WordPress as moveable type
Creating & Managing Content, Technology, WordPress

How Gutenberg Will Revolutionize the Web

Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor, continues to excite WordPress users. It truly represents a radical change in how to create content!

Of course, some people disliked Gutenberg simply because they were used to the old interface. Others missed features that were not yet implemented, or complained because of bugs in early versions. In this article, we’ll focus on the bigger picture and examine why Gutenberg will truly revolutionize the Web in the near future.

The main reason why Gutenberg evokes such strong emotions is that it represents a paradigm shift of epic proportions. In a way, it’s a full-fledged revolution.

Sure, other smaller and more limited website builders offered similar features earlier on, but it’s a bit like Apple launching the iPhone. There were many smartphones before. Some even had full-size touch screens. Yet it is the company that is now the biggest in the world that finally spawned the revolution of touch screen phones and apps.

Gutenberg offers a way to further democratize the web. WordPress has been the market leader for many years. Yet people who do not even know what a CMS is are more likely to use website builders.

How will Gutenberg actually revolutionize the Web? It will do it by helping average people like you and me to build beautiful websites on their own terms.

WordPress has often been used by intermediate and advanced users. Beginners sometimes criticized the steep learning curve. Now, however, the whole Web population will be increasingly able to enjoy the benefits of self-controlled online-publishing. They can break free from walled gardens like Facebook without resorting to website builders that also limit their freedom.

The Revolution Won’t Be Televised—It Will Be Written

YouTube may be huge, and Facebook too—despite the mass exodus of young users. Yet they had to exaggerate their video views by up to 900% to make people upload video content.

We have been there. Do you remember Adobe Flash? Ever since the late 20th century, the tool by Macromedia (later be acquired by Adobe) let you create highly complex websites that worked like a movie. Most notably it led to the rise of:

  • “Skip Intro” buttons
  • Huge animated ad banners
  • Invisible tracking cookies you couldn’t block.

Now Flash is dead. Mostly because the Web is neither TV, nor radio—it’s a text medium. Images, audio and video are still growing in popularity, but inherently the Internet consists of text and hypertext: copy containing links to other Web pages. Rich content is wonderful but can’t replace text!

Even years from now, most websites and content will still consist of some text. Why? There is not enough time to listen to or watch the Web. You can skip the text paragraphs that don’t matter to you, but try that with audio or video and you’ll fail. Nobody has the time to view dozens or hundreds of videos a day. Yet, during a day, we visit that many text-based websites.

Similar to how the Hollywood movie industry did not replace book publishing, text-based content will continue to thrive with Gutenberg. Audio and video can be added nonetheless, but they won’t be the sole content.

YouTube, on the other hand, wants to keep viewers on their site and competes with you for attention. It will continue to be a good idea for hosting purely watchable content due to bandwidth cost and limitations. You need to build an audiences on your own turf, though—not Google’s.

Walled Gardens vs the Open Web—Who Will Win?

Do you remember AOL? No? You are lucky! In the early days, they provided a type of walled-garden versions of the Web.

AOL was made for users new to the Internet who didn’t know how to access the open Web yet. Nowadays they are almost dead for a reason. Facebook is very similar, but limiting free access to the whole set of available features on the open Web is a short-sighted business model. People find out how to break free sooner or later. Of course, ideally, you do not start using a tool that’s limiting from the start.

Similarly, we have sites like Wix or Squarespace that help you create a website but also lock you in to their services and proprietary platforms. They are still better than Facebook, as they let you build a real website. You can even reuse the data to some extent, but WordPress surpasses them.

Gutenberg Will Make WordPress the Better Website Builder

WordPress is the open Web version of building a website. It offers unlimited opportunities. Until now the only drawback was that it used an antiquated editor from more than a decade ago. People got used to it, but new users were disappointed and chose WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builders instead because they let you drag and drop page elements.

Now WordPress has Gutenberg. Its content blocks can be put into place with a mouse, and dragged with a cursor as well. Hooray!  

Gutenberg Will Help the Silent Majority

Until now, there was still some level of expertise needed to create a proper website with WordPress. Despite that, it already dominates the Web. WordPress powers almost one third of the Web by now.

