WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, allowing individuals and businesses across the globe to create, host and edit their own website. WordPress makes adding and editing content easy for users and does not require any technical knowledge to get started.
In 2017, Matt Mullenweg, co-founding developer of WordPress, announced exciting changes to the content editor. The project (named Gutenberg after Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press over 500 years ago), is an attempt to innovate the WordPress publishing experience and allow users to edit their content with ease. Gutenberg splits content into reusable parts called “Blocks,” which means no longer will content creators need to utilise complicated custom shortcodes or rely on third-party page builder plugins.
The following article will discuss:
- How Gutenberg will affect you (as a website owner)
- How you can try Gutenberg for yourself
How will Gutenberg Affect Site Owners?
The introduction of Gutenberg, which will be included as a part of WordPress 5.0 will bring a significant change to the way website owners edit their content. It will replace the current editor and will mean users don’t need to remember or use clunky shortcodes or rely on third-party page builder plugins. The focus for editing content is on user experience, rather than technical knowledge. Gutenberg wants to put “writing first”, which is ideal for busy content creators! It ensures there are fewer distractions around the editor, allowing you to write, edit and publish content seamlessly.
What are the negatives of Gutenberg?
There’s no denying that Gutenberg is going to significantly change the way people create, build and maintain their WordPress sites. There are concerns that not every site will be compatible with the update. WordPress offers backward compatibility which means a user should be able to update from an earlier version of WordPress to a later version without breaking their website. The problem is, Gutenberg is replacing a key part of the WordPress system that many plugins rely on to provide their functionality. So, even though WordPress may still maintain backward compatibility with itself, that compatibility won’t necessarily extend to plugins, and as a result, some sites will be at risk.
However, many plugin developers including those of popular plugins such as Yoast, Advanced Custom Fields, Ninja Forms, Visual Composer, are working hard to ensure compatibility with Gutenberg. For the users of these plugins, the transition to Gutenberg should be as easy as clicking update. It’s important to note that WordPress offers over 55,000 plugins, so it’s essential for site owners (or their agency) to check the plugins currently running on their site are being developed to ensure compatibility with Gutenberg. This way, they won’t lose functionality when the update happens.
Luckily, our team is on hand if you need help navigating Gutenberg and incorporating it on your WordPress site. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.
Is this the end of WordPress?
Despite quite large amounts of negative criticism (a staggering 900+ 1 star reviews) We at Relative Marketing firmly believe Gutenberg is (eventually) going to change WordPress for the better. Of course, there will be a bumpy transition period, as with any change, but the long-term positives certainly outweigh the short-term negatives.
One positive is undoubtedly the fact Gutenberg standardises the page building experience. What’s more, it creates a much better user experience over the old editor. It provides a consistent, functional appearance and experience.
Finally, the introduction of Gutenberg should encourage the separation of concerns. Themes will be purely responsible for visual aspects, providing styling for the blocks that it supports. Plugins will provide additional blocks that themes can choose to support, which is how it should be.
How to Try Gutenberg
Gutenberg is currently available as a beta plugin for users who wish to try it and is available in the WordPress plugin directory. The plugin gives you hands-on experience with the new editor and also allows you to select between Gutenberg and Classic editor when creating posts and pages. It gives website owners a chance to experience Gutenberg for themselves, see how it feels and looks next to the classic editor.
Most importantly, however, the plugin allows every user to test how compatible Gutenberg is with their own site. As mentioned above, there is a concern that some websites will lose functionality when Gutenberg is added into the mix. Make sure you have a staging environment setup and test your site with Gutenberg in the staging area first, so you don’t risk messing up your live site!
Note: The plugin page for Gutenberg states that it is only compatible with WordPress 4.8 and above, so if you are running an older version of WordPress, you will need to update your installation before installing the plugin.
How to disable Gutenberg
If you feel that Gutenberg is not for you or you are unable to use Gutenberg because of incompatibility with your site, there are plugins available that will disable Gutenberg and will keep your old editor intact. Recently it was announced that the Classic editor plugin will be supported until December 31, 2021
Another more extreme option is to convert your WordPress installation to ClassicPress which is “…a modified and enhanced version of WordPress (without Gutenberg)” they also offer a plugin that will convert your site for you.
How Can We Help
At Relative Marketing, we are dedicated to helping you create, build and maintain a clear, concise and professional digital presence. If Gutenberg has grabbed your attention and you wish to try it, don’t hesitate to speak to us. Our team of experts will provide the guidance and help you require to transition to Gutenberg successfully.
As with all innovations, there is often a teething period, one where people are hesitant and reluctant to try. However, we feel the Gutenberg update is something WordPress users should embrace. It’s worth noting that there seems to be impatience amongst the team behind Gutenberg to release and users need to be aware that they may not receive a finished product which could provide multiple pain points until the kinks are ironed out.