What new features does WordPress 5.0 introduce?

WordPress names its various versions after jazz musicians, and version 5.0 was named Bebo, in tribute to Cuban jazz pianist Bebo Valdés. But this is definitely not the only new development. Version 5.0 of the WordPress CMS is mainly characterised by its drastically revamped editor, Gutenberg, which is based on content blocks. Let us give you a brief summary and some useful tips. 

The key feature in WordPress 5.0 is the new Gutenberg editor

GutenbergThe biggest change in this version is the Gutenberg editor, which was the subject of our detailed article: “Discover the new Gutenberg WordPress editor”.

This editor is radically different from the previous version and it takes some time to get used to it. If you prefer the old editor, you can install the Classic Editor as a plugin for WordPress 5.0. This plugin allows you to permanently replace Gutenberg with the classic editor, or use both editors. This way, you can choose which editor you use for each post (Gutenberg or the classic one).

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Specialised blocks

Among the new features are the specialised Gutenberg Blocks, which have been developed to offer specific features on your WordPress blog or website. On websites like Otter Blocks, Stackable and Atomic, you will find all sorts of blocks (testimonials, sharing icons, author profile, call-to-action, rates, team members, Google Maps, etc.).

An extensive list of Gutenberg blocks can be found on the WordPress website. For web stores, we recommend the WooCommerce blocks, which make it super easy to have your products displayed on your pages.

Technical improvements

  • Security: being one of the most commonly used content management systems, WordPress is also a hot target for hackers. WordPress 5.0 comes with enhanced security features, providing the WordPress core with better protection. However, you also need to contribute to this security, namely by using SSL certificates, which provide your visitors with a secure HTTPS connection. Ideally, you should also enable two-factor authentication such as Duo Mobile, so that you can log in securely. Keep your CMS up to date or activate our automatic patching service.
  • The default theme is responsive: Twenty Nineteen is fully responsive for all mobile devices, regardless of screen size. It loads very quickly, leading to an overall better performance, which improves the SEO of your website, which will rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
  • Background image cropping: from now on, you can crop an image before it goes live. This may at first sight appear as a detail, but it will save you a lot of time when changing the background.
  • WordPress Rest API has been improved to make it easier for developers to send data to your website and retrieve data from it. As a result, the development of applications where the platform serves as a framework is made easier.
  • Version 5.0 already supports PHP 7.3, but it also supports older versions of PHP (down to 5.2.4). 

New plugins and themes

Many developers have redesigned their themes to take full advantage of the possibilities offered by Gutenberg, such as block formatting and full-width images. The new default WordPress theme, for example, TwentyNineteen, was designed to get the most out of Gutenberg.

Here are a few of the new themes optimised for Gutenberg:

  • Neve: a fast, responsive, fully optimised for AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) theme, which can be used for WooCommerce but also for many other purposes (blogs, small or start-up companies, etc.).
  • Atomic Blocks: this theme includes options to change the font, the size of body and title, and the width of the content. It also includes an Atomic Blocks plugin, which allows you to choose from a variety of blocks (sharing icons, testimonials, etc.).
  • Hestia: one page, a footer with widgets, and a blog/news page. Responsive, SEO optimised.
  • Editor Blocks: minimalist theme, featuring full width and no sidebar templates. Fast, responsive and SEO optimised.
  • Quna: another minimalist theme, particularly suitable for personal blogs and small/start-up companies, offering the possibility to post pictures from your Instagram feed.
  • Palmeria: free theme, especially suited for restaurants and hotels with a built-in reservation tool.

Compatibility with existing plugins and themes

As for themes and plugins, the existing themes are generally compatible with the Gutenberg editor and WordPress 5.0. With plugins, however, you have to be careful, as they will often require an update. Fortunately, the developers of plugins have already had plenty of time to adapt their projects to the new features available in the editor. The most essential plugins such as WPForms and Yoast SEO are now fully compatible with WordPress 5.0 and the new editor.

 What is going to happen with your existing content?

It goes without saying that your existing content will be preserved when you update to WordPress 5.0. However, it will be presented in the “classic” format, meaning one large chunk of text instead of the blocks you get when you create a post using the new Gutenberg editor.

If you want to convert your existing content to blocks, you can do so, and it is actually quite straightforward. All you need to do is open a post, position the cursor in the classic block, and then click on the three dots next to the text box. Now, click Convert to Blocks. In most cases, the content will be converted without any problems. There is currently no plugin available to automatically convert all content to blocks. 

Our advice

WP 5.0Upgrade to WordPress 5.0.1 as soon as you are ready for it. Because, unfortunately, many vulnerabilities have been detected in earlier versions. But do not do it if you are not well prepared. Ideally, you should upgrade in a test environment and remember to back up your data. Combell offers automatic backups that you can restore yourself in your control panel. If you prefer to work in your good old editor, you can install the Classic Editor plugin. This way, you will at least be able to enjoy the various bug fixes and improvements made to WordPress 5.0 security!

If you do not want to update your WordPress to version 5.0 now, we recommend that you install the Gutenberg editor as a plugin anyway. This way, you will at least be able to enjoy the look and feel. Here is how you do it: in your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New. Search for “Gutenberg” and then click on Install Now. From now on, in the Posts section of your dashboard, you will be able to open the Gutenberg editor.

Good luck with this upgrade!

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