The New WordPress Gutenberg Editor


Tina Dubinsky

Do you manage a self-hosted WordPress website? By now you should have encountered this year’s significant change, the WordPress Gutenberg Editor. 

After a frosty reception from the blogging community, it’s now scoring two-and-a-half stars on Because it’s optional, many users have reverted to the Classic editor.

In this article we’re going to discuss:

  • Why did Gutenberg get a bad reception?
  • What are the differences between Gutenberg and the Classic editor?
  • How to know if your WordPress website is Gutenberg ready.
  • What can you do if you don’t want to use Gutenberg?
Screen capture of the WordPress Gutenberg call out asking WordPress site owners to help test the new editor.
WordPress Gutenberg Editor CallOut.

“Try Gutenberg” Callout Revealed

When the “Try Gutenberg” callout appeared a few months ago (circa August 1, 2018), it caught many bloggers unaware. Unless you keep up with WordPress developer news, you’re unlikely to know of changes.  

But this dangling fruit caught the immediate attention of WordPress bloggers.  And it was pretty hard to resist the blue “Install Gutenberg,” button.

Although it mentioned something about compatibility in the next column with a link to the Classic editor, if you’re like me, you went ahead and tried it anyway.

Installing WordPress Gutenberg without checking compatibility was a bad mistake. While it was in production for over a year, many WordPress themes and plugins weren’t 100% ready.

So, when people gave it a try,  it caused more pain than pleasure. And when it comes to pain, that’s what people speak up about and remember most.

WordPress Gutenberg Problems Went Beyond Compatibility

Another significant concern is Gutenberg’s ease of use. Instead of one big field, Bloggers now use multiple blocks on a web page.

For example, each paragraph represents a block of information. Each heading, collection of bullet points, image or embedded social media text equals a new block.

As you experiment with WordPress’ Gutenberg, there is a strong temptation to click on visual buttons associated with the blocks. Using the mouse adds more steps than those required to create the same page in the Classic editor.

But the visual buttons are akin to listening to voices in your head. They’re a bit misleading. Because you can still do many things the Classic editor way. For example, to create a new paragraph block just hit enter.

A Twitter user who’s handle included “Frank” vented many frustrations about the ease of using the Gutenberg. One vent was how difficult it was to add conversations from social media. That post has since been deleted (I’m guessing Frank got the hang of it), so instead, to show you how, I’m using one of my more recently shared tweets.

The conversation above results from copying and pasting the HTML link from Twitter directly into my WordPress Gutenberg page. No other steps were required. Frank also had a problem with the ease of adding images.

Printer stamps used in a press put together on a block. Picture used as an example for inserting into image into WordPress Gutenberg.

I inserted the picture above by dragging it from a local folder on my computer into the page. Again, I didn’t have to press an extra button to insert things. However, I could have chosen to insert it using the Gutenberg block’s steps.

Experiment with Gutenberg, don’t be shy

If you’re using Gutenberg, I suggest you experiment with it. Before I looked into Frank’s concerns, I, too, relied on the block’s buttons. And there’s documentation about how to use Gutenberg over on It even has keyboard shortcuts.

Unfortunately, Frank’s not alone in his frustration with WordPress Gutenberg. WordPress have given all users a beta plugin to “try out”. So, it’s not yet ready for an official launch. It needs user patience, experience and knowledge of how it works.

WordPress Gutenberg signals a substantial change in the way people publish WordPress articles. It’s true the editor looks different. Yes, you can use the mouse more, but you don’t have to either.

WordPress sentiment for Gutenberg is low.

So, should you stay away from Gutenberg?

If you’re not big on testing things out, installing and using the Classic editor might be the best thing for you.

But if you’re a blogger who writes for others, you may need to learn it to stay relevant.

I’ve no idea what the WordPress Gutenberg editor looks like under the hood. I’m not a WordPress Developer. But as a user, I’m discovering Gutenberg makes it easier to:

  • Edit.
  • Style.
  • Embed.
  • Lay things out.

It feels and looks more creative. It can do more things to increase reader interaction, things that weren’t as easy to do with the Classic editor. And while I’ve had a few minor hiccoughs along the way, I’ve been able to find solutions.

