Starting on May 24, 2022, your site will be eligible to use the latest major release from WordPress — WordPress 6.0. While this version is not the big jump that Gutenberg was, there are some implications for your site theme + your plugins that you should be aware of. Translation: this update could affect the look + feel of your site.
What to expect with WordPress 6.0
Updates are often great news for bloggers + business owners. This particular version features 97 enhancements + 131 bug fixes. (Who doesn’t want that?!) While I’m not going to walk through them all (you can do that via the WordPress 6.0 Field Guide), there are a few worth mentioning individually.
Accessibility has been improved via button labels, using the Post Title as alt text for Featured Images, checking color contrast with the new color panel, and reducing confusion in labels that are similar. This is great for both users who edit WordPress sites + those that visit WordPress sites.
For anyone using Gutenberg (hopefully that’s you), there are numerous Block Editor updates. This is the reason to ask if you are ready or not. These updates include the ability to lock which can be helpful for those with teams, more color options for the separator block, and new blocks that you can use throughout your site.
The team at WordPress has also included performance improvements to Media. I’m all for performance improvements!
To update immediately or not?
While having an up-to-date site is important, Automatic Updates or those quick to run updates can find themselves dealing with issues that weren’t yet discovered. Which is why I recommend updating WordPress to version 6.0 one to two weeks after it is released.
This version of WordPress includes a change in the code structure. That change could impact what your site looks like based on your theme or plugins. It’s not a guarantee, but it is a reason to update cautiously.
Update with a staging site
The best way to test the new version is by utilizing a staging site for safe WordPress updates. This allows you to keep your live site as is. Behind the scenes, you’ll check that running any pending updates didn’t cause problems.
Folks who host with us already have a staging site — and someone to worry about updates on their behalf. If you don’t, ask your hosting provider if they provide staging sites. If not, you can create one with a free or premium plugin. Before you go this route, confirm that your server has the space for it.
When you’re ready to test WordPress 6.0, head to your staging site + run all pending updates. Yup, including themes + plugins because they’ve likely made adjustments based on this new version. Then look at all of your primary site pages — anything in your menu, any type of blog post content you have — to decide if you’re safe. If so, either push the changes live or run the updates again on your live site.