WordPress Is Evolving And It Will Affect You
Starting this year WordPress is dramatically and irrevocably changing the way it looks, works, and handles data. This is going to cause some growing pains and some people may be wondering why the company would change a product that is working perfectly fine. While I can’t answer this definitively, I have a notion.
Most market share statistics, like this one, show that WordPress is the undisputed CMS leader. But everyone knows you don’t stay on top by resting on your laurels. WordPress has to evolve. Thanks, in part, to the pressures of platforms like Wix or Squarespace, the next generations of users are likely expecting CMS environments that are more flashy than what you currently get with WordPress: a text editor with some buttons. The CMS interface has to accommodate a more visual method of website development and data handling. The new WordPress roadmap should take us there. There are also issues of increased mobile device usage, multi-media, and interactive technologies that these changes will satisfy.
Stage One: The Gutenberg Editor
The first step along the new WordPress path is introducing a new interface for editing posts and pages. It’s called the Gutenberg editor. The fundamental difference, as I understand it, between Gutenberg and the current editor is how it manages the content you want to insert into your website pages. Basically, all content types (paragraphs, titles, lists, images, videos, etc) will now be controlled as a block of data that you can drag, drop, style, and affect anywhere on the page without the need of extra plugins or deeper coding knowledge. Here is a video that gives a good description of what’s coming.
PLEASE NOTE that this new editor will likely be the default with the release of WordPress 5.0. Here is an FAQ for Gutenberg.
How Will This Affect Your Website?
With the many thousands of themes and plugins that are available for users to install, it’s impossible to generalize the effect Gutenberg will have immediately. Suffice to say it will eventually affect you. Themes may break, plugins may break, content may get rearranged, etc. Thus, it is highly advisable that you talk with your webmaster and make a plan. Initially, I would do the following:
- Contact Your Theme Developer. Whether your theme is custom, you bought one, or you use a free theme, contact the developer and ask how Gutenberg will affect the theme. Most theme developers have a support mechanism or forum where you can ask questions.
- Contact All Your Plugin Developers. If you run WordPress chances are you have plugins installed. You should contact the developers for all your plugins and ask them what the impact of Gutenber will be on their plugin and what you need to do to prepare.
- Install and Test. Currently, Gutenberg is available as a plugin. I would highly suggest you create a development version of your website, install Gutenberg, and test it. You may have a year or two (I don’t know) before Gutenberg is not an option but default. After that, there will be a plugin to allow you to use a classic WordPress editor for a while. But that may not last long.
Resistance Is Futile
There’s no avoiding it. Gutenberg is coming. And after that we expect there will be more changes to the WordPress environment. Do not wait til the last minute or you may be left scrambling to avoid a website catastrophe.