WordPress 5.0 is now live, which means the new block-based editor is now a fully-fledged part of WordPress’ core. As such, if you’ve not yet spoken with your clients about this update and its likely impact, you’re already late to the party.

This means time is of the essence. Fortunately, there’s not too much information your clients will need to know. In fact, the process of getting them up to speed should be quite simple, especially if you take the time to help your clients test the new editor along with their plugins and themes, before updating their live sites.

This post will look briefly at the new block editor, and explain how to talk about it with your clients. We’ll also discuss what they’ll need to do to make the transition smoothly, and how you can help them along the way. Let’s get to work!

Long Live the New Block Editor

Along the way, there have been a few different versions of the editor, which isn’t out of the ordinary. In addition, its merge into core was dependent on WordPress 5.0 being ready to go, which also took a few twists and turns. However, Matt Mullenweg finally determined that WordPress 5.0 was ready for prime time, and the full update was officially released on December 6th, 2018.

This means that if you’ve been putting off taking action due to the unstable release timetable, you may have to work fast to open up discussions with your clients. Before we get into that task in more detail, though, let’s talk about what the new block editor does.

What the Block Editor Currently Offers to WordPress Users

You won’t be able to help your clients deal with WordPress 5.0’s arrival unless you understand what it entails. With that in mind, here’s a general overview of what the new block editor does:

  • You create content (such as posts and pages) by piecing together pre-made ‘blocks’.
  • There are many block types, from basic options like text and image blocks to more complex features such as buttons and tables.
  • Blocks can be rearranged, added and deleted at will, and customized.
  • Embedding content and displaying widgets is also carried out by using the same blocks system.
  • You can extend the default block library, and you’ll begin to see more options within the WordPress Plugin Directory as time goes on.

Of course, there’s much more to the block editor than this. However, it’s important to note that while there’s a Columns block available, the new editor is not nearly as flexible or customizable as existing page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder. This means that many of your clients will likely have a decision to make.

How to Begin Talking About WordPress’ New Editor with Your Clients

Even if you’ve known about Gutenberg for a while, you’ve probably been working under the assumption that WordPress 5.0 would be arriving in January. For that reason, you may have only briefly discussed the update with your clients, because it’s hard to talk practically about something that doesn’t yet exist.

However, the time has come to take action. The first thing you’ll want to do is mention WordPress 5.0 to your clients, a subject you can approach just as you would with any major update. After all, other than the new editor, this is a relatively standard release.

Then, you’ll want to follow up by presenting a few basic facts. Your clients should know:

  • What the new block editor is
  • What it replaces, and potentially why
  • The options for creating content from here on out

You’ll notice that none of these are subjective topics, and that’s for a reason. At this stage, it’s best to stick with the facts, in order to avoid the kinds of lengthy discussions that have characterized Gutenberg’s entire development.

After that, your client will need to decide if they’d like to switch their site over to the new editor. You should offer guidance, of course, and lay out the pros and cons as clearly as you can. If they decide they want to stick with the old editor, that’s an option that will be open to them. The Classic Editor is still being supported for several more years and can be retained through the use of a simple plugin.

How You Can Help Your Clients Transition to the New Block Editor

If your client wants to use the new editor, on the other hand, there’s some work to be done. The first thing to do is test the editor out thoroughly. As always, the best way to do this is on a local development environment. For the uninitiated, this means creating a backup of the live site and using it to set up a safe ‘copy’ site for testing purposes.

The first goal is to make sure WordPress 5.0 works with the client’s site in its current state, with the old editor still in place. You may need to install the Classic Editor plugin to do that. While this may seem like a waste of time if the client will be switching editors, remember that the update is introducing more than a single change. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that none of its other pieces cause any trouble.

Next up, you’ll need to test the block editor itself. In most cases, this can simply be done by uninstalling the Classic Editor plugin and making the switch. Then, you’ll need to take a look at each installed theme and plugin and check to see whether it works as expected.

You may want to get your client involved in this stage as well, at least to help you check plugins that provide mission-critical functionality. On a purely technical level, you’ll also need to test every piece of custom code that’s been added to the site. Again, work with the client to gauge which code is important enough to cause major problems. However, you’ll want to handle the actual checks here.

Finally, you’ll also want to ensure that there are no issues when it comes to creating new posts and pages, as well as editing (or even converting over) existing content. Of course, the ultimate decision about whether to port over old content or leave it as-is will be made by your client. Either way, though, you’ll need to be sure everything will run smoothly for them moving forward.

Conclusion

WordPress’ new block editor is here, and your clients will need to know about it. You’ll want to discuss the new editor and its ramifications with them as soon as possible, so they can keep on creating content without delay.

Fortunately, helping your clients through the process of adapting to WordPress 5.0 is relatively straightforward. You can test each site out locally, and then push it to a staging server in order to check out the changes in action. You’ll also want to check over all themes, plugins, and custom code, and ascertain whether there are any issues related to creating posts and pages (and converting existing content).

Have you implemented a client-friendly plan for WordPress’ new block editor? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Featured image: annca.

Tom Rankin is a key member of WordCandy, a musician, photographer, vegan, beard owner, and (very) amateur coder. When he’s not doing any of these things, he’s likely sleeping.

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