WordPress Gets a Major Update

In early December, WordPress moved from Version 4.9.9 to Version 5.

WordPress V5 is a major release, most significantly for the inclusion of a new post editor – Gutenberg

Named after Johannes Gutenberg – the inventor of the printing press, the new editor introduces Drag & Drop block editing to WordPress posts.

Over the weeks before the Christmas break, we have been updating sites to WP version 5 so here are our initial thoughts on the new release.

One of the issues with the existing WordPress editor was that it was a long way from the ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG) intuitive editor that many people are looking for. Consequently, adding structure and style to the content of your post article while you are writing it within the editor has been a challenge. The ‘old’ editor was very simple and great for writing paragraphs of prose, and maybe adding the odd image, but anything more was pretty much impossible without resorting to plugins or HTML coding.

More Layout Flexibility

With Gutenberg – layout flexibility is addressed through the idea of blocks. You build up your content using separate blocks with different block available for different content types & layouts.

Let’s take the example of images, and the desire to layout several images next to each other in a single row. Pre Gutenberg, this was (remarkably) tricky, requiring the use of PHP or HTML code. With WP5 and the new editor, it is simply a case of selecting a “Gallery” block, choosing the images, and setting a few parameters (e.g. how many images you want per row).

Here’s an example, all point-and-click with no coding:

These flags are in-fact from our recent Christmas Quiz – If you missed it, you will find it here 

Gutenberg includes a number of basic block types by default, ready to insert:

  • Images
  • Media files (Video/Audio)
  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Etc..

This is all through Gutenberg with no code.

Furthermore, as is the nature of WordPress, third-party plugins are already starting to become available, extending Gutenberg’s capabilities.

Examples include:

These add many new ‘block options’ to Gutenberg and I am sure there will be many more in the coming months.

Gutenberg is not a Page Builder

Whilst Gutenberg is a step up in terms of functionality from the classic WP editor, it is not a fully-fledged page builder. Gutenberg focuses on the core content of your website. Making wider changes to the structure of a page (Header, footer, sidebar etc), remains outside the scope of the new editor – for now at any rate.

There is no question that omitting this enhanced functionality does make Gutenberg easier to use, with a shorter learning-curve.

If you do want more extensive page building and structure-editing capabilities, there are some great, dedicated page-builder plugins. Our favourite is Elementor (which has been downloaded by WordPress users over 1 million times)

Gutenberg may not be for everyone

Let’s face it, change is rarely popular. While Gutenberg does deliver some great new functionality, it does have a bit of a learning curve. With this in mind, Gutenberg developers have been sensible enough to allow users to switch off the new editor

The Classic Editor plugin – produced by the main WordPress development team, will allow you to hide the new editor and re-instate the classic post editing functionality.

The other way is a bit more technical – by adding a piece of code to the theme functions file functions.php:

add_filter('use_block_editor_for_post', '__return_false', 10);

The second is certainly the more permanent approach though perhaps outside the comfort zone of many.

On to the future

Whilst we are by default disabling Gutenberg on clients sites when we update to WordPress 5, simply because it is a big change, and we want to manage the switch at our pace. I think it is a good step forward, and I am sure once the dust settles, we will quickly start to wonder how we ever lived without it. 

Undoubtedly, Gutenberg is a good step forward and I am sure that, once the dust settles, we will quickly start to wonder how we ever lived without it.

If you would like to find out more about Gutenberg and what it means for your WordPress website, do get in touch.

Filed under: Content Marketing, News, WordPress

About Duncan Wright

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Over the past 25 years, working in both the corporate world, and the field of SME marketing consultancy, Duncan Wright has developed extensive knowledge & experience that really adds value to BSA Marketing's clients.

As a member of the CIM, and as a Chartered Marketer, Duncan has the marketing knowledge to come up with relevant and innovative marketing strategies for clients, whilst at the same time possessing the technical knowledge to turn these strategies into relevant and sustainable marketing campaigns in the real world.