The Value of WordPress Designers and Developers in the Gutenberg Era

Last Updated on March 16, 2023 by 69 Comments

The Value of WordPress Designers and Developers in the Gutenberg Era
Blog / Editorial / The Value of WordPress Designers and Developers in the Gutenberg Era

Gutenberg is coming. In the 2017 State of the Word talk at WordCamp US, Matt Mullenweg said that the Gutenberg editor would definitely become the default editor for WordPress in 2018 with the release of version 5.0. That announcement kind of has the WP community in an tizzy — specifically the developers and designers who are afraid that having a page builder included in Core will negatively affect their business.

The fear is not unfounded. Anytime a new tool that changes the landscape of an established ecosystem like WordPress appears, questions about job security and viability crop up. Gutenberg will make WP more accessible to people who may have otherwise bypassed it in lieu of DIY builders like Squarespace or Wix.

So where does that put web developers and designers when clients can install WP and have immediate access to a complete set of page-building tools? Honestly, I think the introduction of Gutenberg leaves us in a very good place. And I’ll tell you why.

But First: A Story

I started teaching college English when I was just 25 years old. Can you imagine walking into a classroom only to see an instructor that was barely (if at all) older than you were? No?

Well, neither could a lot of my students. And because I always looked younger than I was, even when I was approaching and passing 30, there was still a lot of not-taking-me-seriously going on.

So what did I do?

Well, at the beginning of every semester, I asked them a simple question: Do you trust me?

Keep in mind, this was in a classroom full of students who didn’t know me (mostly), and who might have never been in a college classroom before. The answer I got was pretty much always a resounding no.

Afterward, I would follow up with the obvious why not? to which they generally answered the expected I don’t know you and so on.

I also took this opportunity to tell them that I didn’t have an attendance policy and that I didn’t care if they were there or not. It was the truth. I told them that they could read every text on their own and to study and prep for every exam and paper (all the details were in my syllabus, and I gave them my PowerPoint slides). They’d be just fine, I said.

I told them that I was no smarter than they were. That they could totally do everything in the class on their own, without me. I was hired, I told them, because I had a piece of paper that said I’d read and understood these texts well enough to teach them.

I said that, technically, they didn’t need me at all to pass my own course. And they didn’t.

But…what does this have to do with WordPress?

Everything, my friends. Everything.

Your Clients Don’t Need You, Either

Just like my students didn’t need me to read The Epic of Gilgamesh or Hamlet, your clients don’t need you to build websites for them.

CliffsNotes and Spark Notes get college students through literature classes every day. Squarespace, Wix, and Divi get new DIY websites online in the same way. The tools are out there and readily available. Anyone who wants to succeed can succeed.

Gutenberg’s inclusion in Core will not change this.

However, it didn’t take long for the students who took me up on my I-don’t-care-if-you-are-here policy to come back in. Especially after their first exam’s grade wasn’t quite what they expected. They hadn’t realized how hard it would be on their own.

That’s when they started to trust me. They knew that I wasn’t just some teacher going through the motions — I was being candid with them, and I built a solid relationship with most of them that went far beyond their freshman and sophomore years.

In that same vein, it also doesn’t take long for your DIYer clients to come back to you. Just because they have the tools and capability to build their own website, they don’t necessarily have the experience and ability to do so.

So while they don’t need you, they still need you.

Your candor is what is going to set you apart from other web developers and designers in a world of page and site builders.

Just What is Your Role and Your Value?

See, your clients and my students aren’t experts. You and I are. That doesn’t mean that we’re smarter than them or better or even more talented. It just means that you and I bring two things to the table they can’t.

  • Years of specific training and professional development
  • And (more importantly) years of failing and messing up projects

It’s a cliche, sure, but it’s the foundation of why we each have a career ahead of us. We just have to make sure that we know how to pivot our perspectives and business models. And to know how to explain why these things are important.

Your Current Role and Value

Okay, right now, even though page builders are everywhere, they’re not the standard. People see the default WordPress theme or even join Elegant Themes and install Divi. They may toy around with it for a little while, and then quickly realize they need a professional designer.

