WordPress 6.0, named Arturo, is launched and ready to go. This update introduces nearly 1,000 updates and enhancements that make WordPress more intuitive to use for both developers and end users.
Some of the changes, like faster website performance , will be felt immediately. Others, like the brand new page creation patterns are features for theme developers to roll out.
Every update to WordPress is named after a jazz artist. This version is named after the Grammy-winning jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill. He is associated with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.
The official WordPress announcement explains:
“The latest version of the software takes full site editing one step further and looks to consolidate the ‘no code’ experience for site-building, expanding upon the existing customization tools, bringing new blocks, and focusing on the writing and design workflows.
An example of this is the new style switcher for block themes, one of the most anticipated features for the flexibility and creative opportunities it introduces without having to switch themes.
‘With thoughtful updates to the writing experience, building better block functionality, and adding a new intuitive style switcher, I’m really proud of the work that’s been done in this release to make a great site editing experience,’ says WordPress’ Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy.”
WordPress 6.0 Is An Incremental Update
WordPress 6.0 is the culmination of the work of over 500 people in at least 58 countries, encompassing close to 1,000 improvements.
Ordinarily when a product undergoes a version change, like a new Android phone model, end users expect to see dramatic changes. That’s not really the case with WordPress version changes.
While this is a “dot 0” release, version 6.0 is best understood as part of a series of incremental improvements meant to preserve backwards compatibility while also introducing improvements.
WordPress 6.0 is a version number change but it’s not on the scale of a revamp. The publishing experience between versions 5.9 and 6 are improved.
According to the official WordPress announcement, there is no need to be wary of updating, encouraging all site owners to update now in order to enjoy the many benefits of this release.
“Site owners and administrators should upgrade to take full advantage of the many stability, performance, and usability enhancements today.
WordPress content creators will enjoy a suite of new features geared toward improving the writing and designing experiences.”
A spokesperson from WordPress shared with Search Engine Journal:
“This release picks up right where 5.9 left off – focusing on bringing full site editing further into view and improving the overall experience of the block editor, wherever you might use it.
6.0 has a collection of new features geared toward improving the writing and designing experiences shared by most WordPress users.
Of course, like all recent WordPress releases, this one includes performance enhancements, your typical stability improvements of the core code, and a lot of small improvements that enhance the site-building experience.”
WordPress Performance Improvements
WordPress 6.0 ships with performance improvements that will contribute to making WordPress faster for site visitors.
There are improvements to how queries are executed against the database and also to how caches are managed.
This means fewer numbers and types of database calls resulting in greater efficiency that translates to faster performance.
New Features That End Users Will Love
Page Creation Patterns
One of the most important changes is the Page Creation Patterns feature.
Ordinarily, when creating a web page a publisher might start with a blank layout. Page creation patterns is a way to select from multiple layouts as a starting point.
The WordPress core itself won’t ship with the layouts, this is something that theme developers need to build into their themes.
Block Locking is a feature that prevents an end-user from accidentally deleting or moving an important block. The new feature is available through a block settings drop-down menu.
Andrew Wilder of the WordPress support company, NerdPress (@NerdPress) offered his opinion that while 6.0 ships with “tons” of improvements that end users will like, he believes that the page creation patterns feature is one that they will most appreciate.
“For many of our clients, the Page Creation Patterns will be really helpful, especially once plugins are available to pre-built patterns that are specific to their content. That could be a huge time-saver!
I’m also glad to see the new Block Locking feature – right now it doesn’t let you lock changes to the block content, but it can stop you from accidentally moving or deleting a block.”
Stack & Row Variations
A useful addition is the ability to create dynamic flex-based containers by stacking blocks into a column or a row layout.
A flex-based container is so-called because it is flexible and automatically adjusts to viewport, shrinking for smaller mobile devices and expanding when necessary.
WordPress published a video to show how it works:
Multi-Select: Select Text Across Multiple Blocks
In the new blocked-based WordPress editors, creating a web page layout is done using what’s called blocks, building blocks, so to speak.
