WordPress major release 5.7 is expected on March 9th and it comes with a whole new set of features. Many of which are good for developers to improve performance, but if you are not a developer here you will find the 3 best improvements coming out that will benefit you.
HTTP to HTTPS
Let’s Encrypt came to make free SSLs available to everybody. There are no excuses for your site to not have an SSL. If you ever tried to change your main URL in the WordPress settings to use HTTPS, you know how complicated that was. Prior to this release, if you change the URL then you had to follow-up by either going page-by-page and changing related links, or install plugins such as simple-SSL to force the SSL redirection. At worst, you would need to get directly into the database and try to execute a code that changes all the URLs.
If you were successful, you had just spent extra time for something that should have been done automatically. If you were not, then you keep getting those pesky insecure mixed content errors on your browser and more time wasted.
Well those days will soon be in the past. The latest release will automate that process. As soon as you change your site URL to use HTTPS WordPress will automatically update database URLs when you make the switch. Even as a developer, that is a dream feature. If you still don’t have an SSL, you can get a free SSL at ZeroSSL.
Lazy-Loading on iframes
If you are not familiar with lazy-loading, it’s a feature where the browser waits till the user reaches a section for the assets (mainly images) to load. This strategy makes pages load a bit faster, since the browser doesn’t need to load everything till requested. Previously, if you were looking to implement this feature you had to rely on third party plugins or external libraries.
About two years ago Google decided to add native browser support to the lazy-loading by implementing the loading=lazy attribute on the asset tag. However, not all browsers support it yet.
WordPress adding this feature now to iframes is huge. If you have a page with several YouTube videos, you know this page is a bit slow to load. That’s because the page has to load all those videos. WordPress will now add automatically the loading=”lazy” attribute to your iframe embedding code, and it will now wait to load the source till the browser requests. We ran a test on a page with several external videos, and the initial page load decreased by about 30%. Those are some great initial results, and look forward to making more use of this.
The Gutenberg editor was released by WordPress 5.0 and created a battle among the community. For non-developers, the Gutenberg editor makes designing your page easier. It’s basically a native page builder. Now on 5.7, WordPress is releasing some improvements that benefit those users.
Drag-and-drop blocks — If you ever wanted to add a block to your page you had to click on block and it would get added to the end. You can now drag-and-drop those blocks from the inserter directly into the place in the page where you want it.
Social icons block — You can now control the size of the icons right from within the block settings. Before you had to rely on CSS to increase the sizes of the icons, not anymore.
Font size — Speaking of sizes, moving forward you will be able to also change the font size for the List and Code blocks.
Full-height blocks — Another great improvement is the ability to make any block into full-height. You can now make any block fill the entire browser window.
While this is not necessarily a performance improvement, we like the implementation. WordPress implemented a more subtle color palette and new interface highlights when you hover over the left menu navigation. It’s nothing big, but is an improvement to the UI (user interface).
While there are many other improvements, these are the most notable ones for the average user. Make sure to test the update on your site prior to pushing it to production, there are a few core adjustments that could cause a compatibility issue with your theme or plugins.
If you need assistance, we specialize in WordPress maintenance. Contact us and we will do a compatibility assessment of your site.