In December 2018, WordPress unveiled the biggest update to its CMS platform in years. WordPress 5.0 shipped with an entirely new block-based editor named Gutenberg, which replaced the traditional TinyMCE interface with a more visual and intuitive UI.
The initial release was met with a mixed reception but website owners have had a year now to get used to the new interface – and it was a radical change. Bug fixes have also improved usability over the past 12 months. Now, with 2019 coming to a close, there’s a lot to love about Gutenberg, heading into 2020.
1. You can create page layouts in the editor
From a design perspective, the biggest difference Gutenberg makes is that it allows you to create page layouts from within the editor itself. Previously, you had to install a page builder plugin or theme to create custom layouts without adding/editing any code.
However, Gutenberg is based around the same “blocks” principle as most page builders. You can now insert columns, tables, spacers, separators and other layout features with a few clicks by simply using the relevant block.
You can find a full list of the blocks available in WordPress on this page.
Simply tap the + icon in the editor to add a new block and then select which type of block you want to use. You can search for specific blocks in the text field that pops up. Your most-used blocks will automatically appear below the search box.
Quick, code-free layouts are now a standard feature in WordPress.
2. Rich content is at your fingertips
Once you’ve gotten over how easy it is to create layouts in Gutenburg, you’re going to want to start filling them with content. This is where the latest version of WordPress really starts to show its capabilities – and let’s remember this is a publishing platform we’re talking about.
Traditionally, WordPress is a tool for bloggers and publishers to post text-orientated content on the web. It’s always felt very much like an online text editor with a publish button. However, Gutenberg brings WordPress into the visually-orientated modern age of content creation.
WordPress no longer feels like a text editor since Gutenberg puts rich content at your fingertips. Instead of text-heavy pages, you can overlay images with text, insert CTA sections between text, create image galleries, add audio files, map embeds and just about every multimedia format you could expect from a modern web page.
However rich your content needs to be, there’s probably a block for that.
3. You can reuse blocks anywhere
Designing individual pages is one thing but building and managing an entire site on WordPress is something else entirely. In this sense, being able to save edited blocks and reuse them anywhere is what designers and publishers are going to love most about Gutenburg.
This means you can save CTA sections, tables of info, banners and other pieces of content that need to feature on multiple pages and simply call them in when needed.
The video above from WPBeginner shows you how this is done in Gutenberg; it’s so simple. You just need to click on the three-dot menu icon for any block and then click the Add to Reusable Blocks option that comes up.
You’ll be asked to give the reusable block a unique name and then all you need to do is click the Save button. Done.
4. You don’t need so many plugins
The Gutenberg editor makes things possible that could only be done with plugins in previous versions of WordPress. Now, you don’t need plugins to create grid layouts or embed tables in your content, for example. Things that could be done in the TinyMCE editor (but were far easier to do with plugins) are made easy by Gutenburg – like creating CTA buttons that don’t look like they’re from the ‘90s.
Using fewer plugins means you’re less likely to experience the following issues:
- Bloated and/or outdated code
- Slower loading times
- Increased security risks
- Plugins clashing with each other (glitches)
- Plugins clashing with the WordPress editor or your theme (worse glitches)
- Developers not updating plugins
- Plugins not being supported on later versions of WordPress
Plugins from trusted developers are generally safe and reliable but the open-source nature of WordPress means that almost anyone can release their own plugin. Quality standards vary a great deal and by being less dependent on plugins for basic design tasks, Gutenberg is a more secure platform.
WordPress had been screaming out for a significant update to bring it into the modern age of website builders. Gutenberg takes that crucial step while maintaining all of the CMS functionality that makes WordPress the world’s most popular publishing platform.