Recently, you may have noticed a notification on your WordPress dashboard announcing that a “new, modern publishing experience is coming soon.” This is Gutenberg.

Gutenberg is the new editing environment for WordPress. Gutenberg is scheduled to be released with WordPress 5.0 (we are currently on 4.9.8). You may have heard rumblings about this on Twitter or from your WordPress developers.

The Knucklepuck Web Development team believes that Gutenberg WILL be a good thing, but it may not be wise to make the switch yet.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg will be the new interface for content management on WordPress. The design was created to help users that may not have the HTML or CSS skills to build their own custom content pages.

The new editor will be based on “blocks” which will encompass plug-ins, paragraphs, quotes, pictures and custom blocks. You will build new pages much like you would build a house with Lincoln Logs or Legos.

For example, in Gutenberg you could create a custom block for each of your company’s blog authors. This will allow you to reuse the same blog and edit it for different authors of blog pieces.

How is Gutenberg Different from the Classic Editor?

Classic editor lays out the markup (HTML and CSS) that you have inputted in the editor. However, outside of templates, you cannot customize pages to appear in a different layout without making changes at the template level. These changes usually require contacting your development team or if you are the development team, it requires extra work.

With Gutenberg, users will be able to edit a post’s format from within the editor without having to write HTML code. For example, you will not need to write HTML to change photos that are stacked to photos that are side-by-side or to make other similar format changes. Not only will Gutenberg give users a better idea of what content will look like prior to publishing, but also it has been designed to give a more streamlined usability experience.

Making the adjustment shouldn’t change things on the front-end, but it will change the backend experience for the better.

Should I Make the Switch Gutenberg?

Similar to purchasing the introductory model of a new car, you may want to wait until the new editor has been thoroughly vetted and “safety-tested” for any serious issues. When Gutenberg rolls out, there will likely be websites with issues across the WordPress space. Issues that might need time and resources to correct or that might negatively impact website traffic and conversions.

Just like any major website update, you should test the change in a safe testing environment. Testing Gutenberg in staging environment will allow you to test compatibility with any Widgets, plugins or other custom-built parts of your website.

If your website is mission-critical, Knucklepuck recommends installing the Classic WordPress editor plugin. Do not switch to Gutenberg until it can be fully tested in an environment that won’t affect your business or the functionality of your website.

If you do not want to use Gutenberg, select the option to install the classic editor. If you do not, you will be automatically switched to the Gutenberg editor with the WordPress 5.0 release.

What does this mean for Custom WordPress Development?

The overall goals for building custom WordPress solutions remain the same. The tools should be easy to use and they should store content in an organized and reusable fashion. These goals can be achieved with or without Gutenberg and are the product of skilled people thinking through excellent editorial experiences.

Once stable and in the wild, Gutenberg will allow developers to build even more powerful and streamlined editorial experiences. Workflows may change as you may not need to switch views in order to make changes to plugins or sidebars. Themes will need to be adjusted or built in alternative ways to allow for the flexibility of using different block elements.

Web development and design can be difficult. If you are having trouble with the new editor or you are unhappy with your website, our Web Development Team is highly skilled with WordPress. We’re here to help!