Are You Gettin’ Ready For Gutenberg?

Published: 20th November 2018

The new Wordpress editor is nearly here and it brings big changes to how content is put together within the CMS, are you ready? Is your website ready? Is your developer ready?

WordPress has had the same editor for as long as we can remember, it’s had a few features added or removed over the years but otherwise it’s always worked and looked the same. This has made it very easy and intuitive for all, indeed having worked with one WordPress powered website, you’ll more than likely be just fine working on another.

This however is all about to change, there’s a new editor on the horizon… Gutenberg! This new editor is a big change from what we’re used to, we don’t think it’ll be quite as revolutionary as Josan Gutenberg’s original printing press, but it’s certainly going to cause a stir amongst developers, editors, designers and website administrators.

So what are we to expect from the new editor?

Well, it’s all about ‘blocks’, within the new editor you now have access to a standard set of reusable ‘blocks’ which you can use to construct your page or post. These blocks include traditional elements such as paragraphs, headings and images. As well as the more advanced blocks, which allow you to add columns, galleries, cover images, videos and more – admittedly all available to s some extent within the current editor, but all much easier to manage in ‘block’ form!

Traditionally developers would add ‘meta boxes’ to the edit page in order to expand the editable features on a given page. This approach works really well, however it is quite rigid, you can’t re-order elements on the page, instead you’re stuck with the order your developer coded them in and you can only use each element once.

The big advantage of treating everything as a ‘block’ within a single editor is you can reuse them as many times as you like and order content however you see fit. All without having to ask a developer to move physical HTML around within your theme. For example you might want to move a feature up the page to coincide with an upcoming promotion, then several weeks later, move it back down the page to make room for a new feature – simple enough with ‘blocks’!

Blocks aren’t entirely new, if you’ve used a simple website builder such as Shopify or Wix you will have built your content in a similar way.

That’s the theory at least…

Sounds great right? Well… it’s not going to be quite as easy as updating to the new editor and playing with all the new features. Firstly, there’s a good chance that your current theme just isn’t going to play well with the new editor, more than likely it’s going to break the layout of your pages and posts which a developer will need to brought in to fix.

Secondly the success of Gutenberg will lie in how well it’s adopted by developers and administrators, so far we think it looks very promising, especially on content driven websites such as blog and brochure sites. How well it will integrate with more advanced deployments of WordPress we shall have to wait and see.

How do I test the new editor?

If you’re currently running a WordPress website and you’re keen to try the new editor we’d recommend setting up a development version of your site, so you can tinker without causing disruption to your live site – this is a must if you’re running an e-commerce website or one that you rely on for income! Once you’ve setup a development/test site you can install the new editor and test how it interacts with your theme. We’d advise you keep this development site in place for testing future plugins and changes too, but don’t forget to set this to no-index so you don’t get stung for duplicate content on search engines, even better, password protect this version.

If you’re not in a position to setup a testing site, we’d recommend you install and activate the Classic Editor plugin, this will ensure that when the new editor is rolled out in version 5 of WordPress it doesn’t replace the old one. Then once you’re ready to test, perhaps during a known lull in traffic, you can deactivate the Classic Editor plugin and see what happens, if all goes well you should be able to use the new editor and see the results on the front end of the website. If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to re-activate the Classic Editor plugin and seek help from a developer/agency.

To get the most out of the new editor your theme will almost certainly need its styles tweaking just to ensure all the new blocks are on brand and inline with the rest of your website.

Where can I find out more?

Take a look at the official WordPress page for more information here, you can see all the blocks and the new editor in action:

Say Hello to a New Editor

If you’re still left with questions get in touch and we’d be happy to help you in migrating to Gutenberg!

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