Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor

Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor – curse or blessing?

The last few weeks I noticed it more and more: on websites where I hadn't installed the test version yet, I missed Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor.

Although there is still a lot of controversy about Gutenberg and it is still unclear when the new WordPress editor will be launched, the editor has improved considerably compared to the current editor.

Why does WordPress need a new editor?

The current name of the editor, the classic editor it all: it's a classic. WordPress is 15 years old this year and the current text editor is 14 years old. For a human being this is not much, but in website country we talk about the internet prehistory. And that's how this one works. After the first period of WordPress, in which it was only a blog, a lot of functionality was added.

Because there was no space reserved for this functionality in the original software, it was spread over several parts of the WordPress dashboard. For example, we know widgets and menus that are added via the WordPress display. This is not yet being changed, but in one of the next phases of Gutenberg. Also, the classic editor cannot easily handle the insertion of photo galleries, columns are not possible and the placement of forms or other add-ons is now impossible without code.

My favorite feature in WordPress Gutenberg

One of my favorite features of Gutenberg is that you can convert blocks into a shared block. You can store them and then reuse them in other places. When you change these shared blocks in one place, the block changes wherever you've used it.

In Gutenberg you can save shared blocks.
Introblok is a shared block in Gutenberg that you can reuse in other posts and pages.

Do I need the new WordPress editor even if I use a pagebuilder?

For WordPress users who are used to a pagebuilder, Gutenberg might be a step back. But don't forget that Gutenberg is not a pagebuilder, but a replacement for the editor. In the first place, the new WordPress editor is meant to be a content editor. So it's not so much about making templates of whole pages, you still need a theme for that.

A number of well-known pagebuilder developers (such as Elementor and Beaver Builder) have indicated that they embrace Gutenberg. They provide an optimal user experience that allows you to make the most of Gutenberg and the functionality of the page builder. There are also various theme and pagebuilder developers who totally ignore the developments around Gutenberg. I don't think it's a good development that a change at the base of WordPress is ignored. This could cause errors and conflicts in your website in the future and nobody is waiting for that.

Does Gutenberg work with my WordPress theme?

This was a frequently asked question during the workshops and presentations I have given about Gutenberg in recent months. These and other questions about Gutenberg are collected on a frequently asked questions page. In short, it all depends on the theme you have chosen. The only way to find out is by testing it. Don't do this in your live environment, but make a local copy of your website. If you don't know how to do this, ask your website developer to test it for you.

Live demonstration WordPress Gutenberg in Blue City, Rotterdam

WordCamp Rotterdam took place at the end of March 2018. This first Rotterdam-based WordPress conference took place in Blue City, Rotterdam. I gave the keynote presentation on Gutenberg. Watch the video to learn more about Gutenberg. From 7.05 I will give a live demonstration of Gutenberg, where I make a fanpage for a very prominent Rotterdammert... so listen and shudder.

Gutenberg is not there yet: the new WordPress editor is still far from optimal in terms of accessibility.

This may be a little softly put, but Gutenberg is lacking a lot in terms of accessibility. Although there are a number of built-in tools, such as a contrast checker and information about the structure of your message, Gutenberg is not accessible for people with a disability. For example, the operation of Gutenberg with speech recognition is an unmitigated disaster.

Is WordPress Gutenberg a curse or a blessing?

All change is difficult. Especially if you're used to working a certain way. It always takes time to really get familiar with a new software interface. I think Gutenberg will certainly add something to the user experience of WordPress in a positive way. But we must prevent people from being frightened to death by the implementation of Gutenberg, soon to be released as WordPress 5.0. This can be done by making a clear walk-through as soon as Gutenberg is implemented. You then take people by the hand and let them slowly but surely become familiar with the new, improved version of WordPress.

Leave a comment