2nd October 2020

WordPress 5.5 Update

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With 290+ clients predominantly on WordPress and some 15 years of development experience under our belts, we know a thing or two about WordPress.

Over the past 15 years we have had to increasingly weather the sometimes turbulent storms of major updates, theme and plugin updates to ensure our clients remain stable and accessible.

Some updates require nominal focus; a period of straight forwards updates. Others are more troublesome and require deeper focus, particularly if the site in question is running older themes and / or plugins.

What is WordPress 5.5?

WordPress 5.5 is one such major update. Its objectives are admirable; to update various editor functions and improve security. The reality for older sites is that it is likely to break important functionality on the site that can then make it hard to maintain and be highly time consuming.

Putting it simply, WordPress 5.5 will update and override the running of themes and plugins, so if either of them are running out of date code, many parts of the site may no longer work once the update has taken place.

Sites built within the last year or so should take the update without problems, but older sites could rely on functions which have been removed in the update due to security concerns.

What is the big deal with updating to WordPress 5.5?

WordPress and a lot of other platforms make use of a library called jQuery, which simplifies creating interactive content on your site. It’s been known for some time now that the version included with WordPress is outdated and contains some relatively serious security flaws.

The latest version of jQuery removes the flaws but changes its behaviour slightly, so any third party plugins or themes need to be updated to take this into account. Some third party components are designed for an even older version, so a compatibility library is used.

WordPress are taking a staged approach to updating jQuery to allow third party code to catch up:

  • In version 5.5 they are turning off the compatibility library
  • In version 5.6 they will be completely removing the compatibility library and giving the option to update jQuery
  • In version 5.7 or 6.0 they will be forcing jQuery to the latest version

What if you then don’t want to update?

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just leaving the site and not updating it.

With your support agreements, we have a duty here to fix any vulnerabilities and make sure that your site is up to date and running how it should be to stop your site becoming vulnerable. If left and not updated, it could pose a considerable security threat to your site, the privacy of your visitors data, and the stability of our servers, which is why it is important the site is updated and functional.

Not having up to date plugins is the number one reason that WordPress sites get hacked so it is important that we update them. There are ways to fix any sites that may break during this update, however, this would not be something that is recommended as a permanent fix due to scripts and code constantly changing.

As developers and using the knowledge that we have gained over our years, we have learnt a few things. We will not update all plugins instantly as there could be issues that have yet to be resolved by the release. We can look into this and see when the best time to update is and how it will affect your site so that it will not cause any problems.

Leave it with us and we will make sure it is all in working order!

What is new in this WordPress update?

  • More features including lazy load
  • A clearer back end editor called Gutenburg

With the new update, more features will be available to add to your site. Within the update, a simpler, clearer editor is now used in the back end making it even easier than before for you to make updates to your site.

The editor, called Gutenburg, works as a block editor which includes easier interaction and is simplified but still allows you to do everything you did before and more! With another feature called lazy load, it will help image heavy pages gain an improved page load time due to the better optimisation carried out.

However, within this new update of the editor, there is a chance that any styling or layouts could be affected. Each page builder is unique and may include custom styling that cannot be easily transferred to another editor in the update. You may lose parts of content and styling all together, but manual intervention can be used to copy over elements one section at a time.

If you would like to read more about this update, visit the official WordPress site and read their blog post and also their main descriptions of the update.

Get in touch

If you have any questions about how this update could affect your site and would like more clarification, please feel free to get in touch with us. Email [email protected] and we will be happy to help.

Get in touch

If you’re ready to hear more, speak to us today and we
can look at the possibilities for your future.