The Workflow: What is Gutenberg and do I have to use it?

The Workflow: What is Gutenberg?

After logging into my WordPress website dashboard, I noticed a notice saying if I wanted to use Gutenberg or stick with the classic editor.  For years, I’ve been hearing about the Gutenberg editor and so I wanted to try it out.  But, I’m sure some of your are confused as to what Gutenberg is and if it’s something you should be concerned with.  Here’s a brief explanation of Gutenberg, why you have the notice, and how it will impact your website.

By the way, this is a start of a new series of posts for the resources page called “The Workflow.”  These are notices about updates in technology may impact your normal workflow.  I encourage you to check The Seed e-mail newsletter for updates as they arrive.  Are you not subscribed to The Seed or do you know someone who could benefit from daily tips on how to use the internet to grow more?  You or your friend can subscribe by clicking here.

What is Gutenberg?

As I said, I’ve been hearing about Gutenberg for years as the biggest breakthrough for the WordPress platform.  I must say, this is a very significant step for WordPress.

I recently created 2 new services, Full and Self Service.  Both services have included the Divi theme for FREE, which is a drag and drop visual website builder (something similar to what you might get with Wix).  The reason why I decided to use this theme is because of how easy it will be for my clients to actually see the changes they are making in real time.  Out of the box, WordPress (while is very popular and is an excellent content management system) is not very good at visually showing you how your content looks like in real time… until Gutenberg.

According to the WordPress Organization (the non-profit who handles WordPress), Gutenberg is a project designed to make the creation of pages and posts effortless without needing to know coding or short codes (they refer to this as “mystery meat.”

Why do I have the notice for Gutenberg?

WordPress has recently released a new version of their core.  This version has a prototype of Gutenberg.  You have the option of either using the new Gutenberg editor on your pages and posts or to continue using the classic editor.

At this point, you are NOT forced to use Gutenberg.  As for me here at Unity Tenth, I have elected to use it.  I want to see how it works for myself and to experiment with  it a little bit.  So far, I must admit that I like it.  However, as of now, you are not required to use Gutenberg.

When you see the notice in your dashboard you have two options:  1.) To switch, try, and test Gutenberg or 2.) Install Classic Editor.  Here’s a picture of the notice:

Gutenberg plugin notification
Gutenberg plugin notification

When you see it, I would recommend that you click on “Install the Classic Editor” if your not ready to play with Gutenberg.  What this will do is it will install the Classic Editor plugin (the same post/page editor you’re currently using) which will prevent your website from changing to Gutenberg in the NEAR FUTURE.

If you are brave enough, like me, to try it, keep reading.

What to expect if you take the blue pill… I mean, the blue button.

If you decide to be like Neo from the Matrix and take the blue pill (I know he took the red pill in the movie, work with me), or in this case, the blue button, and try Gutenberg, then be ready for a wild ride.


It’s not really that wild.  Basically, what will happen is that WordPress will install the third version of the Gutenberg plugin.  You will need to activate it once it’s installed.

Image of a blank Gutenberg editor.
Image of a blank Gutenberg editor.

Next, you’ll get a demo WordPress post being displayed in the new Gutenberg post editor.  The post will not be published on your website.  It’s just there to kind of give you a demonstration of how the editor looks like.  To really see it in action, you’ll have to create a new post or page.  If I were you, I’d try it with a new post.

To Divi Theme/Builder Users:  Recently, Divi updated is builder interface to make it compatible with Gutenberg.  When you create a new post/page, the first thing you’ll get is a dialog box asking you whether you want to use the Divi builder or use the default editor.  Hopefully, you’re experimenting with this on a POST, not a PAGE.  I would highly recommend using the default editor, for now. (I plan on using it with the Divi editor to find any differences.  I’ll let you know in another installment of “The Workflow” what I find.)

In a new post, you’ll get a brief interactive tutorial of the Gutenberg editor.  The tutorial just gives you the EXTREME basics of the editor.  I found a full video tutorial from MAK on YouTube that gets a little more in depth if you want to check it out.  I watched it before I started writing this post so I can get a little familiar with the system.  Check it out below:

This is digital marketer and web designer MAK talking about the Gutenberg editor.

Do I have to use Gutenberg? (You might…)

According to the WordPress Organization, the goal is to make Gutenberg automatically a part of the WordPress core in the next release (version 5) of WordPress.  They hope to release version 5 sometime around Fall 2018.

Yep… That soon.

So, the big question is do you have to use Gutenberg?  My answer is:  “you might.”

That’s if you don’t install the classic editor for your website.  If you go ahead and use Gutenberg or just ignore the message, don’t be surprised when your post/page editor looks COMPLETELY different after an update.

Final Thoughts & Workflow Impact

When I was in high school, I discovered this saying: 

Life is change.  Change is life.  Life without change is no life at all.

Brandon T.

Yes, I said it.  About 15 years later, this saying still holds up.  Life is nothing but changes.  While you may feel like this upgrade is probably for the worst, unfortunately, you will have to embrace it one way or another.

With that being said, using Gutenberg as of now is up to you.  But, I would also ask that you keep an open mind about the new editor and try it out a little bit while you have the choice.

The biggest change to how this might impact the workflow to your organization’s website is the method of creating content.  It’s not a drastic change.  Also, I’m using the plugin now and I’ve noticed that the classic editor is still being used on other plugin text editors (such as Gravity Forms notification editors).  Other than that, I don’t see it bringing your website to a screeching halt.

So, have you went ahead and tried the new Gutenberg editor?  What are your thoughts?  I’d like to hear them in the comments below.  And, maybe when I get a grasp of the new Gutenberg editor, I might offer free tutorials to my clients who are interested.  Just keep a look out in your Growth Center Account Dashboard.  Until then, continue to grow more!

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