The Sky is Falling! Gutenberg is Coming!

Many WordPress designers and developers are concerned about Gutenberg breaking their site. Some are panicking about it. Is that going to happen? Read on to find out.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the new editor for WordPress. It will be a part of the upcoming 5.0 release of WordPress, which is expected later this year. It is meant to bring greater flexibility, particularly for media-heavy sites, and will use a block structure for building. In other words, it is meant to give greater control over website layout to the general front-end user with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) type of experience. It also adds some nifty drag-and-drop features and new alignment options to make the user experience even more friendly.

So Is It Going to Break My Site?

The short answer is “probably not.” If you have a pretty basic site, such as mainly a blog site, you’re golden. The reality is that the upgrade isn’t even really going to touch existing blog content. Instead, the upgrade will cocoon it in the nice happy bubble of the classic editor. Since they’re old blog posts, you probably don’t even need to touch them. They will continue existing just like always with no extra effort needed.

Some plug-ins and themes will need updated code. So, those with more advanced sites may need to make some changes. The good news is that WordPress has given plenty of notice that this change is coming to give developers the time they need to update their code. You can also download a Gutenberg plug-in now to start testing your site and see if it’s going to work.

What’s the Big Deal?

We all hate change, right? It’s a pain. Something that you had down to a rote process has to be re-learned. It takes new effort; it takes re-setting up some things that you may have automated; it takes more time and energy. Some people who have been using the classic editor are exhibiting signs of simply resisting change rather than looking forward to adopting something new. The new editor has more functionality and is easier to use. If you approach it from a fresh perspective, you might find it fun and enjoy some of the changes and opportunities that Gutenberg allows. For example, the blocks give functionality like drag-and-drop editors with more options to make it easier to do the things you want without as many plug-ins.

Why is WordPress Changing?

WordPress needs this change to keep up with the times. Competition from drag and drop platforms is causing WordPress to show its age. Platforms like Wix are gaining ground as the top choice for first-time users where WordPress is getting a reputation for being too difficult and limiting to use. Gutenberg will hopefully re-open the market some for WordPress by making it more user friendly, particularly for new users, because of the WYSIWYG and drag-and-drop experience.

What Should I Do to Prepare?

Hopefully you’re regularly backing up your site. If not, now is the time to start. Definitely back up your site in case there are compatibility issues when you upgrade. You don’t want it to crash and lose everything. This is true for every day use, not just for the WordPress upgrade. Always back up your stuff.

Another thing you can do is to test your site with the Gutenberg plug-in before you upgrade. With the plug-in, you should be able to tell anything that won’t be functional after the upgrade. That way, you can plan for it—wait to upgrade, make changes to the site so that it will be compatible upon upgrade, or make a solid plan for getting it compatible immediately after upgrade.

What If My Site Doesn’t Work after Upgrade?

After upgrade, Gutenberg will be the default editor. But, if you run into compatibility issues, WordPress will have the option for you to download and install the classic editor. However, I caution you to use it as a temporary fix to keep your site running until you can get the real issue fixed. Gutenberg is the new reality; it’s here to stay. Relying on the classic editor indefinitely is not a great idea. Use it as a bandage while you make a plan and take action to get your site up to speed for Gutenberg.

It Sounds Like the Sky Is Falling…

It’s not; I promise. Will there be a learning curve? Yes. Will it be painful? Perhaps for some. For others, it will be awesome; they’ll love the new features and wonder why they had so much anxiety over something they now love and don’t know how they lived without it. Try to be open to change and look forward to the challenge of learning something new.

Test the new editor now before the upgrade. Learn Gutenberg and some of the new functionality and be ready for when it comes out. Know whether your site is compatible or what you need to change by using the Gutenberg plug-in. Familiarity breeds comfort.

Sticking your head in the sand, screaming your complaints to the heavens, or pretending it isn’t happening and hoping something magical happens are not going to get you anywhere. Once you put a little time and effort into learning Gutenberg, hopefully you’ll be excited about it coming rather than dreading it. It’s coming whether we like it or not, so we might as well embrace it and find joy in it.

Try out Gutenberg here: https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/

Happy learning!

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