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Your complete guide to the WordPress 5.0 update! (Get ready… Gutenberg is coming).

by Olivier Michelet
on 10 Oct, 2018 7 min read

If you’re one of the millions of WordPress users around the globe, you should know that BIG changes are on the horizon with the release of WordPress 5.0 ‘Gutenberg’. And while we don’t mean to alarm you… when we say BIG changes… we mean BIG changes! Literally everything relating to the post editing experience is about to change when WordPress 5.0 launches in November.

Not only will the entire user interface look and behave differently, but many of the plugins you currently use, even your theme, may or may not be compatible once WordPress 5.0 launches.

But before you start to panic… take a deep breath. It’s not all bad news. In fact, this change may not even affect you (although there is still a good chance it will). The good news is that the target release date for WordPress 5.0 has now been pushed back to November 19th 2018, which means you still have time to prepare.

So with that in mind, let’s bring you up to speed with everything relating to WordPress 5.0 and explain what this means for you and your business moving forward.



Give me the low-down on WordPress 5.0

If you’re a long-time WordPress user, you’ll know that it’s been a while since WordPress updated its fundamental core.

To this date, WordPress has had well over 200 software releases since its inception in 2003, and in this time there have only been 4 new generation ‘core’ updates.

WordPress are notorious for updates that bring forth very little disruption to their users, with changes that occur over long periods of time. The last core update, WordPress 4.0 or ‘Benny’, was released in 2014 and has taken almost 4 years to reach its final form of 4.9.8 in preparation for the launch of Gutenburg.

The reason there is so much hype surrounding the WordPress 5.0 release is that it greatly differs from this traditional ‘incremental update’ strategy.

With Gutenburg, the jump in technology will be drastic and immediate.

Wordpress timeline

If you’re already a WordPress user, you will have experienced using the TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor. The TinyMCE WYSIWYG has been a tool used for a while by many users to create content, publish posts, add and manage products on eCommerce platforms, and design home pages.

GIF of the old WYSIWYG Editor on WordPress
The Tiny MC WYSIWYG Editor


However, the competitive landscape has and continues to evolve with more simple, easy to use visual editors such as Wix and Squarespace becoming available. As these competitors gain market share and continue to improve their offering, WordPress has recognised the need to respond with the adoption of equal or even better features to help them remain relevant in this space.

This means WordPress has now set its sights on crafting a better experience for their users.

With everything from a fresh new editor, to a better page builder and free templates, WordPress is on a mission to overhaul the way people use their program and adopt a more visual editing technique (one which has become more popular over the last few years). This leads us to Gutenberg.



What is Gutenberg?

‘Gutenberg you say..? What foreign language are you speaking?’

In simple terms, Gutenberg is the new post editor that will replace the current TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor in WordPress.
The Gutenberg editor is named after Johannes Gutenberg – inventor of the printing press and instigator of the printing revolution in 1450.

WordPress believe that the introduction of their new editing technology will mirror Gutenberg’s evolution of the knowledge-economy, claiming that WordPress 5.0 will be ‘the foundation that’ll revolutionise customisation and site building in WordPress.’

By adopting this new editor, WordPress will create a new post and page building experience for their users, making the post crafting process much more effortless in the long-run. To deliver this, Gutenberg will utilise ‘blocks’ to help users build content-rich pages and structure their content in a way that is more visually appealing.

Whilst this is not a drastically new concept for WordPress; as plugins with similar functions such as ‘Visual Composer’ and ‘WPBakery’ have been available in the past, the major shift in functionality for the 5.0 update stems from Gutenberg being made the default editor.

The adoption of Gutenberg will bring block functionality directly into WordPress and make it easier than ever before to create amazing visuals and awesome-looking pages of content.

Click here to see the Gutenberg interface and play around with the new update.



What are ‘blocks’?

According to WordPress, a ‘block’ is “the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage”. Blocks are made up of various content formats (including text, images, plugins and videos) and can be arranged in many different ways by simply moving them around to the desired place on the page.


GIF displaying features of the new Gutenburg editor
The introduction of WordPress ‘blocks’

This idea uses concepts of what we achieve today in WordPress with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single and consistent API and user experience.

By using blocks, WordPress is now providing its users with the ability to put content at the forefront of their designs. In addition, it will also make it easier for developers, designers and new users to make their websites look more visually appealing without having an extensive coding background.



What can I do to make sure I’m ready for the change?

Getting ahead of the WordPress 5.0 update to ensure it doesn’t catch you unprepared will be the key to your success moving forward.

To help you, we’ve provided a short list of the things you can do to prepare for this change:

1 Create a test site and install the Gutenberg plugin

What you should know is that a beta version of Gutenberg is currently available as a plugin in the repository. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s the best way to test your site against the new Gutenberg experience.

Download, install and activate the Gutenberg plugin just like you would with any other plugin, just make sure you DO NOT INSTALL IT ON YOUR LIVE SITE!! You need to test it on a test version of your site to ensure your theme and the plugins you currently use are not affected by this transition.

WordPress is an open source platform, which means anyone can develop a plugin. Based on this, not all plugins are updated or optimised on a regular basis in line with the most recent WordPress updates, so you may need to test the forms, calendars, ecommerce or booking systems you currently use to ensure they work with Gutenberg.

Click here to learn more about setting up a test site.

2 Share your feedback

If you do choose to play around with the Gutenberg plugin and get a feel for it, don’t be afraid to add your constructive feedback on how the WordPress team can make it better. Ultimately, we’re all going to be working with it sooner or later so the more feedback we all provide, the better!

Click here to provide your feedback.

3 Enlist the expertise of a digital agency or web developer

If you trial the Gutenberg plugin on your test site and find that your favourite theme or plugin no longer works, don’t panic! This is only your test site, so the issues you encounter can be resolved. Different plugins can be used and further tweaks can be made to ensure Gutenberg does not drastically affect your current site.


However, if you feel out of your depth, feel free to engage our team to run a web health-check to ensure your site is completely ready for the upcoming WordPress 5.0 launch.


Start your engines

Whilst the introduction of Gutenberg may sound scary, it is (as I’m sure most of us will agree) a necessary and positive change WordPress is making to help shape the way websites are built in the future and ensure the ongoing satisfaction of their users.

As mentioned earlier, the best thing you can do in preparation of the WordPress 5.0 release is to start testing the Gutenberg plugin on a test version of your site and explore how this release has the ability to affect it.

So start your engines and do you thing to ensure your website is Gutenberg ready!

*Disclaimer: At the time of writing this post, the full effect of the WordPress 5.0 update remains unknown, therefore indicative recommendations have been provided only. Thirst Creative advises seeking an expert opinion before implementing any changes.

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