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WordPress Gutenberg: What Is It & What Do You Need to Know?

“No ordinary software update” is quite an understatement when it comes to WordPress version 5.0. After an initial release date of April 2018, the next big update from the web platform – playfully named Gutenberg – is a major break from the classic interface you’ve become accustomed to.

The popular website development platform with over 19.5 million websites across the internet has reimagined its page editor to feature improvements, such as:

  • Simplistic block-by-block development interface
  • Distraction-free writing environment
  • Easy drag-and-drop style design elements

While these changes may seem harmless on the surface, your website may be in for a rude awakening.

After significant push back from website development communities to ensure compatibility with crucial plug-ins and older themes, WordPress Gutenberg has yet to be officially implemented.

The most recent estimate is early 2019.

What You Need to Know About Gutenberg

Back in 2013, WordPress introduced version 3.7 which featured automatic software updates to help protect website owners from growing security threats. This was very helpful in preventing website hacking.

But along with the benefits, this also means that when a radically different core software is included in said update (i.e. Gutenberg), there’s no avoiding the switch.

For those in your organization managing your website, this means learning a completely different method for posting fresh content, such as blog articles, case studies, or news updates.

If that doesn’t make your head explode, the more serious concern for WordPress website owners is the potential for compatibility issues – specifically in terms of…

  • Plug-Ins
  • Older Themes
  • Image Responsiveness within Gutenberg Interface

There is, essentially, a strong likelihood your website could experience post-update technical difficulties.

When will Gutenberg for WordPress Launch?

What Can You Do as a Website Owner? 5 Actions Items.

Okay, so now that you’re aware of the potential issues, how can you avoid a customer service nightmare? As with previous core software revisions, our team at Signalfire recommends taking these 5 precautions before updating to Gutenberg:

1) Make a backup

While many website hosts provide backup services, make sure your website is backed up once more before making any updates. This is crucial. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP.

2) Check plugin compatibility

Your current WordPress administrative interface will list all of the plugins associated with your website. We recommend checking them against the Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database. Even some of the top-ranking plugins (e.g. Jet Pack) are not fully compatible yet.

3) Create a staging version for your website

This one might need to involve your website developer, but with many website hosts you can duplicate your website to create a testing environment called a “staging site.”

This staging site is isolated from your “live” website and can be tested with Gutenberg. Once you’ve tested the website you can take the updated website live.

4) Wait

Just wait. Seriously. You can disable the automatic updates for many managed hosts, so the new version of WordPress isn’t applied to your website. Once the bugs have been ironed out, move ahead with your normal updating process.

No sense in updating things twice, right?

Further Reading: Wait Before Updating to WordPress 5.0

5) Shut it off

One of the nice additions to the update is the ability to keep the classic administrative interface. While it may not help with plugin compatibility, it may help on keeping things more secure.

As soon as we know more about this feature, we’ll be sure to share that information with you.

Resources About Gutenberg for WordPress


Getting Started with WordPress Gutenberg – everything you need to know

A quick tutorial to help introduce you to the new visual editing platform.

Gutenberg Myth-busting: 10 Answers on the Future of Content Creation in WordPress

The new WordPress update has a lot of rumors flying around. This great article by the developers of Gutenberg debunk many of the top rumors. It might be a bit more technical, but it will help weed out a lot of the doomsday talk.

Official WordPress Gutenberg FAQ

Straight from the source. This great FAQ section answers basic (and not so basic) questions, but also has an extensive overview of what will be in Gutenberg when it arrives.

Are your website updates getting to be too much?

Is Website Maintenance Getting to be Too Much?

We understand that running a business or non-profit organization AND managing your website is a lot.

If you’d rather not spend time trying to re-teach yourself WordPress, let’s have a conversation about the cost benefit of having Signalfire help you retrain or simply manage your site for you.

Monthly fees for running or validating backups, updating plugins, and even performing content updates are actually quite affordable.

Enlist your creative marketing guides & outfitters at Signalfire to ensure your website experience is everything your customers need it to be.