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WordPress 6.5: What’s in store for enterprise users

Originally scheduled for release on March 26, 6.5 will now be released on April 2. This will be the first major WordPress update of 2024, and it’s poised to significantly enhance the capabilities and efficiency of enterprise websites. Underscoring WordPress’ commitment to continuous improvement, accessibility, and user experience, there will be myriad enhancements big and small. We’re taking a look under the hood to find out its impact on enterprise users.

Performance and accessibility enhancements

A cornerstone of WordPress 6.5 is its focus on performance and accessibility improvements. With over 110 performance-related updates, enterprise users can expect faster loading times across the Post and Site Editor, enhancing the content management experience. For instance, typing speed has seen a fourfold increase, and the first block load time has more than halved compared to previous versions.

These enhancements are significant for enterprises aiming to maintain high-performance websites that cater to a global audience: the focus on performance is particularly beneficial for enterprise users who manage large volumes of content and require a robust, efficient platform to support their content creation and editing workflows. Faster loading times not only improve the user experience for content creators and editors but also contribute to better overall site performance, which is key for maintaining high engagement and conversion rates on enterprise websites.

Accessibility has also received significant attention, with over 65 updates aimed at making WordPress sites more inclusive. These improvements address various aspects, including contrast settings, cursor focus, and element positioning, ensuring that enterprise websites are accessible to a broader range of site managers and content editors, including those with disabilities. For more detail and a full breakdown of improvements, check out the WordPress 6.5 Field Guide.

Performant Translations

The ability to efficiently manage and deliver content in multiple languages is crucial for enterprises. WordPress 6.5 has this covered through the integration of Performant Translations. This marks a significant improvement in the way WordPress handles translations, making the process faster and more memory-efficient.

The Performant Translations system, initially developed as a feature plugin, has been merged into the core with WordPress 6.5. It introduces a new .l10n.php format that optimises the loading of translations, reducing the memory usage and improving the speed of translated sites. This enhancement is particularly beneficial for enterprises targeting a global audience, ensuring that their sites can load quickly in any language, thus providing a better user experience and potentially improving SEO rankings.

Bringing better performance for non-English and multilingual sites to everyone, this work was inspired by and based on work developed by us for Altis Afterburner, and we’re excited to see this become available for everyone to benefit from.

I’m excited to see the performant translations feature shipping in WordPress 6.5, bringing the benefits of fast non-English content to the wider web. Despite the majority of the world’s population speaking other languages, this was a poorly understood and profiled area of WordPress for a long time – collaborating with Pascal and the performance team on this feature was key to shining a light on this area.

As I said when we announced Afterburner, we won’t rest until all users have a great experience, and I’m proud that the work we did was able to help move the project forward – but we’re not stopping here, and we’re continuing to experiment and iterate on the next set of performance enhancements.

Ryan McCue, Director of Product, Altis

At Human Made, we work with customers from around the world, and we’re always looking at ways to improve their experience. We’re pleased to be at the forefront of the industry and will continue to innovate in areas like this where we feel improvements will benefit the whole open source community.

Editor Unification

Another major advancement in WordPress 6.5 is the unification of the Site and Post Editors. This development streamlines the content creation and editing process, making it more intuitive and efficient. By bringing consistency to the user interface and experience across these editors, WordPress has simplified the workflow for content creators and site managers. This unification means that users can now enjoy a seamless transition between editing posts and managing site-wide elements, reducing the learning curve and increasing productivity.

The unification effort also includes enhancements to the overall editor performance, making both the Site and Post Editors faster and more responsive. For enterprises that manage large volumes of content, this improvement in editor performance can lead to significant time savings and a more efficient content creation experience.

The Block Bindings and Interactivity APIs

The introduction of the Block Bindings API in WordPress 6.5 opens new avenues for developers by allowing them to connect block attributes directly to custom fields. This means that enterprises can now leverage dynamic content more efficiently, reducing the need for custom block development and simplifying content management processes.

Furthermore, the Interactivity API introduces the ability to create more engaging and interactive experiences directly within blocks. This feature is particularly beneficial for enterprises looking to enhance user engagement through interactive elements such as “add to cart” actions without page reloads, improving the overall user experience on their sites.

Font Library and design tool enhancements

WordPress 6.5 introduces the Font Library, a feature that enables users to manage fonts more effectively across their websites. Enterprises can now easily upload, install, and manage fonts, including Google Fonts, directly from the WordPress dashboard. This addition not only simplifies the process of customising website typography but also ensures consistency across different parts of the site.

Design tools have also seen improvements, with new options for background images, aspect ratios, and box-shadow support for various blocks. These enhancements allow for more creative freedom in designing unique and visually appealing layouts, further elevating the brand identity of enterprise websites.

It’s worth noting, however, that despite the new functionality offering much for end users, concerns have been raised about the implementation, particularly in the enterprise context. Compatibility with enterprise-level hosts, like Altis, Pantheon, and WordPress VIP, is lacking some of the necessary elements to meet strict enterprise requirements around their software development lifecycle (SDLC) with the unconventional storage of the font files.

While contributors are working on changes to improve compatibility, changes have not yet landed in WordPress 6.5, despite hitting release candidate status, and those seeking to upgrade should seek advice from their host about compatibility.

Editor update: Following community feedback, the 6.5 release was moved back by a week to accommodate the necessary changes to the Font Library and “ensure that the greatest number of sites possible can benefit from the new Font Library feature without the need to install or configure anything.” Users should not experience any of the aforementioned issues with their hosting provider as a result.

It’s testament to the power of an open source model that community concerns can be actioned prior to release, and should reassure enterprises of the advocacy taking place behind the scenes on their behalf.

Classic themes
and Site Editor updates

For enterprises still using classic themes, WordPress 6.5 brings good news by enabling these themes to opt into new capabilities previously available only to block themes. This includes access to design tools such as border colour, radius, width, and more, allowing for a modernised design experience without the need to switch themes.

The Site Editor has also received updates, including new views for managing templates and template parts, as well as improvements to drag-and-drop functionality. These changes streamline the site-building process, making it easier for enterprises to manage and update their websites efficiently.

WordPress 6.5 is a significant leap forward for enterprise users, offering enhancements that improve site performance, accessibility, and design flexibility. By focusing on features that facilitate easier content management, interactive user experiences, and design customisation, WordPress continues to solidify its position as a leading content management system for organisations operating at scale. As we approach the release date, enterprises should prepare to leverage these new capabilities to enhance their online presence and deliver a superior user experience.

Ready to see what WordPress could do for your enterprise organisation? Get in touch.