As you may have noticed, I have not filled our blog with posts around the upcoming new editor for WordPress called Gutenberg. And there is a reason for this.
Within the WordPress community, we have been abuzz about Gutenberg (the new, upcoming editor) and, in a perfect world, the need for every WP user to be prepared for it. But having taught thousands of users over the years, my experience is that in most cases WordPress is just another one of their tools. And no matter how much a piece of technology will change with an update, often most users are happy to just wait until it happens. They don’t pay attention—until they have to They simply are not going to test it via beta or install a plugin to get a feel for it up front.
We can reach out to clients and customers and give them fair warning or educate them. That is all we can do. I thought it would be cool today to get some feedback from a few of my WordPress peeps so I asked them:
Do you think the majority of users will wait till the *stuff* hits the fan?
Myself, I will need to get use to this new editor with as much as I blog here. But I want to give most WordPress users credit. Life on this planet earth will not end as we know it. I understand all the challenges devs, designers and others are facing, and I sympathize. But in the end I truly feel we will all survive this update.
As with Any Piece of Technology, Will Most WordPress Users Only Deal with Gutenberg After It’s Released
Most WordPress users are not power users — they’re people who want to run a business, manage an online community, or share content with an audience. They aren’t going to install beta software because they want to keep their site running smoothly (and change is often equated to problems), and don’t want to take the time to manage changes.
Their site is a tool, not something they work on. Because of this, I think we’ll have a lot of surprised users when WordPress v5.0 rolls out.
I think people will wait until it’s released. Most people don’t download pre-releases of software to verify they can still write articles, contracts or slides. So blog posts or web pages won’t be very different.
But I don’t think that’s going to be as big a problem as we might imagine because the transition won’t ruin existing posts and pages. And the introduction of the Classic Editor plugin means people don’t have to rush to adopt this new way of creating content.
All that said, I think the notion of blocks (particularly re-usable blocks) will require a lot more thinking and prep than simply using a new editor. Information management and structured data aren’t things that come naturally to people. Learning to abstract and planning ahead will be more work than adopting Gutenberg.
WordPress/BuddyPress Coder. WordCamp Miami Cofounder.
Speaking as someone who runs WordPress meetups, among other things, it’s likely people will upgrade to Gutenberg without even knowing it OR knowing about it. We are talking about the majority of users, which honestly don’t come to the meetups and WordCamps, and are not part of our inner circle. The majority of people if given the choice will opt to stay with what they know vs. something potentially better but that has a chance of breaking things on their site (in their mind).
I think the callout was a good idea. I think we’ll see an initial grumble if Gutenberg ships with 5.0 before December, but I think it will quiet out as people either install classic editor or move forward. The majority, though, over the initial period? I don’t think they’ll have an issue. We shall see.
For the agency I am working with, we are installing the Classic Editor now. We’ve got a lot of sites built with ACF and some older ones built with SiteOrigin. Each site will need to be reviewed once 5.0 comes out.
The challenge is that most of the clients have not budgeted for upgrades and we will need to estimate what those costs will be. We also have the support issue to deal with. We’ve notified clients about the upcoming changes and asked that they not install Gutenberg at this time.
I agree that people will wait until it’s released. Most just want their website to work, they don’t really care about new stuff coming. Tech-inclined people are early adopters. I suspect many users are laggards.
To take it one step further, unless their hosts automatically move to major version updates, I think many will wait to upgrade altogether. No one wants to use broken software, even if it means they get to play a part in fixing it.
I actually just attended a session discussing this same topic with Matt and several large hosting companies. I think you’re very insightful here. Those who know it’s coming seem to be waiting until it’s fully required. The main pushback I’m hearing is mild groans from developers worried about compatibility issues.
Matt mentioned that over 150K folks have already adopted it to test it on their sites. That’s significantly more than he was anticipating.
My team is late to the game on it. We’re just now really looking at how to incorporate it. I think I’ll be making a video or two to have available to clients for the education side of things. I think if we stay positive it will be a great fit across the board.
CEO DevriX & Digital Consultant for SMEs, WordPress Contributor
It’s important to make a clear differentiation between the different types of website “managers.” Professional development teams, freelancers, and consultants are more inclined to invest in testing new releases upfront and ensuring that stability is in place. This is their job, regardless of whether they freelance across several clients or work full-time in-house. And maintaining the web presence of a business is their prerogative, contingent on being able to handle upcoming updates.
Unlike other professional self-hosted CMS, WordPress is often compared to site builders and DIY solutions like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace. Solopreneurs, hobbyists, small business owners often take the initiative of building their web presence alone. While this may seem doable, it’s often a risky move in the long run. Same goes for one-off website purchases with no ongoing maintenance on a subscription base.
In those cases, clients are often clueless as to what upcoming updates will look like and what the impact would be. WordPress is known to be backward compatible for years to come, and introducing an opt-out feature replacing their existing content may cause friction and dissatisfaction toward WordPress. Given our limited statistics of about 300 DIY non-technical site builders, over 80% of them have not tested Gutenberg yet and won’t have the time to do so until version 5.0 is out.
The large majority of WP users do not inform themselves of what is coming in upcoming releases. When they update, they do so with a HUGE amount of trust. That’s a big reason why the Gutenberg alert in 4.9.8 was so important.
With that said, how this is rolled out in 5.0 remains really important, and its impossible to predict how users who haven’t been paying attention will respond. At this point I’m expecting a 50/50 reaction, love/hate.
Graphic designer, creative strategist and WordPress developer at Marktime Media
I believe that the majority of non-developer users of WordPress – the ones we consider our clients – are using WordPress as a means to an end. They needed a website to promote a service, sell a product, publish on a topic, display a portfolio, or any number of other use cases, and WordPress (for better or worse) was the tool they used to get there.
Maybe they set it up themselves, maybe they had a trusted professional do it for them. Either way, their investment in the tool is the same investment they have in other digital tools – their phones, their browsers, their software, their smart TV, their voice assistant. They want it to do what they got it to do, and sometimes it will update, and sometimes it will change, and when that happens it will either be a better experience (delightful) or a worse experience (frustrating). But they’re definitely not the kind of people that are anticipating the change happening, reading up on it, or preparing for it. They’re too busy doing their actual jobs. Which is why, if they’re an active client, it’s our job to take on that responsibility and make sure future transitions are as smooth as possible.
Senior Staff Instructor, LinkedIn Learning + Lynda
Yes, the vast majority will not see Gutenberg until their site auto-updates. When that happens, a significant portion will think “something happened” to their site, either someone changed it or it was hacked or the hosting company did it or a plugin was installed etc. They will try to figure out what happened, and they will be confused until someone they consider an authoritative source (not one of the regular WordPress outlets) tells them otherwise. Just because of how humans are hardwired, there will be an immediate backlash, and how the WordPress community handles that backlash will set the tone for the future.
Also because of how humans are hardwired, that backlash will wane after a few weeks or months and things will fall into a new normal. How we handle communication with all those people BEFORE, during, and after release will decide how WordPress as a brand fares as this transition takes place. Persistent, well crafted, empathetic, and educational marketing is necessary.
Please, feel free to leave your comment.
I know there are so many more people—some I know, some I don’t— who have thoughts on this. I would love it if you’d leave your own answer to my question in the comments (please, no Gutenberg rants).
An audio option for this post.