November 2, 2018 4 min to read
Big changes to WordPress coming in 5.0
Category : 4CDesignWorks
WordPress 5 point uh-oh!?
If you are like the 30% of the web, and utilize WordPress as the foundation of your website, there is a pending update that you should be aware of. WordPress has a major version that is set to be released sometime soon (anywhere between November 27th, this year, or the end of January next year as indicated by recent publications).
What makes this version such a big deal?
It’s the first release that WordPress is doing that completely changes the way content is edited. Basically, this impacts everything that has been done to date. No longer will the default interface be something more akin to Microsoft Word – but it’ll be very similar to other WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website builders. In recent years, there have been many themes that utilize page building plugins or extensions. These themes have come to rely on plug ins to more quickly create content and change the visuals on each page. They provide the flexibility to make your site as unique as you could imagine. WordPress 5 will impact this flexibility from top to bottom, requiring you to do your homework and adopt new editing skills to adapt to this change.
This will change the way you edit content.
Once you update your site, accepting this new version, you will be challenged to learn a different way to edit content. The editor that WordPress 5 will be using is called “Gutenberg” after the printing presses. This literally changes everything, from just entering content, to the publishing layout. Open a new post or page to edit and you immediately see a very different user interface. The interface is like the page builder tools and uses content ‘blocks’ rather than one big editing area for text.
As you can see from the demo image – this is going to change editing entirely! This jump has been compared to what life was like in MS Office applications, before the ‘ribbon’ design was launched. Once it was implemented, the world went crazy as this change affected the MS Office in a totally different manor. Even advanced users had to re-think how they operated and learn how to use the new workflow effectively.
With any change in an application, this will be accompanied by a learning curve. In some cases, you may want to re-evaluate your site (more on that below). Here are several situations you may be facing:
I don’t regularly update my website. Maybe I can avoid it for a few more years?
While I wouldn’t suggest this – there may be those that opt to do nothing and keep things status quo. This direction might keep things from moving to the new editor, BUT they do open the site up to other exploits involving hacks and site security. We suggest regular maintenance and would urge any WordPress website owner to do the same.
I automatically run updates on everything. Should I be concerned?
To put it bluntly… yes. Not to scare you, but if your site relies on shortcodes to create visual presentation items (such as columns), there’s a very good chance content will not display as intended. Mobile displays may also be impacted. As with many other major releases, there will be some growing pains as features potentially stop working and/or need outright replaced.
WordPress is marching forth with Gutenberg, but there are contingencies that can keep your site from breaking and to keep it in good working order as you prepare for the next wave of content editing. The best practice to see if this will affect your site is to create a development environment where you can run tests. Many hosting vendors provide this service through one-click staging (or the like). It’s a great way to execute updates without having things go haywire on the live site.
Y’know, the site has been up for a while…
WordPress 5 could be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps you need to take a good look at your web presence and re-evaluate it. Has it been years since you’ve really looked at your site and/or gone through an audit? Consider all the features you use, ones you don’t, options you could make more use out of. If it’s been years, and your company has flourished and changed, as many businesses do, then the chances are your site may be due for a bit of a refresh. What better time to consider that than when there is a major change happening?
Updates are important to run to keep your website secure and running as fast and efficiently as possible. Much like an oil-change in cars, you can get by for a while, but at some point, you need to do maintenance before catastrophe happens. In this case, a major change to the core of your site should provide pause to consider requirements and usage of the tools within your site, along with a possible visual ‘refresh’ that would provide a facelift!
How can I be proactive and prepare for WordPress 5?
If there are important pending content revisions, make them now. Understand that sometime soon, you will be facing a learning curve and a new editor that may temporarily affect your efficiency and effectiveness in updating your site.
If you experience any difficulties, you may want to consult your website provider and they may be able to assist you. At 4CDesignWorks, we offer Website Health Checks that take a gander at your site, your competitors (or similar online entities). The deliverable is usually the first step in taking a deeper look at what a new website could be: everything from suggested navigation and workflows, to plausible requirements. Contact us to get the ball rolling today.