The barrier to building a website is now even lower. As WordPress and third-party developers build on the early Gutenberg code, gradually it will become even easier to create a site.

WordPress will become the better website builder while still offering the same level of openness—and the same number of options for advanced users. From starter to intermediate to advanced user—you can evolve within one ecosystem.

One of the main drawbacks of simple website builders like Wix or Squarespace is that you quickly outgrow them—once you get used to online publishing and learn more about it. They do not offer the level of flexibility or number of features WordPress and its plugins provide.

On WordPress, the platform allows you to grow forever. You can always go to the next level of publishing. You can add a blog, a store, or even a community to your site once you decide that a simple website is not enough anymore.

Visualizing Your Content Right Where You Create it

In the WordPress classic editor (also called TinyMCE) you had two options for creating and editing content: either text-formatting or within the HTML code. The text formatting always looked the same in the editor, no matter which fonts you used on the actual site or how the final layout would appear. On Gutenberg, you still see the same default fonts etc. when writing, and have to click preview to see how the content will actually look.

Website builders like Wix offer real WYSIWYG editing. As you create content, it looks almost exactly the way it will appear once published. This is where Gutenberg is heading in the future: actual WYSIWYG instead of the now you see me, now you don’t editing experience we have now.

WordPress isn’t there yet. This is what the Gutenberg editor will be able to do in “phase two” or later. Then mere mortals who need to be able to view the look and feel of their site while creating content will flock to WordPress as well. The current Gutenberg version is just the beginning. Now we have:

  1. Drag-and-drop functionality
  2. Simple embedding of content from sites like YouTube
  3. Reusable content blocks

These features are already available from other website builders, but it’s a big step forward for WordPress.

Even with this first iteration of Gutenberg, only third-party tools (mostly premium options) like the very advanced Elementor allow actual WYSIWYG editing on WordPress.

While the current Gutenberg editor is a good start, only future versions expanding on that will bring the content publishing revolution to everybody.

Empowering Common People to Publish Independently

A true revolution is about empowering the people and redistributing the power. Too much power still lies in the hands of designers and web developers, or with ‘closed door’ services like Wix. You can’t even export your site content on Wix! Once in it you’re trapped like on Facebook.

Why does it matter? As your business grows, you may outgrow such a platform quickly. Also, some services may turn “rogue” over time. They may either sell your data or content, or get acquired by third parties completely. Such services often simply close. In these instances, you may have years of content that you can’t move to another site.

With Gutenberg, however, it will make WordPress more accessible to all individuals and small businesses, making site builder platforms less attractive. On WordPress, you always own your content and can export it to another platform or to your desktop—it’s completely under your control.

What’s Next for Gutenberg?

Gutenberg and WordPress developers are still openly debating the next steps (phase 2 of the editor) in public. We have to be clear here: without true WYSIWYG features, WordPress won’t be able to win over the “average Joe'” of the Web.

Who are these “average Joes”? They are parents, partners, and kids. Right now they are hard to convince to use WordPress instead of Wix or other quick-and-dirty website builders. It’s a type of a digital divide. There are many people who aren’t able or willing to invest a significant amount of time into learning about WordPress, hosting etc.

Luckily the future of WordPress will bring actual themes and design editing capabilities, as WordPress product designer Mel Choyce says:

“Longer term, we will expand the current Gutenberg post and page editor to become a full-fledged site editor, bringing everything together into a unified, modern product experience.”

An example of what Phase 2 of Gutenberg might look like.

Once WordPress reaches that level of user experience, people with no technical background will be able to edit WordPress sites just like they can on Wix, but without having to use expensive website builders. The revolution will be here.

Common people will retain full control of their websites, content and online publishing efforts. There will be no need for highly-skilled experts to help beginners. This will be the final step of a democratic Web where everybody will be able to publish on their own turf with ease.

Do you want to create a proper website in WordPress now, and want the process to be as easy as currently possible? Try EasyWP managed WordPress hosting!

Tadeusz Szewczyk avatar

Tadeusz Szewczyk

Tadeusz Szewczyk—who is rather known as Tad Chef—helps people with blogs, social media, and search. He has created and optimized websites since 1999 and has used WordPress since 2004. More articles written by Tadeusz .

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