WordPress (current version – 5.6) – is a powerful Content Management System, which works great for the development of various web projects due to the abundance of extensions. The engine is used to build blogs and information portals, but it’s also possible to launch even a web store with it by means of plugin integration. The amount of WordPress extensions keeps growing steadily, but the system is also regularly updated, which eliminates the need to install some plugins.
The recent powerful system 5.6 version has become available for download directly in the WordPress dashboard. It comes with some new stylish default themes, automatic plugins, and site updates, application passwords to ensure secure access to some of the project elements and parts. Users may benefit from support for the beta PHP 8 version in addition to numerous Gutenberg updates.
Is it simpler to develop a website with WordPress 5.6 now? What exactly has changed after the system update and are the changes worth user attention? Let’s answer all the questions in our review.
1. Pros and Cons
With so many innovations and updates, WordPress makes it simpler to create a new site from scratch or fix the existing one. The system comes with support for new technologies. It seems like developers are trying to move away from dated jQuery JS to more up-to-date libraries. On the one hand, it delivers more flexibility to users. On the other hand, the system may counteract some of the themes or plugins.
| ✔ Advanced visual content editing mode with support for the Gutenberg editor.|
✔ The automated theme, plugin, and system updates.
✔ Enormous integration opportunities with thousands of widgets.
✔ Endless selection of free and premium themes for any project type.
✔ A powerful content management system.
✔ A built-in file manager to keep all website assets under control.
✔ Advanced SEO settings and promotion tools.
✔ Intuitive admin panel to create, publish, and manage the content of any type.
| ✘ WordPress is not an all-in-one solution. Users will need to take care of the domain and hosting separately. The best solution is to opt for WP-optimized hosting providers like Bluehost.|
✘ The new version may not be compatible with some of the themes and plugins. To ensure smooth running, users are recommended to test the new version within the staging environment before applying it to their live projects
✘ Newbies may need time to figure out how the system works.
2. What Is It Good for?
You can use WordPress to launch blogs, company websites, landing pages, online stores and portals that imply the need for user registration. WordPress delivers enough tools to create fully-functional eCommerce and small business websites. The system will work well of any project type despite the complexity. Functionality of the system depends a lot upon the plugins installed as well as upon web master’s skills: an open code makes it possible for experienced web developers customize the system with regard to their needs.
Many users start their web development career with WordPress. This is hardly the simplest solution as there is much to learn here to create and set up a website. However, the platform’s updates clearly demonstrate that it is moving towards the simplification of the web design process, although, you still won’t go without programming knowledge for deep website customization.
3. Ease of Use
Before you start building a website with WordPress, you have to choose suitable hosting and get a domain name. Some hosting providers offer special plans optimized well to work with the platform, but it’s not a must to buy them – standard virtual hosting will be enough for your first website.
When it comes to WordPress installation, even a newbie won’t face any problems – the system is easily installed on most hosts in a couple of minutes and with one click only. This also concerns the latest version. However, you should be careful with the updates. The major risk is the incompatibility of the platform and plugins after the update.
Right after installation, WordPress is quite a rough system, which requires extra set up. Among the must-have things you’ll need to do, the following ones should be the first to mention:
- Browse all the settings sections to specify website name and address, the type of regular links, the home page format and other parameters.
- Choose and install a template.
- Add and set up plugins for anti-spam protection, SEO optimization, sitemap creation, transliteration of titles etc.
You will do all these steps in the administrative panel. Not to overlook important nuances, we recommend using WordPress website creation and set up tutorial, when launching the first project. All the major aspects are revealed there.
For experienced users, who can work with CSS and PHP, WordPress offers integrated code editor. By using it, you can deeply customize a website, adding widgets and blocks or replacing standard comments with an external application, for example. However, it makes sense to export template files from hosting and edit them on your computer, having created a backup copy of it when making serious edits. This makes it possible to get the initial template design if needed.
- Title, paragraph, quote, list;
- Image, gallery, audio, video and file;
- Layout code and elements;
- Widgets and add-ons from popular services.
Each block can be set up individually. From now on, you don’t have to work with the code to add a widget on a web page or a post to your Twitter feed. You just have to choose a corresponding block and specify the link to the content you are interested in to see it in the editor field. Regular block combinations can be stored as templates, increasing the speed of post publication.
Basically, Gutenberg lets WordPress users complete the task that has been offered by popular website builders for quite a long period of time – focus on content design without distracting to complex configuration settings. When working in the visual editor, you can see the way your web page or post is displayed and make the required changes in the interface without code editing.
Many WordPress users didn’t like the replacement of a classic editor with Gutenberg. Those, who prefer traditional text/HTML editor, can get access to a new Classic Editor extension available in the plugin list. Right after you add it to the system, Gutenberg is deactivated and you will see a standard window to work with text and tags.
