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WordPress 5 – What’s It All About?

Back in late 2018 (if you can remember that long ago!), WordPress once again made waves with their latest version update. Imaginatively titled ‘Bebo’, WordPress 5 has done more than just fix a few issues – it’s made some pretty significant changes to the way users can interact with the website, particularly when it comes to how you edit content.

Now that the update has been out a little while -over a year now – and WordPress have worked out all of the update’s ‘teething’ problems, we wanted to show you just what the new changes are and what they look like, and how and when you can expect to see them hitting your website. (Hint: it’s very soon.)

What’s new about the editor?

The biggest changes in which most of our customers will be interested, are definitely on the content editing side of things. Rather than sticking with the traditional text-based Word-Processor-style editor you all know and love, WordPress 5 has moved to a ‘content block’ based, drag-and-drop ‘visual’ editor. If you have had a website built by us since early 2018 then you will be using an editor like this already for most of your pages with the possible exception of your blog posts.

Inserting & changing content

This update makes the process of inserting content an easier process and a clearer one. Add your content in blocks and play around with each until it looks just right! You can now take control of each block independently and easily change its format with a few clicks.

Gif animation showing changing of the type of content for some blocks in WordPress 5.

Inserting & positioning images

When it comes to inserting images and making it play nicely with the text surrounding it, we’re all used to add the image in and then wrestling with the tool bar and images settings for an hour to get the image position right. Well that should soon be a thing of the past as the new toolbars and image selection allow for faster image alignment and visual text wrapping!

Gif animation showing how to insert an image and edit its position within a block of text in WordPress 5.

Better design control

This update is yet another step for WordPress, moving further away from being just a bit of software you could use to edit your website, and more towards a complete website building tool. We know that’s what you’ve been writing to Father Webmas about all these years!
With this new version, users can now even change the background colour of content blocks, as well as alter text size and colour more easily! We know, how exciting is this! Previously changes like this would have to be handled by a developer – but not anymore!

Gif animation showing the editing of colour in blocks in WordPress 5.

Reusable Content

Another nifty little addition to this new ‘block’ approach to content, is the addition of ‘reusable’ blocks. In a reusable block, you can add and format your content as normal, and then save the block to the library. Once saved, you can load up this block anywhere else on your website (complete with content) and simply drop it in, ready and done. Now if that doesn’t have you scrabbling for the WordPress update button then I don’t know what will!

Gif showing the editing of blocks in WordPress 5.

In a world of re-purposing content and speeding up production this is a fantastic addition. 

Will this affect my existing website?

Don’t panic about rolling a new editor out! The new editor will not change the way any of your content looks to your visitors, it will however make it much easier for you to control how content is displayed on pages you are currently editing like a Word document. You’ll have more flexibility with how content appears, whether you’re building your first website, revamping a blog or if you write code for a living. The overall aim is to reduce the need for you to bring in a web developer or programmer to do simple page layout tasks for you, giving you more power to make your content look interesting.

Does it work?

Yes

This is the big question really, isn’t it? I mean who cares how fancy it is if it doesn’t work, right! One of WordPress 5’s aims is to give more control to the user, making everything easier to access and use – and to that end they have succeeded. There are some pretty good technical improvements too, but that is not most of our customers will be interested in, so we won’t be covering that here. The main ‘win’ for this update is that content on a page now looks far better by default, so you will spend far less time faffing around to get content looking great before it be published. This is great for end-users of course, but it’s also a huge bonus for content editors and even agencies, as freeing up time at this stage means we can focus on areas where we can add real value.

Downsides?

However, like everything in life, it has got its downsides. For one, it’s still heavily dependent on the design of the page in the first place – which means you will need to hire a web developer to at least build the framework for you, much in the same way you might get someone to build the website initially for you to manage later. It can also be a challenge to integrate into an existing website, usually requiring some tweaking before it’s ready to go. Wait! Before you think. ‘hang on, you’re about to put this onto my website!’, don’t. worry we’ve thought of that, read on…!

This is the future, now

Despite those very minor transition qualms though, once everything is settled in and everyone has switched over, this is the future. 10 years ago web developers like us were building websites for everyone and managing the content ourselves – but now with a modern drag-and-drop interface, we can focus on producing beautiful and optimised websites, and helping customers manage their own content. 

So, why the delay?

Given that the update came out over a year ago now, you might be wondering why we’re only talking about it now. Well, the answer to that is pretty simple; at SiteBites, we only roll out big version updates like this to our customers when we know the effects they will have on the websites we manage. Big updates to software have the potential to cause all sorts of problems for users, as anyone with a smart phone will know only too well, especially in the early days, and WordPress 5 is no different. It’s had a lot of bugs since the first release, and now 22 patches, updates and edits later, it finally seems to have stabilised and we are happy to roll it out. This update will be to version 5.3.

The update roll-out

And that brings us to where we are now! Hopefully this blog post has given you an idea of what this update will do for your site now let’s tell you what to expect.

Due to the occasional minor clash with existing websites, as it’s such a big change, we will not activate the new block-based content manager when we update your website, until you are happy for us to do so. So, initially nothing will change on you website that you will really notice.
At some point in the future, we will have to update the editor, and it is activated by default on all our new websites now, but we want to give our existing customers as long as possible to try it out.

The updates will be done in the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled for our email! In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about the update, or want to try the new editor out, just get in touch with the Studio team at SiteBites.

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