WordPress 5.0 is coming soon – it will probably break your website!

Huge changes to WordPress imminent – have you tested in advance?

Elsewhere in this blog we’ve discussed the issues associated with using the popular, but maintenance-heavy, WordPress platform for your dental website. The issues associated with hacking, incompatibility of plugins and hence the need for very regular maintenance intervention, are well-known.

That said, many dentists still end up with a WordPress based website and then hope that their designer stays on top of it to keep it updated and secure. Unfortunately, this often is not the case as the maintenance issues and incompatibilities become more onerous as the core platform updates. This is why there are so many WordPress websites out there which fall into disrepair and eventually get hacked. That said, if you do go the WordPress route and are prepared to invest in its maintenance, you can still get a viable site for your business – but please understand the implications if you do.

Unfortunately that’s not the full story and periodically, the day-to-day maintenance issues associated with WordPress actually increase dramatically. This happens when they release a full version update rather than and incremental update within a version. Sometimes, the update is so large that it introduces wholesale structural changes into the way that WordPress works, bringing with it a tsunami of problems where even the best maintained websites break. Such a change, WordPress 5.0, is just a couple of weeks away from launch and the impending shock wave has web design agencies which specialise in WordPress sites, very concerned. If you have a WordPress based dental website, you should also be concerned.

Why is WordPress 5.0 so different?

The upcoming version of WordPress is designed by default to incorporate a completely new editor know as ‘Gutenberg’, named after the German printing pioneer from the 1400’s Johannes Gutenberg. This has apparently been done so that the commercial side of the WordPress business can remain competitive with the wide range of third-party visual editors which already exist. So it looks like WordPress are trying to develop a “one-stop-shop” for their content management system.

Whilst this all sounds good and potentially very useful for website owners, the transition from the older versions of WordPress will not be without issues, in some cases a lot of issues! It is already known that many plugins (the bits of software which extend core functionality) will cease to function, as well as the themes which are used to change the front-end appearance of WordPress. So all round a lot of upheaval.

My site is on WordPress – what should I do?

If your dental practice website is already WordPress based, then hopefully someone is looking after it for you. These fees can be onerous but unfortunately tend to come with the territory and you are likely already tied in to the ecosystem. In this case, you should contact your designer immediately and ask how they are planning to upgrade your website in line with the new release. If you are already paying for a service contract, then hopefully you are already covered. However, there may be “small print” which will ask you to pay more in circumstances like this. Unfortunately these are some of the “gotchas” which you find out about when you work with WordPress!

Can I ignore the update?

Well you could ignore the update but all of the issues with out-of-date WordPress websites then come in to play. If you don’t update, your site will progressively become obsolete with the chance of hacking increased and functions starting to break. Additionally your expensive maintenance contract becomes irrelevant at that point. So it really does pay to do what is necessary to keep in line with the latest upgrade.

Are there any other alternatives?

There is the alternative to switch your website away from WordPress to a less maintenance intensive solution; indeed here at Dental Media we did this for the large majority of our clients a few years ago. This may cost money in the short term, but mid and longer term you will save a *lot* of money with relatively fast payback – and no more website maintenance and security headaches.

Summary

The WordPress Gutenberg 5.0 update is just around the corner and has potentially huge implications for your website if you use that particular system. It would be foolhardy to simply ignore it and it is highly recommended to make sure your web designer has the necessary testing in hand to make sure that all goes smoothly. If not, you could be in for an unexpected shock.

If you need help to establish the current situation with your own WordPress website and if the changes will affect you, please give the web team here at Dental Media a call on 01332 672548.