They contact you, and your role is to do some mock-ups, have some meetings, finally decide on a direction, and you go to work. You design the site in Photoshop or Sketch (or straight in your theme of choice–like Divi!), build the site on WordPress, and maybe write a custom plugin or simple script.

You hand give them the keys to the kingdom (or the username and password, whichever), and your job is done. They might need you to do a hand-off training, showing them how it all works.

Considering all of that, you bring a ton of value to your clients. You plan and sketch. You build, and you train. You’re a one-person design machine, and you rock at it.

And that’s partly because you have amazing tools like Divi to use. But it’s primarily because you’ve spent years and years and years figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

Think back at the first site you ever built (mine was a Star Wars fan site on Angelfire written in HTML). Then think about the second. What about the first site you ever got paid for?

Are you embarrassed yet? Goodness knows I am, looking back.

And what about the first project you had to scrap and start over? What about the first project you phoned in and your clients were simply unsatisfied with? Those failures taught you how not to fail like that again, right?

Your clients haven’t had to learn those lessons.

Now think about this: those examples are just on the front-end side of things. Not only can you do that, but you also have an intimate, working knowledge of WordPress. For me, that goes all the way back to WP 2.7, and I know a lot of you go even further back than that.

Over all those updates and point-releases, you have gained a vast breadth of knowledge that a DIYer just doesn’t have. You know how to enqueue posts, what hooks even are, the whys and hows of child themes, and even small things like the difference in .single-post, .single-page, and .single.

Your technical expertise puts you in a position of fantastic job security.

Plus, to a lot of people, diddling about on the internet is scary and intimidating. You may get some clients because they haven’t been given those WordPress-y internet super powers like you have.

What looks like internet superpowers is really just experience and hard work. The fear folks are feeling right now is that when Gutenberg launches, everyone will have the same superpowers that you worked so hard for, making yours more common and therefore less valuable (and less viable to make a living).

I really don’t think that is going to happen.

Your Future Role and Value

I’ll venture that questions come up even today about why people should pay you when they can do it themselves with Divi or another, existing builder.

The answer, of course, is what we outlined above. You bring verifiable experience and skills that they can trust. You have a portfolio behind you that shows your learning process and evolution as a professional..

The anxiety and uncertainty comes in because when Gutenberg launches, some people believe that those technical skills might not seem so special. They still will be. Nothing about your skill set will change.

However, page and site builders becoming the default have the potential make other people think your job is simply playing Lego with digital blocks. Those folks will be in the minority, just like they are today.

Here’s the rub: no matter how sophisticated the DIY tools get, there will always be a need for your experience. The general WP user base will soon have access to a much greater set of tools and features than they have now. Those tools have far more raw power than the existing editor and customizer.

However, you have had years of experience with that raw power, so you understand how to focus it and use it effectively. They don’t.

And looking forward, those people having that power means that the experience that you bring to the projects will be much more important.

Why? Because with their newfound internet superpowers, people are going to be doing way more on their own than before. They will also be running into more problems than they were previously, too.

All WordPress professionals will need to pivot what that designation means, but it doesn’t indicate that you are out of a job.

In my mind, you will probably be doing less building on your own. Instead, your job will likely shift into that of a consultant. Your clients will hit a roadblock, either with WordPress or their homebrew design, and they’ll call you. You will either teach them how to fix it or go in and complete the project they were unable to.

Remember, you’ve done this before. They haven’t. You aren’t necessarily smarter or more capable than they are. Just more experienced with the tools in front of you. So when DIYers run into trouble, they will still come to you. Much like my students still came to me after they bombed an exam.

Keep in Mind That Gutenberg is a Gateway Builder

Gutenberg itself can do quite a bit. But it can’t do everything. Honestly, by being a part of Core, it’s limited because of its need to cater to the general population with polished fundamental features instead of advanced ones.

Gutenberg will only open up job opportunities for WordPress professionals rather than remove them. Developers and coders are going to be in constant demand. Those DIYers are going to hit a brick wall with the limitations of Gutenberg. At that point, when they need a feature that just isn’t there, who do you think they’re going to turn to for a fix?

Hint: It’s you.

There’s a huge market for Divi add-on modules and plugins, for instance, and it is the most robust page builder out there. Tons of developers make plugins and modules that add features that users want, but aren’t included in the core product. Gutenberg will create that same need for its users.

