WordPress 'Gutenberg' release causes frustration, backlash among existing users

Posted 14th January, 2019 by Seb

WordPress is website publishing software which powers approximately one-third of all websites. With the launch of version 5 this past December, WordPress underwent what many consider to be the most substantial change in its fifteen-year history when the Gutenberg page editor was merged into the WordPress default core. ‘Gutenberg’ substantially changes the creation, development and editing process, bringing the WordPress page editing experience up to date with competitors such as Squarespace, Wix and Defty.

Almost everyone agreed that the legacy WordPress editing format was outdated and rife for change. Prior to version 5, WordPress editing was done using a text form. Various elements and plugins would be implemented using shortcodes: placeholders that dynamically embedded additional content. To create more flexible page structures, page-builder add-ons might be used such as Elementor. The consequence was that for even a basic website, half a dozen plugins may be required. It caused confusion, errors and plugin conflicts, not to mention headaches for many developers.

Gutenberg supposedly sweeps this aside, enabling a block-like drag and drop page creator for any WordPress website. Custom site structures can, therefore, be created directly in a default install. For a new user setting up a brand new site, it makes the experience straightforward and intuitive.

Why, then, the backlash? Gutenberg has a 2 out of 5 star rating on the official WordPress site; the name has been trending on social media since its release. And the ‘Classic Editor’, which reverts the page builder back to the old format, has had millions of installs from frustrated users.

Boris Kolev, CTO at Fixed.net, a WordPress support and maintenance company, explains the reasons for the problem. “Users feel that Gutenberg is hostile to existing content. It can break websites, stop plugins from working or make them uneditable. For a user maintaining an existing site, this feels like an unnecessary change which might require significant adjustment to their website.”

Not upgrading is not an option. WordPress site owners have to update their software frequently, to keep up with security patches. Essentially, the version 5 upgrade makes millions of people fundamentally change how they manage their website. Boris continues: “I have sympathy with the WordPress management as a change like this was required, but when software runs hundreds of millions of websites, a small change can have huge consequences”.

WordPress support companies have seen a huge surge in the number of requests they receive from frustrated customers, even just with requests to revert the upgrade. Fixed.net has expanded its WordPress support team as a result and is able to offer both one-time and ongoing maintenance for any WordPress website.

Categories: Wordpress