Everything you need to know about the new version

The new WordPress version 5.6 comes with a new default theme and improvements to the block editor. We took a close look at the update and show you the most important innovations.

The developers have once again focused on the block editor in WordPress 5.6. For example, you can add text to videos and convert multiple columns into blocks. Most striking is the introduction of the new theme Twenty Twenty-One.

New default theme: Twenty Twenty-One

The new template looks similar to its predecessor: single-column layout, horizontal header menu, minimalistic design. You also have the option to upload a background image here. In contrast to Twenty Twenty, the new theme only has one page template available to you.

A new feature is the so-called dark mode. If you enable dark mode support (design -> customizers -> Colors & Dark Mode), a corresponding button appears in the frontend at the bottom right. Your visitors can switch between the standard and a dark color scheme – which is especially recommended when there is little ambient light.

Dark mode is activated on the left, the standard color scheme on the right

There are ten pastel color schemes to choose from in total. Not only do they look beautiful, they also comply with the contrast guidelines for accessible web design (level AAA). If you change the background color using the slider in the customizer, the theme will automatically adjust the font color.

Add text tracks to videos

With WordPress 5.6 you can embed text tracks in videos. This allows subtitles, descriptions and chapter headings to be displayed. After uploading the corresponding file, you can enter a label, the language and the type of track. You can find more information on this topic here.

Embed text tracks in WordPress 5.6

Convert multiple blocks to columns

Previously, you could only group multiple blocks. Now you also have the option to convert the selected blocks into columns. In the block settings on the right you can set the style, colors and number of columns.

Convert selected blocks to columns

Grouped block templates

Block templates are especially useful when you want to quickly adapt the layout to the content. Previously, the templates were arranged one below the other in the block selection area. To improve the overview, the developers have now grouped the block templates in a drop-down menu.

Grouped block templates

Automatic major updates

A rather inconspicuous innovation is that WordPress will automatically install upcoming major updates (e.g. from version 5.6 to 5.7). Important: This only applies to new installations. If you installed WordPress before version 5.6, you can still choose when to carry out a major update.

Update notice in the dashboard (not yet translated at the time of writing this post)

Waiting for the bigger update

WordPress 5.6 is a minor update. The new theme makes a solid impression and the innovations in the editor are welcome improvements. The mandatory auto-updates will make WordPress more secure overall. Nevertheless, this mechanism is risky because plugins and themes that are not updated in time could lead to problems.

Incidentally, more was originally planned for WordPress 5.6: In the future, menus and widgets should also consist of blocks. The fact that more time is allowed for testing speaks for the diligence of the developers. And it’s one more reason to look forward to the next update. 😉

Author Christian Lingnau

Christian Linnau

My name is Christian Lingnau and I am a freelance author for hosting topics, especially WordPress.

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