You may well have been aware that at the end of last year (2018) WordPress rolled out their latest major version update, from v4 to v5. Along with a variety of significant security updates (that are rolled out with many of their incremental updates too) was the new block-based editing experience named ‘Gutenberg’.
What is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is the name that WordPress has given to their new content editing experience, named after the person who invented a printing press with movable type more than 500 years ago called Johannes Gutenberg. This new editor is intended to make the creation of content easier (especially for those not used to WordPress) and it concentrates on using small blocks of content where the end user adds elements of their page.
What’s the problem with the old editor?
The (now) classic editor is the old familiar word processing type editor that allows you to add content like you would when writing a Word document – so you can format the text with headings, bullet points, bold, italics, hypertext links etc: –
You can also add images and ‘shortcodes’ (that pull into your page or post other content often relate to plugins you have installed on your website).
The difficulty with the classic editor has been in doing things like re-ordering content (if you wanted to move a sub heading or an image up the page for example) where often attempting to do that would end up with a slightly jumbled page of content. Even more tricky in the classic editor is creating layouts – columns being a prime example that require the end user to either know html code, and then have to wander into the ‘Text’ editor (*careful now*), or to have to install a plugin and then add shortcodes to the Visual editor (*still be careful*).
What advantages does Gutenberg have?
What Gutenberg does – really well in my opinion – is to allow users the ability to create new content, or edit old content, in a much more intuitive drag and drop individual blocks style. Gutenberg also reduces the risk of messing up your page when attempting to make changes to the content and structure. With this easy to use drag and drop / shuffle interface for each item in your page you can easily re-order your content without worrying about breaking anything.
Additionally when editing your content in the admin area using Gutenberg, it gives a truer representation of what will appear on the ‘front end’ of your website – much more ‘WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)’ than the classic editor.
There are now also a growing number of plugins available that allow great flexibility working with the new Gutenberg interface. Yoast SEO is an example that allows you to add ‘structured data’ blocks such as reviews, news, recipes, FAQs etc – and this also generates the technical code that allows Google to see these blocks and index them in their searches, enhancing the SEO capabilities of your website.
Is it time to *Go Gutenberg*?!
Every new website that I create has Gutenberg activated, and my suggestion is that (unless there is good reason) any new website should use this new content editing software – mainly as it is better than the old version, and also as it is here to stay (and evolve).
For a good number of the websites that I have created in the past I’ve deliberately delayed the installation of the Gutenberg editor. The rationale in most cases for this is because a sudden change from the old editor to the new one may be confusing for users. In some cases there is other functionality used within more custom aspects of websites that are yet to support the new editor, likewise not all themes support all aspects of the Gutenberg blocks.
If you want some assistance in reviewing how adding Gutenberg to your website then I suggest taking your website to a staging environment (which means making a copy and testing it where there re no real world implications), turning it *on* and testing it out – then if you like it, and your website likes it – you can continue creating great content using this new editing experience.
Want to know more?
For more detail about Gutenberg and if you want to have a play with the editor in a safe environment check out https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/. Also just Google ‘Gutenberg’ and there is already a huge amount of content in the mix.