The web evolves quickly and the web platforms need to keep up. The WordPress platform needs to be ready for the next generation of websites. Enter: WordPress 5.0 with Gutenberg editor.
Version 5.0 is a major overhaul of WordPress, launched December 2018. It completely changes how you use WP, so you need to prepare your sites for this change. Moreover, you also need to update your skills and thinking. All to optimally use both v5.0 of WordPress and Gutenberg, the new editor.
Let’s explore how these changes affect your site. Including the content you already have, the themes and plugins that power your site.
What’s happening with Gutenberg, and WordPress 5.0?
You probably know the immense hype that has surrounded the late 2018 release of WordPress 5.0. It’s clear the latest WordPress version will have a huge affect on all WP websites. Not to mention the developers that build them and the users that view these sites.
The main distinction between WordPress 5.0 and its predecessor is the new editor. Yes, WP 5.0 promises to deliver a lot as it will completely replace the classic WP editor. So far feelings around WP 5.0 have been a bit mixed. And one of the reasons is that Gutenberg presents an incredibly big change.
The first release candidate of WP 5.0 appeared in November 2018 and in December 2018 the latest stable version 5.0.2 arrived.
Your site and WP 5.0 + WordPress Gutenberg
OK so WordPress 5.0 is pretty much everything you are used to in 4.9.9, but with Gutenberg, the new editor, included. In fact, if you already have the Gutenberg beta plugin installed, you may not notice much of a difference. The classic editor will remain and will be made a plugin, replaced by Gutenberg as the main editor.
Note that the new editor itself has been updated. It’s now running at release 4.0, which includes a couple of newer options. Including the ability to add colored overlays on images, as well as a new font size selector.
There is a new default theme in WP 5.0 too – Twenty Nineteen. What’s notable about this theme is that i’s the first WP 5.0 theme built specifically for the Gutenberg editor. And therefore, it closely lines up with the philosophy behind Gutenberg by using a very clean design.
Of course WordPress 5.0 isn’t the end of the major changes to the platform. As there’s a second phase due to be implemented soon. With the aim to implement the new editor across more aspects of WP. However, what exactly this entails isn’t clear yet.
We do know that as much as the new editor is used to work with posts and pages, it will eventually become a site builder on its own. Meaning, with Gutenberg, you’d be able to completely construct sites with the new editor. Because Gutenberg replaces existing elements such as widgets and menus.
Preparing for WP Gutenberg
You may know by now that WP 5.0 involves very big changes. So how can you prepare your site for them when you upgrade to WordPress 5.0? What do you need to do to make sure it runs without issues ?
Check your themes and plugins
As we all know themes and plugins can pose WP compatibility issues, and with WP 5.0 too. As much as many theme and plugin developers have tested their themes and plugins with Gutenberg, glitches may remain. And it’s simply best to perform these tests yourself before you go live with WordPress 5.0.
Note that even if a theme is not strictly compatible with the new editor, it may still work. But the theme may present glitches. It really depends on your website and how you use features. For example, themes that are not compatible with Gutenberg will not display full-width alignment and wide alignment options.
That said, you should mainly worry about themes that are no longer under development. In fact, if this is the case, you should look for a replacement straight away. You shouldn’t struggle finding a suitable alternative that is Gutenberg-compatible, no matter what kind of WordPress site you run.
Obviously, plugins carry the same WordPress 5.0 concerns. With some plugins fully compatible with WP 5.0, while others are not nearly there yet. In the past you could simply check your plugins against the Compatibility Project. But unfortunately, you now have no choice other than to check plugins on a staging site. As this delivers the only way to fully assess plugin and WP 5.0 compatibility.
What about blocks?
Those familiar with the new editor will know about its extensive use of blocks. Which is basically an improved way to structure content. Whenever you add content to your site, it will be added in a block element.
Thankfully you don’t need to worry about your site’s current content. Because all this content will convert into “classic blocks”, replicating the editor that you already know. You do have the option to convert classic blocks into the new block structure. This mainly involves moving individual content segments into separate blocks and modify using the toolbar menu. Hence, you keep your content looking as it used to while taking advantage of the additional features in WP 5.0.
Overall the switch to the new editor shouldn’t cause you too much trouble.
Take your site for a test drive
Gutenberg is not yet finalized with the second stage still coming up. Starting with widgets, which will make it easier for users to customize their sites. But you can already get acquainted with WP 5.0 by downloading and installing the Gutenberg plugin.
You can test whether your site works well with the new theme. And it doesn’t carry much risk because the new editor will be another plugin and theme in your WP install. However, if you spot incompatibility issues, you can fix these before the final WP 5.0 version is released.
You have a couple of options which can make this testing phase easier. Consider using the new editor plugin alongside Gutenberg Ramp to test different aspects of your site for compatibility and usability. Interestingly, the plugin lets you select where and when you want to use Gutenberg by filtering its activation against specific types of posts or even specific IDs of posts. Doing this will help you be much better prepared for Gutenberg.
Gutenberg is here
No platform escapes change and WP website managers will need to adapt to Gutenberg. Even if they may be happy with the existing WordPress editor which has been in used for so many years. WordPress 5.0 is bringing a number of changes, but most sites will be able to adapt without too much difficulty.
If you’re under time pressure and simply can’t prepare, consider installing the classic editor plugin. Especially where you don’t have the time to train everyone that uploads to your site. But for developers, we strongly recommend setting up a staging area to test Gutenberg because you may find some unexpected kinks.
Now Gutenberg update is something that most wordpress users seems to hate (including me). It should have been kept only as a plugin in my opinion.