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WordPress 5.8 Released: Support for WebP Image Format and Noteworthy Precautions

As with any new WordPress update, with 5.8, you need to know what your server’s capable of, as well as do a backup.

WordPress is one of the most established content management systems (CMSs) on the Web. But despite it’s widespread use, and regardless of whatever version’s in use, users usually find bugs, suggestions, and limitations.

Version 5.8, which was released on July 20th, 2021, is WordPress attempt to address any limitations of previous versions, as well as push itself further.

And speaking of pushing things further, 5.8 is named Tatum, after jazz musician Art Tatum, who had a “willingness to push boundaries.” Likewise, 5.8 is WordPress willingness to push boundaries.

Noteworthy Additions

For me, I think WebP support is great. WebP is an image format that has a smaller file size than jpeg and png. This is good, as smaller file sizes mean less bandwidth and faster loading times. Great for the user experience and SEO!

Blocks (which are the result of a modular approach to design and content placement) are more universal: you can now manage widgets with blocks.

Page structure overview can be a great relief for those who, in the past, had to scroll up and down…up and down to get an idea of how their page was structured. Now, with List View, you can quickly jump to a desired section of your page.

But, Take Precautions!

As usual, before you update to 5.8, you may want to back up your site. There are various ways to do this. You can check with your host: I think mine has automatic 24-hour backups that are stored for about 28 days. Maybe yours has something similar.

Some plugins may need to be updated in order to work with 5.8. When downloading or looking at information for a plugin, be sure to look at the last time it was updated. In wp-admin, you should be able ot see if a plugin is compatible with your current version of WordPress.

Depending on when you upgrade to 5.8, your web host (depending on how big they are), may not have upgraded their server functionality to handle every feature of the new 5.8.

One example is WebP: 5.8 has support for WebP, but if your web host doesn’t support that format, that feature’s essentially nullified.

What The New WordPress 5.8 Means for SEO

As usual, any WordPress upgrade will be good for SEO, if only due to the technical improvements.

With that, one thing that comes to mind is the usage of WebP images. They’re typically of a smaller file size and will load faster, which means a better Page Speed Insights score.

In conclusion, WordPress has just gotten better. See what you can do to push past previous boundaries.

Source: Announcement on WordPress blog;