As Gutenberg is adopted by more and more new users, they may not want to move directly to another, more-advanced builder like Divi. Instead, they may opt for a single, third-party Gutenblock that does what they want, not a license for a whole new builder.

Because builders are inherently extendable, WP pros should not fear about their own value decreasing. If anything, demand for page-builder-specific services will only increase.

Someone made the comment at WordCamp US about the official plugin repository being too full. The joke was something like how many different Contact Form plugins can we actually fit in the repo?, I think.

To avoid being lost in the crowd and trying to fight for a way to the top, many devs may eschew creating general WordPress plugins and move to supporting the page or site builder of their choice, whether that’s Gutenberg, Divi, or something else entirely.

In the End, We’re Here to Help

Our entire job as WordPress professionals is to help people. Whether that means making the site from top to bottom, fixing eye-killing color palettes, or putting together the perfect feature set to increase their profits.

Gutenberg not going to change the core of what we do.

As more people grow comfortable using Gutenberg, experimenting with it, and trying new things, your value as a WP pro skyrockets. Your experience opens up the avenue of teaching, tutoring, and mentoring the folks who Gutenberg attracts.

You are in little to no danger of losing your livelihood because of this update — or because of page builders in general.

For the same reason English teachers still have jobs despite students being able to read and understand books on their own, web designers and developers will still have jobs even when every new WP install comes with its own, built-in page builder. They just might be slightly different than they were pre-Gutenberg.

What are your plans to adapt your business to the Gutenberg-era of WordPress?

Article Featured Image by Mario Breda /


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  1. So…people are raising alarms that this update is going to break many themes and plugins and that if you have WP auto update, to turn that off. Which to me sounds counter intuitive, because WP updates are for security purposes as well.

    I would imagine Elegant Themes would be all over this making sure Divi plays nicely.

    Any thoughts, insights, etc?

  2. Nice post, and one I definitely agree with. Easy website builders aren’t exactly new – I remember using some early ones in around 1999 to throw some simple websites up which I’d be horrified to see now. And those that don’t want to invest in help will find them fine to use for very simple websites – generally those clients wouldn’t have been financially worthwhile anyway.

  3. Platforms like Wix, Squarespace, etc are great for DIYers that want to build a site and do not care if it has a cookie cutter feel or any really advanced features. But those business owners that want a truly unique and custom site will ALWAYS need professionals that actually know what they are doing. i truly believe that experience will always trump usability. As you said in this article, just because you can do something yourself, does not mean you SHOULD or that you even WANT to! Ask any of my clients if they would build their own website if given the tools to do it easily and I guarantee that every one of them would say no. They are trying to run a small business, they do not have time or interest to build a website and maintain that site.

    • I can totally see that. I had a client who knew how to go in and upload PDFs for a weekly menu change at their restaurant, and that’s all they wanted to know how to do because of their schedule being so packed, and it was better on them overall to just hire me to do the stuff that wasn’t in their wheelhouse.

  4. Great post B.J. Couldn’t agree more.

    • Thanks, Collins! Great minds and all that. 😉

  5. Good article. You may be able to build a generic pamphlet site or a blog with Gutenberg without a designer or developer, but Gutenberg can’t make a e-commerce site with custom functionality, or a site that has registered users that need to schedule a pickup for items, or and app that does something or other.

    Maybe the for basic if basic website design and development may take a hit, but there will always be clients that need some type of custom functionality and design that can’t be found in a plugin, Divi, or Gutenberg.

    • You’re totally right. When you start moving into ecommerce and sites with users like you mention, it gets hairy no matter what.

      I was reading recently about how WooCommerce specialists make vs general WP devs, and it was eye opening for me. So maybe new jobs and more money! Not a bad thing. So thanks, Gutenberg. 😉

  6. Student always needs teacher and client need wp designer & Dev. Whether it’s 2’d(design and development) or 3’d(design, development, documentation) they always go through us. So, in the Gutenberg Era, we are still valuable and getting clients. 😉

    • Sometimes I think that third D (documentation) the most important one, and it’s also the most overlooked. Maybe Gutenberg will help a lot of us fix that problem.

