WordPress 5.0: It's here. Should you update?

WordPress 5.0 was released today. Santa gift 🙂 This latest release includes a major change related to the content editor. A new editor called GutenbergIt is a significant step forward in terms of functionality of this CMS system. It enables convenient editing of page content and arranging the appearance of, for example, blog entries by drag and drop, which has been missing for a long time.

Generally the change brings a lot of benefits to the users of the system however in the initial period it can be quite challenging for some site owners running on WordPress. In this post, we'll cover a few points that will help you decide when to upgrade your WordPress to version 5.0.

Why has WordPress changed the editor?

WordPress' core development team has long talked about Gutenberg. The goal, according to Matt Mullenweg, is to simplify the user's workflow when they write, edit, publish and design websites. The editor change is intended to give users a better visual presentation of the post or page being published. It's supposed to be easier and more enjoyable.

Overall, Gutenberg is a big step forward when it comes to working with WordPress. But, as Matt stated, the aim is to make it easier for someone just starting out with WordPress. WordPress is meant to make a so-called good first impression. For the rest, that means an adjustment period.

Potential problems with older plugins and themes

WordPress has been around for over 15 years. During this time millions of websites have been created using this system. Unfortunately, it is often the case that after creating a site, its owners never update the main software, plugins or themes. It is worth adding that in the WordPress repository you can find many abandoned plugins that are no longer developed by their developers. Nobody tests these plugins including older themes to see how they will behave with the new Gutenberg editor.

What's more, many of these 'abandoned' sites are hosted with companies that automatically update the main WordPress script. What can happen in such a situation?

Some WordPress site owners may not be able to edit their sites effectively. Some may not be able to access editing at all. For some users, there may be server 500 errors or just white screens without any messages. Or everything may run smoothly, even with older plugins and an older theme. A bit like a lottery.

The WordPress repository is about 50,000 unique plugins. So it is not possible to test them all using the new editor. Plugins that are developed are also mostly tested by the authors. On the other hand, abandoned plugins that nobody tests are doomed to you and your tests. Will they work properly with the new editor? I don't know. You just have to check.

The same applies to themes. Many themes are developed and tested. In other cases, the theme may have a problem with the new content editor and you will then have to adapt it to the new environment yourself.

If you're expecting plugin or theme compatibility issues with WordPress 5.0, you can keep your current WordPress editor by installing the WordPress Classic Editor plugin. I recommend doing this before making the upgrade, although it's worth noting that Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 represent a significant step towards more efficient site editing. So it's worth taking the time to adjust your site to work properly with the new editor and take advantage of its potential.

How do I know if I am ready?

Do you have a test environment for your site? Have you tried the new Gutenberg editor? Are you using the latest version of PHP? Great, you'll probably be ready for WordPress version 5.0. As with all major versions, I recommend updating your testing environment to catch issues that way.

Look for anomalies in all page layouts. It's also worth going back in time and reviewing older posts and pages to make sure they're ready for the new editor.

As always, make a backup of your site and database files before any update, especially an update of this format we are talking about.

If your hosting provider automatically updates the software

If you use managed WordPress hosting, your provider will automatically update WordPress. However, you should have access to a backup. Contact your hosting provider to find out what support they will provide for the new WordPress editor and when they will update the script to version 5.0.

If you are using a page builder or a premium theme

If your site uses a page creation tool such as Visual Composer, Divi, Beaver Builder, Elementor or any other tool that uses shortcodes, check with the developer to make sure the tool is ready to work with the new Gutenberg editor.

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