Published on August 13, 2018
WP is Promising Big Changes Before the Year’s End. How Will They Affect You?
In recent years, WordPress has faced mounting competition from a new generation of intuitive website builders and e-commerce solutions. Squarespace, Wix, Shopify, and Bigcommerce top the list of WordPress alternatives that are growing in popularity — and for a brief time, it appeared that these platforms posed a serious threat to WordPress’ dominance of the online world.
In response to these trends, WordPress leadership and independent WordPress developers alike have risen to the occasion, creating a number of innovative new solutions to some of the biggest WordPress challenges faced by webmasters, business owners, and the agencies.
The results of these WordPress developments have been mostly positive. In fact, the platform’s ubiquity has only grown, with a recent report from W3Tech surveys showing that nearly one in every three websites in the world is powered by WordPress. This number becomes even more impressive when one considers that the second largest content management system, Joomla, powers a mere 3% of all websites.
In spite of the mostly positive response to the newest evolution of WordPress, some recent changes have also created challenges for website administrators and WordPress developers. Nonetheless, WordPress has made it clear that they plan to continue aggressively pursuing new improvements. Though no official launch date has been set, the company announced last year that they will be releasing the newest iteration of the platform, WordPress 5.0, during 2018. By far the most significant change expected is the addition of Gutenberg to the platform’s core infrastructure.
What is Gutenberg?
Think back to high school history class for a moment, and you may remember that Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the late 15th century — an innovation that quickly made reading, writing, and sharing ideas substantially more accessible and widespread. If you do remember all of this, then you probably already guessed how user-friendly (and how ambitious) the biggest WordPress project of 2018 aims to be.
Entitled Gutenberg, this new editing and publishing tool is already available for use as a plugin. And WordPress will soon be launching Gutenberg as a standard feature for all WordPress users. The goal of this new feature is simple: make WordPress site building as easy and as intuitive as site building with competitors such as Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.
The Effect of Gutenberg on WordPress Users
Response to Gutenberg have been polarized, and is perhaps best exemplified through reference to some of the one-star and five-star ratings left on the plugin review page at wordpress.org. Here are two examples we wanted to highlight:
Gutenberg is the step towards the future that WordPress needed! Gutenberg makes it possible for the first time to create typographically rich, immersive content in the WordPress editor, and it’s really exciting to see what people are creating with it.
— 5 star review by WordPress user Mike Miklic
I think this will be a great tool for some but should not be in core. It is disruptive, not flexible and seems to be a personal agenda for some and not all members of the WordPress teams. Glitchy and requires a lot more work to build as a developer.
— 1 star review by WordPress user Justin Greer
In summary: Gutenberg helps reduce visual differences between the admin page-building experience and actual front-end rendering while making WordPress a bit easier for laypeople to use. However, its user experience may not yet be on par with major WordPress competitors, and it could potentially damage legacy plugins that are not updated for React, which was used to write Gutenberg.
Gutenberg and Your Existing WordPress Theme
When you hear doom and gloom predictions about how Gutenberg will affect WordPress and its users, keep in mind that all current reviews of Gutenberg are based upon experiences with the Gutenberg plugin. WordPress is unlikely to release the final, integrated version of Gutenberg until all major problems have been addressed. WordPress CEO Matt Mullenweg stated in a blog post entitled “We Called it Gutenberg for a Reason” that, “Gutenberg will ship with WordPress 5.0, but the release will come out when Gutenberg is ready, not vice versa.”
It is true that the integration of Gutenberg could break infrequently updated plugins. However, it will have little effect on the vast majority of WordPress themes. This has been a point of confusion in the blogosphere, so ignore any alarmists claiming that Gutenberg is going to destroy your theme. In terms of theme development, Gutenberg will necessitate, at most, a few hours of WordPress customization and maintenance.
How Will Gutenberg Impact WordPress Developers Who Build Themes From Scratch?
As mentioned above, the integration of Gutenberg isn’t going to cause any profound damage to your previous work. Some have raised concerns that the ease of use offered by Gutenberg will lead WordPress users to cut their designer budgets and/or abandon WordPress builder plugins. Frankly, we aren’t that worried. Here’s why:
- Regardless of how intuitive Gutenberg may be, the level of quality and customization that a non-expert can attain with any page builder pales in comparison to what a professional WordPress developer can achieve.
- The majority of business owners who pay for WordPress development are not only investing in technical expertise, they are paying for convenience and a reduced workload.
- Matt Mullenweg stated in his aforementioned blog post that the main motivation behind new WordPress changes is to reach the “next big market [that WordPress] should be serving,” which is “the 157 million small businesses without sites.” In the end, Gutenberg is more likely to expand the WordPress economy by bringing in new users than it is to harm WordPress developers.
Preparing for WordPress 5.0
There are two potential solutions to the Gutenberg-related challenges described above. The first is that users can install the WordPress plugin Classic Editor, which allows them to continue running their sites the same as they did in the pre-Gutenberg days.
The second solution is for users to ensure that they have the assistance of an experienced WordPress developer to address any maintenance or adoption issues that arise. WordPress developers and agencies are certain to become very busy when WordPress 5.0 launches, as a subset of their clients is likely to be dealing with broken plugins and other backend compatibility issues sparked by the change to React.
ReliablePSD specializes in helping agencies and businesses turn their design ideas into effective and efficient HTML and WordPress coding. If you are interested in finding a high-end professional developer who can perform WordPress Development, including PSD to WordPress or Sketch to WordPress conversions, then we encourage you to contact the ReliablePSD team and get a free quote. We look forward to hearing from you!
This post was last updated on January 13, 2023