Have you met “Arturo?” Multi-awarded jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill inspired the latest version of WordPress installation: the all-new WordPress 6.0 version.

Rolled out on May 24, 2022, the new version aims to unlock users’ creative genius and ensures a smooth site-building experience. Content creators will surely enjoy this new suite of features, including bug fixes and nearly 1,000 enhancements. If your WordPress site is still an older version, find time to update it as soon as possible. WordPress alerted users that they will stop providing security updates for versions 3.7 to 4.0 by December 2022. Anybody who’s using outdated WordPress versions will put their sites at risk for cyber threats.

Let’s take a look and find out what’s in store for new and current WordPress users.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a platform that lets users build their own blogs or websites. Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little developed the content management system (CMS) in 2003.

In the beginning, WordPress was just an open-source software with blogs in mind. However, modern versions now allow users to create and manage any website on the platform. As of today, this solution runs more than 43 percent of all websites around the globe. Many subscribers opt for WordPress hosting as it’s an ideal entry-level solution for small businesses. It’s one of the most useful platforms with excellent e-commerce integration through its WooCommerce solution. 

WordPress.com and WordPress.org: what’s the difference?

What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? There’s no comparison, as both terms are entirely different. 

WordPress.com is a hosting provider that lets users set up a website and get a domain name using their software. WordPress.org, on the contrary, is where people can download the ‘software’ itself and build a website on their own. 

So after downloading the software, you can install it on your computer. However, note that doing so doesn’t give you a website that people can access over the internet. If you want a live website, you’ll need a hosting plan to be able to install it on a web host.

Choosing between the two

What drives the difference between the two is not their features or functionality. Both use the same core WordPress software, which boils down to what’s best for your needs. 

To help you with your decision, consider the following:

  • WordPress.com comes with built-in, pre-configured features, so you don’t need to figure out how to add them individually.
  • Being a self-hosted WordPress site, WordPress.org gives you the core software where you can add plugins. This advantage provides you with the functionality you need, even for basic features.
  • Both can include additional functionality via plugins as long as you have an eligible hosting plan.
  • A self-hosted WordPress site may be an affordable option to add the plugins you want. However, it might not come with all the website support you need. 
  • With both options, you’re the owner of all content. You can also move house if you want to, but there might be additional requirements. 

When choosing between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org, it’s crucial to do your research. Understand that unless you’re tech-savvy, it’s not about the features and functionality. 

If you’re not a techie, you’ll need more help. So make sure your decision gives you the proper support to set yourself up for success.

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WordPress and all that jazz

If you aren’t aware, WordPress named the new update after a jazz artist. Arturo O’Farrill is a Grammy-award winner associated with Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.

wordpress 6.0 arturo
Image source: https://wordpress.org/

This isn’t the first time. WordPress has a long history of naming its major releases after famous jazz artists. It started with Miles Davis for WordPress 1.0. 

In 6.0, by echoing jazz’s free spirit, developers aimed to give users more control with an accessible and comprehensive interface. Users can uncover their creative potential without getting bogged down with complex tools.  Specifically, WordPress 6.0 increases the block system for deeper customization and improves how themes work. Besides adding new controls and customization features, WordPress resolves issues from older versions with Arturo. However, back up your WordPress plugins, themes, and other critical databases before updating.

New features of WordPress Arturo 6.0

WordPress 6.0 is the platform’s second major release of 2022. It contains significant updates you wouldn’t want to miss during WordPress installation for a full-site editing experience. 

Unless you’re on a managed WordPress hosting service, you can’t take advantage of auto-updates and will have to initiate them manually. There are plenty of new things coming in this release. You should pay close attention to these new features and improvements as they impact how you use the platform. 

WordPress 6.0 features

This new version of WordPress offers countless valuable features which improve its usability. Here are the three major updates you may need. 

Better block functionality

Although 2018’s WordPress 5.0 update introduced blocks and block-editing, version 6.0 takes it to the next level. It improved what was started in earlier releases with more customizable block theme updates. 