WordPress Page Editor Differences.


  • Multiple blocks that change to reflect the type of format, plugin or media required.
  • Blocks are flexible and can be rearranged easily with arrow buttons.
  • Multimedia friendly: select the type of multimedia you want.
  • WordPress developers can create new block features.
  • Visually friendly for mixed media pages.

Classic Editor

  • A single field for all text, images and addons.
  • Use of shortcodes & html for integration.
  • Cut and paste to move text and source code.
  • Reliance on custom code and html knowledge.
  • Plugins not as easily integrated into Classic editor.
Screenshot of WordPress Gutenberg showing article as its being edited with block buttons for paragraph formatting and Add block button.,
Screenshot of WordPress Gutenberg.

For example, detailed instructions on how to know if your site was 100% ready, could have relieved some of the pain felt by WordPress users.

Is Your Website Gutenberg ready?

1. Research Your Theme. 

If you’re using an old theme, there’s a good chance it may not be ready for Gutenberg. Some free themes, the old ones and those that rarely get updated, may never convert over.

You should assess how ready your site is and consider upgrading to a theme that takes Gutenberg and WordPress updates seriously.

2. Research Your Plugins

It’s possible one or more plugins aren’t compatible with WordPress.  To find out, go to and look up all the Plugins you use. Check if they’re compatible with the current version of WordPress.

As well, check out support forums for discussion and issues on the Gutenberg compatibility.

If you’ve already switched and you’ve run into problems, I recommend installing the plugin, Health Check by The Community.  You can use the data from Health Check to get help on the Gutenberg support forum.

3. Backup Up Your Website And Database.

Your website’s not ready to switch to Gutenberg until you do a back-up.

This is a fail-safe step. If you decided to try Gutenberg and it fails and you have problems reverting back to the Classic editor, make sure you have a back-up.

It never hurts to be prepared.

Finger presses red back-up button on keyboard getting ready for WordPress Gutenberg.
Backup WordPress Before Installing Gutenberg.

WordPress 5.0 Is Coming.

And So Is Default Gutenberg.

That’s right, with WordPress 5.0 default Gutenberg arrives. What does this mean?  It means you should choose and install the Classic editor now if you want to continue using it.

At the moment, things are a little bit frosty with Gutenberg and it has delayed the release of WordPress 5.0. But if you’re eager to try it, you can download the beta version.

My suggestions:

  • Find a theme that is Gutenberg friendly.
  • Choose WordPress plugins that are Gutenberg ready.
  • Learn how to use Gutenberg.
  • Install the Classic editor now, if you don’t like it.

To learn the new WordPress Gutenberg editor:

  1. Practice converting your old posts.
  2. Write a couple of new ones.
  3. Seek out Gutenberg documentation.
  4. Experiment, and you’ll soon have it perfected.

Until WordPress 5.0 arrives, WordPress will continue to roll out periodic Gutenberg updates. While I’ve been writing, an update occurred which contained a bug. 

Less than 24 hours later, WordPress had it fixed (phew!). Asking WordPress users to “Try Gutenberg” wasn’t about giving us a well-oiled machine. It was about making one together. So, if you have bugs report them on the Gutenberg support forum.

I made this post with Gutenberg.

It’s an intuitive editor. Besides its versatility with plugins, embeds and design, it encourages greater reader interaction. And that will win me over any day.

Round orange circle with printer stamps in background and orange words "Made with Gutenberg" in foreground.

2 thoughts on “The New WordPress Gutenberg Editor”

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your question! Gutenberg is the new text editor for WordPress, so it’s the plugin that you use to write and place the information on the pages. Design of your website comes under Appearance in WordPress admin. Its related to the theme you use rather than the text editor. For changing pages and blog posts over to Gutenberg, you don’t need to suspend your site. If you have Gutenberg set up your website, you click edit on published pages and posts, and it will open using the Gutenberg, text editor. You then have the choice to convert the single block over to multiple blocks (it should prompt you with a message that begins with “Welcome to the wonderful world of blocks..). Until you save and republish the article or post, the old one will remain published on your website. You can choose to unpublish each page or post and then republish it, but it’s not necessary to suspend your entire website.



Comments, thoughts?