  7. Thank you very much for the informative post MR B.J I was wondering what this Glutenburg is ,i have just started a web design business so i guess it came at a right time for me , so what does it mean for our heaven sent divi and its users.

  8. Thank you for an informative post, I find this plugin very helpful in many circumstances, being a 5 star free plugin, also with a long history of 5 star reviews. You can find it easily at /plugins/stops-core-theme-and-plugin-updates/

    The plugin is called “Easy Updates Manager”.

    Some people may find it very useful for staggering WP5.0 updates in readiness for a flood of potential support related issues.

    This way Dev’s can control updating to WP5.0 with “Glutenburg” in sequence avoiding client support demands all at once!

    I intend allowing one site at a time to update to WP5.0 at a manageable pace where I’m able to offer each client 100% of my time through any transitions or issues.

    Clients won’t be able to press that WP update button and potentially break their site!

    After updating one of my own sample sites to 5.0 I’ll know what to expect.

    I intend to be prepared and avoid risks. Prevention is better than cure!

    • That’s an excellent idea, Liz! Thank you. 🙂 Taking on each client individually is an amazing way to handle it, if you’re able to take that on. That’s some customer support, right there. 😀

    • Fully agree Liz.

      Still hoping Gutenberg will be an ‘option’ or ‘plugin’, but like you ‘Easy Updates Manager’ has been installed on all our websites for a while now, just in case… 🙂

  9. I’m not sure I understood the point of your article.
    In fact I didn’t at all.
    What’s the point here about clients, teaching and learning?

    From my point of view it’s mainly a question of choices you make for your web designs (for yourself or your clients) and priorities given by WP authors to improve the tools they provide to us.

    Gutenberg “good or bad, easy or hard to learn” is not the question.
    The question is rather being able to choose if you want it or not as part of your design environment.

    I personally don’t like page builders as I dislike self-driven cars.
    I never use them as I’ll never ever take seat in a self-driven car.
    And there is no problem with that – as long as I’m given the choice.

    The problem with Gutenberg in core – as it is described so far and if it ever happens… – is that the only solution offered is to opt-out, rather as opt-in feature.
    Besides that, it’s clearly a addition (or Jetpack module) that will allow Automattic to better face the competition in that field, which is NOT the one of self-hosted websites.

    The second point is about priorities.
    How come this sort of web editor suddenly becomes a #1 priority when:

    – You have a website built a couple of years ago and you discover by accident that some running plugins have simply been removed from repo and nobody thought that this might be interesting for you to learn about,

    – You have some hundreds or thousands images in several galleries and your only option to sort them out in your Media Library or server is by month/year,

    – You search for a plugin or theme in the repo that you forgot the name, you type part of it and the search result is “No plugins found. Try a different search.” (just type “duplicat” instead of “duplicator” or “yoas” instead of “yoast”), and this repo doesn’t even have sort options and when you tag plugins as favorites you simply get a non-searchable & sortable list of pages…

    Just to list 3 random ones.

    I understand users might have different priorities, but there is no way I can see Gutenberg as a priority for core

    • I also don’t like to rely on page builder but after experience with Gutenberg It make me writing workflow even faster and smoother. I always use shortcut key with the classic editor but now I not even have to look at the keyboard to press those combination key. Block help easier to manage. Also it cut down so many button that I used to click. I thought I will hate it as I always like minimal simple workflow but I was wrong. It even better and I could see more possibilities in the future.

      • I do agree with you that Blocks are way easier to manage. I love the idea of being able to format posts far better. Even as much as I love Divi, I don’t use it for blog post content anymore. I do think the Gutenberg editor will be good for that. I just haven’t had the experience you have, personally. When I have used it, it’s much slower to work with and respond, and I’ve had different issues depending on my browser. The JS it calls just isn’t stable enough for me.

        Which is why I think Richard is right on the money–it would really benefit the community to have it be an option of two, even if it were default that you could hit “Classic Editor” like you can today.

      • I understand as I also do all those using page builders like Divi. I don’t say they are not good, I’m simply asking to respect the right to choose if we want to use them. Integrating such feature in core as “mandatory” is simply going the wrong way.

        And thinking that this will bring you more clients is simply a fairy tail and living in fantasyland.

