Building Better with Blocks: A Deep Dive into WordPress 5.9 Features

Many argue that WordPress 5.9 is the most significant release of Gutenberg features since the launch of WordPress 5.0. The reason behind this is the heavier use of blocks, which allow you to alter content and functions without sacrificing the system’s integrity. With the help of a block editor, a new web designer can edit their site in a low-code environment, while a seasoned designer can carry on with their business without wasting too much time.

Understanding WordPress 5.9

While each WordPress version introduces many updates, the most significant difference is Full Site Editing. With the help of this feature, WordPress now allows you to create and edit page templates in the block-based user interface. This means – you must use less code; the changes apply to all the pages once saved.

This is made possible through the use of a configuration file called theme.json. Remember that, while a fantastic feature, it only works with versions older than 5.8.

Another major update is the use of navigational features. Here, you can simultaneously use the navigation block interface to improve UX and site navigation.

It is also instrumental in long content formats (3000+ words long articles) for users to jump to specific text sections. Since the average content size grows every year, this method can be considered future-proof. The navigation link block toolbar is the most significant addition, which can convert a menu item to a custom link. This feature comes handy when users are trying to access web page’s sections.

The block editor evolution

Many WordPress users would agree that the moment the block editor replaced the classical editor (back in 2018), it was one of the most significant dates in the history of WordPress.

The main reason is that, the most widely used CMS finally got a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) approach to content management. Due to its beginner-friendliness and low-code nature, it proved incredibly useful from the standpoint of content reusability. After all, as a user, you can save blocks to make them reusable, thus saving time for future-proof edits and development.

These pre-made design elements are also called block patterns; in version 5.3, WordPress introduced the Block Styles API, which allowed an even higher level of customization (even that which wouldn’t be authorized by the built-in design tools).

Full-Site Editing (FSE)

In the past, you were forced to improve individual pages, while today, this can be done via a common feature in the WordPress plugin. This feature is called Full-site editing, and it allows you to set things like colors, layout, and typography in one place with the help of Theme.json. This theme is a nexus for different APIs, and it already contains all the information you need for this block-based theme.

While FSE was introduced in WordPress 5.9, it is a continuation of Global Styles introduced in the previous version (5.8).

This makes working with templates more rewarding because it helps you change template parts without going to each page. It allows you to create a new template a lot quicker.

New themes and compatibility

The new default theme in WordPress 5.9 is Twenty Twenty-Two, the first block theme. It aims to help you learn the ropes regarding theme.json and navigate block-based WordPress. While some are concerned and may not like this change, rest assured that the classic themes continue, which means no one forces your hand in these matters.

There’s a rising interest in platforms like Webflow for those exploring outside the WordPress ecosystem. Many turn to a webflow design agency to harness the full potential of such media, ensuring that their websites are both functional and attractive.

As far as theme.json goes, it provides you with several options, ranging from drop cap and padding features to setting custom line height. You can also use it for aesthetic edits like gradients, color, and palettes.

As far as the compatibilities go, there are many limitations. Some can only go up to WordPress 5.8, while others will go as far as 5.0. The thing is that, even when compatibility is possible (two themes in one site), it’s never a preferred approach. Try to keep things simple for your own sake.

Practical examples and tutorials

Building block patterns may seem intimidating in the first pace, but it will become much simpler once you do it the first time. First, you get to create a draft post and then add blocks. Then, you copy those blocks to turn them into block patterns. This is the simplest way to recreate and even edit theme design.

Security and performance improvements

With previous bugs being patched, WordPress 5.9 is a vast improvement in terms of cyber security when compared to its predecessors. Also, fixing database errors has become easier than ever.

Then, there are so many quality-of-life optimization updates that you need to take into consideration. For instance, rich snippet previews for links. This is a minor thing, and it’s a wonder why it took WordPress so long to introduce it. However, it’s of immense help, and it can help you check if everything is working on internal pages by just hovering over the link with your cursor.

Not to mention that there are so many bug fixes and performance improvements. Everyone who has used WordPress 5.8 must notice how quickly the new version is. The feature in charge of this improvement is called lazy loading.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main features of WordPress 5.9?

The main features of WordPress 5.9 are Full-Site Editing, an improved block editor, and numerous quality-of-life improvements worth checking out.

How do I upgrade to WordPress 5.9 safely?

The best thing about WordPress is that you can update it with a click of a button. You can go to the updates screen on the dashboard and click “Update Now” when you get to the “Update WordPress” page.

How do Full Site Editing and Theme.JSON work?

Full-site editing and theme.json allow you to make changes in a single place and apply them to the entire site (without making updates page by page).


So, what about WordPress 5.9 features for Block editing?

The thing is that, in the past, WordPress was the flagship of the CMS field. Now, however, many other systems have started to catch up, which is why the Support Team of WordPress had to try and keep up with the competition. WordPress 5.9 is a perfect example of this team understanding their customer base’s needs and the market’s direction. Low-code and full-site edits are two long-requested features that are finally here.

If you want to know more, share your experience, ask a question or reach out.

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