Specifically, as a WordPress website owner, you can now:

  • Export a personalized block theme as a .zip file, then use it immediately to install it on any new WordPress.
  • Prevent unintentional block relocation or removal by enabling block locking.
  • Select blocks in the List View. By holding down the Shift button and clicking on multiple blocks, you can move them into a different area on the list.
  • Enjoy using brand new blocks, such as:
    • Comment Query Loop block – Replacing the Post Comments block, the new block adds more visual controls to page comments and lets you group multiple comment blocks.
    • Read More block – Customize the Read More button with unique features like gradient colors and control of the button’s shape. 
    • No Results in Query Loop block –  Allows you to edit the message displayed whenever a site user’s search query has no results. 
    • Author Biography and Avatar blocks – Gives more control over author bylines and their corresponding avatars. You now have control of the size, shape, and placement of the avatar and adjust the size and typography of the author’s biography. 

Better block functionality is a significant push toward full-site editing since it makes it easier for users to customize a theme.

Improved writing experience

WordPress’s functionality and core have always been blogging. Over the years, they just added new features to accommodate other non-blog sites and users. However, their commitment to blog sites remains clear with new additions to improve the writing experience, such as

  • Choose texts from several blocks at once, which resolves one of the long-standing pain points in earlier versions. Copying and pasting texts is now straightforward, especially if you want to reorganize multiple paragraphs.
  • Thanks to a new hotkey shortcut, user navigation and linking are now more manageable. Open a shortcut menu of your most recently visited post and page by typing open brackets [[ twice.
  • Keep existing text styles when transforming blocks from one kind to another. 
  • Create customized buttons, and any new ones will automatically retain the style customizations. 
  • Updated settings and controls can make tag clouds and social icons even more appealing.

Intuitive style switcher

WordPress 6.0 expands on what Styles can do. Now, you can easily switch between pre-saved styles. With just a few clicks, you can change Styles selections for another suite of colors and other preferred visuals. This feature is a huge time-saver, especially if you want to conduct some basic A/B tests and experiment with different looks.

As long as you’re using a block theme for your WordPress website, you can:

  • Use shortcuts to immediately change your site’s appearance while using the same WordPress theme. 
  • Modify accessible settings such as font weight and style options like the default color scheme.

No more security updates for older WordPress versions

The WordPress admin announced that they wouldn’t be giving updates for WordPress versions 3.7 to 4.0 after December 1, 2022. Are you still using an old version of WordPress (4.0 or older)? You should see a permanent notification on your admin dashboard urging you to update. 

According to an official WordPress announcement, the number of websites still using older versions is less than 1 percent of total installations. Therefore, this change shouldn’t affect a majority of WordPress users.

WordPress made this decision as backporting security updates to older versions requires a substantial amount of time. This effect also affects every major release of a new version. 

This disadvantage means the security team spends most of its time preparing backports for the vast minority of WordPress installations. Dropping support for older versions makes newer versions more secure as developers spend more time focusing on other features. 

Which version should publishers choose?

WordPress’s non-dismissible notifications advise publishers to update to the latest installation. WordPress will continuously provide security support for the old version, 4.01. Older versions can upgrade to 4.01 to avoid site instability due to old themes, plugin updates, or PHP versions. However, WordPress does not recommend doing so. Even though security updates are backported to older WordPress versions, hardening updates aren’t. Hardening involves updating the code to increase site security. 

While some users consider updating to the latest version risky, these security updates can block particular critical vulnerabilities.

Should you upgrade to WordPress 6.0?

Yes, you should upgrade to WordPress 6.0. Ignoring WordPress update notifications can do you more harm than good. Opting not to update can land you in technical debt. Worse, you may encounter these three major issues:

Issue with compatibility

While the WordPress team develops the core of your site, third-party developers create themes and plugins. Each of these elements progresses through different versions, and they get updated.

Whenever there’s a core update, themes and plugin developers follow suit to ensure compatibility with the new WordPress version. So if you’re running an old version, you’ll notice that some plugins and themes may not work. This disadvantage means that you cannot install it and that, if you do, it will not perform properly.

The same is true if it’s the other way around. You’ll notice that the previous version of the plugin still can’t be used with the new version of WordPress. So if you upgraded your WordPress core, you shouldn’t neglect to update the plugins.

