WordPress updates its CMS platform multiple times every year and most changes are fairly incremental. Many users never notice the difference from one update to the next but everyone is going to feel the impact of WordPress 5.0 when the update rolls out in December.
This is the single biggest update in the history of WordPress and it’s going to change the way you do everything on the platform.
When WordPress powers roughly 30% of the entire web, a significant change like this is always going to have a major impact on website owners and marketers. So here’s a quick look at everything that’s coming with WordPress 5.0 and what you need to do to get ready.
It’s probably easier to think of WordPress 5.0 as a complete overhaul of the platform, rather than an update – at least, in the sense we’ve become used to from the CMS. Once you update to version 5.0, everything is going to look and function a whole lot differently to the WordPress you currently know.
The headline feature is the WordPress editor, which is named Gutenberg – a WYSIWYG editor that allows you to create pages and content visually. If you’ve used WordPress page builder plugins before or builder themes such as Divi, the format will be somewhat familiar.
Gutenberg isn’t only a WYSIWYG builder, though – it’s also a modular builder that allows you to create content blocks. You can use these blocks multiple times across your pages and edit them all from the same place. So, for example, you can create a CTA block promoting one of your digital downloads, place it on every blog page and every optimisation change you make will be applied across your site.
WordPress 5.0 is going to make the platform more powerful and easier to use but successfully completing the update is going to be more complex than you might be used to. If you’re using any themes or plugins that change the functionality of the existing WordPress editor, there could be integration issues after you update. To minimise the risk of integration problems, here’s what you need to do:
WordPress has released a Gutenberg plugin that you can use to get to grips with the new editor before it rolls out for real. Test it out, get your clients to have a play and give everyone the best chance to become familiar with it ahead of release.
There’s also an official Classic Editor plugin that you can use to restore the existing editor and this will provide an important backup for you and your clients until you know everyone is comfortable with Gutenberg.
To avoid any issues with updating to WordPress 5.0, create a staging website on a local server so you can update this first and test for any issues. Simply create a copy of your existing sites and test the update on all of them, leaving the live version of each site untouched until you’re ready to go live.
This is one of the biggest areas for potential problems and you need to make sure you’re running a Gutenberg compatible theme when you update. If your existing theme isn’t being updated (or you can’t confirm) it might be a good idea to switch to a new theme that’s already committed to Gutenberg, even if this means redesigning your site.
This is another potential problem area and there’s no guarantee every plugin you use is going to be updated for Gutenberg compatibility. Now is the time to assess your plugins, check for any Gutenberg documentation and decide whether you need to make any changes.
The most important thing is to start getting ready now to make sure you don’t experience any critical errors during the update. The last thing you want is a plugin causing problems across your site because it isn’t compatible with the new editor.
If you need any technical assistance getting ready for WordPress 5.0, our WordPress developers can help. We offer a website maintenance package where you can ask us to make changes to your website as and when you need them. Your monthly subscription means our web team is there to look after things – proactively and at your request. For more information, call us on 02392 830281 or submit your details here and we’ll call you.
Chris is Managing Director at Vertical Leap and has over 25 years' experience in sales and marketing. He is a keynote speaker and frequent blogger, with a particular interest in intelligent automation and data analytics. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the guitar and is a stage manager at the Victorious Festival.
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