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What’s New In WordPress 6.5: Features and Updates

Last Updated on 12th Jun, 2024 | Social Media

WordPress 6.5

WordPress 6.5.4 Maintenance Release

WordPress 6.5 is the latest major release of the world’s most popular content management system. This new version includes exciting new features and improvements that aim to enhance the overall WordPress experience for users, developers, and site owners.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore all the key changes and updates included in WordPress 6.5. Whether you are a site owner looking to understand what’s new or a developer keen to leverage the latest features, this guide has got you covered!

Key Takeaways

  • WordPress 6.5 focuses on refinements and improvements rather than big new features. Key highlights include a design refresh, a new widget screen, updates to widget API, and block patterns.
  • The admin dashboard and menus get a visual refresh with new fonts, colors, and spacing, which aims to improve usability and accessibility.
  • The new widgets screen provides a streamlined way to manage widgets and allows global control of widgets across a multisite network.
  • Major updates to widgets API, including support for block-based widgets. It makes building widgets easier for developers.
  • New block pattern categories help better organize and discover reusable blocks. Additional patterns are also available.
  • Numerous bug fixes and changes are under the hood, including the REST API, customizer, editor, and multisite networks.
  • Overall improvements make WordPress more refined, usable, and future-ready while maintaining a focus on backward compatibility.

Getting Started with WordPress 6.5

WordPress powers over 40% of all websites on the Internet. Users worldwide love it for its simplicity, extensibility, and vibrant community. However, WordPress doesn’t rest on past achievements. Its open-source developers continually work to refine and improve it with each new release.

WordPress 6.5 continues this tradition with a focus on refinements and improvements rather than big new features. The aim is to smoothen out rough edges, enhance usability, and improve the overall user experience. Underlying this is a focus on building a solid technical foundation for the future extensibility and growth of WordPress.

While not a major milestone release, WordPress 6.5 contains several notable updates:

  • Visual refresh of the admin dashboard and menus
  • New widgets screen for improved widget management
  • Major updates to widgets API with block widget support
  • New block pattern categories and additional patterns
  • Customizer improvements like draft states and search
  • Numerous bug fixes and changes under the hood

The updates in 6.5 bring a smoother, more refined WordPress experience for site owners. Developers have more tools and APIs to build customized solutions.

Visual Refresh of Admin Dashboard and Menus

The WordPress admin dashboard is the first thing administrators see when they login to manage their site. It is also the starting point for accessing all other admin screens and menus within WordPress.

The dashboard layout and menus had been largely unchanged for several years. WordPress 6.5 brings a visual refresh to modernize the backend user experience.

New Admin Color Scheme

WordPress 6.5 introduces a new admin color scheme: a dark gray background with bright blue links and highlights. This scheme improves contrast and overall readability compared to the earlier light gray scheme.

The new color scheme has also been optimized for accessibility based on WCAG 2.0 level AA standards. Users with visual impairments will find it easier to navigate the admin screens.

New Fonts

The admin dashboard and menus switch to system fonts for a more modern look. On MacOS, SF Pro Display is used, while on Windows and Linux, system-UI fonts are preferred.

This eliminates loading custom fonts in the admin. System fonts are consistent with the operating system and improve performance.

Refined Spacing And Sizing

Elements across the admin have been reworked with new spacing and sizing values. This small adjustment gives the visual interface a more balanced and calming look.

Icons are now 20% larger by default, improving visibility and touch target sizes. To account for larger screen sizes, the maximum admin width has increased from 782px to 850px.

Improved Usability

The refreshed admin color scheme, fonts, and spacing help improve the usability of WordPress in several ways:

  • Enhanced readability and accessibility
  • Consistent experience across operating systems
  • Modernized visual design and appearance
  • Calmer interface with more focus on content
  • Improved visibility of key elements like icons

The changes are subtle but collectively deliver a more refined admin interface for all users.

New Widgets Screen

The WordPress widget system allows adding reusable blocks of content, like menus, images, etc., to website sidebars. Widgets add dynamism and extend functionality without needing custom code.

