WordPress executives cherish that they run the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS) – and wouldn’t you? For years their publishing software has been powerful, easy to customize, and loved by search engines. However, as all tech companies are aware, you have to evolve to stay on top… so in the past year WordPress rolled out a new editing experience called Gutenberg. It makes it easier and more efficient for everyday people without professional coding expertise to create engaging, multimedia sites.
This is exciting! But remember – in February we warned you not to upgrade to Gutenberg just yet. There were a lot of bugs that had yet to be fixed. We didn’t want your organization to be a guinea pig without reason.
Since then we’ve gone to the beach with the kids, celebrated America’s birthday, and kept abreast of Gutenberg’s progress. We report back now with some good news: the system’s bugs have (mostly) been fixed and Gutenberg is ready for prime time. We see no reason for 95% of WordPress users to start taking advantage of the improved functionality and user experience that Gutenberg offers.
What are the key benefits that mission driven organizations can expect when migrating from WordPress’s Classic Editor to Gutenberg? A few things come to mind:
More control over how the pages of your site look and function, thanks to the introduction of content blocks.
As a reminder, Gutenberg’s chief innovation is the introduction of “blocks” – structured, pre-configured elements that you add and modify to create content layouts. They give you a lot more flexibility than Classic Editor in how your pages unfold – including much greater ease in using and manipulating multimedia components that previously required HTML (or other specialized knowledge). Custom blocks can also be built by developers specifically for your site as needed, and used over and over again. You also have the power to create reusable blocks for content you use frequently (like that call to action you use all over your site, or that blurb at you post at the end of all your blogs).
Over time, these improvements in functionality are likely to drive more interactive and engaging content for your site. These blocks also make it easier to create templates and implement future tweaks without necessarily needing to get a developer on speed dial every time.
An intuitive interface that’s easy, efficient and enjoyable for non-technical folks.
Classic Editor gets the job done, but few would call it a joy to use. Gutenberg is a big improvement. For example, when you modify your layout and typography choices in Gutenberg, the visual editing experience lets you see them exactly as they will appear on the web, without having to leave the editor. Also, when you want to focus solely on writing content (rather than adjusting layout), there’s a full-screen mode that eliminates all distractions. We expect Gutenberg will be easier for beginners and new staff to use, compared to Classic Editor, though users of the latter will of course have a learning curve (inevitable for any change of this nature).
Improved ability to do A/B testing.
Since Gutenberg makes it far easier to customize the presentation and sequence of features in your pages, you’re better able to test different versions to see what works best. For instance, does an inspiring YouTube video spur more action when it’s at the top of the page? Or does it get more results in the middle, after a short paragraph that first gives the viewer some context? Try it out, and let the data be your guide!
Change is inevitable.
Gutenberg is in the process of becoming the default editor for WordPress. You may be a traditionalist, and perfectly happy with Classic Editor, but sooner rather than later you’ll be forced to migrate to Gutenberg – most likely by mid-2020, when current plugins in Classic Editor will no longer be updated by developers.
You can choose to wait, and get shoved into the future at the last minute… but we don’t recommend it. Being proactive gives you more time to familiarize yourself with the growing number of useful tools, layouts and processes, and gather input from stakeholders in your organization. You’ll also be equipped to fully train your communications team on how to make the best of Gutenberg.
What next steps do we recommend?
While the process of migrating a site to Gutenberg has many technical steps, we first suggest that our clients do these two things:
Determine your investment.
There are two big variables will likely drive cost: 1) the number of custom “blocks” you will need in your Gutenberg toolbox, ( think of these as as the lego-blocks you want to build your page with) ; and 2) the number of third party systems such as SalesForce, EveryAction, or HubSpot that need to have Gutenberg blocks created for them. Installing Gutenberg into an existing WordPress site can be a big investment. A complex custom website with a 3rd party layout manager such as Advanced Custom Fields that is integrated with a CRM such as Salesforce might need a Gutenberg migration budget of up to $25,000. For smaller, more “off the shelf” WordPress sites this cost can be much less, but will still require a budget for integration.
Develop a strategy to fund it.
If your organization tends to have money to spend at the end of the fiscal year, plan to use some of this for the migration. However, if a special budget request will be needed, it’s probably time to start planning it. Executives will need to be educated on why a migration is necessary and valuable, particularly if your website was just updated in the past year or two and there’s some reluctance to further invest in it.
We’re happy to share more information to help you make the business case, and to prepare an informed quote for your organization. Please reach out and let us know how we can be useful!