It’s 2019—Welcome to WordPress 5.0!
WordPress version 5.0 shipped on December 6, 2018. Since this happened during the holidays, you might not have encountered any changes or problems with your website yet. This new version contains major changes for how you edit pages and posts. I’m helping multiple companies with this WordPress update. Here’s what I’ve learned and five things you need to do to prevent any delays to your 2019 web marketing initiatives.
Symptoms of the WordPress 5.0 Upgrade
You might not have noticed any problems with your website recently. That may be because you haven’t made any changes to your website over the holidays. Or, maybe your web hosting company doesn’t automatically update your core WordPress software for you, so you’re still using version 4.x.
If your WordPress theme and page builder aren’t up-to-date and compatible with WordPress 5.0, you’ll probably find that you can’t edit pages and posts the way you’re used to.
Symptoms that I’ve seen include
- Page elements suddenly appear in new locations, such as footer elements appearing in the middle of the page.
- Pages that you edited visually now appear as a lot of HTML code inside the new block editor.
- Your visual page editor is not working correctly, such as allowing you to add a row but not letting you edit or move the row.
- Changes to pages are not reflected when you view the live page.
This WordPress Update Has One Big Change
This latest version of WordPress delivers plenty of enhancements, including support for programming with PHP 7.3. The biggest enhancement, though, integrates the Gutenberg editor into the core of WordPress. Gutenberg gives you the ability to build pages using content blocks.
Blocks can contain just about any content type and be easily arranged and rearranged on the page. You can also make reusable blocks to place on multiple pages.
You can read more about blocks at the WordPress blog.
The problem I’m seeing: the block-based editor breaks the page editing capabilities on websites that are not well maintained and up-to-date.
That leads to the symptoms I'm seeing with WordPress 5.0 updates.
Five Things You Need to Do
I’ve already helped multiple clients with the WordPress update of their neglected sites. Here are five things you need to address to keep your website healthy through this transition.
Get a staging version of your site. A staging version of your site creates a carbon copy of your content and functionality. You can make major changes to this copy without disturbing your live website. Once your changes are ready, you copy them to your live website. Staging usually adds a few extra dollars a month to your hosting costs. Some WordPress hosting packages include it automatically.
Upgrade to WordPress 5.0. If you haven’t done so yet, take this WordPress upgrade once you have staging configured.
You can’t stay on version 4.x forever. Eventually, you’ll lose support for your tools and encounter bugs that can’t or won’t be fixed on legacy software.
Update your theme. It may have been a while since you updated your website’s theme. You need an updated theme that works with WordPress 5.0. I had one client whose theme was three major versions behind. When the WordPress upgrade hit, their site was a mess. I was glad we had staging in place to safely work through all the issues. You may be entitled to a free theme upgrade, especially if you have your original purchase code. If your upgrade support has expired or you can’t find your code, pay for the latest version of your theme. Themes usually cost less than $100. It’s worth the money.
Update your page builder. Many WordPress themes use a visual page builder such as Visual Composer, Beaver Builder, Elementor, or Site Origin. Even if your theme is up-to-date, your page builder may not be. A page builder that’s doesn’t support the latest WordPress version will make it virtually impossible to edit your existing pages. In my experience, Visual Composer 5.6, the latest version, works just fine on WordPress 5.0. Visual Composer 5.1 does not. I needed to get my client updated before we could do any of their web promotional work. As with themes, you may be entitled to a free page builder upgrade, especially if you have your original purchase code for your theme or your page builder. If not, pay for the latest version of your page builder. It usually costs less than $50. Again, it’s worth the money.
Write your blog posts using the Classic block. The Gutenberg block-based editor may be great for creating complex static page layouts. However, the one-paragraph-per-block approach to writing blogs gives me a pain in the neck. Luckily, Gutenberg includes a Classic text block that works just like your familiar WordPress text editing interface. Use Classic to write your blogs.
I haven’t touched on the universe of WordPress plugins and the impact of this WordPress update. Personally, I haven’t seen problems with plugins that are kept up-to-date. However, I’m now very leery of installing any new plugin that is not certified compatible with version 5.0.
Contact Me for WordPress Update Help
I hope you’ve found this information useful or know someone who will benefit from this. If you need help updating your website for 2019 and WordPress 5.0 or want more information, complete the form below, and we’ll set up a time to talk.