WordPress 5.9 has arrived

WordPress 5.9 has arrived

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WordPress 5.9 “Joséphine” has arrived! Named in honor of acclaimed international jazz singer Joséphine Baker. As this is a major release, WordPress users will notice a lot of new developments. Let’s take a deeper dive into what’s new!

If you have a complex website that uses a number of plugins, we recommend holding off for at least a few weeks before upgrading to 5.9 as major upgrades may break some plugins/themes. 

Welcome to full site editing

Now you (finally!) have the power to manage your entire site directly in WordPress Admin. This may be the biggest update to the Gutenberg features since its initial launch.

Themes are moving away from relying on Customizer to change the look and feel of your site. Everything can now be done in the Styles interface inside Site Editor.

Twenty-Twenty Two theme

WordPress 5.9

This is the first block theme in the history of WordPress, and is included automatically as part of your 5.9 upgrade. Block themes give you an enhanced amount of visual choices when working on your website. Now you have a huge range of page templates including, color schemes, font combinations, and even image filters to choose from, all available in the Site Editor.

Plus, they’ve added these improvements…

Pattern explorer

WordPress 5.9

Prebuilt block patterns also allow you to save more time and find the perfect fit for your site, while still allowing you to edit and tweak to your particular taste. Pattern Explorer makes it easy to compare patterns and choose the one that best fits your site.

Improved list view

WordPress 5.9

Now you can drag and drop content where you want, including expanding and collapsing sections for a better user experience. You can also add HTML anchors to your blocks to further improve organization and user navigation.

Improved Gallery block

WordPress 5.9

Style an image within a Gallery Block in any way you want. You can change the layout with a simple drag and drop, make images all the same or style each one individually; you have the ultimate control.

The new Navigation block

WordPress 5.9

Now you can create an “always-on” responsive navigation menu or one that adapts to any screen size. When you save these settings, your blocks also automatically save to the database, meaning they are remembered the next time!

Enhanced block control

WordPress 5.9

Blocks also feature new typography tools, better layout controls and even more detailed control over elements like spacing and borders. Allowing you to fully customize the content to suit your needs.

Additional features

Here are some important features that have also been included in the 5.9 update…

Login language switcher

WordPress 5.9

This is perfect for our Canadian businesses, where language accessibility matters! Now you can manage the language of your login screen, password reset screen, and registration screen through a simple dropdown.

Performance enhancements

Whether you’re already taking advantage of the full site editing functionality or not, there are several notable performance enhancements that everyone can look forward to with WordPress 5.9, such as:

  • Block-based themes will now load faster thanks to refinements to the WordPress library CSS code.
  • Native image lazy-loading has been improved. As a result, of the 50 most popular themes in WordPress, most are now seeing an up to 30% faster page load.
  • Backend changes have been implemented to speed up the load time when working with blocks, in list view, and with categories (especially on much larger sites) in the WordPress dashboard.

Upgrading to WordPress 5.9

WordPress 5.9 is available on our Web Hosting and Managed Hosting plans. 

If you have a complex website that uses a number of plugins, we recommend holding off for at least a few weeks before upgrading, as major upgrades may break some plugins/themes. 

When you’re ready to upgrade, you can do so from either your WordPress dashboard or cPanel, see Manually Update WordPress and WordPress Plugins for more information.

If you use one of our Managed WordPress plans, you can create a staging site to test out the new version. This will create a copy of your live website to a separate staging environment for testing (that won’t affect your production site).

Ensure you have a working backup prior to making any changes. This way you can easily revert to your previous installation if any problems occur.

A look ahead at WordPress 6.0

With WordPress 5.9 out, work is already underway on the next big release, WordPress 6.0. Here is what we can look forward to:

  • Editor enhancements, such as improved template creation, site navigation, and the introduction of site ‘browse mode’
  • Expansion of the useability of the patterns feature, for building pages and sites
  • Continued work to improve the functionality of blocks
  • New design tool features, to improve element design, layout, and typography settings

For additional information, see the Preliminary Roadmap for 6.0.

We hope this article gave you a sneak peek into the exciting new changes in WordPress 5.9.

If you have any questions about how the upgrade may affect you, feel free to contact our support team, who will be happy to assist.

About the author: Tim Robards

Tim is WHC's Technical Writer & Integrator. When he's not writing user guides or filming tutorials, you’ll likely find him building websites or enjoying the great outdoors.

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