Stephani Worts
By Stephani Worts | Web Dev | July 17, 2020

Gutenberg for WordPress: Your Questions Answered

Chances are if you have a WordPress website, you’ve heard by now of “Gutenberg”. While visions of the 15th-century inventor might spring to mind, the term holds a different meaning in the digital world. But what is it and why should you care?

What is Gutenberg Anyway?

Gutenberg is the name given to the new page builder included with WordPress (starting with WordPress 5.0). This upgrade is a significant change from the original version of the editor, now called the “Classic Editor”. Gutenberg introduces a new way of approaching content development in WordPress, using a system of blocks to layout pages. One of the goals of Gutenberg is to make edits simpler for non-developers by providing a more visual system. Users creating pages now have both content and design options, rather than the “document-based” approach to content display that was previously used.

Gutenberg in the B2B world – is it better?

Gutenberg in the B2B world – is it better?

Before we tackle that question, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of the Gutenberg editor.

Where Gutenberg shines

WordPress core supported

With the addition of Gutenberg to core WordPress, your site already contains the new block builder. There are no plugins to install or themes to change; you’re ready to go right out of the box. As long as your site is up to date (and it should be!) there is no other configuration necessary to start using Gutenberg.

No coding experience necessary

Gutenberg allows less technical users to make edits to a page layout without needing to understand code. The block structure provides more options for adjusting a page’s design than the traditional content-based editor. Many blocks come included already. With WordPress being open-source software, there is also potential for the block library to increase with new blocks from the WordPress community.

Mobile-friendly

The core blocks included in the Gutenberg library are already responsive. You can create a page and be confident that most of the heavy mobile-lifting is already done for you. With over 50% of global internet traffic now coming from mobile devices, responsiveness is more important than ever. The new editor is also easier to use from a mobile device. If you find yourself needing to make site edits on the go, Gutenberg works well from a range of devices.

Gutenberg in the shadows

Compatibility Issues

The WordPress community is large – over 55,000 plugins are available on the WordPress repository alone. Although Gutenberg is now included with the core, it is a massive departure from the functionality of the Classic Editor. This means there are still many compatibility problems with plugins and themes previously in use. Established websites are likely to see issues arise with their current setup when switching to Gutenberg.

Steep learning curve

Most users are already familiar with how to use a traditional word processor layout like the Classic Editor. The interface on Gutenberg is quite different and thus less intuitive for many people. The addition of layout options increases the complexity of simple tasks like adding text. You must first add the block and correct widget before adding text. Gutenberg requires more mouse-clicks to perform some of the same actions as that of the Classic Editor.

Too many cooks in the kitchen

Remember the benefit of Gutenberg allowing less technical users to make edits to a page layout? This can also be an argument against using the new editor. When more people can easily make changes to pages, you run the risk of losing design consistency across the site as a whole. Many different layouts and a lack of cohesion can confuse visitors and provide a less streamlined user experience.

To Gutenberg, or Not to Gutenberg?

No product can be a one-size-fits-all for every situation (or every B2B website). When deciding if Gutenberg is best for your business, consider the following:

Who maintains your website?

If you have a team of developers or an IT department that handles your updates, Gutenberg is probably not for you. The new editor often frustrates more advanced users who are used to having finer control. Likewise, if those maintaining your site perform only basic content updates, you’re better off sticking with the Classic Editor. Gutenberg is best suited for users who are comfortable with technology and learning a new system, but who are not coders or developers.

How complex is your site?

As already mentioned, there are still many compatibility issues with plugins and themes when it comes to Gutenberg. New websites can avoid these issues by starting with Gutenberg. However, if you have a pre-existing website heavily reliant on plugins, you may find it harder to make the switch. A large site with a more complex set up will require more development time to test and assure all still works as intended.

How defined is your UX plan?

Site editors who aren’t thinking about your brand strategy or user experience can do far more “damage” on a site using Gutenberg. Editing pages without considering these factors can quickly cause your website to feel disjointed and inconsistent. The Classic Editor is somewhat limited in layout capabilities, and therefore more of the styling of the site is left to the theme. Those companies switching to Gutenberg will want to ensure anyone editing the website’s content also keeps the overall goals in mind.

Is there a better way?

Is there a better way?

The hunt for the golden ticket of website creation is ongoing. The ideal solution would be one where you can easily design pages using a block system, but also maintain consistency in visual identity and user experience. Gutenberg may reach that point someday but isn’t there quite yet. Companies will have to decide if the current version is a good fit for their unique needs and goals.

If you like a block builder but want more control, our DRAmatic theme might be the solution you’re looking for. Let’s connect.

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