Apart from PHP error protection introduced with the previous 5.2 version, the new edit will let users try the beta PHP 8 version as well as benefit from automated system updates. In other words, users will no longer need to check for site and plugin updates manually. The system will handle the process automatically. This fact makes using WordPress much easier, especially for newbies.
4. Features & Flexibility
While being an open-source CMS, WordPress comes with a very rich feature set that includes some baseline options like advanced SEO settings, thousands of plugins, and an endless selection of templates as well as advanced options including application password and full access to the source code. The new 5.6 version also brings additional perks out of the box.
Plugins and Add-Ons
WordPress users will have thousands of different ad-ones and widgets to customize their websites. The selection of plugins includes some vital services that help to create user and SEO-friendly content, launch marketing, and promotion campaigns, track the website stats, interact with the target audience, or change the way the content is displayed.
Some plugins are free to use while others are paid. The only challenge here is that you will need to locate and install each new option manually. However, the process is pretty easy with the exception of setup where you will need to dive deeper into widget details and configurations.
The good news is that the new WordPress 5.6 version offers automated system and plugin updates. Millions of users have been waiting for this particular feature for many years, as they no longer have to deal with updates manually. The system will handle the process to keep all projects secure. However, to enable the feature, you still need to activate it manually in the WP Updates screen.
Note: automated updates are good. However, you should still keep an eye on how all services are functioning. When rolled out, updates may not be compatible with some of the plugins or themes you use.
Updated Gutenberg Editor
The new block editor turned out to be a sensation. It simplified the editing process making it similar to those utilized by some SaaS platforms. Despite all expectations, some users did not appreciate the introduction of the Gutenberg editor and referred to roll the system back.
The new update in 5.6 comes with seven crucial improvements released by the Gutenberg team. They include:
- Support for video positioning in cover blocks.
- Improved drag-and-drop functionality to move blocks.
- More user-friendly keyboard navigation.
- Block pattern enhancements.
- Accessibility and performance improvements.
The new version still offers a simple way to launch a new store using the integration with WooCommerce. A simple plugin that helps to add and manage products, connect payment options, set currencies, tax rates, shipping requirements, and more. With the premium plugin version, users will be able to add new functions including WooCommerce Points and Rewards. All you need is to choose an eCommerce-friendly theme and configure the plugin.
WordPress 5.6 SEO
Basic WordPress complectation is not the best sample of SEO optimization. However, if you work with the system a bit, you will eventually get high website positions in the search engine results with no problems at all granted that you publish useful and interesting content.
The first step to website optimization is the choice of a SEO-friendly template. Such theme should comply with a set of requirements, some of which include standard CSS3/HTML5 website coding as well as fast web page loading speed. If you buy or download a free template from a third-party website, pay attention to its description. It should specify, whether the theme is SEO-friendly or SEO Optimized.
Right after you select a suitable template, you’ll have to change a standard configuration of using WordPress.
Reach the general settings to specify website address in the same style – either with or without WWW. To make the search engines clearly define the website on a specified address, add it to Google Search Console. Set up the following link format «website/category/post title». Access the “Regular Links” section in the settings, select the “Random” option and insert the following meaning into the field /%category%/%postname%.html.
Further system optimization is possible via plugin integration only.
For decent website optimization, installation of one of powerful plugins – All in One Seo Pack or Yoast SEO – will also be required.
Right after you add them, a new section will appear in the editor, where you can specify the title, description and keywords for the post. The impact of SEO plugins upon WordPress is not limited to this functionality only. There are many options in their settings and there are also separate tutorials on how to work with them.
- All in One Seo Pack covers all the website optimization needs, starting with meta tags for the search robots and up to the creation of XML sitemap.
- Yoast SEO offers almost the same functionality, which may complicate the choice.
Anyway, you will get powerful tools for your WordPress website development.
The 5.6 version comes with a new way of providing access to some of the project’s elements and parts. The feature makes it possible to give other users external access to the source code as well as to some of the content management tools without sharing a password of your own. All you need is to generate the access key and provide it to another user. There is a special button to revoke access with a click. The feature will be applied to some of the plugins as well.
5. Design & Templates
Websites are built on the basis of templates WordPress abounds in. Standard template catalogue is available in the dashboard of the system, namely in the “Design” section. This is where you can choose and set up a template from the library as well as upload files downloaded from other resources.
It’s not a problem to find a WordPress theme. Compatibility of versions is a far more serious problem. Right after the introduction of the Gutenberg editor, not all free templates will work with the system without any errors. Users are supposed to test the theme in the staging environment before rolling it out.