Security problems

Do you know that the change log, which contains the details and justifications for the update, is publicly accessible? Choosing not to update makes your site vulnerable to hackers since it’s known that the outdated version has a security flaw.

The same issue applies to themes and plugins, which is why their developers continuously work to improve their software. By ignoring the update, you’re also relinquishing security updates that make a hacker’s job easier. 

Imagine exposing your website to various threats. Not only will you put your business at risk, but you will also be prone to data breaches and account takeovers if all sorts of cyberattacks happen down the line.  As part of your overall business brand management solution, it is important to protect your data and other digital assets.

Affects SEO rankings

Website speed, inbound traffic, and overall performance affect your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking. You need to update if you want to rank high on search results on well-known search engines like Google. 

An old WordPress website’s slow loading time might deter incoming visitors, hurting your SEO ranking. Much worse,  if hackers manage to break into your website, Google and other search engines will blacklist it.

Changes in performance and speed

If you’re still using an old WordPress version, you may experience difficulty with loading time, navigation, or redirected pages. If you don’t update, you miss out on crucial bug patches that may cause website malfunction. 

Outdated plugins and themes can slow down a website’s response speed which can cause visitors to lose interest quickly. All of this can result in poor customer engagement and high bounce rates.

Updating Your WordPress site to version 6.0 safely

Updating your site is easy and may only take five to ten minutes. However, after the update is complete, you may face server errors. To prevent this from happening to you, you need to keep these pointers in mind.

Update plugins

WordPress has a built-in update system. It checks for updates automatically and shows you notifications whenever they are available. 

You can easily install these updates by going to Plugins > Installed Plugins page. There you’ll see a notification below each plugin that has updates available. Then, tap the ‘Update Now’ link to install. Make sure to install updates one at a time and wait until they finish updating before you go to the next.

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Use a staging website

A staging website functions as a replica of your live website. The great thing about it is any changes you make here won’t affect your main site. Using a staging site, you can test updates as much as possible without worries. 

You can set up a staging site using a plugin in just a few minutes. Test new content and try new designs and layouts. Once you’re happy with the changes, merge them to your live site.

Backup your website

Before making any significant changes to your site, go to your WordPress dashboard and look for the backup option. Doing so lets you revert to your site’s previous state by restoring your backup in case something goes wrong.

You must keep any major changes to your website’s structure under control. Remember to have the most recent backup of your site. 

Plenty of WordPress backup plugins can handle this job for you on autopilot. You can download the backup and save it to your computer for safekeeping. You can even upload it to off-site storage.

Check for any errors or malfunctions

Once you finish updating your site, it’s a good practice to browse around and check. Make sure that everything is in order. If you can, don’t just go through the main pages. Go through posts as well to see if they’re correctly displayed. You don’t have to check every tiny detail, just enough to tell you everything’s fine. 

By taking these safety measures, you can upgrade to the latest version of WordPress and take advantage of security updates.

Take advantage of the latest WordPress version update

WordPress updates carry numerous benefits. It keeps your site running at optimum performance and boosts your SEO rankings, thus increasing visibility and revenue.

If you want the best performance for your site, do not stick with an outdated WordPress version. It’s worth learning how WordPress 6.0 works rather than experiencing a hacked website.

Frequently asked questions

When did WordPress 6.0 come out?

The release date of WordPress 6.0 was May 24, 2022. The subsequent updates were released following months:

  • 6.0.1 on July 12, 2022,
  • 6.0.2 on August 30, 2022, and
  • 6.0.3 on October 17, 2022

WordPress 6.1 will be released on November 1, 2022.

What is the current version of WordPress?

The current version of WordPress is 6.1 to be released on November 1, 2022. It will include the full site editing feature.

Author bio: Ivan Serrano is an enthusiastic writer with knowledge of business development and growth hacking. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of technology to improve international business communications. Ivan’s experience writing copy for enterprise clients since 2015 has led him to help them develop content best practices. He is a key contributor to many public projects as well.

Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal or professional advice. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of our organization. We do not endorse any products or services mentioned in the article.