A couple of weeks ago, WordPress released their latest major update, WordPress 5.0. With a new major update comes a host of new features to try out, and we think this one is likely to be a game-changer for small businesses and DIY web designers. Join us as we guide you through some of the changes and introduce you to the new capabilities at your fingertips.

Our Take: The Gutenberg Block Editor:

The most anticipated change from WordPress 5.0 comes in the form of the new integrated page builder, Gutenberg. Gutenberg uses a ‘block’ system, similar to a lot of the Page Builder plugins you’ve used before, but that’s where the similarities end. Gutenberg, as a native editor, is much more reliable than plugin page builders, has increased capabilities and allows for modular plugins. You’ll be able to change the individual properties of each blog and drag and drop wherever you like for a seamless experience. Plus, the mobile editor integration is pretty neat too.

Most themes should work with the Gutenberg update, but new themes designed for Gutenberg have an added benefit: built-in styling. If you find it tiresome to keep everything looking consistent when you make a post, Gutenberg themes will be a breath of fresh of air. All blocks can be set to mirror the styling set out in the theme or be contrasted with your own individual preferences. One thing is for sure: this update is a massive win for content creators and sites reliant on rich imagery and interactive content.

Advanced Guetenberg Editor
One Gutenberg plugin that we particularly like is ‘Advanced Gutenberg Blocks’, which adds greater customisation, wooCommerce blocks, Google Maps blocks and more.

If you’ve got a whole bunch of plugins, like Page Builder, that modify the classic editor, these are likely to no longer work or cause compatibility issues with the Gutenberg editor. To alleviate this, WordPress has released an official plugin to retain the classic editor layout, with support extending to 2021.

Enhanced Speed:

As part of back-end changes to WordPress coupled with the new default Gutenberg theme, Twenty Nineteen, the 5.0 update has been reported to be much faster than previous versions. Cloudways have noticed a halving in load times on test sites with the default theme. This may reduce the net impact of any speed-enhancing and caching plugins you already have installed. For this reason, we recommend re-evaluating and re-calibrating some of your plugins for the best site efficiency after trying out the new update – you could do this during your next website spring clean or service. Newer PHP versions can also improve the speed of your site when paired with the WordPress 5.0 update.

Updating to WordPress 5.0:

As this is a major update, we recommend taking a backup of your existing site before updating. This can usually be done through your hosting company’s command centre, or by downloading and installing one of the many WordPress plugins available; Backup Buddy is one we prefer.
From there, updating your WordPress and any plugins is per usual via the update section on the left admin panel.

wordpress updater

Follow these steps:

  1. Dashboard > Updates
  2. Update your WordPress version
  3. Update any plugins and themes

Perform a sweep of a few pages and posts to see if there’s been any glitches. The Gutenberg block editor has changed the way some pages operate, and if you previously relied heavily on Page Builder plugins, there’s the chance for a spill of shortcode at the top of your pages. If you run a high traffic or eCommerce website and are concerned about compatibility issues with your plugins, we recommend waiting until after the silly season to update.

Beginner’s Guide to Gutenberg

Instead of a ‘Microsoft Word’ styled layout, like the classic editor had, the new Gutenberg editor is less cluttered, but has overwhelmingly more capabilities at your fingertips. After updating to 5.0, start a new post to experience the Gutenberg Block editor.

WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg

Once you’ve started a new post, you’ll be presented with a less cluttered content area, and new features on the right side. The right side panel has two tabs, ‘Document’ and ‘Block’. In the content area at the forefront, scroll over the section to find the plus sign and add your first block. From there, change block attributes in the block tab and switch back to the content area to adjust the content. You also have access to the standard document-editing attributes, like page excerpts and featured images, by going to the document tab.

We’re still experimenting with Gutenberg, but so far, we love it. It’s certainly an improvement over the classic editor and rids the sluggish, frustrating experience associated with some page builder plugins. Expect to see more articles and guides to do with the new Gutenberg block editor, block editor plugins and new Gutenberg themes over the coming weeks and months.

What’s Next?

Have you updated to the new WordPress 5.0 and started using the Gutenberg editor yet? Share your experience with us in the comments below!