25+ Pieces of Advice to Help You Handle Gutenberg’s Predicament [WP Experts Advice Column]

On the eve of the most buzzing upgrade in the WordPress universe, we’ve interviewed Michael Torbert, Matthew Woodward, Brian Jackson, and other WP experts. Further, you will learn what we need to know about this change, and what we need to fine tune on our websites before the release of WordPress 5.0 with Gutenberg editor by default.

Here we go with a checklist for WordPress websites that includes the info you need to consider if you want to survive an upgrade to version 5.0. The main and the most buzzing thing in WordPress 5 will be new default content builder Gutenberg. This editor uses content blocks and allows adding various media items directly into the post/page body, without adding custom shortcodes or HTML code blocks.

Some people say that Gutenberg will break the WordPress part of the Internet. Others say that it’s our future and we have no choice but to accept it. Anyway, Gutenberg will be the default editor in WordPress 5.0 and we have to check if our websites are ready for it. The exact date of WordPress 5.0 release has not been given yet, probably it’s expected by the end of this year. So there is still some time to get prepared.

By the way, the new editor is named after Johannes Gutenberg - the person who started the Printing Revolution by introducing the printing press. He is regarded as a person who had started the new milestone of a history. So we can assume how ambitious WordPress team is about Gutenberg.

So here’s the to-do list for those, whose websites are built with WordPress

Make a backup of your existing site

Always back up the live site before doing any updates like this one. That way, whatever goes wrong, you can always rollback, says certified WordPress expert Nikola Vejin at Codeable.

Create a staging environment

To test the new editor, create a staging site and then perform the WordPress update on this staging site first. A staging is a perfect copy of your original website and it's a safety measure. Now add a few posts using the new shiny Gutenberg editor. And then properly test all your core features and pages of the website as there might be unexpected conflicts, - says Marius Vetrici, WordPress specialist at WPRiders, - only when you confirm that the updated staging site works fine, you can roll out the updates on the live site. And then check the core features of the live site to ensure that it runs as expected.

Update your theme, plugins

As always, keep your plugins up to date in order to have the most current integration, says Michael Torbert, Co-Author of WordPress All-in-One for Dummies.

In addition to this, Ihtisham Zahoor, Web Developer at Centangle, recommends to update the site's themes and plugins, create a backup, and run health check before and after the upgrade to version 5 for a smooth transition.

Check your theme compatibility

I’d make sure to test the theme on staging site to make sure it's fully compatible before you decide to make the change. A lot of exciting new features for the editor are coming that will provide blocks to add elements to the content of the page and this will allow a lot of flexibility with page layout design to users. Most older themes are not going to support it.” - Says full stack developer Frederick Pohl.

If your theme is compatible, just relax and wait for the 5.0 release. According to Stacy M. Clements, web consultant who specializes in WordPress, Business Owner at Milepost42, if your site is built with a reputable and supported WordPress theme and plugins, and you keep it up to date, it's likely you will have a few problems. Major theme and plugin developers are aware of Gutenberg and are doing their best to modify their software to deal with the changes. If you have a custom-built theme or plugins, you will want to check with your developer to make sure the software is modified appropriately.

If your theme is built by TemplateMonster and you have noticed some problem while testing, just write to the support team and they will help you handle it.

Test how everything works with Gutenberg

Stacy M. Clements recommends you to check all types of content you have (pages, posts, any custom content types). You may find that everything works well, or you may find some problems with the way your content is displayed, or the way how your theme elements are displayed, or custom content you've created with a page builder. Make sure you're using the latest versions of your theme and plugins, but if you still have problems, contact your theme developer to find if they're going to support Gutenberg, if not, probably it’s time to change the theme.

If you need to make some major changes to get your site "Gutenberg-compatible", you can buy some time by installing the Classic Editor plugin which restores TinyMCE editor.

According to Brian Jackson, CMO of Kinsta, the Classic Editor may no longer be a fallback option by the end of 2019. So it's very important that all WordPress users, bloggers, and developers alike dive into Gutenberg and start testing it as soon as possible.

Read all comments given by experts to have an advantage in the process of transition to the Gutenberg and to save your website, especially if your business completely depends on it.

It's very important that all WordPress users, bloggers, and developers alike dive into Gutenberg and start testing it as soon as possible. Gutenberg is coming, whether you like it or not. I wouldn't be surprised if the Classic Editor is no longer a fallback option by the end of 2019.

