There is a lot of talk in the WordPress community about the upcoming WordPress 5.0 release which should have the new Gutenberg editor included. But what does this mean for you? Are you ready?
I first started paying attention to Gutenberg at WordCamp US 2017 in Nashville, TN. Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word address was all about Gutenberg and what a great thing it would be for the WordPress community. I agreed and loved what I saw in the demo! Many others in the WordPress community are excited about the new editor as well. But, there is a large part of the WordPress community that is not looking forward to the challenges the new editor may bring. So, I did a little research.
As a WordPress professional, I understand what this can mean for a business, especially small agencies and freelancers. WordPress designers and developers are often responsible for the websites they’ve created for their clients and small businesses can get bogged down in support when new changes come along.
The addition of a new editor--or any big change--will have a website developer’s phone ringing non-stop. Especially, if the new editor is installed by default when we update the WordPress core. Since updates can be automatic, there may be a lot of surprises (and not the good kind) for website owners who do not keep up with the WordPress community on a regular basis.
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Most of us do not like change of any kind, but a change of this magnitude may be devastating for some! This change could have many implications for those of us who are expecting the change. For those whom these changes catch off-guard, the surprise could be a nightmare.
If you aren’t ready for the new editor, your website might go down or become inoperable for an undetermined amount of time. There are currently 54,028 plugins listed in the WordPress.org repository. Many of those plugins will not be Gutenberg compatible when the new editor is released as part of the WordPress core. For some, this could be a disaster.
If the new editor is turned on by default (we aren’t yet sure if it will or it won’t), then many updated sites could go down completely, or stop working correctly. Matt did say that there would be a plugin for the classic editor, so hopefully installing and activating that plugin would restore a site that quits functioning, but do we know that for sure?
Many will decide to not update their WordPress core, plugins, or themes which can cause huge security risks for their sites and leave them open to attack. Each time the core, plugins, and themes are updated, the documentation for the security holes they’ve fixed is released to the public. Any site that is not updated is not only vulnerable but now the documentation is readily available to help any hacker find access to any site that hasn’t been updated. Updates to WordPress are crucial and should be done as often as possible. Becoming a responsible website owner takes work.
There is good news
This may all sound overwhelming, but I do have some good news!
1. Gutenberg will be our editor for the next 10+ years
First, I think Gutenberg is crucial for the future of WordPress. There is a good article by Beaver Builder about Gutenberg, Web 3.0, and the future. It made a lot of sense to me that those of us who aren’t afraid of change will benefit the most in the long run. To stay competitive and to continue to thrive, we must be able to change, sometimes in very big ways. Gutenberg is one of those ways.
2. You can try out Gutenberg right now
There is a Gutenberg plugin already available so that you can play around with the new editor, get a feel for it, and more importantly, test your site with it. It will give you great insight into how the addition of Gutenberg to the WordPress core may affect your site.
If you have plugins that are not working with the editor plugin, now is the time to contact the plugin developer so they can be upgrading their plugin before Gutenberg becomes a part of the core code. If you get an undesirable response from the plugin author, it may be time to find a new plugin.
If you are concerned that adding the plugin may cause problems with your live site, you should get a staging site to try new things and test your plugins and theme without affecting your current public site. Your newly updated site can then be moved to your public site when you’ve worked out all the problems that the new editor and plugins may cause.
The plugin is changing weekly, if not daily, so it will also pay to continue to test it in the coming weeks. The Gutenberg developers are asking for feedback, so this is your time to participate in molding this plugin to what will work best for you, your company, your clients, or your website. We can all be a part of the best solution here.
3. There are inexpensive courses you can take
Zac Gordon and Joe Casabona each have fantastic courses on the new Gutenberg editor. Zac's is for developers and will help you dive under the hood. Joe's is for the more casual WordPress user and teaches you all the basics.
4. The WordPress community is here to help
Finally, if you have a good support team like WP Buffs on your side, there is no need to worry. We are prepared and ready for the challenges this new editor may bring. Providing support for your website is what we do best. We pride ourselves on helping not only individual WordPress website owners but in also helping our agency partners with the exciting challenges ahead. We are here for you and we are excited about the future of WordPress!
And for another comprehensive Gutenberg guide, check out everything you need to know about Gutenberg from Template Monster.
Oh, and one more thing. If you don't have a budget to have your WordPress website fully managed, no worries! There are many places online for you to get free help with WordPress.
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Cindy Cullen is a freelance computer programmer and Lead Technical Buff for WP Buffs. She has a degree in Computer Science and worked for companies such as the American Chemical Society and General Electric before quitting to stay home with her 3 children and start her freelance web development business. She’s taught computer and programming skills to children and adults and has built small, medium and large websites to help and support her clients. She currently travels the US in a 30 foot RV with her wife and loves reading, biking and hiking.