WordPress 5.7 is the first of four major updates planned for WordPress in 2021. In this article, you'll find out what you can expect in the new version of WordPress and what to look out for.
New major updates from WordPress are always hotly debated weeks before release. This is also the case with WordPress 5.7, work on which began on November 17, 2020.
Overview: What's changing in WordPress 5.7?
There was a lot of discussion surrounding WordPress 5.6 when it was released in December 2020. Mostly due to the potential sources of problems for website operators with PHP 8.0, auto-updates for major versions and the modernization of jQuery usage. For more information, check out our detailed article on WordPress 5.6.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at what changes you can expect in WordPress when you update to the new version. We've already installed the first beta version of WordPress 5.7 and will guide you step by step through the new features.
Switching from HTTP to HTTPS simplified
The use of TLS encryption (formerly: SSL) should already be standard for most websites. Not only because Google now prefers to show encrypted websites, but also to ensure the security of your website.
Switching from HTTP to HTTPS has never been a big issue in WordPress. However, updating already set HTTP links to the new HTTPS has been problematic. This required the help of a search-and-replace plugin to replace all set links in the database. For beginners, this was an annoying stress factor and was prone to errors.
This has now been simplified with WordPress 5.7. Users can simply switch to HTTPS in the settings and WordPress automatically adjusts all links in the database as well. In addition, the recently introduced "Site Health" check now also includes an HTTPS status.
Lazy Load for iFrames
Lazy Load is a function that loads content only when it is actually needed, i.e. when it appears in the visitor's field of view. Using lazy load can increase the loading speed of a website. When someone visits your site, all the images and other content don't have to load from the start and so your website builds up faster.
WordPress 5.7 introduces a similar feature for iFrames. All you have to do is add the attribute loading="lazy" to your iFrames. Then they will only load when they appear in your visitors' field of view. You can find more information about lazy loading on WordPress.org.
Better contrasts in the backend thanks to a new color palette
With WordPress 5.7, accessibility and the user interface are further improved. There is now a tidier color palette that should create better contrasts in the backend.
One half of the color tones is intended to provide better contrast with white, the other half with black. According to the team behind WordPress, these changes adhere to current accessibility guidelines.
By the way, a semi-transparent background was also added to the spacer block in the Gutenberg editor to have a better contrast. I'll go into detail about the other block improvements below.
Under the hood: New Robots API and jQuery improvements
Perhaps less interesting for "normal" users, but for all those who work more deeply with WordPress, the Robots API and changes regarding jQuery (already a focus in WordPress 5.6.) should prove exciting.
The new Robots API in WordPress 5.7 will allow users to change the robots meta tags that are important for search engines via filters. In addition, WordPress continues to clean up jQuery:
"Notifications about used deprecated jQuery functions in core and standard themes are much less frequent and notifications about them are more meaningful"
This is how it was described by the WordPress developers.
Improvements in the Gutenberg editor
The Gutenberg editor has also been further improved in WordPress 5.7. This major update will include the Gutenberg versions 9.3 to 9.9. Let's take a detailed look at what will change as a result:
In the button block, the alignment options have been revised. In addition, there is now also an option to display buttons in a vertical layout (i.e. below each other, instead of just next to each other). There are also four percentage widths that can be set (25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent and 100 percent).
An option has been added in the cover block to display the whole block over the entire viewport height. This means you can automatically set the cover block to the height of your visitor's screen. You can think of it as an image that you set to full width, but at the height of the screen.
Social icons block
The block for the social media icons has also been improved. With the new WordPress 5.7 version, you can also add buttons for Patreon, Telegram and TikTok. You can also now set the size of the icons more easily.
In addition to the larger changes to the button, cover, and social icon blocks, there are also smaller changes in the Gutenberg editor. These concern, for example, a font size option that has been added to the code and list blocks. Plus the semi-transparent background for the "spacer" block described above.
For block variants, there is a more practical conversion option in WordPress 5.7. Moreover, it is now possible to insert blocks and block templates into the editor via a drag-and-drop function. The Gutenberg editor is thus extended by a few variants, which should simplify working in the editor and with the individual blocks.
There will be no new default theme in WordPress 5.7. This is not surprising and a new theme wasn't really to be expected. The new standard theme Twenty Twenty-One was first released in December 2020 with WordPress 5.6 and is "included" in WordPress 5.7 too.
Schedule: WordPress 5.7 release
Prior to release, the update was Release Candidate of WordPress 5.7 status. This means that final testing was underway to find any incompatibilities or bugs.
WordPress 5.7 was finally released on March 9, 2021. Don't forget, there will be three more major updates this year: WordPress 5.8 will follow in June 2021, WordPress 5.9 in September 2021 and the jump to WordPress 6.0 will be in December 2021. This is still under discussion, however.
WordPress 5.7: Outlook and conclusion
WordPress 5.7 is less "spectacular" than 5.6, released in December 2020. The new features fall into the "nice to have" category but are not major highlights. The simplified switch from HTTP to HTTPS in particular should be a relief for many beginners and Lazy Load for iFrames should help with the loading time.
In the Gutenberg editor there are practical new functions, bug fixes and improvements. The integration of Tiktok and Telegram into the social media buttons should please many users. The drag-and-drop option for blocks is also a nice improvement and makes using the editor of Gutenberg more intuitive.
If you're interested in the development process of WordPress and the planned features, you can find a list of the changes and a lot more first-hand information about WordPress 5.7 here and here on WordPress.org.