The WordPress team has launched its second major release of 2023. WordPress 6.3 is the latest version of the popular CMS. So as usual, we’ll answer those two burning questions: what’s new in WordPress 6.3? and should you upgrade?
Let’s start with the changes:
WordPress 6.3 has made some significant changes to the site editor, which allows you to modify every visual aspect of your website’s design. If you’ve used WordPress for more than five years, you probably remember how limited your options were unless you knew PHP and how to edit a theme. The site editor now allows you to edit practically every page element. One thing to note is that some themes with third-party editors have had a lot of this functionality for some time, so if you’re using a theme that doesn’t use the block editor, these changes won’t impact you.
Some of the changes related to the block editor include:
- The addition of the Block Selectors API which allows you to configure multiple CSS selectors to create global styles.
- A new command palette that allows you to quickly get to a configuration setting.
- Additional layout support.
- A social icons block.
For those that don’t use the block editor (and for those that do), there are some other changes worth noting:
- The Cache API has been updated which should speed up site load times (we’ll be doing extensive testing on this).
- There are new code hooks that developers (theme, plug-in, and custom code) can use to put portions of the site into development mode.
- The new minimum PHP version for WordPress 6.3 is now 7.0.0. So please make sure that your WordPress installation is using at least this version of PHP before upgrading.
- WordPress has added a new image optimization to help improve LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) by prioritizing the loading of the image that will complete loading last. Again, we’ll be doing some performance testing on over 40 sites in the coming weeks.
- To further improve performance, the page load function has been modified to use cache (stored in memory) versus a query to the database.
- WordPress default themes have been updated to drop support for Internet Explorer. If your WordPress site is needed in an environment that still uses Internet Explorer (as opposed to Microsoft Edge), then you’ll want to test out the update on a staging server.
- 400+ bug fixes.
Should you upgrade?
When 6.2.1 came out, a bug was found that prevented shortcode from executing within blocks. This broke a lot of functionality on many sites as shortcode can be used to display everything from videos to blog posts to event listings to data output from other integrations. The team quickly released 6.2.2 to remedy this. So this is why we recommend that you consider a few things before you upgrade. Where this release may require you to update your database, you want to be especially careful with the upgrade.
Can you back out the change?
If you’re on a good hosting plan, you probably have the ability to easily make a backup and perform a restore. If not, use a tool like Updraft Plus to make a back-up before you do the upgrade – especially if you have any custom code or obscure plug-ins. This way, if something breaks, you’ll be back up and running in a few minutes.
If you don’t have backups, try testing on a staging server first. You should have a test plan for your website that hits all of the key sections and functionality. So run through your tests.
If you can wait…
Wait a few days if you can. WordPress has a huge install base, so if there are any major problems with the release, the community will know about them within 24 hours.
If you’re not sure…
Speak with an expert. We’d be happy to review your installation and run some tests to minimize potential issues. We’ve gone through hundreds of WordPress updates so we can help point you in the right direction.