The next big update to WordPress, version 6.3, is almost here!
We expect it to be released on 8 August 2023 and to revolutionize the way we build websites.
So what’s in WordPress 6.3? What’s changing? What’s new? What do we need to know?
As our business is based around WordPress, we have been watching developments carefully.
Our colleague Adam Preiser managed to get an early release version of WordPress 6.3. He shared what he learned with us so we think we have a good idea of what to expect.
He created a sneak peek video where he shares insights into WordPress 6.3:
If video isn’t your thing, we’re going to share what we know in this post.
- Site Editor navigation enhancements
- Block styles
- Revision history
- New block pattern system
- Distraction-free mode
- Command palette
- Smaller changes in WordPress 6.3
Let’s get into it!
Site Editor navigation enhancements
The WordPress site editor has seen some serious improvements.
First up is navigation. Previously, if you wanted to edit a page, you would have to open Pages, select the page you want to customize, open it in your page builder or block editor, select the block you want to customize, select the settings icon and make your change.
Now, all you need to do is select Appearance > Editor.
This will open up a whole new world of editing.
Once you’re in the black navigation menu, you can select the name of the area you want to customize in that menu and it will open in the main window.
There’s an < icon to go back at any time and keep navigation simple.
To re-enter the menu if it closes, select the black WordPress icon at the top left corner of the screen.
From the menu you can make any change you like, see it in real time and then see the change implemented within the design.
It’s a very fluid system that drastically reduces the number of clicks required to get where you need to go.
Rather than going back and forth between the WordPress dashboard and the page you want to customize, you transition between them all smoothly from the navigation menu.
You can also duplicate, delete and rename sections from within that same navigation menu.
Page and post navigation
The new navigation menu is cool right? What if we told you that you can also navigate to pages and posts in exactly the same way?
No more going to Pages, selecting a page and then Open with.
Now, just open the Pages navigation menu on the left, select your page and it opens.
The same for posts.
You can then click the pencil icon at the top of the left menu and edit as you see fit. Then just hit the blue Save button at the top to save your changes without leaving the screen!
Then hit the black WordPress icon to go back to the navigation menu.
The new navigation setup allows you to select pages, posts, page templates, store products and more from a single selection.
It’s a fantastic way to work and should save a ton of time!
Block themes use styles to create a coherent look across the site. That’s changing slightly in WordPress 6.3.
In standard WordPress themes like Astra, you can set the color palette early on when importing a Starter Template. You can revisit it later if you like via the Astra dashboard.
WordPress 6.3 makes this style available in Styles, accessible from the new navigation menu.
You’ll be presented with whatever styles are designed with the block theme and can change them on the fly. You’ll see the change immediately in the main window.
You can also access the theme’s style book from this menu too.
Select the eye icon at the top of the left menu to open a page with every variant of fonts, headings, blog post layouts, buttons and other page elements.
The cool thing about this new feature is that you can customize any element within those default styles and it will automatically be reflected wherever you use it.
How much time will that save?
Elementor users have often cited the built-in revision history as being a primary reason for using the page builder.
The ability to roll back and undo changes is a key benefit to anyone that builds websites.
You’ll be able to do the same with WordPress 6.3.
At the bottom of the new navigation menu you’ll see Last modified. You should also see a time when the page was last modified and an undo icon.
Click the icon and you’ll open a new pane with a Revisions menu on the right and previous versions of the page in chronological order.
Click one to see the changes and save it to revert to that earlier version.
You’ll also see when the page was changed and more importantly, who changed it.
This version control could be incredibly useful for agencies or where people collaborate on projects!
New block pattern system in WordPress 6.3
If you have used Spectra or other page builder, you’ll probably have played around with block patterns. They let you create page sections using individual blocks and save the whole thing as a reusable pattern.
WordPress 6.3 does something similar, but better.
Select the Patterns menu from the left navigation pane and you open up a new page with all the block patterns supported by the theme you’re using.
For example, let’s say you want to create a CTA banner for every page on your site.
Select the Patterns menu, select the Call to Action elements, select the three dots underneath a pattern to access the Copy to My Patterns command.
Your pattern will open in a new pane. Select an element in the pattern to customize, rinse, repeat and save.
Once saved, you can load your new CTA pattern on every page you want it to appear with a single click.
Another massive time saver!
Distraction-free mode is perfect for anyone that works in a busy agency or who are prone to being disturbed or distracted while working.
It removes many UI elements within the editing window so you can concentrate on the changes you’re making.
To access distraction-free mode, select the three dots at the top right of an editing window and select Distraction free.
To escape distraction-free mode, move the cursor to the top of the screen and you’ll see a menu slide down, just uncheck Distraction free to go back to the full window.
It’s a smaller feature update but an important one if you prefer to minimize distractions while you work.
The command palette probably isn’t what you think. It actually has nothing to do with color or design.
It’s an amazing new shortcut included with WordPress 6.3. It brings up a search popup where you can search for literally anything on your website.
Select Command + K (Mac) or Control + K (Windows) and you’ll see a small window appear.
Type anything into there and WordPress will search for it.
For example, type ‘contact’ in there and you’ll see a link to your contact page. Type ‘home’ and WordPress will show a link to your homepage.
What’s even better is that third parties will be able to integrate with this feature.
Thanks to our early access, SureCart is already integrated with the command palette.
For example, with SureCart installed, you can type ‘product’ into the window and you’ll see an Add new product item and any existing products you may have.
Select one and it opens in the window.
If you run a busy store, that’s going to be a real timesaver!
You can use the command palette to create new pages, access the menu and any common task.
You can also program your own commands. If you know code, you can register a command so you can fully customize this new function to your own particular needs.
Notice the mention of ZipWP? It’s a new AI website generation plugin that’s on the horizon that we are very excited about.
Smaller changes in WordPress 6.3
WordPress 6.3 also brings smaller changes too, such as:
A new Footnotes block – Useful for academic pages, stats and formal pages where footnotes are relevant.
The Details block – An accordion-style block where you can hide spoilers, use for hiding answers or similar.
Performance improvements – While not exactly a small improvement, most of this is under the hood so we don’t know the details. Suffice to say, WordPress should load much, much faster as a result. Initial estimates a performance increase of 20%!
Block theme preview – A new function that enables you to preview a WordPress theme before activating it. It’s a useful feature that lets you see what a theme includes within WordPress.
Assistant – You may notice a new entry in the top menu of WordPress called Assistant. This is a minor update that opens a side menu on the right where you can quickly navigate to pages, posts, patterns, block templates and more.
Waiting for WordPress 6.3
As you can see, WordPress 6.3 is mainly about making working with WordPress easier.
It’s going to be much more fluid to use, require fewer clicks, less time and should involve fewer journeys in and out of the WordPress dashboard.
Add that 20% performance upgrade, command palette and the assistant and you have a raft of features designed to make your life easier!
We already love working with WordPress. But these new updates? They take that to another level!
What are you most looking forward to?
This content was originally published here.