On March 9, 2021, WordPress version 5.7 was released. The first WordPress release of 2021 is called “Esperanza”, in honor of jazz performer and modern musical prodigy Esperanza Spalding. WordPress 5.7 includes various new features, improvements and enhancements, and is available for download via your WordPress dashboard and on the WordPress website.
Editor & Block Improvements
WordPress 5.7 offers more improvements to the Gutenberg editor that was introduced with version 5.0, including the ability to drag and drop blocks from the “Add new block” inserter to exactly where you want them in your content area. Version 5.7 also introduces the ability to define font sizes on more blocks, and moves font-size controls right into the list and code blocks. Reusable blocks are more stable and easier to use, with a feature that automatically saves your reusable blocks when you save your content.
Various block improvements allow for more freedom and flexibility in your design without using code. Building on the existing concept of full-width blocks, version 5.7 allows you to add full-height blocks, while in the improved buttons block you can now set vertical as well as horizontal alignment on buttons, and also define a preset percentage button width. The social icons block is also enhanced in version 5.7, allowing you to change the size of the icons, as well as the icon and background colors. The spacer block has been updated with a semi-transparent background, making it easier to discern the block from any layer behind it (such as a cover or image block). Also new in version 5.7 is the ability to add descriptions to block variations – such as Facebook, Twitter and other social icons.
Simpler Default Color Palette Follows WCAG Guidelines
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is an international standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) that covers websites, applications, and other digital content. These guidelines explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, including a recommended contrast ratio for colors against white or black, thereby making it easier for all users to read content on a website.
To meet WCAG guidelines, WordPress 5.7 introduces a new streamlined color palette, condensing all of the colors that used to be in the WordPress source code down to seven core colors (blue, green, red, yellow, grey, black, and white) and a range of 56 shades. The new color palette is now in the default WordPress dashboard color scheme, and can be used to build themes, plugins, or any other components for your site.
Easier Migration from HTTP to HTTPS
As all websites are required to move to HTTPS, WordPress 5.7 aims to make the process easier and more straightforward. In previous WordPress releases, when you switched your site from HTTP to HTTPS, you had to manually update the URLs embedded in your content. With version 5.7, the switch from HTTP to HTTPS is a single-click task. In the Site Health Status section, WordPress now advises if your site needs to be updated to HTTPS (presented as a critical issue), with a button to automatically update your WordPress and site URL settings to HTTPS, along with the site URLs in your content.
Lazy Load your iFrames
Lazy loading is a technique used to improve the speed of page loads on a website – in particular, when a page includes a lot of images, a lazy load feature can be very useful, telling the user’s browser to load such items to the page when they are viewed (as they are scrolled into view). While WordPress introduced default lazy for images in version 5.5, version 5.7 focuses on iFrame embeds such as maps and YouTube videos.
In version 5.7, WordPress now adds a default lazy load attribute to your iFrame tags when both height and width are specified, so that your iFrame embeds will automatically “lazy load”, thereby speeding up the time that it takes to load your site’s pages.
Redesigned Preferences Menu
The Preferences menu has been completely redesigned to be more user-friendly and intuitive. One great enhancement is for users who might prefer to see text labels rather than icons in the block toolbar, there is now the option in Preferences > Appearance to change display from icons to text.
New Font in Block Editor
In version 5.7, the block editor has a new font. Where it previously used a Google Font (Noto Serif), loading Google Fonts caused performance issues and raised privacy concerns. To address this, the editor now uses system fonts by default, thereby providing a more modern design aesthetic by using a sans-serif font that matches the rest of the WordPress dashboard.
In version 5.7, the built-in WordPress import/export feature includes several enhancements to improve the process. These include better performance for menu items imports and a new export specific filter for post title. As well, you now have the ability to include post last-modified dates in the export files.
Easier Password Resets
We’ve all lost or forgotten our passwords, and WordPress administrators often have to help users reset their passwords. While in previous versions, the user had to change a user’s password via their user profile in the WordPress admin. In version 5.7, it is easier for an administrator to send a reset password link. The User > All Users page now features a new “Send password reset quick-link” option, which can be clicked to send an email with a password reset link, which the user can then use to reset their own password. A password reset option is also included on each user’s profile page, with the addition of a “Send Reset Link” button in the Account Management section. Not only does this save an administrator time and effort, this is a more secure practice than changing the password for the user and sending it to them via email.
New Robots API
You can define how search engine bots crawl and index your site, either by adding a robots.txt file to the site’s root folder or by using the meta tag. With version 5.7, WordPress introduces a new function called robots_wp, which allows developers to control and modify the robots meta tag by adding their own programming filters to the function. Another useful feature is the addition of a default max-image preview:large directive to the robots meta tag, which allows search engines to show bigger image previews in search results, which can boost website traffic. For those sites that have search engine visibility turned off, WordPress will automatically hid this tag, and for those users who want to let search engines decide which image to user for previews, this function can be disabled, and you can add specific code to your themes functions.php file or to a site-specific plugin.
WordPress version 5.7 continues to improve and enhance the Gutenberg block editor for both content editors and developers alike. With the introduction of various new features, along with existing feature updates, bug fixes and other tweaks, this latest version further builds on WordPress’s intuitive and user-friendly design, allowing for a wide range of users to easily navigate the WordPress platform.