Word up! Tickbox technical director Daryl Phillips explains recent changes to WordPress and Tickbox’s approach to upgrading your site
It’s been a week (or so) since WordPress 5.0 (Bebo) was released. Some of you may have seen, upgraded or received an update notification about it.
It’s the biggest update so far for WordPress. The main focal point centred around the rich content editor. This has been completely overhauled the enhance the user experience.
The new editor is named “Gutenberg“. Gutenberg replaces the original WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get Editor) editor in WordPress, and sooner or later it will be the preferred editor in all WordPress themes. It will also provide more functionality than a standard WYSIWYG so in most cases it won’t be necessary to install page builders or content editors – saving users potential fees or costs in the future. It’s currently unclear what price template developers will set for their Gutenberg themes.
If you are wondering whether you should upgrade or not, the answer – as simply as we can put it – is Yes. WordPress 5.0 doesn’t just contain feature richer functionality, it also includes security and bug fixes. A major new version such as this does carry its own risks, but at Tickbox we’re specialised enough to take care of this upgrade for you. If there are problems, we can fix them before we deploy to your live site: You’ll get all of the features but none of the risk!
Introducing WordPress 5.0 “Bebo”
Things to consider
If you are considering upgrading your website or simply updating then there are a few things to consider:
Use the latest PHP Version
PHP you say? PHP is a scripting language that powers WordPress and the vast majority of websites across the world. Using an outdated version not only carries risks for conflicts (resulting in a “buggerific” experience) but also security risks.
The best approach is to use the recommended version that the WordPress is designed to run on – 7.2+. Not only will you get speed and maintenance improvements by switching but the risk of being exposed to security vulnerabilities in WordPress reduces dramatically.
Update all plugins to latest versions
Most plugins, themes and components in WordPress should already be compatible, but it is always worth checking before upgrading. That plugin may no longer be supported, so it is always best to find an alternative, just in case. If it there is no alternative, that isn’t the end of the world. The plugin may already work. The same applies to plugins you are no longer using. There is no need in having a resource attached, if it’s unused.
Decide whether to use Classic Editor or Gutenberg Editor
The new Gutenberg editor won’t be for everyone. so don’t worry, if you’re happy with the current one, just choose the Classic Editor. If you want to try the new and reportedly easier Gutenberg editing experience, then go with that.
If you use a custom PageBuilder, some of these tools may still work. You may need to do some digging but one we use regularly Page Builder, by SiteOrigin, has kept their plugin going, so all is not lost. Upgrading the Plugin/Theme may actually fix layout issues within WordPress. It will all depend on the developers who’ve built it and whether it’s being maintained.
Spend some time getting used to the new features. It won’t be easy, but in the long run, it may make you more productive!
So, what is Tickbox’s roll out plan?
At Tickbox we won’t roll out any updates without your consent. However, you may have already been contacted about upgrading. Whether that is WordPress or moving you up a PHP version. If it’s the latter, it is definitely worth doing sooner rather than later. You wouldn’t miss your MOT date after all – and your website needs that same care as your car does.
Before any updates are done to a live environment, we will backup not only your website but your database and copy your website to a testing site. There is nothing worse in updating a site and then something breaks on a live site. That’s one risk we never take.
We’ll the investigate upgrading PHP and WordPress to see if there are any issues: 90% of issues will be minor but it’s always worth checking them out first. Tests will confirm if we can proceed – more advanced websites, or those with payments – will need to be tested more extensively before we can accurately sign them off. Once signed off by Tickbox, a date/time will be scheduled, with you, to deploy all changes. Some clients prefer control and that’s fine. We’ll work to whatever you need.
Software never sleeps. Neither does software maintenance. But no matter what, we encourage everyone to test WordPress 5.0 on a staging environment before upgrading.