people that have Lazy load enabled through the SiteGround Optimizer, we will disable the native Lazy load.