    • Hey, Richard! The real point is that Gutenberg is coming, whether we want it to or not. It’s set to be merged into Core as the default editor when 5.0 releases (and not just for, which is tentatively set for an April release this year. So we’re looking at about 4-8 weeks if they’re timeline gets pushed through like Matt announced in December.

      There will be a Classic Editor plugin you can install, but from what we’ve been told (and this may change), there’s not going to be any messaging that it’s available to general users about it.

      And I, personally, am totally with you on the priorities. I think with all the page-builder plugins and themes out there, the stuff you mentioned would make life way better for folks (and me and you). I hate getting the No Plugins Found message when I do that. I think the rationale is along the lines of those Quality of Life additions would come from development within the community and submitted as Patches/Pull Requests, while Automattic’s focus is making sure the larger features like Gutenberg are pushed through for, honestly, marketing and attracting new users before they’re lost to services like Wix, Squarespace, and such.

      Because of all that, my point for the article is that a lot of people have been apprehensive about the future of WordPress and the careers and businesses that they’ve established over the years. As people are told by the company and software itself that you can do it yourself, where would that leave professionals who make livings off doing it for you? Because we know it’s coming to Core, I wanted to address that and try to give some examples of how those kinds of professionals can pivot their businesses — into teaching the clients, hand-off training, consulting, and that sort of information trade more than hands-on building.

  10. Very good post, Every technology have good and bad side. So Gutenberg will do same thing. Gutenberg attract new user who don’t know wp well but finally they need designer / developer to finish website.

    • This is what exactly my thought!

    • Yep, I look forward to the fresh meat new users who are gonna be coming and looking for help and opportunities, and when new people are excited about a product, that’s how you get get brand loyalty and users for life.

  11. Great article!

    I’m looking at Gutenberg blocks like components. Someone will need to develop blocks to correspond to the look and function of the website. Kind of doing the same thing with tools like ACF now.

    Then there is still the work that needs to be done to the rest of the website look and feel that the Gutenberg blocks fall into.

    • Thanks! There are already so many Gutenblocks being made as components. There are different groups around Facebook and other platforms where people are sharing experiences and early versions, and it’s going to be a really interesting addition to the ecosystem for sure.

  12. Maybe Gutenberg might bring more clients 😉

    • I sure hope so! I do expect there do be an surge of “OH NO MY SITE WHAT HAPPENED AHHHHHH” emails soon after the 5.0 release, so maybe it’ll be like a Christmas bonus…just in April. 😉

  13. Is there a update process for guttenberg when it gets released. wpusertv covers divi and guttenberg. He says to not update until the divi builder is compatible? any idea on timeline. Sorry of i missed this in your article.

    • The dev team and Nick are working pretty hard to figure that out, Darryl.

      I agree with him on holding off to upgrade (but I am the kind of guy who waits until there are a couple patches out for every kind of major software release) because Gutenberg is just such an unknown quantity. We will absolutely be compatible with Gutenberg. It’s just the nitty-gritty details that we’re working on right now.

  14. Great post B.J. Well stated and a great perspective. I’ll be sharing this one around some, as lots of Gutenberg naysayers need to hear it.

    • HAH! I literally saw this comment, then my phone beeped, and I had a notification from a Facebook group that you had shared it in there. Good work, Tevya. Keep it up! 😉

      But seriously, thank you. 😀

  15. My customers will still be my customers they want the skills I have, most do not want to learn the stuff I know they want to run their businesses.

    However, I am really concerned about the Gutenberg update causing me massive problems with broken sites that my customers will blame me for.

    I can see many many hours of frustration getting everything back on track.

    With a myriad of plugins on my sites, I cannot see that they will all be ready and tested with Gutenberg.

    Dont’t get me wrong I think the change is to be welcomed I just hope it is well planned and supported.

    • I hope the same things, Barry.

      I understand and share the concern for the Gutenberg update and broken sites. One thing you can do to help that is set the installations not to automatically update. That way you can go in and do it as you’re prepared to.

      If your clients have the ability and time, you can always clone a site, update it locally, and see what happens.

      The plugin issue is absolutely a concern. I think most major plugins will be ready with announce their 5.0 compatibility, but it’s the indie plugins that I worry about. There are some amazing plugins that are done by a small team or a single dev that just might not make the cutoff for a dozen different reasons. And I’d hate to see them lose users over the update, or the sites break because of it.

