WordPress 5.0 guide: What do you need to know?

After well over a year, the big day is finally here. On December 6, 2018, WordPress 5.0 was released to the public. First announced back in 2017, WordPress 5.0 is a major update and brings several new features. Your website will not automatically update to WordPress 5.0, and you’ll want to know what will change before you decide to update. Here’s a big-picture overview of everything you need to know about the new release.


The biggest difference between WordPress 5.0 and previous versions is it builds the new Gutenberg editor into WordPress core, meaning it is available by default instead of as an optional plugin install. Gutenberg is a block-based editor that completely revamps the way you build posts and pages.

For more information about Gutenberg, check out the following:

Themes and plugins

Many themes and plugins will need updates to work with Gutenberg properly. Some themes will work out of the box, but others — especially themes that use their own page builders — will need to be updated. Before you update, ensure that your theme and essential plugins support Gutenberg. Many widely used plugins have provided updates to ensure compatibility with Gutenberg, but you’ll want to make sure they’re all updated before you install WordPress 5.0.

New plugins are also available written specifically to take advantage of the Gutenberg editor, so you may want to consider installing new plugins to make the Gutenberg experience even better once you do update.

For more information, read the following:

Twenty Nineteen theme

WordPress announced a new default theme, Twenty Nineteen, designed to integrate seamlessly with Gutenberg. If you’re using a default theme in WordPress (if your theme name begins with the word Twenty, you are using a default theme), you may want to upgrade to Twenty Nineteen. Twenty Nineteen might also be a good option for you if you’re using an older theme that doesn’t work well with Gutenberg and you want to update to a new look.

For more information on Twenty Nineteen, read the following:

Known issues

In addition to possible page builder theme conflicts, there are a few other known issues with WordPress 5.0. First and foremost, if you use a screen reader, Gutenberg is difficult to manage. Additionally, Gutenberg doesn’t support some plugin functions that the Classic Editor does, meaning that some plugins cannot even be fixed to work with Gutenberg; they’ll have to create an entirely new way to enable their functionality to work at all.

Additionally, many plugins will also need to be rewritten to work properly with Gutenberg, as the WordPress editor screen has undergone major changes. As an example, check out Yoast SEO’s Gutenberg integration roadmap. You’ll notice an incredible amount of work to be done, and there’s a lot of concern in the WordPress community that plugins created by independent developers will simply be dumped instead of updated. You’ll also notice that a great number of tasks for Yoast begin with the word “Reactify” — that’s their term for converting parts of the plugin to a JavaScript library called React, which Gutenberg uses but WordPress hasn’t used before. This essentially means they need to switch to a different programming language to update their plugin, something Yoast can certainly handle but it creates a lot of work for them. Many other plugin developers will have the similar extensive tasks required to complete the Gutenberg transition, and it’s possible some of them may not even know React, creating yet another barrier to Gutenberg complaince.

That’s a lot of technical speak, but what does all of that mean for you? Look at your list of plugins and decide which ones you absolutely want to ensure you have when you switch to Gutenberg. For each one you deem essential, ensure they’ve been upgraded to work with Gutenberg.

For more information on issues with Gutenberg, read the following:

Can you upgrade to WordPress 5.0 without using Gutenberg?

It’s always a good idea to keep your website up to date, so you can upgrade to WordPress 5.0 without using the Gutenberg editor. If you wish to do so before you update WordPress, install the Classic Editor plugin. Then, when you upgrade to WordPress 5.0, you’ll be able to use the same editor you’ve used before. If you want to use the Gutenberg editor later on, you can change settings in the Classic Editor plugin or remove it.

Will you use Gutenberg or install the Classic Editor plugin? Once you’ve installed Gutenberg, what do you think? Do you have any other questions about upgrading? Let us know in the comments!