WordPress has unveiled its latest version, and WordPress 5.0 is a big change to the content management system (CMS).
Developers of WordPress 5.0 have been revealing bits and pieces of the new version since 2017. They also provided an earlier sample of the CMS, via a plugin called Gutenberg, for users to play around with and familiarise themselves with the changes.
Initial reviews of WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg editor have been mixed, but WordPress said that its latest endeavour will ‘revolutionise publishing’.
But what exactly does this big change mean? What can users expect from WordPress 5.0?
What makes the Gutenberg editor different?
In the past, WordPress users relied on a simple visual or text editor when creating a page or post. If the user has installed a special template or developer add-ons, they will have those additional features, but the main elements of a classic visual/text editor are still there.
The Gutenberg on WordPress 5.0, named after the Johannes Gutenberg, the publisher who brought the printing press to Europe, is a huge step up from the classic editor in terms of form and function.
WordPress introduced the change in the CMS in order to remain competitive with other content management providers like Weebly or Wix.
The new WordPress 5.0 CMS makes use of Content Blocks, which the company’s developers compare to Lego bricks. Users can add or take out, move and reposition these blocks around to create a fully customisable experience.
What’s in these Gutenberg blocks?
As with previous versions, Gutenberg has a “what you see is what you get” approach but you will have more control over nearly every elements of your site without needing more plugins or learning some basic coding process.
Gutenberg’s basic blocks include:
Gutenberg also offers a set of formatting blocks to use for:
- Custom HTML codes
In addition, Gutenberg also has:
- Layout blocks to separate posts and columns
- Widget blocks to feature latest posts or categories
- Embeds blocks to post Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube codes
Creating a post or page with Gutenberg
Pick out any block you want to use by clicking the + sign on the Gutenberg. You’ll typically be using blocks like Heading and Paragraph a lot, and they will appear in the Suggested section, which cuts the time it takes you to locate a block.
As you compose your blog or article, Gutenberg will break long paragraphs into their own blocks. This feature actually allows for easier editing, as you can simply rearrange the flow of your work by moving the blocks around.
To move a block, just highlight it to see an arrow for up or down, as well as a delete icon.
You can format the text, adjusting its size, alignment, colour and background within the Paragraph Blocks, well as formatting with italics or bold. WordPress has also added more visual styling in its text options, so you can make each post as personalised as you want.
Columns and Tables
In older WordPress versions, columns were customised with plugins. Now, the column formatting is part of an editor’s block.
Before, WordPress users also needed to be familiar with a few HTML codes to format posts with tables. In Gutenberg, users only have to pick the right block, put in the data, arrange the layout, and it’s ready!
Image and other media blocks
Seamless WordPress media galleries previously depended on third-party plugins like Jetpack. Now, the Gutenberg has its own gallery maker for its Image Block, where you can add or reduce the columns and rows, depending on the number of photos you want to publish.
The process of adding, moving and removing blocks is the same for videos, audios, buttons, embedded posts, and other elements of the content. Just choose a block, put the data or text, and arrange it on the post or page.
Should you use Gutenberg?
Gutenberg will become the default CMS for WordPress 5.0 and you’ll be asked to update your WordPress site once the rollout begins. To avoid any performance problems and security risks, updating early is the best thing to do rather than putting it off. Once you update, however, you can’t switch Gutenberg off or revert to the old system.
However, WordPress has retained a plugin for the Classic Editor, which you can download and switch on if you don’t like to use the new default editor. There’s no guarantee how long this plugin will remain active or if it will still have frequent updates now that WordPress has shifted its focus on the Gutenberg’s improvements, but it might help if you want to ease into the change.
Some disadvantages of the Gutenberg
Beginner users of WordPress will enjoy utilising the blocks on Gutenberg but those who have been with the CMS for a while will have quite the learning curve when WordPress 5.0 is activated. Understandably for some website owners, Gutenberg will take some getting used to.
One of the complaints about the new system is that it takes users more clicks to execute simple tasks. Blocks also appear to clutter the editor space and make the user interface a bit clunky, especially if you’re working on your website using a 12” screen.
If you’re used to drafting posts directly on the editor’s post window, this might take too much work on the Gutenberg. While WordPress 5.0 makes formatting content layout easier, it doesn’t seem user-friendly for content creation. There is also no workaround for wrapping photos in paragraphs as well since these are contained in their own Image Block.
However, Gutenberg works well on mobile devices for some users. Perhaps what these disadvantages and complaints boil down to is preference.
Before updating to WordPress 5.0
While you have to adapt to the WordPress 5.0 changes as soon as possible, you might need to fix some site issues in your website first. There could be problems with backward compatibility since Gutenberg’s unique interface might not jive with the plugins and themes installed on your site.
We are capable of helping your site transition to WordPress 5.0 at Jezweb. Contact us so we can discuss the best way to help your site shift to the new CMS.