      It’s gonna be a tight rope to walk, for sure, and I am exceptionally happy that your clients already see the value in your skills. Keep those people around! 😀

      • So, I good question to all this (at least “good” to me) is if I ONLY use Divi, do I need to worry about all this Y2K-Breakdown-fear? Or is like now, where I don’t even look at the WP editor?

        • You might want to hold off on updating day-of. Nick and the devs are working on how to make sure there’s no Y2K fiasco, but as of yet, we don’t know precisely on what Gutenberg will look like in its release candidate, so it’s still up in the air for details. There will be Divi integration, absolutely, and the last I heard (for what it’s worth, non-official) is that we’re looking at keeping the same interaction as today, but with Gutenberg integrations as it makes sense.

  16. I’ve been building websites since 1995. I know so much stuff that I don’t even know what it is that I know. Much of my work is so natural to me, I don’t even think about it. And the hard stuff, well, that uses my well-honed problem analysis and solving skills.

    I’ve been with Elegant Themes since well before Divi and I’ve used Divi since the day it was introduced.

    Bring on Gutenberg! I’m more than ready.

    • You are just the kind of WP pro I am talking about, Ray. I like how you put it that you know so much stuff you don’t even know what you know. I think that happens to everyone at some point, where you just get good at what you do and don’t know how. I really and truly think that’s why WP pros are gonna be okay with Gutenberg and should be like you — be ready and bring it on.

  17. This is exactly my experience. Clients think it must be simple to build their own site (and many of the platforms encourage this idea), but when they get into the nitty gritty of a site, there’s so much more to it. And yes, it takes TIME, which no one seems to have an abundance of these days.

    • I think that I am going to be a lot more forward with people about what the difference between designers and developers do, as well as what actual WordPress experience brings to the table. I think that kind of education can take place in initial meetings pretty naturally, and it can help with them getting over the mentality that DIY is simple. I told my students all the time that just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. And this is no different. They can get a website up in a few steps, so it’s simple, for real. But making it perform and stay in shape is certainly not easy.

  18. I feel that with the release of Gutenburg, we will actually see a higher take-up of people needing the help of a professional. It still comes down to the fact that the common user that makes up the brunt of the client base that professional designers have don’t know the first thing about how the internet works, let alone WordPress. They will still find themselves having troubles that they can’t get around. They will still struggle with the system because they are going to have to spend hours combing through search results and the codex (which is a joke if you’ve ever truly tried to read through any of it to find something yourself) to find answers and it will sound like Greek to almost all of them.

    It’s no different than the fact that I brake down and change a tire from off of its wheel, remount it, and get it back on my truck if I needed to, but it is so much easier to take it to the tire shop that has the right tools for the job and let them do what their best at, rather than kill myself to accomplish the same end goal only to find that I may have still made a mistake.

    Come the end of the day, if you worry that you won’t have work coming in because of the new release…you’re right, but that is only because you decided to lay under it rather than tackle a new challenge and grow.

    • You make a lot of great points, David, and I especially agree with you about the Codex. I know they said last year there were plans to revamp it in some way, so I hope that makes it a little more user friendly. Though if they do, does that mean I’m out of a job? 😉

      But really, it does come down to what you said — tackling the new challenge and growing. There’s no doubt this will be a challenge, but being able to grow beyond that is really something that will set you apart in the coming months. And set up for even more success if it’s done right.

  19. Thank you for writing this article B.J. I am not worried in the least about the Gutenberg update, for many of the same reasons you listed, but it is still refreshing to read a well-articulated post on this topic.

    • Thanks, James! There are a lot of “sky is falling posts” out there, as well as “all hail Gutenberg” ones, too. I think the reality is going to be somewhere in the middle, depending on what individual business models look like.

  20. Many thanks for the elegant cover of Gutenberg and Divi.


    • Thanks, Alex! I appreciate that. 🙂

  21. Good points, and there’s so much more. There’s also information architecture, SEO, security, marketing, and conversion optimization to consider. An effective website incorporates a plan for all of these. Most of us have studied and applied these practices for years, and there’s no point building most websites without doing so. The only exception would be a simple informational site for a business that doesn’t need to market itself.

