If you are a WordPress user thinking of updating from version 4.9.8 to 5.0, you may want to read this. Unless of course, you like to get caught napping.
Not to be overly dramatic, but I want to give you an update on what happened recently with your WordPress site. It’s a bit technical, but I’ll do my best to keep it from becoming crazy-robot speak.
The first thing to note is that WordPress launched version 5.0 containing a new editor called Gutenberg. If you START with version 5.x, you are good to go. You’ll just need to learn a new system, called Blocks.
However, if you are already on WordPress – unless you are properly prepared – migrating to version 5.0 (Gutenberg) is not likely going to be good news because it changes the way WordPress works, causing unexpected breaks and whatnot in your content.
The FIRST thing you should do is install the Classic Editor Plugin, which reverts back to the editor you are used to using with legacy content. This plugin will treat your entire content as a Block until you convert it.
The silver lining: Gutenberg is ultra-modern.
It features tools that permit on-page structural editing. Very powerful. In fact, so powerful that we expect it to break previous sites. The reason for this is that the editor is not completely compatible with many of the tools web developers use to create side-bars and the other layout components found in most sites.
Page-builders and formatting tools such as Advanced Custom Fields (ACF has an update – read their blog on the subject too) are most adversely affected. These tools can be found in almost all WordPress websites, which is why your WordPress site – and pretty well every other WordPress site – may be so greatly impacted.
When a User updates to 5.0 (which is standard practice for security and stability reasons) to the new editor, nothing happens until they make an edit. Then things can begin to break. Well, maybe not break, but behave in unexpected ways for sure.
For example, a list is displayed as a group of blocks. Paragraphs are treated similarly. And users can install literally any block type they want, regardless of their UX knowledge level. There are so many blocks that Gutenberg makes them searchable.
The not-so-silver-lining, Instant Crisis.
The editor has been launched into the WordPress Core very quickly, catching the developer community (and clients) a bit off-guard. Without an upgrade or migration path between WordPress BG (Before Gutenberg), and WordPress AG (After Gutenberg), things can break.
We’d like to avoid your site breaking. So, please don’t update to version 5.0 until you are ready to make the switch. You may need to rebuild your site or migrate it to another platform. It’s great news for agencies. Not so great for clients.
We’d like to get ahead of the crisis by helping you prepare your WordPress site to utilize Gutenberg properly (and avoid the breaking bit) or help you switch to one of the other great platforms out there like HubSpot or SquareSpace. That way, you will have the most modern website possible, thwarting the risk of a down site and the potential for lost business.
The original Gutenberg PlugIn prompt (update at your peril if not prepared).
One catch with moving into Gutenberg is that it is not well documented (as a WordPress user, you are probably used to that). Thus, if you opt to update to Gutenberg, know that deployment might feel a bit slow compared to the other options… while the majority of development techniques and strategies remain in effect, there’s a lot of new learning as well, for developers and for users too.