Gutenberg is the latest ruckus. Have you heard? A new editor is coming to WordPress. Soon. You will have to learn something new. Plugins and themes will break. It is a big change. They named it Gutenberg for a reason. The printing press changed everything. Some people think this change will be that big. As WPTavern says in Why Gutenberg and Why Now?:
Is it going to be painful? Yes. Is it going to cause a lot of work and effort on the part of the community? Yes! Absolutely. But the alternative is to learn a totally new platform in five years when WordPress dies like Blockbuster did. You think this change is going to be difficult? Try throwing out WordPress entirely and moving your website(s) to an entirely new platform. Because that’s the alternative.
As you can imagine, such a big change is controversial, especially abandoning backwards compatibility, which has been important in the WordPress world. And there have been concerns with accessibility and mobile responsiveness, which are pretty important. There are pros and cons and people for and against Gutenberg coming to WordPress. Read more on the controversy here: Is Gutenberg The End Or A New Beginning For WordPress? Or if you want to learn more about Gutenberg in general: Gutenberg FAQs.
For now, let’s focus on the practical. Gutenberg is coming, what do we do?
Your first question is probably: Will this break something on my website?
Answer: Very possibly. It depends on what themes and plugins you have installed and the complexity of your content.
One thing mentioned is how this is going to be terrible for small businesses, who don’t have people on staff to deal with this. The official advice is to set up a staging area and install the Gutenberg plugin to test it and see what breaks. Most small businesses don’t have the resources or the know-how to do this. Some people will update their live website, see it break and then have a crisis where they have to restore their website from the backup. (Please check if you have auto-updates turned on!) Others will avoid the update, become a security risk and have a problem that way.
Next big question: Should I update to WordPress 5.0 when it becomes available?
Answer: You have a few choices:
- Be Reckless: Update right away and hope for the best without any testing – this is risky and not advised
- Be Smart: Test and prepare for a smooth transition (and also wait for the WordPress 5.1 update)
- Be Cautious: Install the Classic Editor plugin so that you can go to WordPress 5.0 and keep Gutenberg turned off until you are ready
- Be an Ostrich: Just avoid the whole thing – this is risky and not advised
Get started preparing yourself . . .
1 – See Gutenberg in Action Here. Check out this live demo since it is not advised to install the Gutenberg plugin on your live website. (And people are not loving the plugin. As of this writing, it has 2.3/5 stars with 200,000+ installs.)
3 – Backups – in addition to your automatic/scheduled backups, be sure you are making backups when you make changes to your website.
4 – Start thinking about blocks. Check out this early adopter to get more ideas about how blocks could work.
And if you are just starting a website with WordPress, use Gutenberg from the beginning, see: How to Build Your Next Site With the Revolutionary Editor.
For those of you using Genesis themes and wondering if they will work . . . Studiopress says, “We have tested the Gutenberg plugin with many Genesis themes and have not yet seen any issues.” I find that hopeful, but a bit vague and not completely reassuring. There are two concerns really: Does it break and does it take advantage of Gutenberg features? I would like to see a table of which child themes have been tested and when and which have been updated to add Gutenberg support and when that was.
Gutenberg is changing constantly, so we want to see recent update dates for themes and plugins. Gold stars for a blog post where the developers describe how they are taking advantage of new Gutenberg features, for example, Yoast SEO has done this. For those of you using Yoast SEO and wondering if this plugin will work with Gutenberg: Yes, they are on it. Check it out here.
Want help with this?
I am offering the Gutenberg Preparation Package. I will put a copy of your website into the test area and add Gutenberg. We will see if any adjustments are needed and discuss your options. I will install the Classic Editor plugin for you and make sure your scheduled backups are happening.
Price: $250 (After payment, you will send me login information and I will get to work.)