GUTENBERG. You might read that word and think:

a). how do you pronounce this?

b). what on earth is it and do I need to worry about it?

Let’s skip pronunciation and move to the second question – if you have a WordPress website, then yes – you absolutely need to worry about it.

What is Gutenberg and do I need to worry about it? - Kristy Morton Consulting

But let’s go back to the beginning with a nice little intro. When I initially started hearing about Gutenberg, I wasn’t overly concerned about its initial release. I thought it’s “opt-in”, it’s just the post and page editor for now and it felt miles away at the time.

But now it’s release is imminent and I’ve been reading/watching/obsessing over it I’ve realised it’s importance and one key issue I didn’t think about:

Plugin and Theme conflicts! ARGH!

With the plethora of WordPress plugins and themes available and the fact many are unsupported, of course there may be issues with them.

But don’t stress yet, let’s start with the basics.


What is Gutenberg?

Let’s keep it super simple. It’s basically a new content editor for WordPress. What is a content editor? Well, on the backend of your WordPress website where you create pages and posts is where the editor comes into play. It looks a little something like this:

What is Gutenberg and do I need to worry about it? - Kristy Morton Consulting

It’s simple, has limited options but it feels safe for those WordPress users who don’t have an awesome page builder like Divi. Despite the safety, in order for WordPress to compete with some of the other players (think Squarespace) they had to lift their game.

Enter Gutenberg. Cue suspenseful music.

It’s supposed to provide a better user experience (i.e. be easier to use for you guys) and make it easier to enter content in a prettier way. It will involve content blocks, like a page builder, so you can update layouts easier.

If you’ve used a page builder before then you are at least a step ahead conceptually, but if you haven’t – then you will have to learn this concept as well as how to use Gutenberg.


So…I need to worry about Gutenberg right? When?

You get the gist – yes you do need to worry about Gutenberg. It’s coming, whether you like it or not. You can opt out of using it for the moment, but be careful if you’re webhost does auto updates as you may end up with the latest version of WordPress (it will be released with version 5.0 of WordPress) without realising.

It’s due for release November 27th 2018 (eek!) but may be postponed until January 2019. If you believe twitter, it may not be released until there have been enough downloads to deem it safe to release.

In any case, it’s coming at some point so it doesn’t hurt to understand what it is and how to be prepared.


Ok I’m panicking now, what do we do?

Firstly shall I start carrying on about the importance of backups? I’m going to anyway – so let me just say please make sure you have backups (your own, not your webhost – unless you’re on WP Engine! Then you have something to go back to at least.

Next steps depends on your webhost, your tech skills and time/care factor. So let’s have a look:

  1. Do you have a webhost that makes it easy to create a copy of your current website on a staging environment? Essentially, can you make a copy of your website somewhere that isn’t the real site, so you can test?

1.If so – awesome! Create a copy of your site, install a copy of the Gutenberg plugin and start testing. Make sure all your important website functions perform as they should (i.e the shop and any forms) and the page layouts are ok.

2.If the answer is no (or you really don’t have the time), move onto Option 2.

2. One way to avoid Gutenberg for the moment, is to install the Classic Editor plugin. Then when Gutenberg is implemented, you can continue to edit using the current editor (for the meantime at least). I’m not so sure about the plugin conflict side of things, but as far as your editing experience on the site goes, you can carry on as normal.

1.There is also a plugin called Gutenberg Ramp, which will allow you to choose which posts or pages you use Gutenberg on.

Also, as I mentioned above – check if your website host does automatic updates of WordPress and if so, switch it off…for now…

What happens to all my content when Gutenberg does arrive?

The answer to this depends on your current theme or page builder plugin, if you’re using one. Let’s assume you aren’t, in which case your post and page content will be placed into the Gutenberg editor into a “Classic Block” – so you can edit it as you need (don’t worry, I’ll show some graphical examples of this in the near future!). You can then add other blocks on the page or post as you need and edit the content within the classic block.

If you’re using a page builder, you have to be careful – if you elect to use Gutenberg on the page it will wipe your formatting. BUT don’t worry, it very handily warns you before any changes happen and don’t forget, WordPress has the “restore previous versions” functionality – so if you make a boo boo, you can use that to restore your page content. Phew!

Now as for my good old Divi, you’ll be fine. They have made an update on their end so it’s very difficult for you to accidentally change your Divi page to a Gutenberg page. Plus, they’re assuring everyone Divi is Gutenberg compatible. Love those guys.

But if you’re not on the Divi bandwagon, don’t worry – we can assume any reputable plugin and theme developers will be working hard to make sure their products are compatible with Gutenberg. It’s tricky for them too, as obviously updates are being made to Gutenberg constantly as well.


In Summary

Be aware it’s coming, have the Classic editor ready to go and if you get stuck, be sure to let me know. I’ll be publishing some training resources when it goes live so be sure to get onto my email list for updates!

Hey, I’m Kristy

Kristy Morton is a mother, multiple business owner and numbers gal. She runs a web development consultancy, specialising in WordPress websites. Kristy combines her excellent technical knowledge with her ability to translate this into ways that are understandable to the average person, so her clients feel informed and in control of how their websites are developed and managed. She is also the Co-Founder of B Directory where the team is supercharging small business growth.

Despite seeming like an overachiever, Kristy admits to always be chasing the sun, a simple life and one more homemade chocolate.