WordPress 5.3: Analysis of its 20 most powerful improvements

This month of November the fragrant new version of the most used web content creation platform on the planet has come out of the cyber oven: with you, WordPress 5.3, better known as 'Kirk'.

Although we are not talking about a "major" version change (which would mean a sixth generation), This new edition of WordPress 5.3 brings under its arm a whopping more than 150 improvements, including new utilities and speed and security optimizations. The changes are so interesting and powerful that we have decided to make an analysis of its twenty points, in our opinion, the strongest, so that you can be dazzled by a screenshot of its most notorious virtues.

1. Gutenberg

The 'Gutenberg' block editor, born in the fifth generation of WordPress, has gained a repertoire of significant improvements in this new version WP5.3; we can point out that it was perhaps the most careful section, the most worked on in the development of this update package. To begin with, his job has become less cumbersome, this hand in hand with Motion (the bookstore sass that allows to create transitions and animations in CSS language with high fluency). But don't think that more improvements have meant more code: amazingly, the Gutenberg Blocks editor is lighter than ever (which translates to an improvement of up to 27% in page load speed). As soon as they use it, they will verify that every edition is more oiled, as if we were sliding down a water slide.

2. Previews made easier, Blocks better understood

If you are already using the WordPress 5x Block builder, you will be happy to see that the information provided by the upper left menu of “Add Block” has been improved: now you will have a completely friendly preview at hand to understand at a glance what does everything. Why is this improvement so positive? Because, for those who are just getting started with Gutenberg (or not so much), it will become much more apparent which type of Block is convenient to use to express each type of information of the setting we are creating. Just click on the “+” icon in the top navigation menu and hover your mouse pointer over the different blocks to see them in action in the right preview.

3. Larger images

Today, the quality of cameras, including those built into our cell phones, capture images that have significant definition (and size). WordPress 5.3 did not want to be left behind in time, so they have innovated in uploading heavy bitmap files (.JPG, .BMP, .PNG, etc.) allowing the Media Library manager to intelligently identify and resample images. The reason for this is simple but powerful: it's good that the images on our site look beautiful, but they also need to do not weigh too much since the loading funnel of a site is usually the images themselves. One of the improvements is that photos larger than 2560 pixels wide will automatically be resampled to this maximum size (adding the word “scaled” to the name of the optimized file). It is a very convenient facility since many editors or site administrators overlook the file size of images and what that implies in the loading times of a post (especially on mobile devices).

Secondly, the image file upload manager was also improved so that it does not present problems or interruptions when it comes to large files.

Another additional fact is that increased upload limit per image/video file to 300MB.

4. New Free Default Theme

If you are new to WordPress, you will be interested to know that you will enjoy a new free theme for your website. Twenty Twenty is its name, and it was optimized to be a versatile solution for any type of site.
From restaurants to bookstores, from news blogs to garden pages, Twenty Twenty adapts allowing design flexibility never seen before in free WordPress themes. Of course, this theme was developed with Gutenberg in mind, so the design is intuitive and 100% compatible with the default WordPress builder.

Rasmus Anderson, one of the designers who worked for several years at Facebook, and currently the art director of Spotify, was the one who created the “Inter” typeface for the new Twenty Twenty theme. His approach was to create a beautiful, minimalist font that allows the fastest possible reading of the human eye when it comes to screens. A color fact: the “Inter” font is reduced to just two files that contain all the variables and supported weights (normal, bold, italics, etc.). This makes her one of the fastest fonts to download in the world.

5. Navigation mode

To speed up editing even more, we can now jump from one block to another by pressing the Tab key, or, if we prefer, the cursor keys. It is enough to reach the block that we were looking for and press “enter” to continue editing the block in question, or press ESC to return to the new Navigation Mode.

Note: Press the ESC key to start taking advantage of Navigation Mode at any time.

6. Better use of the desktop

WordPress admins will appreciate some changes related to speed of editing: want to generate a draft note right away? Well, do it from the Desktop! In addition, an eye-catching shortcut to modify design aspects of your theme (“customize your site”) is useful, since it is one of the most used shortcuts by designers.

Also, a study found that it is better that the buttons do not have a shadow (more minimalism, better optical understanding). The same happens with the tables and box borders, which have been darkened to generate greater visual contrast, resulting in a better hierarchy of elements.

In this sense, they have searched higher saturation colors for buttons and form fields (text areas, input texts, selections, radio buttons and check boxes) and added content behaviors for text zoom.

7. Better theme preview during editing

To feel more “at home”, the block editor, among other changes related to the preview, presents the background color of your theme instead of a white background by default. In other words, efforts have been made to standardize the content front end with the edition of back end. And the new Twenty Twenty theme perfectly teaches this by previewing the layout of the blocks as we use them, all for a better conception. on-site during content creation.