However, the old widgets screen had some limitations:

  • Complex management across multiple sidebars
  • No global control in multisite networks
  • Clunky and dated modal interface

To address this, WordPress 6.5 introduces an updated screen for managing widgets. Let’s look at its key features:

Unified Widgets View

The new interface provides a single unified view for controlling all widgets. It moves away from the earlier approach of splitting widgets per sidebar.

Now, all widgets across the sidebars and block editor are shown together, allowing for easier management. Widgets can be dragged and dropped across different areas.

Live Previews

When editing widget settings, users can now see live previews of how that widget will appear on the front end. This helps create the perfect widget configuration through instant visual feedback.

Multisite Widget Management

For WordPress networks, the widgets screen lets you control widgets on multiple sites from one place. Network admins can manage widgets globally across the network.

Refined Modal Design

The popup modal for widget editing has been revamped with a clean, minimal interface. Key settings are displayed more prominently, improving usability.

Benefits of the New Widgets Screen

  • Unified view for easier management
  • Live previews for visual feedback
  • Multisite control from one dashboard
  • Refined modal popup design
  • Works for both block and classic widgets

Major Updates to Widgets API

Along with the UI changes, WordPress 6.5 includes some major updates to the widgets API – the software interface used to build and extend widgets functionality.

The main highlights are block widget support, improved data validation, and enhanced developer tools. Let’s look at key changes in detail:

Introducing Block Widgets

The block editor allows the creation of content using modular blocks. WordPress 6.5 adds support for building block widgets.

Developers can now create widget interfaces powered by blocks. This provides more flexibility compared to old widgets based on PHP code.

Core widgets like calendar, tag cloud, etc., will gradually be converted to blocks. Building widgets with blocks is also more approachable for contributors.

New Data Validation System

Widgets can accept data like text, links, and numbers from users as input. The updated API includes a validation system to sanitize submitted data.

This improves security and prevents invalid data from breaking widget output. Server-side and client-side validations allow for robust data handling.

Developer Tools Improvements

Developers building widgets get access to new Site Health checks, error notices, augmented debugging tools, and comprehensive documentation.

The improved dev experience makes it easier to build high-quality widgets that handle data securely.

Benefits of the Updated Widgets API

  • Flexible widgets through block support
  • Secure data validation for safety
  • Better dev experience with new tools
  • Backward compatibility maintained

New Block Pattern Categories

Block patterns are pre-designed block layouts that act as readymade templates for creating high-quality content.

WordPress 6.5 streamlines discovering and using these patterns through new organization options and additional patterns.

Three New Categories

Block patterns are now grouped under three categories – most popular, headings & text, and page layouts.

This grouping surfaces the most commonly useful patterns while splitting page layouts and other structures into separate sections.

The new organization helps users quickly navigate and find templates for their needs without getting overwhelmed.

Additional Patterns

Dozens of new patterns have been added across categories, giving users more starting points for their content. Some examples:

  • FAQ Schema – For markup-rich FAQ pages
  • Reviews – For review and star rating blocks
  • Events – Event information blocks
  • Comparison Table – Compare features in the table layout

Site owners can use these as readymade templates by customizing placeholder content while retaining well-designed structures.

Benefits of New Pattern Categories

  • Improved discoverability of patterns
  • Granular organization by usage
  • More template options with new patterns
  • Quicker content creation leveraging patterns

Customizer Improvements

The WordPress customizer allows users to preview and modify various site settings and options through a live preview.

WordPress 6.5 brings some refinements to the customizer interface along with changes under the hood.

Draft States for Settings

The customizer now allows saving settings in a draft state before publishing them live.

This allows users to experiment with site options while previewing changes without needing to immediately make them live. Once saved as a draft, users can publish it whenever ready.

Improved Search

Finding the right setting to tweak can sometimes be difficult in the customizer. The search functionality sees improvements in 6.5 with fuzzy matching and keyword suggestions.

Section headers are hidden from search results, creating a cleaner information architecture. The enhanced search makes accessing site settings quicker.

Customize Snapshots

Snapshots allow customizing history to be saved into named versions that can be easily restored. Plugins can leverage this to provide options like revision history, A/B testing previews, etc.

Under the hood, snapshots have been reworked to be powered by WordPress site health checks. This results in faster and more robust snapshot functionality.

