WordPress to 5.4: key features of the new release

Why update WordPress to 5.4: or key features of the new release

We are always happy to bring good news to WordPress users, website owners, and developers alike. WordPress continues making strides towards more intuitive UIs, better publishing experiences, improved accessibility, and more.

Today, 4+ months after the release of WordPress 5.3, WordPress 5.4 "Adderley" has been released! Let’s take a look at its key features so you see why update to WordPress 5.4 and what makes it a great spring present for everyone who deals with WP.

Useful reminder: why update WordPress

Before we move on to what’s new in WordPress 5.4 in particular that should inspire you to update, let us remind you about the importance of regular WordPress website updates in general.

Here are the key reasons you need to update WordPress core, plugins, and themefor your website’s health and effective work:

  • Updating your site is essential for being protected against web security vulnerabilities discovered by the WordPress team.
  • WordPress updates, especially key ones like WordPress 5.4, introduce new and exciting features and improve, expand, and refine the existing ones.
  • Latest WordPress updates often contain bug fixes so your website continues working smoothly.
  • With every new update, WordPress aims at better results in usability, accessibility, performance, and more. So when website owners update WordPress sites, they get the best version of WordPress!

What’s new in WordPress 5.4: new release overview

The previous latest WordPress version (5.3) has been downloaded 47+ million times. What about 5.4 — will it beat this figure? Let’s see why we think it deserves this!

Big improvements to the Gutenberg editor

If you ask any WP expert about what’s new in WordPress 5.4, they will begin with the changes to the block editor — Gutenberg. These changes deal both with its functionalities and interface and are aimed at making it more user-friendly, accessible, and intuitively understandable.

A little reference: Gutenberg is the new default content editor introduced in WordPress 5.0. It provides a new, unprecedented level of editorial experiences allowing users to create media-rich posts and pages. Button, quotes, galleries, and myriads of other “blocks” are easily added and customized. Despite being very intuitive, Gutenberg puzzled many users with its novelty, so they asked (and we answered) about how to use Gutenberg in WordPress 5. In 5.4 the editor becomes even better in many ways — see which ones.

Gutenberg editor in WordPress 5

A welcome guide popup

In WordPress 5.4, we see a new welcome guide modal that provides a little tour of the Gutenberg editor to users. It is a slideshow with explanations about the Gutenberg blocks, invitation to the block library, and a reference to the official docs.

The modal appears after you update to WordPress 5.4, but it can be called up at any time if you click the menu on the top right corner of the editor.

A welcome guide popup for the Gutenberg editor in WordPress 5.4

The new Social Icons block

The social icons block, now stable in Gutenberg, allows users to quickly add social media icons to their posts and pages. They can choose from an impressive collection of almost 40, add them to the block, and rearrange them to their liking. Out-of-box, the icons have 3 shapes to choose from: default, logos only, and pill-shaped.

The new Buttons block

The new Buttons block has arrived to replace the single button block, enabling website users to add multiple buttons to their WP posts and pages. It’s possible to choose between the button styles, change the text, and play with the background colors and their gradients.

The TikTok Embed block

The new version of WordPress 5.4 can also boast an embed block for adding videos from an increasingly popular social media app for creating short-form videos.

Enhanced color options

Another great reason to update to WordPress 5.4  is more freedom in color options. You can add inline text color to rich text blocks just by selecting any phrases and changing their colors via the handy color picker. No HTML mode is needed now for this. It’s also possible to set the background color of a block group. In addition, there are gradient backgrounds available in several blocks (Buttons, Cover, Group, Columns).

Enhanced color options for the Gutenberg editor in WordPress 5.4

Improved image handling

A bunch of nice improvements to image handling have arrived. Images in WordPress 5.4 can be moved using a drag-and-dropp tool to the featured images section. The Latest Post block now supports the featured images. Finally, the Gallery block allows you to adjust the image size.

Fullscreen mode is the default

As of WordPress 5.4, Gutenberg opens in the full-screen mode on new installations and devices. Switching the modes is available at the top right menu. Developers can control the Fullscreen mode with a few lines of JS code.

Fullscreen mode is the default for the Gutenberg editor in WordPress 5.4

Better performance for Gutenberg

Another great achievement of the WordPress block editor team is that the loading time has been reduced by 14% in WordPress 5.4 compared to 5.3.

Website health improvements

In order to make sure the operations on your WordPress site are smooth, safe, and fast, the WP team has introduced an updated site health system. A new widget on the site’s admin dashboard shows the site health figures and warns you about possible issues. A CTA button directs you to more detailed information and fixing ideas.

Accessibility improvements in the WP 5.4 admin

Accessibility is a priority in WordPress 5.4, so there are a number of things that make the admin dashboard more accessible:

  • improved keyboard navigation in the media modal
  • the ability to change the image title in the Image block
  • better multi-block selection
  • improved focus state management
  • better Privacy Policy Guide’s readability
  • tabbing support in the block’s sidebar
  • and more.

Development improvements in WordPress 5.4

Here are also a few new things that developers will appreciate the most.

  • Calendar widget markup. For better compliance with the HTML 5.1, the navigation links in WP 5.3’s calendar widget are moved to a <nav> element that immediately follow the <table> element.
  • More flexibility with favicon handling. It’s now possible to upload a /favicon.ico file or choose a favicon in the Customizer. The website’s logo will be the default fallback.
  • The apply_shortcodes() function. To improve the semantics, the creators of WP 5.4 recommend developers use the new apply_shortcodes() function in replacement of the do_shortcode() function.

Update to WordPress 5.4 with our team

Ready to see all these improvements on your website? Updates between big releases should be performed carefully, especially on websites with plenty of custom functionality. You can rely on our WordPress maintenance team for this. Ask us to smoothly update your site to WordPress 5.4 and enjoy the benefits!

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