Episode 6: WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg Toolkit

The changes coming to the editor in WordPress 5.0 will create a monumental shift in the way we create content. In this episode, we’re going to dive into some helpful tools for managing your website once you upgrade to WordPress 5.0 – and the Gutenberg Editor. Let’s do it. Listen to the episode.

Show Notes

Hey everybody and welcome to Creator Toolkit, a podcast about building things on the web. I’m Joe Casabona and today we’re going to be talking about a topic that’s been on the mind of 30% of the web- WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg.

Generally speaking, I try not to make this a WordPress-specific podcast. While I’ll mention WordPress often in the toolkits, I try to keep it general enough that there’s something for everyone. But I think this change is big enough to warrant a WordPress-dedicated episode.

What the big deal about WordPress 5.0?

For those who use WordPress, but aren’t as deeply embedded in the community, you may not have heard what’s going on with WordPress 5.0. In sort, the editor is changing. This big undertaking, called “Gutenberg,” started in 2016 and set out to modernize the now 15+ year old editor.

The idea is to convert the editor from a giant blob of text with some basic formatting to something much more flexible, using blocks of content. This allows us to support more than basic text with formatting and images – and it will ultimately make the editor a lot more user friendly than it is now.

How Will It Affect Me?

Now, if you’re a WordPress user, you’re probably wondering how the new editor will affect you and your website – and you’re not along.

I’ve been telling folks a few important things around the new editor:

  1. Your content will not automatically change by virtue of upgrading. There are several deliberate steps you need to make on each individual piece of content for anything to change. That means if you never open a piece of current content in the new editor, nothing will happen to it.
  2. The plugins you’re using may be affected. If anything directly affects the content editor, I recommend checking to see if there’s an update to make it Gutenberg compatible.
  3. Your theme/design will almost definitely be affected. Gutenberg adds new types of content, as well as classes, that require some amount of front end support. If your theme isn’t updated for the new editor, things like columns, cover images, and possibly even images, won’t look quite right when you create new content (remember old content will not be affected at all).

If you’re worried, you should reach out to your web developer, or the developers of your crucial plugins and theme, to make sure they support WordPress 5.0.

In the rest of this episode, I want to tell you about a few good tools to help you navigate the waters that are WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg.


Let’s start with the last topic we just covered- themes. There are several great theme shops that have already announced support for Gutenberg – themes I know and love and would always recommend.

Astra Pro: This is my current favorite theme. It’s lightweight, versatile, and works with all of my favorite plugins. They announced that they are also Gutenberg compatible. Just another reason to use them.

Atomic Blocks: This is perhaps the first truly compatible theme that entered the market, and it’s really well done. I used in my Introduction to Gutenberg course and was very happy. It also has a companion blocks plugin. Plus, it was just bought by my favorite premium theme shop, StudioPress. Speaking of…

StudioPress Themes: StudioPress is one of the most popular paid theme shops in the WordPress space, and for good reason. They offer lots of great, beautiful themes that allow you to build the best content possible. They also made a commitment to make all of their themes Gutenberg compatible.

Anders Noren: My favorite free themes are also Gutenberg compatible. Theme developer Anders Noren has announced that all of his themes now support the new editor. I recommend Lovecraft and Hemingway.

This is a fantastic collection of themes- so you won’t be left in the lurch when you’re ready to make the move to WordPress 5.0.

Plugins Doing Cool Things

Plugins are a little harder to curate because some don’t need to support Gutenberg, and each plugin developer is taking a different approach to updates.

If there is one that is crucial to your website, I recommend you reach out to the developer and ask them if they plan to support Gutenberg.

Aside from that, the most obvious places where plugins can add Gutenberg support is by adding new blocks, or by converting shortcodes in their plugins to blocks.

Better Data in Blocks

The new editors gives us the opportunity for us to add meaningful data to our websites instead of just a wall of text we can’t do anything with. Two plugins that are doing this very well:

Advanced Custom Fields: The breakout plugin that allows us to add custom fields to our content in WordPress really took it to the next level with its Gutenberg support. In the latest version of ACF, you can spin up custom Gutenberg blocks using PHP – without the need to learn React/JavaScript. I’m most excited to give this a whirl in my next project.

Yoast SEO: On top of the general block support / sidebar in WordPress 5.0 for easier use, they’ve also introduced blocks with structured data. This allows us to tell Google and other search engines exactly what’s on our website – be it a lesson in a course, a person in a directory, or a standard blog post. They’ve added 2 blocks that include structured data built in: a How-to block, and an FAQs block.

More Blocks

There are plugins who are adding specific kinds of blocks beyond what Gutenberg comes with. I’d like to highlight 2 here:

Atomic Blocks Plugin: I teased at this one earlier, but the theme also has support for its own stand-alone blogs. This is a really nice add for those who need just a little more out of Gutenberg.

CoBlocks by Rich Tabor:Rich Tabor is a developer who’s dedicated a fair bit of time to Gutenberg. On his profile, there are lots of different Gutenberg-related plugins there. But one is CoBlocks, a suite for content marketers that includes blocks like GIFs, accordions, author profiles, and more.

Approaching Gutenberg Slowly

So there are lots of great tools out there already, but many probably aren’t ready for Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 on day 1. There are are a few tools to help you ease into the new editor.

The Classic Editor: This plugin was developed specifically for people who aren’t ready for Gutenberg. It will disable the new editor while still allowing you to upgrade to WordPress 5.0. If you don’t want to mess with Gutenberg right now, this is the best path to take. This plugin will be supported through 2021.

Gutenberg Ramp: This plugin offers you a little more flexibility. Unlike the Classic Editor plugin, which wholesale disables Gutenberg, Gutenberg Ramp allows you to pick and choose where you want the new editor to show up. It allows you to enable or disable the new editor based on post type OR post ID. So if you know you want to use Gutenberg on posts but not pages, you can do that.

Preparing for WordPress 5.0

Ultimately it’s best to get prepared for Gutenberg as soon as possible. I’ve created a few courses that might be of interest to you- for users, freelancers, and theme developers. You can see them over at creatorcourses.com/Gutenberg/.

You can also download a Gutenberg checklist I’ve created over on the show notes page for this episode, https://creatortoolkit.com/006/.

Wrapping Up

So that’s it for this episode. We talked all about Gutenberg and helpful tools for upgrading to WordPress 5.0. My question for you is: when do you plan on upgrading to WordPress 5.0? And what is your plan? Let me know by emailing me: joe@casabona.org, or on Twitter at @jcasabona.

For all the show notes, go to creatortoolkit.com/006/. If you liked this episode be sure to leave a rating and review in apple podcasts. And if you have any questions about WordPress 5.0 or want me to put together a specific toolkit, email me, joe@casabona.org or follow me on Twitter, jcasabona. Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, get out there and build something.

Originally posted on Creator Toolkit

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