After about 15 years with the classic WordPress editor, WordPress decided to shake things up and redesign their interface.
Meet Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor. A lot of people are pretty angry about it, but I think it’s great!
Disclaimer: I realize Gutenberg is pretty darn polarizing at the moment. So if I got something wrong here, let me know in the comments and I’ll correct it. Just do it with a smiley emoji and let’s all sing Kumbaya. ?
photo courtesy of kinsta.com
A few days ago I was walking around, looking over the shoulders of my employees as is the custom, and one of them turned around and said, “Dude, have you heard about Gutenberg?!”
I had no idea what he was talking about. So naturally, I’m like, “Bro, Gutenberg right?!”
That’s a trick I learned in High School while playing basketball. I played the sport but never watched it. So when my friends would ask me what I thought about the game last night, I’d just reply with a players name using an ambiguous tone. Like, “Yo, Kobe Bryant right?” And that would spark a conversation that I could then observe.
But back to my story.
I quickly found out, (from my employee) that while I thought Gutenberg was a GREAT move and undeniably a solid choice, a LOT of people using WordPress did not feel that way.
So, what is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is WordPress’ new attempt at the WordPress editor. A replacement for what’s now being referred to as the Classic WordPress Editor.
WordPress, (if you don’t know ) is powering a HUGE number of sites on the web, 30% to be exact. If you have a website and it’s not running on something like Squarespace or Wix, there’s a good chance it’s running on WordPress.
And to be clear, I’m talking about WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the open source version of WordPress that web agencies like mine will typically use to build your website, so we can get deep into the code and customize what we want.
But why the change?
WordPress, for the past 15 years or so has been using the classic editor. This means that when you write a post, it gives you an area to start typing and all the tools you need to edit the font sizes, colors, spacing, etc.
The issue, was that if you were non-technical and didn’t know how to code you were limited to very basic layouts for your blog posts and pages. Pretty much limited to what you can do in the Notepad app on Windows or TextEdit app on Macs.
A lot of people wanted to add columns and put images in funky places and do a little bit more than the classic editor made easy. So a bunch of websites started using page builder plugins. You would install these plugins on your WordPress website and then it would allow you to create more funky layouts when creating blog posts and pages.
Gutenberg is an attempt to solve that and make the WordPress editor more robust so you don’t need external plugins to get a little creative with the layouts.
So why are people mad?
This all sounds like a great change right? I decided I had to try it out myself to figure that out.
So I installed the WordPress plugin, the one that lets you try it ahead of time.
What I noticed right away was that the new editor did not affect my custom post types but it DID affect my posts.
For those of you who don’t know, custom post types are what allow you to create more than blog posts in the WordPress admin panel. It gives developers the option to create “custom post types” like events, podcast episodes, or whatever.
But back to my test. The backward compatibility seemed completely fine if you created content in the classic editor. But I wondered what would happen if you were using some sort of page builder that was bundled with your theme, like SiteOrigin page builder for example.
In my tests, Gutenberg didn’t break page builder functionality. I used the Gutenberg on pages built with a Page Builder, and they continued to open and work with the page builder. With that being said, I only tested Gutenberg with the SiteOrigin page builder.
So what should you do?
Personally, I think Gutenberg is a great move that HAD to happen. People were using page builder plugins to give themselves control over page layout, and I wish WordPress had had this from the start.
Before you make any changes though, make sure you have backups. Watch this video about protecting your site from hackers and setting up backups if you don’t already have a backup plan. Gutenberg should be backward compatible and chances are that everything is fine, but play it safe!
Next, install the classic editor plugin so when Gutenberg rolls out you still have the option to use the editor you use now. Ideally, you would do this first on a staging/testing version of your website, as opposed to your live website.
If you are concerned, get in touch with your web developers. Or contact my company if you don’t have someone you can turn to.
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