WordPress users have been discussing the upcoming Gutenberg Editor launch for well over a year now. It is now available in beta form in the current WordPress release. It’s expected to be fully released later in 2018 with WordPress 5.0.
In spite of efforts to inform users about Gutenberg, the vast majority don’t know much about it. So the question is, is the WordPress’ Gutenberg Editor a good move?
First, let’s discuss what the darned thing is.
What is the Gutenberg Editor?
The Gutenberg Editor is a new look for the WordPress Visual Editor. Gutenberg will replace the familiar ribbon-style look with a different approach – drag and drop content blocks. Since many WordPress users focus on creating written content, this may be a little unsettling.
Gutenberg makes WordPress more attractive to younger users, who have a lot of options to build a website. While it has long been the world’s leading website software, it needs to remain competitive, particularly as more and more people use drag-and-drop blocks to create content.
Content blocks have been standard in desktop publishing for several years now and are seen in lots of competitor website software as well. They’re also used to create content in email software like MailChimp. And for the past few years, many WordPress themes have offered customization options that use content blocks to create columns, insert photographs, and provide space to embed video and other enhancements.
Gutenberg will not affect the way WordPress websites look to visitors, except that it might encourage users to try out customization tools that can make sites more attractive. And that’s a good thing, right?
Gutenberg Will Help Writers Boost Their Content
Writers probably use WordPress more than anyone else. Few, though, bother with technical enhancements. Once they familiarize themselves with the Gutenberg Editor, they will find they can take advantage of additional content, namely video and graphics, to insert wherever they believe it will boost or complement their written content. This will strengthen their SEO efforts.
Gutenberg will also ensure websites are accessible to users with limited vision, an often-overlooked population that will grow as the Baby Boomers age. Accessible websites send a powerful, inclusive message to people with visual disabilities.
Gutenberg Isn’t Quite Ready for Prime Time
Gutenberg is still in beta testing and should not be activated on a live webpage right now. Even WordPress says it belongs on a development or testing site. You can create these using a WordPress staging plugin, or ask your host to create a staging site for you.
There’s a fair amount of Gutenberg alarmist sentiment. Much of it is about Gutenberg “breaking” websites and plugins. This is more likely to occur on websites whose owners haven’t updated WordPress or use outdated plugins and themes.
Small Business Trends wrote a somewhat alarmist post in July 2018 that includes some useful tips:
- Hold off activation as long as possible
- Make sure your host understands Gutenberg
- How to vet hosts if yours isn’t up to the task
- Check to make sure your theme is Gutenberg-compatible
Writers who aren’t ready to try Gutenberg can install the Classic Editor plugin after they upgrade to WordPress 5.0.
Let’s hope few take that step. As Johannes Gutenberg himself once said, “Let us give wings to the truth that it may fly with the Word.” Check out our blog for more articles like this.