The first thing you should probably do is check to see if your WordPress theme is going to support the new Gutenberg blocks. If the theme developer is already on top of things, then you probably don't have much to worry about other than learning the new editor. If the developer hasn't even started testing stuff on Gutenberg yet, it may be time to look for a new theme. I'm a massive fan of GeneratePress.

The above goes for all plugins that tie into the WordPress editor. The Yoast SEO plugin is just one example where it already supports Gutenberg, and they are actively adding more and more support.

The best advice I can give users right now is not to wait to test everything on their site with Gutenberg. Many WordPress hosts have staging environments which make testing things like this easy.

Brian Jackson, CMO at Kinsta

Like it or not, Gutenberg is coming. It may seem scary or unwanted at first, but eventually I think people from all parts of the WordPress ecosystem, from plugin and theme developers, to end users will find this change to increase the possibilities for building websites and publishing content, rather than something to stand in the way.

Considering the market share of WordPress, this is something I firmly believe will move the web forward. Go ahead and turn on the Gutenberg editor and start using it, giving feedback to the developers. As always, keep your plugins up to date in order to have the most current integration. Gutenberg, along with the REST API, is the future.

Michael Torbert, Co-Author of WordPress All-in-One for Dummies, WordPress Developer, Creator of All in One SEO Pack

Gutenberg I feel is in a good enough spot so people can see how their site interacts with it. First off, I'd recommend installing The Gutenberg Plugin on a staging site of your main site, so you can see exactly how the Dashboard is affected. If you're able to write posts, and the front end still looks like it should, then you should be fine for WordPress 5.0. Alternatively, install the Classic Editor Plugin, and then you will also be ready for 5.0, but you will still have the old editor.

Rhys Wynne, WordPress Specialist at Dwi'n Rhys

The introduction of Gutenberg into WordPress 5.0 should be smooth sailing for those not running WordPress with a bunch of custom post types, metaboxes and plugins. I would suggest to enable the Gutenberg plugin available now to test if your website would be compatible with the future update and if any problems arise, hire a skilled WordPress developer to make sure your theme and plugins are Gutenberg compatible.

Jay Tillery, Remote WordPress/Shopify Developer

The Gutenberg update has caused lots of problems for lots of people. And while it is a positive change, there are better alternatives out there. If you really want to build out nice looking pages I highly suggest you use one of the more popular page builder plugins. Personally I am a big fan of Thrive Architect to build my pages so the Gutenberg update has not had any effect on me personally, it's business as usual. However: If you are just starting a blog then it might be a good idea to embrace Gutenberg now, because it's only going to develop further and it's free to use!

Matthew Woodward, Internet Marketing Blogger, and Vlogger

I think the most important thing to understand for WordPress site owners is this is a content editing system, so your existing content doesn't change. This is an opportunity to have your new content or existing content you chose to "blockify" better when it makes sense to you. Like any big update, create a staging site and try it out. Gutenberg, for me as someone who blogs a lot, is very exciting, I finally want to write in WordPress. I encourage you to try a few posts and see why this big change is being made.

Josh Pollock, Founder / Lead Developer, Partner at CalderaLabs.org and CalderaForms.com

They need to know that they will need to test that their current theme styles work with the new content hence the using the block unit test plug to create a test page with all the possible HTML blocks they can then added CSS or upgrade their theme.

Paul Bearne, Senior WordPress Full Stack Developer at Paul & Gina Bearne and Partner/Developer at Matador Software, LLC

Many people are asking what will happen to the existing content. And my answer is, there's nothing to worry. Because the content in the classic editor when converted to Gutenberg will be converted to HTML blocks and appear the same. You need not make any changes.

On the other hand, if you are making use of WP page builder plugins, it will operate independently from Gutenberg as it is doing currently. There's nothing to worry about.

Some people are worrying that Gutenberg editor may stop supporting shortcodes. But the fact is that there are various ways to convert shortcode to a block in Gutenberg and WP will not stop supporting shortcodes anytime soon.

Akshay Hallur, GoBloggingTips

As an avid user of WordPress, creating many websites for different sectors each month, I am personally excited about the inclusion of Gutenberg within WordPress. I can’t say I will favour it to other page builders or creating a theme from scratch but for other users that would like a simple page builder without adding excess weight to their site, I think Gutenberg will do the trick. There are so many 3rd party page builders out there, all packed with great features, however they often consume a large amount of space which in turn affects website speed. My summary of this is that whilst Gutenberg is a great page builder and will be useful for many people, I don’t think it’s going to be a highly competitive page builder product.

