Gutenberg, eventually will change how you interact with WordPress. In it’s first inclusion into Core, will be a new editor experience.
“Gutenberg has three planned stages. The first, aimed for inclusion in WordPress 5.0, focuses on the post editing experience and the implementation of blocks. This initial phase focuses on a content-first approach. The use of blocks, as detailed above, allows you to focus on how your content will look without the distraction of other configuration options. This ultimately will help all users present their content in a way that is engaging, direct, and visual.
These foundational elements will pave the way for stages two and three, planned for the next year, to go beyond the post into page templates and ultimately, full site customization.” Gutenberg Team
Blocks Replace Meta Boxes
Instead of meta boxes, you interact with your content in blocks. Content includes video, images, headings, quotes, and, of course, text.
The plus sign allows you to add more boxes. Sometimes you have to hover to see it.
Plugins make their own types of blocks.
Themes control how a block looks. This is an opportunity for theme developers.
Blocks are determined in the code with CSS Commenting so you know what’s in block.
Even though paragraphs are in different blocks, each paragraph is output with paragraph tags and shouldn’t interfere with SEO implications.
This means every block has its own control. Every plugin can create settings for their blocks. You may not see settings in the sidebar anymore. They may be in the settings.
As a business-oriented marketer, my perception of Gutenberg is not about it’s beauty or ease of use. Rather, I am very concerned (and have been since June 2017) about the economic impact of the tight timeline of Gutenberg given how quickly it is being iterated.
In my words, Gutenberg is a structural and visual change to WordPress’ editing and publishing experience. It’s interface is very much like Medium and I found it very easy to use. This project or editor will roll out in WordPress 5.0 which is slated for April 2018.
“The core concept of Gutenberg is every item you add to WordPress is a “block”. Every heading, paragraph, image, blockquote, list, and other content you add is a block, and every block has unique properties and settings. That means when you create content, you can work with and customize each individual block, move those blocks around, and even make individual blocks reusable so you can build them once and use them in different locations and different views.” Morten Rand-Hendriksen
Also, Josh Pollock has an overview post State of the Word on his site here that is worth reading as well.
“While I worry about backwards compatibility for metaboxes, I think my biggest concerns are addressed or will be addressed. I do think storing Gutenberg’s raw content in the existing post content column as a string is a mistake that will have to get fixed later with a new column and proper content object, but we’ll get there.” Josh Pollock
I am the Marketing Team CoRep for Make.WordPress, I am a business owner, and have formerly worked for a very successful plugin development company and advertising agency who both rely upon WordPress for their business model. Though I will write about this on my own blog, I thought I would put my money where my mouth is and be an official voice instead of a behind-the-scenes voice.
It is my understanding that WordPress, as a project and community, is committed to backward compatibility. To be fair, I’ve mostly heard this discussion when considering back-end compatibility with PHP. And I understand the frustrations with developers wanting to use PHP7+ functionality.
However, PHP developers are able to wrap the depreciated code. The new Gutenberg experience (editor) puts a large-scale burden on plugin and theme developers in a short, four-month period.
To assist in the marketing strategy both inward (Make Teams, WordPress Developers) and outward (clients, end users, agencies), a SWOT analysis should be made by us.
Here is an example:
Strengths: Ease of use, modern technology, possibilities with VR, etc. Weaknesses: Accessibility, SEO issues, compatibility. Opportunities: New developers, new customers, modern technology, better UI. Threats: Attrition (loss of WP to Wix, et al), Economic impact, loss of volunteers.
Is WordPress Attrition a Threat
Attrition is a real risk. I shared Morten’s article from LinkedIn and an affiliate marketer began having a conversation with me that I think we should listen to. 29% of the internet uses WordPress. The rollout needs to manage expectations, educate, and give people time to learn.
But I don’t want to. That’s not a good use of my time. My old site makes me enough money to hire someone. This is just a warning for me. I have a new site that doesn’t make me any money yet and I am not going to stay with word press.
Businesses run on fiscal year budgets, not timelines for software releases. It’s easy for us on the inside to become excited about amazing features and great possibilities only to forget about the small business owners, the plugin and theme developers, and the bloggers.