8. New Block Grouper

Perhaps due to the anniversary of its gestation, perhaps not, the fact is that Gutenberg now has a compendium of new items, and the most relevant is perhaps the Block Grouper. This tool allows you to associate continuous blocks, so that, for example, you can assign them all a common background (while, to a following group, you can assign another background, creating sections that will be related thanks to their background in common).

Note: when you create a group, you can then create blocks directly inside it (by clicking the current “+” sign), but If you want to add previously created blocks within a group, you must select the corresponding option of the block to be moved. The screenshot below exemplifies it.

9. Spacer Block

Something already common in other builders like Elementor, Beaver and others, now Gutenberg also owns his Spacer. If you don't know what it is, I'll tell you that it is an empty plinth, with a configurable height, that allows you to separate other blocks from each other.

In the screenshot below we point out its location and exemplify how the Spacer works.

If you want to modify its height quickly and intuitively (not thinking so much about the pixels but about how everything looks on the screen) you can drag the blue dot with the mouse, clicking, dragging, and releasing when the height is what you wanted. Below, the clip exemplifies this operation.

10. Column Block Improvements

Four substantial improvements have been made to the Column Block: for starters, you can set a fixed width if you wish; secondly, you can modify its size to your liking; third, it is possible to align them, and, fourth and last, you will see a practical assistant when creating different combinations of widths as needed.

11. Background Block Improvements

The Background Block allows you to add an image or video with a text overlay (common in post headers). As of WordPress version 5.3 you can include a background color.

It is also possible modify height dynamically, clicking, dragging and dropping, as we show you in the clip below.

12. Button Block

Something also common in other constructors, Gutenberg now allows you optimize the border radius of your buttons; this means that you will be able to operate on its vertices so that the appearance of the button is rounded to your liking.

Note for “Border Settings”: At one extreme, radius zero implies a rectangular button, while at the other extreme, radius 50 will give the appearance of a perfectly rounded button.

13. Improvements for the Block of Tables

As of the new version of WordPress, you can incorporate headers and footers for your tables. In addition, the possibility of modifying the alignment of the entire table and not just the text, as was the case in the previous version, has been added.

14. The color and background you want for your Header Block

Something very requested, finally WordPress 5.3 allows you to configure your Header block with the color you want (previously simply set by default according to the palette of the theme that is used). Although when creating the block, you will still see a default color, you can change it as you like in the palette as shown in the screenshot below, or even, for more advanced administrators, select "custom color" and enter a color code in hexadecimal.

15. General Improvements in Accessibility

Those who suffer from some decrease in color perception (and even those who do not) will feel more comfortable with the color contrast enhancements. This materializes in WordPress 5.3 in matters such as buttons, form fields and the consistency between the editing and administration interfaces, alerts and standards stipulated by the color theme chosen by the WordPress administrator user.

16. Automatic Image Rotation

Sometimes we take a photo with our cell phone, and on the cell phone its orientation is seen correctly since the images save the information on the position of our device at the time the photo was taken (either upright or lying down). However, these images are not always displayed with the correct rotation on our computers (something you have probably already noticed when downloading photos from your mobile to PC). The good news is that WordPress 5.3 has finally added the ability to read this information from the image regarding the given orientation: now, after uploading to the media gallery, WP will recognize the orientation of the image (reading the metadata created by the camera) and automatically rotate it, if necessary, so that it always looks right.

17. Admin Mail Verification

Faced with several reported cases where an administrator loses access to his mailbox, or stops using it, WordPress has taken the initiative to frequently ask the administrator if their email is still valid. This will remind you to make the necessary changes before the catastrophe of no longer being able to access the back-end of your site occurs.

18. Site Health Diagnostics

In order to be able to identify and solve problems on your site in advance, WordPress 5.3 has greatly improved its native error checking and diagnostic tools. Mainly, the gradual indicator of problems has been modified, the mail recovery system has also been optimized, and a repertoire of filters has been added for a better examination of the health status of your website.

19. Fixes for the Time and Date component

An important improvement is the addition of a unified search engine in order to retrieve the time zone in a unified way. In this point, PHP intercommunication between databases has been improved, in addition to having found and corrected various internal errors in this native Calendar and Time Zone system.

20. Compatibility with the new PHP 7.4

Nothing minor, programming efforts have been made to get WordPress 5.3 working 100% compatible with PHP7.4 version. Thus, obsolete code has been removed, renewing all functions to ensure full compatibility. Please note that it is highly recommended that your sites always run under the latest version of PHP, both for speed and security reasons. Ergo, that a new version of WordPress has been modernized to operate under the new environment is radical.


As we have seen in these twenty specially selected points, the new version of WordPress 5.3 is a must download for all of us who love our site, and want to work faster, safer and better.. We hope that these screenshots and video clips have helped you better understand the changes, and, of course, take advantage of them!

If you have any questions, you can write us in the comments below. And enjoy all the benefits of the new WordPress 5.3!

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