Developer Experience

Developers building customizer experiences will have access to new Site Health checks, error notices, better validation tools, and detailed documentation.

This caters to a growing developer community pushing customizer possibilities further through creative solutions.

Benefits of Customizer Improvements

  • Experiment safely with draft-setting states
  • Find relevant options faster with better search
  • Extend functionality via snapshots
  • Improved dev experience and tools

Additional Changes and Enhancements

Beyond the major updates highlighted so far, WordPress 6.5 contains hundreds of other helpful fixes, changes, and enhancements. Let’s look at some notable ones:

Refined Admin Notice Design

Admin notices which convey important information have been redesigned to be more readable and user-friendly. This will ensure critical messages reach site owners effectively.

REST API Improvements

The REST API expands WordPress’s capabilities for developers. 6.5 includes numerous improvements, such as batching support, new OAuth authentication methods, and better error handling.

Multisite Network Updates

Multisite networks will gain the ability to control themes on specific sites, dashboard customization for admins, and many other improvements. They can also manage at scale with new tools.

Editor JavaScript Improvements

The site editor powered by WordPress’ Gutenberg project sees under-the-hood JavaScript performance optimizations and simplification.

Twenty Twenty-Two Theme Updates

The default WordPress theme has been refined in many subtle ways. This includes design improvements, full-site editing capabilities, and pattern support.

Expanded Language Support

From Khmer to Scots Gaelic, support for additional languages and regional dialects expands the global accessibility of WordPress.

Security And Privacy Enhancements

While already very secure, every WordPress release contains dozens of privacy and security-hardening changes developed proactively or responsively.

Benefits of Other Changes

  • Smaller improvements enhance workflows
  • Cumulatively create a smoother experience
  • Forward-compatibility with new APIs and tools
  • Improved performance and site security

Final Thoughts

WordPress 6.5 focuses less on splashy new functionality and more on refinements. The aim is to smoothen rough edges in user experience and improve quality incrementally.

The backend’s visual refresh brings much-needed modernization and improved accessibility. Widget and customizer changes enhance site-building and configuration workflows.

Under the hood, updates like block widgets and REST API improvements ready WordPress for the future needs of users and developers. Security and performance also see minor improvements.

While not revolutionary, these changes collectively make WordPress more streamlined, usable, and future-ready. For over a decade, WordPress has adhered to the principle of gradual, incremental evolution, and 6.5 exemplifies this well.

The open source project’s longevity comes not from chasing fads but by listening to diverse user needs across the spectrum and taking a measured approach to meet them. This ensures it continues to be the content management system of choice for over a third of all websites worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about the new features and updates in WordPress 6.5:

Is the new widget screen available in older WordPress versions?

No, the unified widgets management experience is only available in WordPress 6.5 and higher. For older WordPress installs, you will need to upgrade to 6.5 first.

Do all plugins and themes work with WordPress 6.5?

The vast majority of plugins and themes will work just fine. However, as with any update, some may have minor compatibility issues that will be resolved over time. Always take backups before updating.

What are block patterns, and how can I use them?

Block patterns are pre-designed layouts for common page elements like headers, FAQs, etc. You can reuse these as-is or customize them for your content. Look for the patterns interface within the editor.

Does the visual refresh change how my site looks on the front end?

No, the new colors and fonts are only for the backend admin dashboard and menus. There is no change to the actual front-facing part of your site.

Where can I submit feature requests or bugs for WordPress?

The official WordPress platforms for feedback are the support forums at and GitHub at

Will my site get WordPress 6.5 automatically?

No, you will need to trigger the update from your site’s admin dashboard manually. Ensure you have backups before updating any version.

What are some of the key features coming in future WordPress versions?

The focus is on a major full-site editing experience, expanding design tools, refining menus and navigation, and improvements to themes like Twenty Twenty-Three.

Is WordPress still free to use with the new updates?

Yes, WordPress is and will always be fully open-source and free software. The core platform will never become paid or introduce compulsory licenses.

Can I revert to an older WordPress version if needed?

Yes, you can revert to an older version by going into the WP admin, clicking on “Updates,” and then “Reinstall.” However, reversals can sometimes cause issues, so proceed with caution.