In case anyone reading this doesn't know, I've been working with WordPress since the very early days. I've seen a lot change, what to do and what not, and I will honestly say that WordPress is not the complete solution.
It is heavily limited in so many ways, and very vulnerable in others.
It's not entirely the developers fault. This free, open source system is accessible my everyone, and no one is perfect.
Anyway, the issue isn't with WordPress. The issue is with "developers", and there are so, so, so many of them.
As a developer, I've had to fix up a lot of sites where they've been built on systems that are ultimately abandoned. I've also had to build sites using mandatory themes and plugins.
And the sheer amount of work and stress I've put into these sites, it would have been far easier and cheaper to build a system from scratch; heck, the site would run a lot smoother to begin with.
I get it, you're on a budget and money is tight, and the lure of this "all in one, magic bullet system for less than a hundred quid" is very, very tempting, but here's the thing... they are absolutely rubbish (and there are thousands of them).
Given a year, the vast majority of them won't be updated any more.
Given a year, your "developer" who you've paid thousands to will tell you to hoof it (and I've seen that happen far too frequently).
Given a year, you'll be frantically running around, trying to find someone to fix your site for you because it's falling apart at the seams.
I write this off the fact I've spent the past two months fixing sites because their previous developers left their clients in the lurch, and essentially didn't care about the work once the invoice was paid.
I write this off the fact that I've had to calm owners and managers because their site is suddenly unusable and it's their primary source of income.
2020 is bad enough.
The TL;DR is find someone who is trustworthy and reputable... which is a hard thing nowadays, because there's a lot of snake-oil salesmen out there.
People will try to squeeze every penny out of you, and use very under-hand tactics in order to do it.
Or they will outsource it to someone else, for a fraction of the cost they are charging you, and it will be a dumpster fire. Again, I've seen this be the case.
At the end of the day, do your research like you are going to build it yourself.
Sure, you may not have the skills or the know-how, but look into it.
As someone who has to write up proposals and manage whole projects, it makes my life so much easier talking to clients who have a basic understanding of what they want.
Don't buy cheap (hence the title of this post). You will be paying far more in the long run.
Find someone that can show you what they can do, in a variety of different ways, and especially someone who actually knows how to build things from scratch.
And question all their decisions. Why are they using this theme, those plugins, why are they building it themselves, etc.
((but, you know, in a nice way so you are able to understand and not come across as nagging))
This is your idea, your livelihood, your money that you are spending, so ultimately, you are in charge.
A brief disclaimer; I didn't like Gutenberg when it was first announced. I honestly thought it was going down the route of all the other WYSIWYG editors on WordPress.
And for a while, that's what it looked like.
However, now it has been released and I've had a, albeit brief, chance to play with it, I am pleasantly surprised.
In my opinion, Gutenberg simply prettifies the whole page/post writing process. It's no secret that all previous versions of WordPress essentially pulled from the design and mechanics of document processing (i.e. Microsoft Word, etc.) and that is fine; it brings that familiarity and makes the ease of writing so much simpler.
With Gutenberg, they've done away with the traditional "kitchen sink" and now everything is in "blocks", where each has it's own formatting area.
So, instead of writing up a huge article filled with different formats, it's essentially divided up into more manageable chunks. So instead of copying and pasting this paragraph somewhere else on the page, I can simply drag and drop; a small detail, but it would come in handy.
Not only that, but whenever I press the Return key to start a new paragraph, it essentially creates a new block. In coding, this would simply be the P tags < p >. If I wanted to create a Header, I can simply format that block to be a Header < H1-7 >, or anything else for that matter.
Overall, I prefer this method than the previous version because you are doing away with messy custom HTML scattered all over an article and brings a form of uniformity to the site.
Now here's what I love the most about Gutenberg, it finally tackles the problem of all those third-party WYSIWYG editors. You know the ones I'm talking about, where you actually need a level of skill in order to use.
All the drag and drop features, having images and articles colliding with one another, the padding and margins screwing up the whole site. It's safe to say that I am not a fan of them, and any developer worth their salt would agree with me. They're messy and complicated and often need more work than it's worth. I had one client spend a whole week trying to write an article using one such editor.
I believe with Gutenberg, as previously stated, will simplify the whole process and you won't get caught up with all those complicated layouts and formats, having to tweak every little block to be "just right".
Speaking with other developers, it looks like it will be a very straight forward process to design and develop your own custom blocks too.
I've yet to try this, so I cannot say for certain how, but from what I've seen it will be a simple matter of creating a block yourself whilst writing an article and then saving it like a template, called a "Reusable Block".
I'm assuming along these lines, my fellow developers and I can create custom blocks built straight into the template, such as a "Call to action" block. Currently my go to method is either an option to display some custom HTML or using short-codes.
I believe creating custom blocks will make this much more manageable and be able to be used throughout the site.
As a developer, I often use Custom Page Types and templates. Since switching over to WordPress 5, I've noticed that CPT's don't use Gutenberg as default, but use the old version; which is great because it doesn't break all the work I've done previously!
Kudos for the team at WordPress for this.
I'm sure there is a way, but I've not had the need to, so I won't expend energy trying to figure it out just yet, but all future development will include this as an option.
It's a tricky one because not everyone has moved over to WordPress 5, so as with anything, whatever projects I carry out need to be "backward compatible". I'm hoping it's not a huge mess.
In conclusion, I've come to realise that my writing style has not changed since I was in highschool.
Apart from that, I'd recommend people look into using WordPress 5. If it's a new project, jump straight in, if you're upgrading, use a Dev site first.
Gutenberg is a very handy feature, one of which I am surprisingly happy with. Despite the fact that it is "the future" of WordPress, but it makes writing a more pleasant experience.
If you really don't like Gutenberg, there are plugins out there which will enable you to use the old editor, but as for me, I think I'll be looking forward.