Plugin development companies also have to decide if they are going to support their legacy clients. Should they decide to support both, the technical debt now becomes financial in nature as they spend more hours (time) and/or budget (money) keeping current clients. Should they not, they risk losing current clients through attrition.
Granted, people like Josh Pollock of Caldera are excited enough to get their plugins ready now. As a Caldera Forms user, this makes my heart sing.
Yesterday: Blog post about how excited I am for Gutenberg. Today: @calderaforms Gutenberg blocks.
Agencies who use WordPress often have year-long contracts. The site is built and then used to publish content on a regular basis for lead generation, SEO, and business development. The agency will have to ensure their clients’ sites either remain on 4.9.x or are fully compatible to Gutenberg. Many agencies build custom themes on frameworks or with ACF. Those themes will need to be worked on (that translates into budget shift). Personally, I’ve recommended many of my agency clients and friends to prepare for this last October. Many have added to their budget to be prepared.
Small businesses often come to WordPress for the reasons we promote: technical SEO, ease of publishing, owning your own data. Convincing them to stay, when another option may be cheaper (WIX, Squarespace, even Dot Com), may become a challenge. Businesses don’t make decisions based upon community loyalty; they make decisions based upon finances.
I love WordPress. Here’s a Possible Solution.
I would love to see the version that will be shipped with 5.0 set sooner than later. This will allow WordPress educators, agencies, businesses, the Make Team, and development shops to prepare the general public for the rollout with marketing materials, documentation, and, of course, compatible code.
I love WordPress. I want it to thrive. Keep iterating. It should iterate. But the economy that relies upon WordPress needs time to learn and accept.
Because of the extreme weather in Minnesota, people don’t walk on the streets outside in the winter. Instead, they walk from building to building in closed pedestrian walkways called skyways. Without people walking outside, there was a lack of community interaction.
Not unlike most groups of people, the Hmong came from a village life. A village life bustles with community. Community interaction starts with the little things you say when you’re passing by and engaging in chit chat. You know, small talk. Because of the weather, there was a real effect on the men of the Hmong community. They were prematurely dying in their sleep.
They proactively built up their community with Hmong grocery stores, law offices, and the like to facilitate community bonding. Now, with over 40,000 people, it’s one of the largest Hmong settlements outside of southeast asia.
The moral to the story is that isolation is dangerous — not just to mental health — but to physical health, too.
Community and Remote Workers.
So, back to our demographic: WordPress enthusiasts.
Many of us, because of the independence that we’re afforded by the power of the silicon chip and Internet, work remotely.
In other words, we work alone.
So, we’re not getting all of that chit chat.
I know what you’re saying. Your team does Zoom hangouts and you have a Slack channel. But if you look into your heart of hearts, can you really say that it’s the same?
Sure, you’re productive when you are zoned out listening to house music and working on your code. But are you okay?
Isolation and Silence
Prisons have tried isolation and silence as methods of both punishment and reform. The famous, now abolished, Auburn system believed silence was necessary part of that reform.
“Silence was the biggest factor in the line of rules the prisoners had to follow. John D. Cray, a deputy warden at the Auburn Prison, demanded that the prisoners be completely silent to take away the prisoners’ ‘sense of self’. When the ‘sense of self’ was taken away, many convicts became compliant and obedient to the warden’s wishes.” Wikipedia
The fact that your sense of self is taken away because of complete silence should alert us — as remote workers. We aren’t meant to live in silence. By no means should online conversations over Slack, Twitter, et al replace in-person community.
We are wired for connection, conversation, and community.
This is one of the main reasons why being an active member of your local WordPress community is so important.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” CS Lewis
Maybe friendship isn’t as necessary as food or water, but it’s right up there with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: love and belonging.
“According to Maslow, humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among their social groups, regardless whether these groups are large or small. …Many people become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression in the absence of this love or belonging element. This need for belonging may overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure.” Wikipedia
We need friendship. Don’t self-isolate. Our world is already isolating enough.
The WordPress Community
The WordPress Community is not just an ethereal thing. It’s just not the atmosphere that holds in oxygen. It’s people.
