WordPress 5.5 “Eckstine”
by Taylor Slattery | September 26, 2020
Recently, WordPress received a massive update via the release of WordPress 5.5 “Eckstine.” The release gets its name from Billy Eckstine, the American Jazz singer who rose to prominence during the swing era. Although the exact reasons for this name choice are unclear, the decision might come as a reference to improvements in speed and fluidity of use. The update boasts a suite of new features that aid in the design process and improve the experience for visitors.
First off, there have been some major improvements in speed. Pages now load faster thanks to the implementation of what is known as “lazy loading,” a process that delays the loading of images to cut down on initial load times. Rather than loading the entirety of a page’s contents at once, images that are out view will only be loaded right before they are scrolled to. This can also lead to a better mobile browsing experience as only files meant for the device being browsed on will be served. This improvement to the overall page speed can also play an important function in SEO, as having a faster page can improve your search ranking.
WordPress 5.5 also included another feature that improves your site’s SEO. Sites now have an XML sitemap that allows search engines to index your site and make its content more easily searchable. This includes the site’s various pages as well as the types of content posted to them. This feature was previously only accessible via plugins but will now be enabled by default.
Perhaps the biggest improvements made with WordPress 5.5 come in the form of changes to the block editor. The UI has been revamped, making for a more intuitive design process, with particular attention paid to things like inline image editing, making for easy crops and adjustments without interrupting your workflow. The integration of design tools like block patterns and the block directory has granted users a greater degree of flexibility and control over the specifics of their content.
With the block directory, users have direct access to third-party blocks from within the editor. If you can’t quite find the effect you’re looking for, you can browse and install custom blocks to suit your needs. Block patterns are elements made up of combinations of text and media that can be dragged and dropped into your page and then custom-tailored to accommodate a number of different uses. They cut back on time spent repeatedly building commonly used combinations to help you to reach a polished product faster.
Users can access WordPress 5.5 via the update button, or download it directly here.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.