Introduced in late 2018 with WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg is WordPress’ block editor. It allowed editors to add multiple media types and arrange the layout utilizing blocks within the editor, changing. the way to create content on WordPress websites. In this piece, we will be weighing the pros and cons of this builder, discussing the Switch to Gutenberg, and hearing from our very own Head of Development – a WordPress community contributor.
What is Gutenberg?
One element that made Gutenberg so powerful upon its release was its user interface, which allowed builders to design page layouts at a quicker, more efficient rate. Users could now add text, images, buttons, and more within a page intuitively using customizable blocks. In addition to the ease of use and functionality, the builder also allowed users to have more control of their content by adding customizable capabilities and eliminating the need for shortcodes.
These innovative efficiencies are reminiscent of its namesake, Johannes Gutenberg, the designer of the first mechanized printing press in the 14th century. His breakthrough pioneered the mass production of printed material, enabling manufacturers to increase their output within a shorter period.
Gutenberg’s ingenuity spurred rapid socioeconomic and technological change, launching a global exchange of ideas and information. Similarly, the editor of the same name has moved the needle forward as a vehicle of digital literacy and activity. As Matthew Mullenweg, Gutenberg’s introductee put it, “Gutenberg moves every part of the WordPress ecosystem forward”.
Did You Know that Gutenberg for Drupal is Available Too?
Gutenberg for Drupal helps to make the content creation experience in Drupal more user-friendly. The editor delivers a similar experience to CKEditor, Glazed Theme, HAX, and the Paragraphs module. The project page for Drupal Gutenberg states that the organization’s vision is to make Drupal the most user-friendly and useful tool for content creators. Interested in exploring this for yourself? Check out this demo page.
Pros of Gutenberg
Ease of Use
Gutenberg, in essence, was designed to be extremely user-friendly. Content creation no longer requires complex content fields and custom HTML and CSS. Even the most non-technical users will find that after making the switch to Gutenberg, they can easily create entire pages and layouts simply by dragging and dropping elements.
In addition to being more intuitive and user-friendly, the new editor also allows content creators to see their content in a way that visually resembles the layout of a page. This is incredibly helpful for users and can help save time during content creation or migration.
Variety of Blocks
All content types in Gutenberg are considered blocks–images, video, buttons, and text are all blocks. This gives content creators a variety of options to easily display their content in a meaningful way. These blocks are also searchable, so users will not have to scroll past content types they are not looking for.
As we mentioned above, this editor removes the need in many cases for custom HTML and CSS. This can improve page load times that are not only beneficial for user experience, but SEO too.
Cons of Gutenberg
The Builder’s Complexity
While the Gutenberg editor is user-friendly, the amount of functionalities brings an element of complexity. Because of this, even seasoned content creators may find that after the switch to Gutenberg, the editor has a steeper learning curve. With this element of complexity, it is important to think about how difficult the builder might be for someone who is not familiar with content management systems.
Less-Control Over Customization
As we mentioned previously in this blog, the editor was designed to be user-friendly. This meant that content creators would not need to know or use HTML and custom CSS in the Gutenberg builder. While this does make using the tool easier for non-developers, some users may feel frustrated that they have less control over the customization that came along with the ability to use HTML and CSS.
Gutenberg may disrupt existing themes, extensions, and plugins within a content management system. With so many themes and plugins to use, compatibility issues may arise such as broken layouts, or formatting issues with the new block editor. Marketers need to know the potential compatibility issues that may arise when making the switch to Gutenberg.
An Interview with Our Own Head of Development, Edwin Cromley
Edwin is a full-stack senior developer and a contributor within the WordPress community. The WordPress community is comprised of developers, designers, and thinkers that help make WordPress one of the best content management systems.
In 100 words or less, what does Gutenberg do?
Gutenberg allows you to create content in a more visual and structured manner. While the visual feedback is great, the structured part is really the key. Gutenberg allows you to create standards-compliant HTML, while also sprinkling in some magic data allowing for contextual elements to be data-driven. Rather than going into a settings screen and updating the price of a product, you simply edit the product’s price where you would see it on the website. Gutenberg is a step towards unifying the underlying data, content creation, and visualization.
How does Gutenberg impact user experience?
When done right, Gutenberg closes the feedback loop between what you see on the front end of your website and what you see on the back end of it. The Classic Editor experience really does not come close to giving you any visual feedback, Gutenberg is a leap forward in user experience.
Do I Have to Migrate to Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is the future of WordPress for the foreseeable future. You don’t have to update to Gutenberg, but you will miss out on a great opportunity. Now is the perfect time to switch to using Gutenberg as the Classic editor is still supported by WordPress core. There could come a point in the future where WordPress diverges in a way that makes migration to Gutenberg much harder from the Classic experience.
Why wasn’t Gutenberg Successful When it First Came Out?
Gutenberg when it first came out focused solely on the editing experience and was really only a nice upgrade if you were solely blogging with WordPress, as it made typing and working with images, and other content much easier. That was Phase 1 of the project. WordPress is used for more than just blogging, and the initial rollout simply did not cover all of the features it needed. We are in Phase 2 now and coming up on Phase 3 (Collaborative Editing). Phase 2 is all about site editing and at the end of phase 2 Gutenberg will be a complete solution for managing content on your site.
Is Gutenberg Faster than Elementor?
Gutenberg produces much more minimal markup as well as CSS/JS compared to Elementor. Elementor is great, but it will never catch up to a well-implemented Gutenberg build.
Why is Now the Best Time to Switch to Gutenberg?
Gutenberg was first released to the public in 2018–and like all new releases, it had some growing pains. The editor had a ways to go before it was usable. Now experts agree that the editor is ready and usable.
Interested in learning more about how WordPress can power your college or university’s digital experience? Let us know, we’d love to start the conversation