Blocks are like containers where content can be inserted. Content can be images, text, whatever.
An example of an incremental but exciting change in WordPress 6.0 is the ability to select text across multiple content blocks.
This allows a user to select the content within multiple blocks without selecting multiple blocks themselves. This gives publishers the ability to write and control content in an expected manner, contributing to a more intuitive writing experience.
Soon you’d be able to select text across blocks in WordPress while retaining the fundamental mechanics of content blocks. ☄️
— Matías Ventura (@matias_ventura) March 28, 2022
WordPress published this animation to show how multi-select works:
Wilder of NerdPress tested this new feature ahead of time and is enthusiastic.
“I’m pretty excited about being able to select text across multiple blocks.
That sounds like a small detail, but it’s something that’s been frustrating for me at times — and these kinds of little details really add up to make a nicer, easier editing experience.”
Another exciting new feature is called Global Style Variations.
Style variations allows theme authors to provide their customers a way to easily change the look and feel of their website without having to edit CSS or HTML, dramatically speeding up the process of getting a website up and running.
This is a feature that is implemented on the WordPress theme developer side which improves the WordPress publishing experience for end users.
The WordPress team shared with Search Engine Journal:
“The introduction of style variations in block themes allows theme authors to provide multiple options for folks to switch up the look and feel of a site all with a few clicks in a single theme.
This means you can quickly change things like font weights and default colors in a cohesive way without editing CSS.”
Noteworthy Changes For Developers
I asked the WordPress team what the most important changes that developers should know about.
- Style variations, including different fonts powered by a private theme.json handler.
- Improved block theme creation and tooling from within the site editor itself.
- Easier ability to incorporate patterns (creating a new page, in the inserter itself, etc):
- Registration of blocks from within themes.
- Updates to the @wordpress/create-block templating system.
Accessibility Improvements To WordPress 6.0
There have been many improvements to WordPress accessibility which have been documented here.
Among the highlights are:
- Multiple accessibility changes were improvements to alt text used on featured images.
- There are also upgrades to tabbing into a block placeholder.
- Also of note were multiple improvements related to screen readers.
- Improvements to the Navigation Block
- Improvements to WordPress List View
- Improvements to Handling Media
Aria-Related Accessibility Fixes To WordPress 6.0
RichText: Reverse disableLineBreaks to determine aria-multiline state.
Remove role attributes on SVGs meant for “decoration.”
This is how WordPress described changes to how media is handled in 6.0 for accessibility:
- “Preserve attachment properties on cropping custom logo. This means that the alternative text, title, description, and caption of an image will migrate over to the cropped copy of the image after cropping.
- Stop arrow keys switching media if URL focused.
- Add a “Copy URL to clipboard” function to the list table view.
- Set break-word on sample permalink so the full permalink will be visible on mobile devices in posts, media, and comments.
- Remove target blank attribute from media uploader edit links.
- Remove target=”_blank” from the link to change permalink structures and change link text to clarify link purpose.”
The official WordPress announcement states:
“Accessibility is an integral part of the WordPress mission of fostering an inclusive community and supporting users of all types around the world.
With this in mind, WordPress 6.0 includes more than 50 updates specifically focused on enhancing the accessibility of the platform. You can read about these updates and learn more about the accessibility initiatives that are ongoing.”
WordPress Full Site Editor Beta Label
Something that may be useful to consider about WordPress 6.0 is that the Full Site Editor (FSE) is still labeled as Beta.
WordPress 6.0 improves the editing experience for the end users by making the process of writing easier as well as making it easier to dream up unique website layouts without having to deal with code. But FSE is still considered as a Beta product.
The good news, according to what the WordPress team shared with Search Engine Journal, is that the full site editor will see continued improvement.
The WordPress team shared:
“While 6.0 moves WordPress in the right direction, there’s more work to be done around creating a cohesive site editing experience, so if you’re waiting for full site editing to feel more intuitive, expect that to come in 6.1 and beyond.”