For several months now, the internet has eagerly awaited the exciting new features and tweaks that come along with Gutenberg, the biggest WordPress appearance change since its inception in 2003. And even with the recent introduction on November 19th of everything included in this facelift, users of the CMS still can’t be sure how it will affect current websites and their existing themes, plugins and code—or how it might slow down or speed up marketing and website development teams when it arrives as the default editor in the upcoming WordPress 5.0 update.
But one thing we can be sure about is that Gutenberg’s goal is to create a seamless, “effortless” and easy-to-use interface for creating and editing website content,1 which means that we can breathe easy—this update isn’t out to make things harder for users.
So what should the average small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) know about the new Gutenberg WordPress editor? How will it make updating a website easier? Do we have to use it right now? How can we peek at the new features to see if we like it? Let’s address these questions and cover the basics so you know what to expect when Gutenberg is rolled out in the next full update of WordPress.
What is Gutenberg?
WordPress has created a new editing experience for authoring pages and posts and aptly named it Gutenberg after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. This update is a major overhaul of the current editor we know and love, mainly because it operates using blocks. But Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress, says Gutenberg means so much more than just blocks.2
“Gutenberg meets our challenges and opportunities head on while simultaneously benefitting everyone who makes a living working in the WP ecosystem. It’s about a lot more than just blocks. Our Gutenberg moves every part of the WordPress ecosystem forward.”
-Matt Mullenweg, Founding Developer of WordPress2
Here are some key takeaways of what advances Gutenberg brings to the WordPress editing interface:
- A more spacious editing area than the classic editor
- Individually manipulated text and image elements called blocks that make up pages and posts
- Text, image and video options accessible through dropdown menus
- Added elements like buttons easily inserted without code
- Direct element customization (integrated TinyMCE)
“By embracing blocks as an interaction paradigm, we can unify multiple different interfaces into one. Instead of learning how to write shortcodes and custom HTML, or pasting URLs to embed media, there’s a common, reliable flow for inserting any kind of content.”
-Gutenberg Handbook, FAQs1
Want to give Gutenberg a spin? Try it out on the WordPress Gutenberg site.
How Will Gutenberg Affect Teams?
Matt Mullenweg listed several key players in the average WordPress team, including the everyday users of WordPress business websites, and shared how each of these players will be affected by the Gutenberg editor update.2
The Average User: Create beautiful websites and enhance mobile website development without the use of shortcode. Pasted text will automatically break into blocks for easy page and post authoring without the help of a developer. Easily understand the use of plugins and have a smooth experience with blogging and editing your website in-house without much experience.
The Developer or Marketing Agency: Work with modern technology worry-free and push past backwards compatibility issues. Experience simplified menus and widgets and a more responsive interface and work with a common set of concepts and code to get the job done. Develop interactive templates for clients without breaking pages or struggling with custom post types.
These are game-changing fixes and enhancements that will make both in-house and outsourced marketing teams speedier and more productive. Even as a relatively inexperienced WordPress user—whether a small business owner or a one-man SMB marketing team—you can work easily with your website to update it and build it into something beautiful.
How Can We Prepare for Gutenberg?
There are a few ways to prepare for the big changes that Gutenberg introduces. SMB team members should give Gutenberg a test drive and get familiar with using blocks and navigating a completely reworked editing space. While the current classic editor will be available for a while, Gutenberg is the inevitable future and will come packaged with the WordPress 5.0 update, as soon as the new editor is refined by the company and ready for a full launch.
And although customization is much more accessible directly through the new editor, you shouldn’t leave your marketing agency in the dust any time soon—working with experienced designers and developers is required to make well-designed templates, carry out personalized or complicated options and add extra elements to sites that function properly. Only the pros can help users move beyond generic options to advanced features that require someone familiar with CSS and code behind the wheel. Plugins are expected to work seamlessly with Gutenberg, but it’s also crucial that marketing teams double-check that they won’t have any compatibility issues.
Transitioning to Gutenberg will take time, as it’s important to ensure that your entire website can withstand the changes and that pages and posts aren’t distorted in any way by the blocks feature. Talk to your marketing partner about what you can expect from your WordPress website’s new best friend, Gutenberg. 2019 will be an exiting year for WordPress users, and we’re all in it together.