If you have a WordPress website, you’ve probably been hearing a lot lately about the most recent update, Gutenberg Editor. One of the biggest updates to the platform in a long time, it will replace the Classic Editor. Gutenberg will streamline the process of creating pages and blog posts and is said to be the first of even more updates on the horizon. Exciting as it is, major changes to a well known, regularly performed task can be a source of anxiety for some.
The first thing most business owners want to know is “How is this going is this going to impact my website?” It will change everything about how pages and posts for your site are created and eventually how every aspect of your site is created. However, if you don’t normally handle the back end of your website, this will mean nothing to you. If your site is managed and maintained by an outside company, they should be aware of these changes and what steps are necessary to make it a smooth transition. You may want to reach out to them and make sure there are no issues as a result of the update.
If you manage your website in-house, there are things you need to know before you install Gutenberg. Depending on the themes and plugins you have installed and the complexity of your content, Gutenberg could break certain aspects of your site. Don’t try to update your site live and make sure that in addition to any automatic or scheduled backups, you are making backups whenever making any changes to your website. Also, you can’t ignore the update and do nothing as eventually, this would cause a security risk for your site. The best course of action is to set up a staging site and test each theme and plugin to see if they are compatible. Prior to the release of the update, there was a database where you could test compatibility, but it has since the release of Gutenberg, it has been shut down.
Gutenberg was released on December 6, 2018, and for those with managed WordPress sites, you are already seeing the changes. Matt Mullenweg, social media entrepreneur, web developer, and WordPress creator, describes WordPress 5.0 as “WordPress 4.9.8 + Gutenberg.” For those who are already using the latest version of WordPress with the Gutenberg beta plugin, you won’t experience any major changes to your site.
Others may want to stick with the Classic Editor until everything has been tested and you are confident that your site will function properly once the Gutenberg Editor has been installed. However, keep in mind that Classic Editor will be relegated to nothing more than a plugin and support is only being promised through 2021. You will want to take steps to switch to Gutenberg sooner rather than later as that is what all the forthcoming updates will be compatible with. It helps to know what to expect, so let’s take a look at what WordPress 5.0 has to offer.
As with any change to your workflow, initially, you may find yourself stumbling around in WordPress, wondering how to do the tasks you normally do without even thinking that much about them. That’s not necessarily because the old way was easier – it’s because it was a habit. For those who are new to WordPress, the learning process will be much more efficient. Once you become acquainted with Gutenberg, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier those tasks will be.
A block-based editor, Gutenberg allows you to create blog posts using rearrangeable content “blocks” instead of a single giant block of text. Blocks provide a more user-friendly way to change content directly while protecting against the disruption of content structure from accidental code edits. Another exciting new feature is the enhancement of the copy and paste capabilities. Now, you can easily copy content from Google Docs, Word, and Quip and paste it directly into the Gutenberg Editor. The content will be published exactly how it appeared in your original doc. The new editor will also be more intuitive when interacting with plugins and has already undergone a bit of a facelift. Gutenberg 4.0 adds several new features, including image color overlays, and an updated font size picker. Once you’ve gotten into the groove with Gutenberg, you will find that posting blogs goes faster by eliminating a lot of unnecessary steps like toggling between the editor and preview function.
WordPress 5.0 also includes the release of the new default theme, Twenty Nineteen, the first default WordPress theme specifically built for Gutenberg. It mirrors the clean and simple design philosophy of the editor itself.
Theme and Plugin Compatibility
You may experience some compatibility issues with the launch of WordPress 5.0. The first thing you will want to check is that your theme is compatible with Gutenberg. If it isn’t your site will probably still function but you may experience restricted functionality. This will typically apply to newer functions like the full width and wide alignment options. The themes most likely to be impacted are those that have become outdated or abandoned. Should this be the case with your site, you should immediately look for an appropriate replacement. Because so many developers have already updated their themes in anticipation of Gutenberg, this shouldn’t be difficult.
There may also be some compatibility issues with plugins and with the closing of the Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility project, there isn’t a quick and easy way to do this. You will need to use a suitable staging site to test your plugins, making sure to test them multiple times. You may find this unnecessary as most developers have updated their plugins to be compatible with Gutenberg.
Impact on Existing Content
As previously mentioned, Gutenberg is a block-based editor. These blocks are used to structure content on your site. With WordPress 5.0 live all new content will have to be added using dedicated block elements. So what about existing content? Will this leave your site in ruins?
The simple answer is no. All pages or posts created prior to Gutenberg will be converted into Classic Blocks, which will closely replicate the original Classic Editor. It’s up to you whether you leave existing content as is or convert it to Gutenberg blocks. This involves moving each individual piece of content into individual blocks. To do this, select the content and then click “Convert to Blocks” on the toolbar. This will separate the content into the appropriate blocks which you will be able to edit as necessary. The appearance of your content will be the same but converting it will enable you to fully utilize the editor’s advanced functionality.
Just The Beginning
The release of WordPress 5.0 is only the first of many changes to the platform. Back in October 2018, Matt Mullenweg announced ‘Phase 2’ of the project. Currently, the Gutenberg editor is intended only for managing pages and posts. Phase 2 will be the next step toward implementing the editor across the entire WordPress platform. The goal is for Gutenberg to become a fully-featured site builder moving forward – eventually replacing widgets and menus with blocks.
At WordCamp US which took place December 7th – 9th, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee, Mullenweg officially unveiled Twenty Nineteen, the theme built to exemplify Gutenberg’s capabilities. He readily admitted there are still a few issues to work out. Mullenweg also demonstrated how Gutenberg’s block concept makes publishing more accessible by introducing new third-party blocks, like WooCommerce, Spoiler Alert, and Ghostwriter. Official multilingual support and a higher minimum PHP version are among other initiatives to improve WordPress.
So, while there may be a bit of a learning curve, the implementation of Gutenberg editor and it’s subsequent updates will ultimately make working with WordPress simpler and significantly more efficient. If you have concerns about installing Gutenberg on your existing WordPress site, Creative Click Media can handle it for you and relieve your anxiety. Contact us today.