Exciting new features in WordPress 5.5

17 August 2020


WordPress 5.5 was released recently with a wide range of new and exciting features. There is a little more packed into this release than usual, so we wanted to take the opportunity to let our WordPress customers and readers know exactly what they’re getting, and why it’s an important update to make sure you run on your site.

Block patterns and directory

The WordPress editor now allows you to create block patterns. These are sets of blocks allowing you to drag larger amounts of recurring content into your post or page. They’re really useful for people who regularly use similar layouts for their pages, and will speed up the process of writing those longer blog posts.

The block patterns feature can be accessed in your usual post or page editor screen by clicking the plus icon in the top left corner, and then clicking on the ‘Patterns’ heading.

The block patterns area

In addition to this, there is also a new block directory, meaning you can download new types of blocks for your site directly from within the editor. To use this feature just type in the search bar above your list of blocks. Any blocks you decide you no longer need can be removed in the plugins menu area.

Automatic updates!

WordPress 5.5 has a new interface for enabling automatic updates to your plugins and themes, which is a fantastic new feature for keeping your website safe and secure.

New automatic updates available in the plugins menu

Automatic updates can be managed in the plugins menu in your WordPress admin area.

Similarly, you can enable automatic updates for your theme from the theme menu, you then need to click on the theme(s) you wish to enable updates for, and the option will be available below the title and author of your theme.

Automatic updates for your themes

If you are currently using our managed WordPress Hosting package for your websites you will already have automatic updates provided by us, so no further action will be needed to re-enable that.

Lazy loading

Now when a user loads up your website, images at the top of the page will be loaded in first, and the rest will be loaded in as the user scrolls to them. This leads to a faster loading experience for visitors to your site.

Additional features

  • Accessibility improvements: Meta boxes are now movable with the keyboard, primary buttons are more clearly defined as disabled when switched off as well as other useful updates to WordPress and the editor.
  • Inline image editing: You can now crop and rotate your images directly in the block image, saving a lot of time!
  • XML sitemaps: WordPress now builds its own sitemap that lists posts, pages, categories, tags and users. For a more extensive sitemap you may still wish to use a plugin.

There are many more updates in this release but these are the major ones we wanted to highlight. For full release notes you can check the official website here.

How do I upgrade my site?

If you are on our managed WordPress Hosting, we’ve already rolled out the update for you, no action needed – you’re already on the latest version!

For other hosting packages the update is available now and you can update whenever you are ready. Just login to your WordPress admin area and click on the ‘updates’ button from the side menu.

Will updating break my site?

We have no reason to suspect the upgrade to WordPress 5.5 will cause any major issues. If you do have fairly out of date plugins or themes, you can always login to your dashboard and use our Snapshots feature to take a quick backup before running the update, and then restore it if something does go wrong.

Of course if you are facing problems when trying to upgrade your version of WordPress, get in touch with our support team and we will be happy to guide you through and troubleshoot any problems you are having.

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Kayleigh is a member of our Customer Experience team here at You’ll often find Kayleigh socialising at tech meetups throughout the UK. When she’s not learning about WordPress, Kayleigh loves to travel and is passionate about the WordPress community.