WordPress 5.0: What You Need to Know

WordPress is the most popular website platform in the world, and for good reason. It allows for users of all skill levels to create functional websites with quality design. Whether the user is looking to set up a personal blog, or is a professional developer building enterprise-level client websites, WordPress provides the tools necessary for a successful website build.

Recently, WordPress issued the most significant update to its platform in years–WordPress 5.0. In fact, this was the only major version release WordPress released in all of 2018. This is in keeping with WordPress’s goal of issuing fewer, but more meaningful, updates rather than more frequent minor updates.

WordPress 5.0 includes many new features, but certainly the most important, most talked-about change is “Gutenberg”, WordPress’s new block-based content editor. What is a block-based content editor? Essentially, WordPress has simplified the process for adding and arranging content on website pages by setting up the back end as a series of modules, or “blocks”. Each block holds a specific piece of content, displayed in a particular templated way.

Some examples of content blocks include:

  • Text
  • Image
  • Video
  • Quote/Testimonial
  • Table
  • Call-to-Action Button

There are many more block types available, and there continue to be new ones added as more WordPress developers create blocks for their particular needs. Also, many WordPress plug-ins are now offering their own content blocks, allowing for seamless integration into the website. For example, WooCommerce offers a content block to integrate e-commerce into a website.

The new WordPress 5.0 block editor makes creating a new website, or adding content to an existing site, even easier than was previously the case. Users with little or no experience creating a website will find that Gutenberg is very easy and intuitive to use. This will allow WordPress to combat challenges from upstarts like Wix and Squarespace. Many inexperienced users have felt more comfortable building websites using these platforms rather than WordPress. The new block-based editor puts WordPress on more even footing with Wix and Squarespace for these folks, while still offering all of the additional benefits of a WordPress website–including increased functionality, opportunities for easy future scalability, and search engine optimization efforts. And most importantly, WordPress offers full control and ownership of the site–something these other hosted website platforms do not offer.

For professional website developers, the new block editor provides some advantages as well. Now, the back end of client websites can be edited by directly by the client without concern that they might inadvertently change or delete any code. This should reduce incidents of website pages, or entire websites, breaking due to accidental user error. The WordPress 5.0 block editor should also reduce the number of client phone calls and emails requesting support to make content edits and updates, as developers will be able to set up the back end in a very useable, straightforward fashion for their clients. Yet another benefit for website development professionals is that, with so many different types of content blocks available, and more being added all the time, there will be less need to custom code for certain types of content. This will allow developers to spend more of their time focused on ensuring that the overall website build adheres to the content strategy and client goals, rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae.

For those not quite ready to embrace the new block-based editor, WordPress 5.0 does still allow the long-time Classic Editor to be used. The Classic Editor will continue to be available at least through the end of 2021. Simply download the Classic Editor plug-in.

A great benefit of building websites on the WordPress platform has always been, especially for less experienced users, the wide variety of themes that are available to choose from. These themes make website creation simple by providing the general design and development framework–eliminating the need to be a professional designer or developer to set up a website. WordPress 5.0 comes with a great new default theme called Twenty Nineteen. Twenty Nineteen was created with the new Gutenberg block editor in mind, and makes thorough use of the available block types. It is designed to look clean and elegant on both the front end and the back end of the website. It was also created to be a very flexible theme, appropriate for a wide variety of website types–from individual’s blogs, to a basic informational website, to a business site offering e-commerce.

There are also lots of new themes being created every day that are meant specifically to be used with WordPress 5.0 and the new Gutenberg block content editor. Users can select from thousands of themes to find the option that works best for them. WordPress 5.0 places a strong emphasis on mobile responsive design and user experience, so users can be confident that their new WordPress theme website will display and function properly on all types of devices.

For professional website designers and developers, the ability to craft custom websites from the ground up will continue unabated. In fact, the opportunity to create integrated, impactful online experiences should only increase with the release of WordPress 5.0. By providing an enhanced framework on which to build custom websites, the Gutenberg block editor will free up time for website strategists, content creators, designers, and developers to collaboratively focus on solving their clients’ business challenges and devising solutions to achieve their goals.
WordPress has long been the leading website development platform for its combination of useability, scalability, and robust functionality. The release of WordPress 5.0 and its Gutenberg block-style content editor should only help WordPress continue to be the leader in its industry, as it builds upon the platform’s inherent strengths while also addressing some of its previous limitations and barriers to use. WordPress 5.0 squarely combats the positions staked out by competitors such as Wix and Squarespace, without sacrificing any of the features that have made WordPress the industry leader it is today.