You will find that being part of a WordPress Meetup is much more than just discussing the latest release candidate, the best events plugin, or what IDE is the best.
Recently at SMMOC, another Meetup I attend, the organizer asked the following question:
“How do you rate the information we shared today from 1-10?”
Of course, I replied:
“It’s not about the information. It’s about the relationships we build while discussing the information.”
There was kind of a moment there, where we all realized this is true. If we focus on the quality of information, then if you “already know” the subject, maybe it’s “too boring” for you.
But community meetings are not meant to be informational only. It’s about building relationships from friendships to business partnerships.
It’s never something you regret attending. It’s something you regret not attending.
Walking the Talk
This should be called driving the talk. I live in Dana Point. The WordPress Meetups near me are 26 miles and 32 miles away. I have to drive everywhere.
Not only am I a co-organizer of Women Who WP, but I have made the commitment to attend the OC General Meetup every month. I’ve also been going to the Developer Day Meetup every so often, too. So, with the social media Meetup on Saturdays, I could potentially go to four Meetups a month but always attend a minimum of two.
Because of traffic, to go to my WordPress Meetups, I leave at 5:30 p.m. and I get home after 10:00 p.m.
So, for me — and I’m sure it’s the same for many of you — attending a Meetup can be a commitment as long at five hours. And I hire my dog sitter.
Is it worth it?
You bet your bottom dollar it is.
You are not alone.
Seriously. You have friends waiting for you — at the Meetup. We’ve been through the same things you have. We want to connect. We want to learn with you. We believe in community. We believe in you.
But [Insert Your Excuse Here]
I’ve heard a lot of reasons why people don’t attend Meetups. In the last 13 months, I’ve made it a priority. There is absolutely no way I would have mentally survived living alone and working alone without it.
I’d like to challenge you to attend at least three consecutive meetings. Every Meetup is different. Some cities break it down by design and dev or beginner and advanced. Even if it’s too advanced, go anyway.
If there’s a WordCamp within driving distance, go to that, too. I promise you will not be disappointed.
With live video, you learn to roll with things. Seriously. Blab(dot)im was there for quite a while. But when they shut down, we were ready. Jason Tucker had already moved us to Firetalk. But when Firetalk stopped reliably providing video download, we went to YouTube Live in a Custom Post Type.
Gee. When I started this journey, I had no idea what a CPT was.
It’s been a great year. But I digress.
The point is, if you’re hosting a live show — especially on video — you have to have grace and be ready for anything.
Main takeaways besides that are:
Don’t allow anyone to stream in your house.
Be hard wired.
Have a good attitude.
Laugh a lot.
We’ve both been guests on WP-Tonic and both Jonathan Denwood and John Locke have been on our show. Adam Silver of KitchenSinkWP has appeared on our show dozens of times, too. We’ve had tons of people from The WP Crowd, too! They even made me an honorary member.
It debuted on January 14, 2016. My favorite part is when Jason went “woo” at the end.
It’s hard to pin down my favorite episode, because they all have great moments. That said, this episode with James Laws of Ninja Forms and Josh Pollock of Caldera blew my mind. I didn’t realize forms were that functional.
So, when the worst thing could happen — and did — the WordPress and WPblab community was there for me, quite literally.
I can’t even start listing all of the wonderful people I’ve met both there and in person since we started this show.
Russell Aaron has been a regular regular. Regular regular? Yes. He’s been on the show dozens of times. I finally got to meet him in person this year at WordCamp San Diego and we chatted again in person at WordCamp Orange County. He’s become a mentor of mine. Would that have happened without WPblab? I doubt it.
I expect to meet so many more people as I attend more WordCamps around the nation. This is partly why I made the GuruSelfies page.
I can say without a doubt that I feel more connected to the WordPress community than ever before. And I feel invested. And I care.
We’ve become a virtual meetup.
People have shared their struggles and triumphs. We’ve chatted. We’ve become friends on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve met in person. We’re planning to meet in person. People have started blogs, meetups, quit jobs, leveled up their careers, and applied to be WordCamp organizers.
I feel safe to say that Jason Tucker’s gift of hospitality really shines through in this show’s format and I’m proud to play a part in it.