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Latest Changes In WordPress: Thumbs Up or Down?

Book Blogging Tips

A new version of WordPress was released with a big fanfare this week, heralding upgrades to existing features and introducing some new elements.

I’ve been playing around with a few of the new and revised tools, trying to work out whether the advertised benefits stack up in reality.

I ignored all the features that are really aimed at people who are using a blog to support a commercial operation, like a restaurant or a photographic studio. As a “hobby” blogger if you will, I’m interested mainly in two things:

  1. will WordPress 5.5 make it quicker or easier for me to run my blog and
  2. will it give my readers a better experience.

Many of the changes I tested relate only to what is called the block editor (also known as the Gutenburg editor). This is where WordPress is putting all its focus and where any new developments will take place.

Now I know some book bloggers are using block editor and loving it. But there are many of you who much prefer to stick with the classic editor. Maybe you haven’t tried block editor yet or you did, and didn’t enjoy the experience. found it too complicated. Right now you still have a choice which to use but I’m hoping that hearing about these changes will persuade you to either give the new editor a go, or to give it a second chance.

Mobile Friendly

When you create a post or a page using the the block editor, you get a pretty good idea of how this content will look to your readers. Incidentally I think this is one of the major advantages of block editor. I got so frustrated when using the classic editor. I’d “publish” only to discover that all my efforts to align my text and images, had been wasted. The images were all over the place. You don’t get that issue with block Editor!

Even so, it’s still a good idea to do a content preview check before you publish or when you have updated some content. The new WordPress version gives the ability to preview your content on desktop, tablet and mobile screen sizes. So you can make sure your content is more accessible and readable for everyone visiting your site. With more and more people accessing web content via mobile devices, this is becoming increasingly important.

I found the preview function really simple to use. Not only can you see different preview versions you can open them in a new window, making it easy to flick back to your editing page.

Verdict: Thumbs up

Easier Editing

The editing process has been tweaked as part of the 5.5 version.

One Moonlit Night was written in the Welsh language and published in 1961 under the title Un Nos Ola Leuad. The first English translation was issued in 1995, followed by a BBC radio broadcast in English the following year.

But with a few of the content blocks, you can now opt for a gradient. Here’s how it looks if you choose the “Media & Text’ block.

One Moonlit Night was written in the Welsh language and published in 1961 under the title Un Nos Ola Leuad. The first English translation was issued in 1995, followed by a BBC radio broadcast in English the following year.

Some of those upgrades, like the text size controls, are good news. But I’m not all that wowed by the new options to add a gradient background. The colour palette is limited and the option is restricted to only a few special blocks. I’m looking forward to the day when I don’t have to put in a code (which I always forget) to get the exact shade of blue I’ve selected for my site. I could not get the drag and drop to work.

Verdict: Thumbs Down (I was expecting more)

On Page Image Editing

I was more excited about the new inline image function (or as I prefer to call it “on page editing”. This means we can now more easily and quickly edit photos and graphics as we build the page

As of WordPress 5.5, you can crop, rotate, zoom and adjust image positions without the need to launch the Media Library.

Just to give you a flavour of what’ possible, take this image which I’ve used on an earlier post.

In the older version of WordPress, if I’d wanted to edit this image, I’d have to either do that in my photo editing programme or open media library. I usually do the former because it gives me more control.

But with the new version, in 2 clicks I can change the image proportions and the orientation. I can also rotate the picture with a third click to give an image that is far more impactful.

If your book blog is predominantly devoted to reviews and the only images you use are book covers, then these image editing tools probably won’t have much appeal. But if you write other types of content, like discussion topics or list posts, and you want some appealing images to illustrate your point, no doubt you’ll enjoy this feature.

Verdict: Thumbs Up

Content Blocks

Most of the time when I’m creating a new post or a page I use the basic content blocks of:

If I wanted to go further and create a professional looking layout, I could take advantage of an extensive library of other blocks. I could create tables, put text into columns, have galleries of images for example.

WordPress 5.5 gives even more layout options via something called block patterns. which are predefined block layouts allowing users to quickly add complex structures of grouped blocks.

Most of these are of no interest to me but there are one or two which could be interesting. This block for examples enables you to easily show text in two columns, giving more of a magazine look and feel.

The character and pursuits of the famous gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha

In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income.

The rest of it went in a doublet of fine cloth and velvet breeches and shoes to match for holidays, while on week-days he made a brave figure in his best homespun. He had in his house a housekeeper past forty, a niece under twenty, and a lad for the field and market-place, who used to saddle the hack as well as handle the bill-hook. The age of this gentleman of ours was bordering on fifty; he was of a hardy habit, spare, gaunt-featured, a very early riser and a great sportsman.

Exploring these options however was a frustrating experience. So many of them are not compatible with the theme of my blog. Even those that do work, seem very fiddly to use so I think I’ll give them a miss. If I was running a blog to support a business I’d have more interest in getting these blocks to work. But the benefit for me outweighs the considerable effort and time I’d have to invest.

Verdict: Thumbs Down (great potential but not sold on the benefit to me right now)

There are further changes in the wind. Some of them were due to be introduced this month but have been delayed and removed from this version because of technical issues. A case of watch this space.

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