How to Test WordPress 5.0

December 18, 2018

Much like the advent of the Gutenberg printing press, the WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg release has been causing some unrest across the global community.

With WordPress 5.0’s new block editor, content editors now have much more control over their layouts and creative decisions. Most users will find that the block editor is much smoother and easier to use than looking at a bunch of custom fields and tabs in their WordPress editor, but this flexibility may also result in some technical headaches as we all learn how the editing options will impact our own unique website layouts.

Should I update to WordPress 5.0?

Honestly, no matter what kind of site you have, the answer is yes, you should definitely have a plan for updating to WordPress 5.0 and using the new block editor. Why? Because that’s the direction that WordPress and the internet in general is moving in! Even Drupal is implementing its own version of Gutenberg. If you choose to not worry about Gutenberg, you’ll just get left behind and your site will get progressively more and more outdated.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to update right now! If possible, you should definitely plan ahead and test the components of your site before switching your site to the new block editor.

First, consider your content

You can easily try out the new block editor using WordPress’ impressive demo site at https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/. Once you get a better understanding of how the new editor works, you’ll then want to consider how these abundant and flexible formatting options could impact your own content editing.

In general, once you install WordPress 5.0, all of your existing content should continue to look and perform as it always has. However, if you go back to edit and update an old post using the new block editor, it’s possible that the new blocks of content could break your original layout. Similarly, if you create a brand new post with the block editor, the new options may cause issues with your website layout.

Aim to review all of the content type on your site to see if you can anticipate what types of content might be more problematic with Gutenberg. What plugins or systems do you have in place that change or enhance the current post editing experience?

For example, Tiny MCE Advanced is a plugin that provides more options in the WYSIWYG/toolbar. Or, if you’re using Jupiter or another theme that uses something like Visual Composer, Divi, or WP Bakery to build contact, that’s a big warning sign of something that could be problematic.

Additionally, if your site’s toolbar provides a lot of shortcode options for you to easily add shortcodes to your content without having to write them out yourself, the Gutenberg editing experience is not great for these shortcodes. Note: If you already have shortcodes in your content, they’ll still work; it’s just the editing aspect that might be more of a pain to you than it was previously!

Also keep in mind that though Gutenberg’s block editor may allow you to put two images side-by-side more easily than you could before, you’ll want to double-check the resulting display both on your desktop as well as through mobile devices to make sure that the layout continues to look nice within your site and mobile displays.

To summarize, the Gutenberg block editor makes it easy to do a lot of things that previously would have required coding skills and writing markup, which is really cool. But depending on the structure of your site, you may or may not consider this to be a good thing!

Steps for updating to WordPress 5.0

If possible, you should try to test your site through a development site before applying the changes to your live site. If you’re on Cornershop’s support plan, you probably already have a development site that we can provide for you. If you haven’t worked with us before, we’re happy to work with you to set up a development copy of your site, so just let us know.

Step 1: Have a back-up plan

As you may have already read, we recommend downloading the Classic Editor plugin. This gives you the opportunity to continue using the classic editor on your site instead of the block editor even after you update to WordPress 5.0.

Gutenberg Ramp is another plugin that works well if you’d like to selectively use Gutenberg for some content types and users, but not others. For example, you could opt to use the flexible block editor for your more simple blog posts, but then choose the classic editor for a post type requiring more custom fields and data specificity.

Step 2: Make sure your plugins are up-to-date

Before updating to WordPress 5.0, you’ll want to make sure all of your plugins have been updated. Many recent plugin updates actually relate to making your plugins more compatible with the Gutenberg release, so this is important if you want to make sure your site behaves as expected with WordPress 5.0.

Step 3: Update your site to WordPress 5.0 and test

After updating, you’ll want to test a few things:

  1. Test your old posts and see what happens when you convert these old posts to the new block format.
  2. Test creating new posts and the different types of blocks to see what types of formats work well within your current layout.

Ideally, you’ll be able to update your production site to WordPress 5.0 after you’ve confirmed that everything works smoothly on a development site, but if you do need any assistance with this along the way, please let us know!

By Chelsea Bassett

Chelsea has over a decade of experience with progressive nonprofits, social change, and nonprofit technology, thanks to nine years working at Salsa Labs in technical support, product development, and marketing before joining the Cornershop team. Her passion for quality communication, authentic relationships, and creative nerds serves her well as project manager at Cornershop.