On 6th December 2018 WordPress announced the biggest upgrade for quite some time. The WordPress 5.0 update included the release of Gutenberg editor. Gutenberg is named after the Gutenberg press as it is hoped that it will be similar in the way it revolutionises digital publishing as it did with print! Gutenberg will give the editor capability to be far more flexible in the way that people publish content on WordPress – allowing them to create and curate pages and content in a way that previously hasn’t been quite so readily available to users.
There has always been a charge levelled at WordPress that the editor in the backend isn’t as intuitive or visually guiding as it could be, and Gutenberg goes a long way to fixing this.
While the long term upsides for Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 for users is significant, there is likely to be some short term pain for many users.
Existing sites may suffer
Once the upgrade to WordPress 5.0 is made, many of the pages and posts will flip to a Gutenberg editor format, but if the site hasn’t originally been built with this capability (which legacy sites wont have been) then the content might be all over the place in the backend, and the actual site that your customers can see may start to format on screen in a less than impressive way. Be mindful of this and remedy it one of two ways.
01 – Get your development agency to rework the backend to accommodate Gutenberg
02 – Switch it back to the classic editor using the following steps:
- Search Classic Editor in the WordPress plugin repository
- Click on Install Now and once it’s installed, activate the plugin
- Now go to Settings > Writing to optimise the Classic Editor settings to your liking.
Plugins may not play nicely
For many users of WordPress, the themes that their sites are based on and the plugins that make much of the functionality on the site tick, will never have been built with Gutenberg editor in mind – how could they, it wasn’t a thing back then! Because of this, there is no way to tell whether upgrading the version of WordPress will make plugins and themes go a bit wrong. Our suggestion is to take a backup of your site and put it in a staging area, update to WordPress 5.0 and test how the theme works. If there are issues with functionality which is handled by a plugin, update the plugins (if an update is available) as they may have created a patch for this version already. If not, you can either find a plugin to replace the one that doesn’t support 5.0 or find a workaround with your developers – but at least you’ll have found this out in a private environment before updating the live site.
Beware of auto updates
If you don’t work on your site very often – if it is a brochure site with relatively static core content – then you may want to check if it has auto updated. Many theme builder options and hosting packages from places like GoDaddy auto update, which means you’ll need to check quite quickly to make sure the visual side of the site and all functionality is still working as it should. Set aside an hour or two to run a rigorous testing schedule on every page, link and function your site has, to check it all works okay if the update has already run. It also provides a good opportunity for you to check what the backup regime for your hosting is, as it comes in handy for situations like this – a major WordPress core upgrade.
Make your new site future-proof
If you are thinking of having a new site build soon, make sure that you’re building it with Gutenberg in mind. It is a really good thing that WordPress has created, making it much more straight forward to add pages with the ability to add and move blocks that fit your content, rather than having to fit your content into pre determined templates. That said you need a quality development agency to take the power of WordPress and apply the style sheet so that the new content you add looks great and is in line with the rest of the website styling. But once in place it will give you significant additional freedom and control so that your website can grow and evolve as your business does.
A natural evolution
At Square Daisy we have been working in this way for a very long time, as we believe firmly that our customers should have as much control over the curation of content on their website, and that they should be as future-proof as possible to make the investment pay for itself many times over. We pioneered the ‘Flexible Content Editor’ which is exactly the same principle as the Gutenberg editor (we were obviously ahead of our time as an agency!) so we understand why this is a great development. Providing you can navigate past a few potential teething issues it will be a really positive step for WordPress users, but if it jolts you into thinking that you need a new site for your business, fit for this new way of working, then get in touch and we can walk you through our robust process of designing and developing a new site that gets you the results you want from it.