If you’re a WordPress user, then you’ve probably heard all about Gutenberg by now. The block editor is live, but there’s still push-back against it. Plenty of people have decided to stick with the classic editor, which begs the question – should you make the switch?
The short story is the block editor works, and the change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a significant move away from the way the classic editor works, and for some people, it can make more sense to stick with the former.
In this article, we’re going to take a detailed look at the block editor and the changes it brings to WordPress. Then we’ll compare it with the classic editor and help you decide which option is best for your blog. Let’s talk Gutenberg!
What the Gutenberg Block Editor Brings to the Table
First off, let’s do away with the Gutenberg name for the rest of this article. That’s what the project used to be called while it was in development but now, it’s just the block editor, and it’s an official part of WordPress.
If you’ve used WordPress recently, then you probably already tried out the block editor. We call it that because it overhauls the classic editor with a block system, consisting of several pre-built elements:
That system will look very familiar if you’ve used any page-building tool during the past few years. At their core, they mostly work the same way. They provide you with a grid system which enables you to place blocks wherever you want to, as well as customize their style.
Gutenberg does this as well with most of its blocks, even if it doesn’t provide as many customization options as you might be accustomed to:
Overall, the block editor looks decidedly more modern. However, a lot of people don’t like this new direction, and we can sum up the reasons why in a few points:
- It’s a sharp move away from the classic text-based editor.
- While it looks like a page builder, it falls short of the functionality most other tools in that category offer.
- Introducing a new editor can interfere with the functionality of a lot of existing sites.
In my opinion, point one is a weak argument against the new editor. After all, WordPress can’t remain the same forever, and if you want the CMS to remain in the lead, it needs to be able to leap forward now and then.
Point number two is more complicated. While it’s true the block editor doesn’t match the functionality of advanced site builders, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It provides you with more control over how your pages look while still retaining some of the classic WordPress simplicity. For me, that’s a good thing, but your mileage may vary.
The Pros and Cons of Using the Block Editor
The great thing about WordPress is you have full control over the kind of experience you get. If you’d rather stick with the classic editor, then you can. However, before you make a decision, let’s briefly sum up the pros and cons of using the block editor:
- It provides you with more control over your layouts.
- Out of the box, it includes most of the elements you need for simple websites.
- Just like the classic editor, it’s extendable using plugins.
- The writing experience is cleaner.
- It works great with mobile devices.
Now let’s take a look at the other side of the coin and talk about the negatives:
- It’s not compatible with plugins that changed the way the previous editor worked.
- The selection of blocks isn’t as broad as you’d expect yet.
- It doesn’t play nice with sites that rely heavily on custom fields.
While reading those cons, it’s important to note the block editor is still in its infancy. Sure, it was in beta for a long time, but there’s always more room for improvement. WordPress development being as active as it is, we’ll probably see some significant changes to the editor within the next few months to improve its functionality.
Should You Use the WordPress Block Editor?
To answer the question right away, as it is now, the block editor is an excellent option if you’re running a WordPress blog (or want to start one!). That is, if you don’t require any complex functionality from the editor beyond enabling you to style and format new posts and pages.
Things get dicier if you’re using WordPress to power a website with more moving parts. Let’s say, for example, you run a business website using WordPress so you’d rather not experiment with a new editor until it’s more polished. In that case, you can always wait for a couple more release cycles until you make the jump.
If you use page builder plugins for your website, then you may not want to use the block editor just yet. In that case, I’d recommend using a staging website to see if your plugins and the editor play nice before making any significant changes. That way, your blog’s functionality, and design won’t be affected.
Overall, I think the block editor is an important step forward for WordPress. We’ve been seeing a rise in the popularity of site builder tools, which enable people without development experience to forge ahead with their projects. Sure, those tools are ill-equipped to help you create complex websites, but that doesn’t make them bad options. It just means you need to know when to use them. The block editor is just the same.
WordPress is by far the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the web, so it’s only natural people get scared when big changes happen. The block editor might not be as sleek at some page builder, but it’s not meant to be. Its primary goal is to help you create and edit pages in a more visual manner. In that aspect, it succeeds.
As far as blogging goes, the block editor gives you better control over how each aspect of your post will look. Right now, the block selection includes pretty much everything you need to create amazing-looking blog posts. If you’ve been holding off on using Gutenberg, I recommend you give it a chance.
Are you going to stick with the classic editor or give blocks a try? Tell us why in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.
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