You may already be familiar with the WordPress Gutenberg editor. While initially available as a plugin, it became central to the WordPress experience with the rollout of WordPress 5.0 on 6.12.18.
In essence, Gutenberg is a new WordPress editor that aims to simplify website creation and editing for the average non-technical user. It will operate a little more like a drag-and-drop website builder with movable building blocks.
But what does this mean for your WordPress clients?
In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics of the new Gutenberg editor and the eight essential things that your clients need to know about it.
It’s a move forward for the WordPress visual editor
It’s been (too many) years since WordPress has made any significant changes to its visual editor. With the new editor, the goal is to make the interface more intuitive for its users.
In other words, WordPress wants to make it easy for anyone, especially for those just getting started with WordPress, to create, edit and customise the finer details that make a site just right.
It’s more than just an editor
Gutenberg isn’t just an editor replacement but a paradigm shift in how users edit content in WordPress. It’s a client-side interface that uses a block-based system to build up content.
Users don’t need to know HTML or how to write shortcodes. They can control a site’s entire layout – back end and front end – from a single interface.
Here’s how it looks:
The new editor aims to combine the best features from website builders with the power of WordPress. So, similar to these platforms, users can create and edit entire layouts from a single place.
Is it a page builder then?
Not quite. While it’ll make it easier for users to style regular content like blog posts or standard web pages, it’s not a substitute for page builders. At least not in its current form.
First of all, it lacks the true drag and drop feature. While it does allow you to rearrange blocks, it’s still not free-form like most page builders.
Second of all, unlike popular page builders, it doesn’t offer things like responsive design settings, a variety of pre-made templates, advanced styling options, to name a few.
So, while the goal is to offer many of these features in subsequent releases, in its initial release form it wouldn’t be the best choice for building more complex pages, like a landing page, for example.
What’s different from the current editor
The purpose of the Gutenberg editor is to provide a simpler, easier to use alternative to WordPress’ current open text editor where you don’t have to:
You can use the arrows (on the left side of each block) to move any block vertically.
This not only makes the creating and editing processes easier but it also cuts down on the use of widgets, shortcodes and plugins that can slow down a website.
Formatting is retained when copy and pasting text
In earlier versions of Gutenberg, copy and pasting content onto a page made a complete mess. Formatting was lost in the process, but not anymore.
With the new editor, you can paste paragraphs, lists, headings, and more, and the editor will automatically create the appropriate blocks and retain formatting. It’ll also retain text markup like italics and bold.
There are many concerns over backward-compatibility or compatibility with older themes, that don’t style HTML5 output. Gutenberg blocks output content using HTML 5 tags like section and figure. So, since many older themes don’t have CSS to address styling these tags, margins and padding for these tags will probably be non-existent.
In other words, there are probably going to be lots of broken sites across the web as this transition unfolds. As soon as a site is updated to WordPress 5.0, users will have a broken experience the next time they edit a post, if that site relies on custom meta boxes.
This means that site owners should take the time to prepare their sites to prevent this from happening and to ensure they aren’t affected by Gutenberg when they update to 5.0.
Will Gutenberg be optional?
If clients are wondering if Gutenberg will be optional or not, the answer is no. Now Gutenberg has launched in WordPress 5.0, you won’t be able to turn it off as it will become the official editor for WordPress. (You will, however, be able to “rollback” to the old WordPress editor via a plugin, at least at first.)
The new Gutenberg WordPress editor is just not a replacement for the current text editor but a new way to build and edit websites. While it has a long way to go, it’s definitely something to be excited about for the future.
Have you tried out Gutenberg yet? What else do you think clients should know about it?