WordPress 5.3 “Kirk” was released on November 12, 2019, but before you download, make sure you update your server’s PHP version before upgrading.
With WordPress 5.3, users and developers get even more of features and enhancements, as well as a performance boost.
The new release also contains improvements related to the Site Health Tool, a brand new default theme (TwentyTwenty), and enhancements to the Admin User Interface, and more.
Another benefit that developers will appreciate is better support for PHP 7.4. This means you can update your PHP version on your server, which is very important.
PHP is the coding language on which on WordPress is built. It’s version is set at the server-level by your hosting company. We can not over-emphasize the importance of keeping WordPress, your themes and plugins up-to-date, but keeping your PHP up-to-date is just as important.
Why is updating your PHP version important?
You’ll have a faster website, sometimes up to 3 or 4x faster. A faster WordPress website will be rewarded by search engines, so you’ll raise your organic SEO. A faster website will also drastically improve your visitor retention.
Your website will be more secure. Because PHP is such a common coding language, it is a target for internet pirates (hackers). Because PHP, like WordPress, is maintained by a community of passionate developers (internet angels), the latest version will have the latest security features. Older versions of PHP will not get this attention, so updating is essential to keep your WordPress site secure to avoid damage to your online reputation associated with a hacked website.
What if I don’t care?
If you neglect to update your PHP before upgrading to WordPress 5.3, your site may go blank or show the ominous “site is experiencing difficulties” error message.
Before you update your PHP
There are things you should do before you update your PHP, like make a backup of your website, and check PHP compatibility with your plugins.
If this seems daunting, you’re not alone. Contact us, your web developer, or hosting company. Companies who provide good support will be happy to help.