WordPress 5.0 – What to expect

WordPress updates are usually something to get excited about, not least because it’s a chance to try out some new features and put them to use on your website. However, few WordPress updates are likely to rock the development world quite like WordPress 5.0 update. Why is this update so hotly anticipated? It all comes down to two simple words.

Gutenberg editor.

WordPress is getting ready to radically change the way its users interact with the platform. Developers are quite rightly excited. However, with 18.9% of all self-hosted websites on the internet using the current WordPress editor, that’s a lot of websites to disrupt. The latest changes could have a huge impact on many website owners.
This isn’t like other WordPress updates. It’s not like when WordPress switched up the Widgets to allow video and image integration, or when WordPress made it possible to schedule page publishing just like post publishing. This is going to rock the way users interact with the platform. It’s going to change the way WordPress themes are built and edited. And it’s going to put a lot more control in the user’s hands.
Excited? You should be!
Nervous? Maybe a little.
The Gutenberg update is currently scheduled to November 27th, but this could be pushed back up to a week, or even as far back as January. And if you don’t want to update, you’re in luck. There are no plans to force users to update in the foreseeable future.

So, what should we expect from WordPress 5.0?

  • In the past, we’ve grown accustomed to regular timed WordPress updates, with minor updates in-between. WordPress is putting an end to this to take the pressure off their team to stick to an update schedule. This will allow updates to be more fluid and natural, occurring at a logical time, rather than on a timetable.
  • Once the new WordPress 5.0 goes live, you can expect a far more intuitive experience. The editor as you know it will be replaced with a site builder which is more in line with other hosted website builders such as Wix and Squarespace.
  • WordPress is also planning huge updates to the WordPress Rest API, which will make it easier for developers to create applications with WordPress as the platform.
  • When WordPress 5.0 goes live, it will be much easier to create custom themes without any coding knowledge. Good news for those who don’t want to touch the code.
  • With the new Gutenberg Editor, visual composer plugins could soon become obsolete. Those currently using a visual composer plugin to build their website will have to re-design their website in the Gutenberg Editor.

If you’re curious to see how Gutenberg works before its widespread release, you can install it using this simple plugin. However, we wouldn’t advise you installing this on a live site. Instead, try adding it to a staging site or test site so that you can explore the features first. If you just want to look at the functions and features without adding it to your site, you can also take a look at it on this website.

Will my website still work?

All of the plugins and themes will need to be updated in order to be Gutenberg compatible, so your site might not work straight away if you decide to update as soon as WordPress 5.0 goes live. For example, your shortcodes might not work right away if the associated plugin isn’t updated. It’s in developer’s interests to bring their plugins and themes up-to-date, but this might not happen as soon as WordPress 5.0 goes live.
In the future, we should start to see a lot more “Gutenberg-friendly” themes and plugins becoming the norm. If you do decide to update, make sure you check the functionality of your site on a staging site. Check that everything is working as it should before it goes live.

What will it be released?

The WordPress development team is aiming for November 27th 2018. However, they are keen to get this release right, so this isn’t a strict deadline. They have said the release could take place to up 8-days after. If the release it pushed any later than this, then they have a contingency plan in place. This could mean the release date is pushed back to January 22nd 2019. This is to make sure no big updates go live over the holidays.

What if I don’t want to update?

Absolutely not a problem! If you do install the update, you can use this Classic Editor plugin to keep using the editor that you are accustomed to. If you need time to redesign your website or re-train your team on how to manage your website post-update, then you can delay your update for as long as you want. There is no indication from WordPress that they plan to end support for the Classic WordPress editor any time soon.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, we would recommend reading up on WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg Editor to find out how it will impact your website, or drop us a line and ask us about it.