In case you haven’t heard – WordPress 5.0 is out. Let’s talk about what that means for your website.
A Primer on Updates
WordPress regularly releases new versions, and keeping your site up-to-date is important for security. Generally speaking, updates provide fixes or enhancements to the Core of WordPress. “Core” refers to the system that makes your website run, absent any bells and whistles (… or sliders and animation.) When your WordPress admin area indicates an update is available, it means the WordPress platform itself (the appearance and functionality) has been upgraded. Upgrades may fix bugs, patch security holes, or add new features.
Performing Regular Updates
Updates are a necessary part of owning a WordPress site. Ever forward, you could say. Nothing stays the same in today’s e-everything. To maintain your WordPress site, you (or your web developer) need to apply updates regularly. Every time there is an update to WordPress Core or the plugins, the website needs to be checked to make sure there were no adverse effects. When you apply updates, the good changes are applied, but sometimes a few not-so-good changes sneak in there as well.
Major Releases = Major Changes
Major releases (such as 4.0, 5.0) warrant special caution. These major releases carry more sweeping changes and can wreak havoc on sites. Sometimes plugins on your site have not been tested with the new version of WordPress. These compatibility issues arise from time to time; sometimes there are easy fixes, others need troubleshooting. Either way, if your site changes dramatically after an update (displaying content incorrectly or not at all), usually it can be reverted to the previous version of WordPress until the issue is identified and fixed.
The WordPress Community seems to be hesitant about this release. The way you enter content changed dramatically with WP 5.0 – users now have a “block” editor instead of the familiar text editor interface. There are accessibility issues that can’t be ignored. With all that said, though, 5.0 undoubtedly includes security patches and enhancements to improve your editing experience.
The good news is that people have been testing 5.0 for a long time. They’ve seen the good things to come and the places where this upgrade may be lacking. There’s even a “Classic Editor” plugin so you can continue working in the “old” WordPress interface until you are ready to make the change. If 5.0 is the express train and the direction in which WordPress development is headed, this plugin will allow you to take the slower route – stopping at all the local stations.
The Bottom Line
As long as you test your site (not your LIVE site, mind you) with WordPress 5.0 and make sure there aren’t any issues, then install the Classic Editor plugin and continue as you have to this point. Change is coming, but you can stall for a little longer if you need to take it slow.