    And I’m not so sure that developers are up in arms out of fear Gutenberg will replace them. I think it’s more a case of Automattic trying to fix something that wasn’t broken to begin with, and so far, failing.

    According to the comments on the Gutenberg plugin at—it’s a disaster at this point, and I expect to have even more work after it’s released because it’s likely to break some parts (or all) of the websites that update to it.

    • Good observations, Kimberly. The architecture and SEO specifically are rarely thought of from a customer’s perspective, and security gets lumped into “plz dotn hack me plz” a lot of the time. I’ve read a few threads on Facebook recently of customers not thinking those are worth worrying about or keeping maintenance on them. It’s those kinds of skills, though, that will keep a lot of people afloat, so we have to plan out ways to educate our clients to be as informed as possible about the landscape. And if someone doesn’t do that now, there’s no better time to start thinking.

      And yes, the work that will need to be done after Gutenberg is released will be extensive. There are some very good things that the editor brings to WordPress, but with such a major update, the breaking you mention is going to be a very rough time and we’re all going to need to be on our toes to prepare for that support deluge.

      • So true, B.J. I’d love to see a post here with ideas for helping us communicate to clients that it’s not 2008 and websites are no longer “set and forget.” Trying to explain this in client-friendly terms is one of my biggest challenges.

  22. IMHO Gutenberg should be an option within the core, ie: we should be able to switch it on/off as required. Either that or a standalone plugin altogether.

    • EXACTLY! What “he” said!

    • via GIPHY

      When I am on Twitter or Facebook, I use this gif a lot. Let’s see if it’ll work here.

      • It works! Love it B.J.Keeton 🙂

        • I must be too old. Whaaa?

          • One of my favorite things online is when there’s a comment you agree with, people post something along the lines of just “this” with an arrow or something pointing at it to reiterate it.

            • Oh! It’s like Text-Talk.

              • Yeah, really similar. Heck, I use just ^ in texts sometimes to do the same thing, myself.

  23. I have update about 10 wordpress sites that I manage to the latest version (4.9.4). I still have no idea what this “Gutenberg” stuff is. making pages and posts in wordpress is no different today then it was a year ago, or 2 years ago, or 5 years ago.

    • Gutenberg is the so called idea of having a page builder included in WordPress as the new default way of creating posts and pages.

      You can test out the Gutenberg plugin for free and I would suggest doing it in a trash wordpress sandbox for fun.

      I still say the people at WordPress should have just bought out a company like Site Origin and just used the page builder it has as the default page builder of choice. I say would have saved the wordpress people SOOOO much time here.

      • David, this is the writeup we did when it first really started making the rounds for the public. Gutenberg has improved since then, but it’s still fundamentally the same.

        You can also see the editor in action in the State of the Word video I linked at the very beginning of the post.

        Like Richard said, this is fundamentally different from how you’re used to making posts and pages. It will be the default editor in 5.0 and the current one will be removed (but available through a plugin called Classic Editor). In terms of what it is and how it works, think about a watered-down version of the Divi visual builder for each and every post/page on your site, but just for the content section, not sidebars, headers, footers, etc.

        And Richard, I have said the same thing about Site Origin or another builder. I was kind of shocked they went from the ground up instead of incorporating and improving on one that was already around.

    • The “Gutenberg” stuff, is a new editor being added to core (sometime soonish) so while making pages / posts in wordpress is no different today that’s all about to change relatively soon. – more information about the gutenberg editor.


  24. Excellent article, thanks for posting. I’ll reiterate two things — from my experience: 1. Some clients don’t have the TIME to figure out how WordPress works. They think they do, but when they get into it, they realize they don’t. And 2. Some clients simply don’t WANT to learn how to work with WordPress (except for simple content updates), they’re either too busy or they want/need to focus on their core competence. Our core competency is working with WordPress, how to customize it and make the solution work for the particular client. As long as WordPress exists, that will always be valuable.

    • This is exactly what I was about to post. When I build a website for a client, designing pages is only one of a hundred things I end up doing to make the website work the way my client has asked. Even if a few clients want to play with Gutenberg, they’re not going to want to do it without us there to do the heavy lifting. My guess is that nothing will change with most of my clients, and that the others will use Gutenberg to create a new page or two at some point, and then call me when it’s hard to put in a link or an image or something.

