WordPress 5.0: What’s New, and How Can You Prepare?

WordPress 5.0 is on the Horizon…

WordPress is an undeniable presence in the world of content management systems as one of the most used CMSs worldwide. While the platform has grown and developed over the years, it’s usually been in small bursts, with minimal enhancements. The last update, WordPress 4.9 was a prime example of this, focusing on updating website customization and management, widgets, and introducing a text editor for code.

However, WordPress 5.0 is looking to be a more extreme update than we have seen from this platform in years. With so many changes rolling out soon, it’s essential that your WordPress website is ready.

What’s New in WordPress 5.0?

While WordPress 5.0 is going to be a major upgrade to the platform, those changes easily fall into two major categories: the new WordPress Twenty Nineteen theme and the Gutenberg WordPress editor.

The Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme is going to become the default theme for all new WordPress accounts. It’s a minimal theme, providing a look that WordPress users can set for their sites. However, what’s most important about this theme is its complete front and back-end compatibility with the Gutenberg WordPress editor.

Gutenberg is the biggest part of the 5.0 update, bringing a complete transformation to editing websites. Users can manipulate content layouts through block-based UI, which will apply to all aspects of a WordPress page. Content developers can then manipulate those blocks to anywhere on the page through the new unified block menu, allowing for more customized layouts.

For users, this means that the classic editors we’re used to are no longer going to be the default. For fresh WordPress 5.0 installations, Gutenberg will be the default, but a Classic Editor plugin is available, if you want to continue using the classic setup.

However, you still need to prepare for the Gutenberg update. The change will affect the underlying platforms that affect the rest of how WordPress interacts with your content.

When Does WordPress 5.0 Go Live?

WordPress has set the official release of 5.0 and Gutenberg for December 6th, 2018. If WordPress 5.0 isn’t ready for launch by this date, the second fallback release is for January 22, 2019.

Since the initial releases are set around the holidays, WordPress users don’t have a lot of time to finish preparing their sites for an update. Delaying upgrading and not checking your site could lead to issues in your current content, making it difficult for site visitors to find what they need.

What’s the Community View of Gutenberg?

WordPress has had a Gutenberg plugin since the beta stages of the editor. Because of that, the reviews on the Gutenberg WordPress plugin are moderate. Many have noted there is a learning curve, as well as the presence of several bugs. Since WordPress is rolling out Gutenberg in version 5.0, most of the issues are hopefully fixed. Even so, it seems like most WordPress users haven’t fully tried Gutenberg, which will change before long.

What Can You Do to Prepare for WordPress 5.0?

Since the release date for 5.0 is coming up, WordPress doesn’t want you to hesitate to take the initiative to implement Gutenberg on its own. To make sure your site is ready for these core updates, follow these steps to get ready.

1. Install the Classic Editor Plugin

The WordPress Classic Editor plugin will allow you to continue to edit your WordPress content as you’re used to, even after version 5.0 launches. This plugin is a great way to continue to use the old version of the site if you’re not ready to perform a complete overhaul of your existing one. You’ll still need to change to Gutenberg in time, but the pressure to dive right in is much less.

2. Establish a Staging Website

Updating your site will likely involve a lot of trial and error, and you don’t want any downtime preventing your visitors from accessing your content. A staging website creates an environment so you can complete production behind the scenes.

3. Evaluate Your Staging Environment

Once you have your staging site ready, install the Gutenberg plugin without keeping the Classic Editor plugin on. This gives you the chance to check that all your pages are operating well. Do you see any misaligned text, or errors in pages? What about shortcodes and the admin panel? Use your staging environment to make sure everything is functional.

This stage is also the chance to check that all your existing plugins still operate on Gutenberg. Many plugins will have updates to accommodate Gutenberg, and others you’ll need to replace completely. You’ll want to follow the same process with evaluating your site’s themes.

Because 5.0 is such a large update to WordPress, you can’t afford to ignore the impact it will have on your site. Your best choice is to update your site ahead of time so that you can make needed changes sooner, ensuring a smooth transition in the future. If your organization requires professional assistance in updating your website to WordPress 5.0, Imagine Monkey developers can help.