William Hale, Branding and Web Development

The most important thing to know about Gutenberg is that it's not as earth-shattering as it may seem. After upgrading to WordPress 5.0, you should find that most of the plugins you love still work and that the dashboard really isn't so different after all. Gutenberg works a little bit like a visual builder plugin. It's just one of the many options you have available to help you build your site.

Eric Johnson, Digital Marketer turned Co-Owner at Theweddingcollectivemn.com

If your website is using WordPress, you are going to want to know about Gutenberg. It's coming and unless Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) changes the release plan, then your website is in trouble. A lot of people want to get ahead of the curve by preparing now. The unfortunate thing is there is nothing you can do to prepare. This is because Gutenberg is still undefined and changing. I know that's not very helpful, and that is why much of the active WordPress development community is still fighting to push for a better release plan for you, its users. In the meantime, we do know that a feature to disable Gutenberg will be available. Start setting aside budget though, because this plugin will be short-lived and users will have to switch quickly.

Ryan Meghdies, founder of Tastic Marketing

That’s right Jon Snow, Gutenberg is coming. The best way to prepare for Gutenberg is to install the plugin on your staging site. This way you can test Gutenberg on your before the update to see how it could affect you, and how it could help you.

Reid Markel, a partner at Amplitude Media

The biggest hurdles in transitioning to Gutenberg will come with a learning curve on the new editor and plugin incompatibility. All our tax websites blogs are on wordpress for ease of use (blog.priortax.com) and we receive large traffic. As with WordPress always, we will need to make sure the plugins being installed are maintained extensively and have documentation to avoid painful troubleshooting last minute. In addition, there will be bugs to be fixed as time goes on, make sure you have someone to fix those bugs in a timely manner with design and backend.

Jai Kumar, Rapid Filing Services

Gutenberg is all about the admin and editor experience, making managing and creating content easier yet more robust.

That said, there are a lot of hidden features in Gutenberg that separate it from the front-facing website, which is why it is a great opportunity for site owners to consider upgrading their frontend to leverage the Gutenberg API using a technology like Gatsby. Gatsby will give those sites that upgrade to Gutenberg a frontend that matches the advancements of the backend.

Cody Swann, CEO at Gunner Technology

The best advice for transition to Gutenberg is ... Don't use Gutenberg, at least for a while. Gutenberg is a giant change and will have many conflicts with themes, plugins and authors. While the dust settles on the first versions, simply don't use it at all. Install the Classic Editor plugin - https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/ - that de-activates Gutenberg. It has 300,000+ installs already and is more popular than Gutenberg!

Alex Wright, WordPress Website Designer at Alexwright.net

Gutenberg is coming and the most important thing I have been working on is installing the classic editor plugin while we transition into the new utility. Not everyone's themes/plugins are compatible with Gutenberg yet, and if you have done a fair amount of customization in your theme it is going to cause a fair amount of headaches until everything is sorted.

Simon Ponder, SponderPoints

First, we have to note that although Gutenberg will be the default editor by the time WordPress 5 is released, we still have the option to install the classic editor. This can be useful if your theme is not yet compatible with the Gutenberg editor, or you simply don’t want to use the new editor. However, there are many new perks and benefits from the new Gutenberg. For instance, it features a new, more modern design that is especially designed to work better on mobile devices. It is now easier to insert images, edit your texts, and edit the layout on mobile, which is a huge plus. One major change is the now missing TinyMCE toolbar.

This feature is replaced by clicking on the insert button, which will give you a drop-down menu. This can take some time getting used to, but is arguably easier to use. Another new feature that is worth noting is the new Live HTML Block. Now, we can insert your HTML code and see the preview right away within the block, a very nice feature so we don’t need to switch back and forth between editor modes. In short, Gutenberg is a more visual editor with more blocks, and once you’ve got the hang of the new editor, it is actually faster and simpler than the old one.

Steve Kurniawan, Nine Peaks media

The key things WordPress blog owners need to know is to not panic. All software gets updated and while this will be a bigger update, it's not the end of the world. It both simplifies the interface (think Medium or Wix) but also makes some customizations easier. But ultimately it's coming, so embrace it, deal with it and accept it.

Jeff Campbell, Blogger on WordPress

Read Also

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10 Biggest Myths in SEO. What You Should Forget About in 2018

WordPress 5.0 – The First “Major” WordPress Update of 2018-19 Named Gutenberg

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Best Plugins For A New WordPress Site [Free Ebook]

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Anna Maksymova

Professional copywriter with more than 10 years of experience in the niche. An expert journalist and SMM manager specializing in press releases, SEO, online marketing, and more. Follow Ann on Twitter

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