Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

A long-anticipated new WordPress update was released this week! WordPress 5.9 “Josephine”. This version is named in honor of Joséphine Baker, an American-born French international jazz singer.

WordPress launches a major update a few times each year. These new versions always offer improvements in WordPress capabilities, features, performance, and security.

With each major version, we dig in to research what’s new and how it can benefit WordPress users. I’m excited to report that WordPress 5.9 offers many new features! Read on to find out about some of the enhancements that “Joséphine” brings to your website. 

Updating to WordPress 5.9

First, it’s important to wait several days before updating your website to WordPress 5.9. Major updates like this one often require updates to some plugins and themes to be compatible. Although most plugin/theme developers try to make necessary updates in time for a new release, it’s always a good idea to wait a bit in case an unexpected problem occurs.

Version 5.9 is a major update (not a minor security update), so it may require you to log in to your WordPress website and run a manual update. To learn how to manually update WordPress, check out this step-by-step guide & video on “How to Update WordPress to the Latest Version.

Some web hosting accounts perform any WordPress updates for you. Alternatively, you might have an automatic update option turned on within your WordPress. In those cases, the automated update should happen soon, if not already.

New Features of WordPress 5.9

wordpress 5.9

Below are some of the new features in WordPress 5.9. Most of these are for the WordPress Block Editor, Gutenberg. I don’t teach the WordPress Block Editor in my Website Creation Workshop since I still find it confusing for beginners and not intuitive. 

I teach other WordPress visual editors such as Divi and Elementor instead. I believe they’re much easier to use than the WordPress Block Editor and offer more functionalities. But it’s still great to see WordPress is on its way to truly becoming a platform for users, allowing them to do more and more without being a techie.

Full Site Editing

Until now, the look of a WordPress site was controlled by the site’s theme. It’s always important to research what and how much customization is possible with different themes in order to decide on a perfect theme for you.

WordPress 5.9 changes that with Full Site Editing.

As of now, this feature works only with so-called “Block Themes.” If you use one of those themes, you can now customize the entire site in a way that hasn’t been possible until now, using the block editor.

Enabling the block editor after updating your site with WordPress 5.9, you’ll see a new menu item called “Editor (beta)” under Appearance, and that’s where you can access the new Site Editor. With the Site Editor, you can now visually edit site-wide styles and blocks for your homepage, templates (ex. single post, archive, 404 page, etc.), and template parts (ex. header and footer).

wordpress 5.9 full site editor

wordpress 5.9 full site editor

wordpress 5.9 full site editor

Again, this is a brand-new feature that works ONLY with “Block Themes.” As of now, there are only 45 of those available in’s theme depository. But if you’d like to see what it’s like, try it with the new default theme, Twenty Twenty-Two (see below).

Twenty Twenty-Two Theme (Default Block Theme)

Twenty Twenty-Two is the first default block theme in the history of WordPress. It’s available to you as a part of WordPress 5.9.

wordpress 5.9 twenty twenty-two

Improved List View

When you want to see the structure of your posts and pages in the block editor, the “List View” feature is always helpful. It lets you easily see where each “block” is as well as the block types.

And the List View is even better with WordPress 5.9! Simply click on any block in the list and move it to wherever you want. You can also access each block’s options from the list as well.

wordpress 5.9 list view

Easier-to-Manipulate Blocks

Have you experienced the blocks not doing what you want them to do when you click on them or try to move things around? It used to do things like automatically inserting a paragraph block when you click on a block or moving to unwanted locations as you try to drag it.

You’ll find the block editor in WordPress 5.9 has much fewer “unexpected” behaviors in terms of block movements. It’s now so much easier to play with them.

wordpress 5.9 add blocks

Language Switcher on Login Screen

The login screen now displays “Language Switcher.”

wordpress 5.9 language switcher
As you log in, the switcher will let you select the language you’d like to use after logging in. (You can choose from the languages you’ve already installed on your site from Settings > General > Site Language) Got a New Facelift

Also, it’s worth noting the site has a new look with more functions and features. With easier navigation, it’s now easier to find what you are looking for as well.

Other Improvements in WordPress 5.9

There are even more many other features and “Under the Hood” improvements for WordPress developers in WordPress 5.9. You can read more about WordPress 5.8 in the official blog post.

As you see, WordPress 5.9 brought us some pretty big changes, and I think it will take some time before we really become familiar with those. Nonetheless, I’m pretty excited about WordPress 5.9!

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