The first of November is the scheduled release of the newest version of WordPress. This is a feature release and WordPress 6.1 includes a whole raft of changes to usability, accessiilty, performance and functionality.
While some of these have been on our Developer’s wish lists for ages, as a small business website owner there are a few that will enhance your experience of WordPress and offer significant benefits after upgrading.
While you can read the full guide to the new features on the WordPress website, we’ve picked out the ones we feel are most useful to you.
A new Table of Contents block.
For me, this is the killer feature in the release if you write longer-form articles on your blog. A table of contents helps visitors understand and navigate around your posts and always needed a third-party plugin to offer this functionality.
Under WordPress 6.1 this is built-in. One less plugin is required and an easier editing experience too. Win-win!
Improvements to the Block Editor
Most of the WordPress releases in the last few years have introduced enhancements to the native editor (typically used for creating posts) and this release is no exception.
WordPress 6.1 has made improvements to many blocks used to create posts including changes to Columns, Comments, Categories, Cover, Gallery, Quote, Image, List, and Navigation blocks.
For article writers, the improvements to image gallery spacing, link formatting and the enhanced List block will be most welcomed
Major performance improvements.
Another big feature. WordPress has been lagging behind the competition for a few years now in the performance stakes as they put most of their development effort into the new block editor. This has attracted criticism from the community so we are pleased to see they have listened and mad performance improvements a key part of the WordPress 6.1 release.
The biggest improvement is caching dynamic (database) queries. This should have a notable impact on website performance.
They have also optimised the queries required for REST API calls – of real value to websites sharing data with external systems. A number of our customers have solutions developed by us to integrate into systems for Recruitment, bookings, vehicle pricing amongst others, so this is nice to see for us.
One disappointing omission is the automatic conversion of images to the next-generation format, WebP. This is a proven performance improvement and is done today with additional plugins so a native solution is preferred. It seems reports in testing showed high resource usage when the conversion was running during image upload. Hopefully these issues will be ironed out so this feature can be shipped in early 2023.
As this article is focused on the benefits to users, we wont mention the improvements to the development experience (but we are celebrating within the team in our own geeky way)
WordPress 6.1 is a release we are genuinely excited about, the first in a long time and we cant wait to get our Care Plan customers’ sites tested and upgraded. If you would like advice or help upgrading, please get in touch.