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Big Changes that Website owners should expect from WordPress 5.0

Most of the past updates to WordPress have been relatively minor and for most website owners, didn’t have a significant impact.

WordPress 5.0 is different.

Rather than adding minor improvements here and there, this release is a step-change and is entirely focused on the completely new WordPress Editor called ‘Gutenberg ‘.

You can find a summary of the changes to the editor in the Gutenberg handbook

It seeks to make it easy for anyone to create rich, flexible content layouts with a block-based UI. All types of page components are represented as modular blocks, which means they can be accessed from a unified block menu, dropped anywhere on a page, and directly edited to create the custom presentation the user wants.

Replacing the Current WYSIWYG Editor

What this means is that WordPress 5 will not have the classic WYSIWYG WordPress editor that site owners will have been used to up to this release.

Its new Gutenberg editor contains all of the features you have within your current WYSIWYG editor – but it will also make it possible for you to build and create web pages using content blocks. You will be able to move these around with a drag-and-drop interface. This change will give you greater control over the design and appearance of your web pages and posts.

Why is WordPress making these changes?

Although WordPress is the most popular CMS platform for building websites, it now has a number of competitors with web building capability such as Squarespace and Wix. From 2017 to 2018 Squarespace increased its market share by 180%. Put simply, WordPress wants to compete.

What are the downsides to WordPress 5?

The most significant issue is compatibility with existing websites.

Previously WordPress has remained backward compatible. In other words, even older web designs would still work after installing a WordPress update.

With WordPress 5, this will not necessarily be the case. Most WordPress themes and plugins will have to be updated in order to work with Gutenburg. Whilst many plugin developers will have updates ready in time for the release date,  there will be some which don’t have a large team of developers behind them, that will struggle to do so.
That might mean that certain aspects of your website will stop functioning correctly.

WP 5 will also further improve Security

Website security is a crucial part of any website. WordPress has therefore introduced various security features in previous years in order to prevent any kind of security attack. They have recommended:

• hosting websites with two-factor authentication
• SSL certificates
• application passwords.

Security is most likely to continuously improve in the 5.0 release, thereby offering further security against cyber attacks.

When is the release date?

WordPress core team has set a target release date of November 19, 2018. However, this is just a target date. If everything isn’t ready by this date, they’ve set two additional fallback release dates:

• First fallback release: November 27, 2018
• Second fallback release: January 22, 2019

You will receive notification in your admin panel in the normal way when the secure version of WordPress 5 is available.

If you are a site owner who self-manages their own site and is responsible for ongoing updates, what should you do?

It is always a good idea to keep pace with software updates. You will need to update to WordPress 5 even if you don’t do it immediately.

1. Do some research on the plugins your site uses. Are they showing compatibility with WP5?

2. Before you install this version be absolutely sure that you have a backup of the site and database. If problems arise, then your web developer will be able to re-instate your backup.

3. Try the Gutenburg editor. You MAY love it! Of course, being a major update and one of the most significant changes to the editing interface that WordPress has ever made, getting used to WordPress 5.0 is going to take time and practice.

If you cannot get on with it, it is possible to revert to the classic editor. Speak to your web developer about this.

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