The good news is that the 5.6 version comes with a new default theme Twenty Twenty-One. It offers a selection of ready-to-use block patterns making it possible to create a complex and user-friendly layout in accordance with the desired page structure. Some of those blocks were released with the 5.5 version and successfully integrated into the new theme.
To avoid the unneeded problems, you have to make sure the selected template is optimized for the latest WordPress version prior to installing it. If there are no suitable variants, that’s not a problem. You can use Gutenberg for template customization, which would previously require code editing.
When reviewing functional WordPress options, we have discussed the features the new editor provides. Basically, you can use it to set up your website interface, creating new pages and adding widgets and blocks to them. If you’ve had the experience of working with website builders before, you will instantly realize how it works. Even if this WordPress website is your first try, you won’t face problems anyway. By using widgets, plugins and shortcodes, you can quickly create the required web page design.
Apart from that, each WordPress theme comes with individual settings, which make it possible to upload website logo, change color scheme, create main menu and enable/disable the display of separate widgets. The amount of parameters you’ll need to set up changes with regard to the template you work with, but the basic set is still available in each theme. If you are lucky to have CSS/PHP coding skills, then you’ll get more design customization options due to the open-source system code and integrated code editor, which comes with all the template files.
6. Customer Support
When it comes to customer support, WordPress doesn’t have it at all. As a free service, it has an extensive worldwide community that is always ready to help newbies find answers to their questions. You can also come across multiple text and video manuals, guidelines and tutorials compiled by other system users. Regardless of the abundance of these materials, you will still have to explore the system nuances, making the required changes and taking care of support options on your own. This concerns both the system itself and extra functionality, such as integrable plugins, templates and other extensions.
That is exactly why, users, who are not competent in the web design niche, frequently face situations, when they are just unable to use the system with maximum efficacy, even if they wish to. As a result, they have to change the system for a simpler, more intuitive and user-friendly commercial alternative – website builders.
7. Plans & Pricing
The platform is available for free. You can download it from the official website or install right from the administrative panel of the hosting. The prevailing number of hosts provide this option. You don’t have to pay for plugins and templates as well. Even if any extension is provided at a certain cost, there is always a free alternative to it that will let you complete the task on a decent level. However, you won’t go without investing into website development at all: you will have to get a domain name and pay for the hosting plan chosen.
A standard cost of .com domain name constitutes around $10-$15 per year. Prolongation will cost you around $5-$15 more depending upon the registrar. If you wish to buy a domain name in another zone, get ready to pay more. For example, the cost of .club or .net domains starts with $20 per year.
The cost of hosting also depends upon the number of websites you intend to create and the data storage you need. For example, the cheapest Bluehost plan offers an opportunity to launch one project with unlimited traffic and free SSL at $2.95 per month. 50 GB of disk storage space will be more than enough to create a promo site or a portfolio.
The more storage space your website needs, the more expensive the hosting will be. The use of the unlimited Choice Plus plan, for example, lets you create a large information portal, which will cost you $5.45 per month. If you feel the lack of storage space for some reason, then you can try VPS/VDS options and a dedicated physical server. Mind, however, that they work well for large-scale projects.
8. Website Examples
With so many new updates rolled out with the latest 5.6 WordPress version, we simply cannot miss some of the best WP site examples.
Angry Birds – the official game website
99U – culture and design blog
The Next Web – online magazine
Studio OUAM – creative agency
Animal Logic – creative digital studio
Grette – business law firm
Due to the open-source code and large amount of extensions, WordPress offers functionality that can be provided by the limited number of web building tools. When it comes to website creation, however, the power of the tool is less important than its efficacy for project realization. From this point of view, there are many services, which are simpler and make it possible to complete a variety of tasks not worse than WordPress.
Regardless the fact that the latest WordPress version moves towards the simplification of content management tools, it still lags behind top website builders in this respect. Basically, Gutenberg is also the extension, which adds the features of the visual editor to CMS, which are provided in the basic set.
Simplicity of website builders is not restricted by web page and content design only. When creating a website with cloud website builders, a user doesn’t have to care about things except for design and content, which are completely set up in the visual editing mode. On the other hand, this gives more customization options not all website builders can currently boast.
WordPress is one of the simplest web building tools, which has become much simpler with the release of the fifth version due to the introduction of the visual editor. As to website development and preliminary settings, there are no serious changes. Users still need to choose hosting, take care of website security on their own and watch the updates.
WordPress 5.6 offers unlimited functionality, which is based on the improved Gutenberg editor capabilities, automated updates, and full access to the source code. However, not each project requires such power and universal nature. For example, if you need to create a landing page, a company website, or a small online store, then the use of website builders will be a more effective and reasonable solution.
Anyway, WordPress is one of the major web creation tools, which is in demand both with newbies and experienced web designers. It can be applied to solve various tasks and it’s only up to you to decide if it comes up to the realization of your idea.