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Gutenberg is Coming

What is
Gutenberg
&
How Will It Impact
My WordPress Website?

by Frida Nyvall

If your website is using WordPress, the inclusion of Gutenberg in the next major WordPress update might have a serious impact. This article aimed at WordPress website owners and administrators covers what Gutenberg is, and how to be prepared when it hits.

Gutenberg is Coming

WordPress is overhauling its default text editor, which has sparked a lot of controversy and debate among developers.

The open-sourced CMS is powering almost a third of the Internet. A lot of website owners who will be affected by this rather groundbreaking change might however not be aware of how it will impact their websites and in turn their business.

A majority of WordPress users are small and mid-sized companies and organizations who don’t have their own web development department. Introducing changes that have the potential to break their sites is a huge deal for those affected.

This article aims to help you get a better grip on what Gutenberg is, and what to do to have a smooth and problem-free transition when Gutenberg becomes part of WordPress core in version 5.0.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the new, modernized version of the native WordPress content editor. The ambition is having an editor that functions as a page builder, making it easy to create visually more complicated layouts. Examples of features are columns, easy social media embeds and media galleries. The Gutenberg editor is however nowhere near as powerful as full-fledged page builder themes or plugins like Divi, Beaver Builder or Elementor, although it is a big improvement to the old editor.

Since Gutenberg is built in a very different way than the rest of WordPress, the chance of it breaking other parts of a website (plugins, layout if using the default WordPress editor) is rather high unless these compatibility problems are not addressed.

Gutenberg will be included in all WordPress updates and installments starting with version 5.0. Before version 5.0 arrives, it’s possible to try out Gutenberg as a WordPress plugin.

At the moment of writing (November 2018), the Gutenberg WordPress plugin has a rating of 2.5/5 stars, where a majority (57%) of votes are 1-star votes. Check current ratings at the WordPress Gutenberg Plugin page.

You can also try editing using Gutenberg at the Gutenberg test site.

How Does This Impact My WordPress Website?

Potential problems are complications with existing themes, plugins and customizations. Themes and plugins that interact with the WordPress editor need to be reworked to be Gutenberg compatible. In case themes and plugins are not being updated to work with Gutenberg, they would need to be replaced with other working solutions.

Because of the pushback and strong opposition from the WordPress community, it will be possible to turn Gutenberg off and use the old version of the editor.

When Will It Go Live?

At the time of writing the planned release date for WordPress 5.0, the version that includes a non-mandatory Gutenberg editor is planned for November 27, 2018. However, this date has been pushed forwards several times and might be pushed again.


What to Do

  • Make sure plugins used on your website will either be Gutenberg compatible or can be exchanged with plugins that are Gutenberg compatible.
  • Make sure Gutenberg will not break your WordPress theme. In case you’ve purchased a commercial theme, check with the theme developer for information about updates. If you’re uncertain, try installing the Gutenberg plugin on a test version of your site and see what breaks.
  • If you use the default WordPress text editor: Start educating administrators on how to use the Gutenberg editor. You can test it out at here: Gutenberg test editor.
  • If you want to opt-out from using Gutenberg and want your site to just continue working as it does, enable the Classic Editor plugin and configure it to revert to the old editor.
  • If you don’t have the time or are otherwise unable to ascertain that your website will not break with the WordPress 5.0 update; allocate funds to have someone else make sure your business will not be disrupted.

What Not to Do

Stop Updating WordPress

Refusing to update WordPress is not an option. Apart from being a security risk, it will also make it very difficult managing changes and updates to any plugins and/or themes used with the installation.

Do Nothing

Not doing anything is taking an unnecessary risk. There is still time to make sure your website and business will continue functioning smoothly without disruptions in service.


For those who want to dig deeper into the topic about why WordPress has made this decision, and why discussions around Gutenberg have been so heated, read our thoughts on the matter in the post “Gutenberg is Coming: Why the Big Fuss?”.

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