    • IF they do blog posts THEY WILL BE FORCED to learn how Gutenberg works.

      • That’s the way I feel, too, Bob. The WP experience we have really trumps most everything.

        And Richard, I think you’re absolutely right. If the State of the Word was any indication, if they do any customization by the end of 2018, they’ll be using Gutenberg in some way — they indicated full site editing during the presentation. They’ll have to get the fundamentals down, even like you said, if they’re just blogging.

        And if they don’t have the WP knowledge like Bob mentions, there’s no way they’ll know to download the Classic Editor plugin that will be available.

  25. It’s like saying anyone can do interior or graphic design without knowing anything about design principles and aesthetics. I think that’s part of the value a front-end designer provides. Also, many small businesses are run by overworked people who don’t have time to learn about WordPress. Delegation is as relevant now as it’s ever been.

    • Business-wise, I don’t have any fear about Gutenberg. Here’s my “when-I-was-in-school” thinking.

      When Aldus came out with PageMaker and John McWade figured it out and essentially created Desk Top Publishing, there was much consternation about PM and DTP being the end of the need for graphic designers. Turns out, DTP could put letters on paper in a straight line but it took a designer to make it read right and look good. I had more than enough work to last for 40-some years just turning their perfectly-placed letters into something that actually worked.

      These kinds of changes are all bell curves; some will do it themselves, some will hire people for everything; and some, if not most, will dabble and then hire someone to actually do the work. Those clients will discover that their time is much better spent working on what they know and that actually brings them money than to try to learn to do it themselves and save money. You cannot, after all, save yourself to great wealth. You must spend, take chances, and invest.

      I had an interior design client. She was tired of women (mostly) being afraid of what she would do to their living rooms if they hired her. And at the same time they were ashamed they couldn’t do their designing themselves. For some reason, women (mostly) believe the inability to design a good-looking room is a failure on their part akin to not knowing what clothes look good on them, or how to raise a child. All women, they believe, should be born knowing how to do this.

      So what we did was create a class called “The Secrets of Interior Design” in which we trained them how to do it themselves. We charged $250 for the 4-week course and limited the class size to ten. We made money, friends, and clients. All the students suddenly understood how to talk “design” and all of them realized how much my client knew about interior design, and surprisingly, how much they had learned. And what they learned the most was that it made no sense for them to do their interior designing all by themselves when my client knew so much, knew what they liked (they answered all those questions with their actions and questions in class), and could do better, quicker, and faster.

      One of the clinchers in the sale process was this question: If you buy the wrong couch will you simply live with it for years? Or will you get rid of it and then go out and buy the right one? Either way, making one mistake all by yourself will likely cost you more in the long run than hiring a good designer in the first place. Not to mention the cost in time and aggravation.

      So, I’m not worried for my business. I AM worried about what the consequences of WP experimenting live with GB will mean to the sites I have already created (see my comment further down.)

      But, we will all live and prosper, if we choose.

      • Couldn’t agree more, Randy.

      • I absolutely adore your couch analogy because that happened to my wife and me. We bought a couch that we thought was okay, but ended up hating it. But we had spent so much money on it that we couldn’t buy another one immediately, and we lived with it for 4 years before a friend had to sell their like-new one because of a house downsizing and we got it for a steal.

        I am right there with you. I wish I’d had the delightfully comfy couch (the real designer) from the get go.

    • Oh yeah, I totally agree. The base idea of Gutenberg is fine. In fact, it’s the same as Divi in many ways. We want people to feel empowered. But there’s a limit to what you can accomplish with tools alone without the design knowledge you mention.

      I’ve seen a lot of conversation about how people just don’t want to learn WordPress lately, too. That’s one thing Gutenberg is attempting to change (“less” to learn), but it’s still going to be a major hurdle because they don’t have time, just like you said And even if they did, they may not care enough to.

      I like using the term delegation for this, too. I haven’t really thought about it in that way — kind of always outsourcing or hiring or contracting. But delegating it really seems more appropriate for this kind of work. Thanks for that, Simon!

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