Betty Carter in Pori July 1978

Betty Carter – July 1978

The latest version of WordPress (5.1) just came out!  It’s nicknamed “Betty,” honoring the American jazz singer, Betty Carter

Each time a release of WordPress comes out, they name it after a jazz musician.  It makes it fun to anticipate who they will feature next.  And this month, in honor of Black History Month, I’m thrilled that they featured a female African American singer.

wordpress 5.1 logo bettyWordPress normally comes out with major updates a few times every year, adding new features and improving performance and security.  WordPress 5.1 is the first major update in 2019!

Some new releases have a lot of new functions, some are mainly back end improvements.  This new version of WordPress is mostly back end improvements. It focuses on back end performance, the behind the scenes stuff you never see, and it alerts website owners if their back end PHP software is out of date. (Not familiar with how to update your WordPress website? Check out my easy-to-follow step by step guide and video on “How to Update WordPress to the Latest Version”).

If you are using the Classic Editor Plugin, which I recommend, you will see this notice when you update:

The Classic Editor Plugin let’s you continue to work in WordPress with the classic editor environment.  As of this writing, over 3 million people are still using the Classic Editor plugin with their WordPress websites.  I recommend that all WordPress newbies continue to use the Classic Editor plugin. And if you don’t have it, go ahead and install it now.

Then you’ll want to go ahead and update to WordPress 5.1!

Here is a video on how to Update to WordPress 5.1

(The steps to “Update WordPress to the Newest Version” are also written out here if you prefer reading to a video.)

New Features of WordPress 5.1

Site Health – New Tools to Check the Health of Your Site

Site Health Check LogoWordPress is very user friendly, but there are so many complicated things running behind the scenes all the time, like a car packed with all sorts of technology. And just like how you take care of your cars, it’s important to maintain your website’s health.

The main programming language that runs WordPress is called PHP. And just like WordPress comes out with newer versions, PHP gets updated with technology advancements also. But we sometimes are not aware when the PHP version that our website is using is outdated or no longer compatible. And that means trouble waiting to happen.

To prevent something like that from happening, WordPress 5.1 now incorporates the plugin Site Health into the core software.  Whenever it detects use of an old PHP version, it will alert you. It will also prevent you from installing a new plugin if it detects that it’s incompatible with the PHP version that you’re using.

Check to See if Your PHP Version Is Out of Date

After you update your website to WordPress 5.1, go to your dashboard and look to see if you have a warning message like this:

If you don’t have this warning, you don’t need to worry about anything.  You are all good. If you’re opening a new hosting account and/or you’ve never had a website, this will not apply to you.

If you do see that warning, watch video below.  Only the people who’ve had a WordPress website and/or hosting account for many years (4 or more years) may have this warning because your hosting company will not necessarily keep your PHP version up to date.  

Watch this Short 11 min Video on the Steps to Take if Your PHP is Outdated


Block Editor Performance Improvement

You may recall that a new editor, called Gutenberg, was introduced with WordPress 5.0 providing a whole new editing experience with blocks.

Example View of Block Editor

Example View of Block Editor

(Read more about WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg here.)

WordPress keeps improving the block editor in every aspect, and with WordPress 5.1, the focus was on the performance. In particular, the editor now shows up more quickly, and the actual editing should feel more smooth.

They will continue making performance improvements this year.  I am not yet recommending that WordPress newbies use Gutenberg.  You can read why I am not using Gutenberg here.


As you see, WordPress 5.1’s new features are pretty much behind the scene improvements, and we don’t really see obvious changes on our end as users. Nonetheless, the above, along with more under-the-hood new features for developers, are all important improvements that pave the way for more exciting new features to come. Here is what says about the upcoming releases in 2019:

While we expect to need most or all of 2019 to finish phase 2 of Gutenberg, there are already plans for Phase 3 and 4. Phase 3 will focus on collaboration and multi-user editing. Phase 4 will contain support for multilingual sites. – from WordPress Roadmap

As more features get introduced, I’ll of course incorporate them in my Website Creation Workshop Program. The next workshop is coming in April…

If you would like to be notified when enrollment opens, just sign up here!


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