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The cost of the Gutenberg transition for small WordPress businesses

arrayinternet.com | Dec. 17, 2017 | 13 min read

Thoughts on how the introduction of Gutenberg may affect small businesses in the WordPress ecosystem and why the cost needs to be paid by every company that wants to stay in business.

29 votes   Flag
Andrian V.

I’m personally super excited to start writing Gutenberg blocks. I am still waiting though until the APIs become more stable as we get closer to the official release.

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Rich Tabor

I started on my first foray into Gutenberg blocks over the weekend. There's a lot of room for making super easy-to-use "shortcodes" essentially, though there's still quite a bit that's unclear. Hopefully in the coming weeks the docs, examples, and best practices will all improve a good bit. Then we can really start exploring!

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Neil Murray

Interesting read in terms of giving me a perspective from someone very concerned by how Gutenberg will affect their individual business. A few points that stuck with me where:

* This is an unavoidable change to their business which is being imposed on them by others ( and they don't like it )
* They feel the cost of change imposed by Gutenberg is real but the cost of not changing WordPress is not - at least not yet ( and they're wrong - long term the cost to their business is likely to be much greater )

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Aline

Hi Neil, the article doesn't say that not changing WordPress would be good, it even says that Gutenberg can become something great. However, what is problematic is how Gutenberg is introduced. If the Gutenberg team doesn't change the schedule or the way how it will land in core, then this leaves only a few months until Gutenberg will become reality.

On the other hand there still is only vague and limited information about the roadmap available and on how things eventually will work (phase 2 & 3). This makes it very hard for businesses to plan ahead. Product development takes time, especially for small businesses where resources are highly limited. Usually products are modified and recoded before a major update like this happens, not after it's already available. Gutenberg basically is a reset of WordPress and its ecosystem.

Maybe a more reasonable way to introduce Gutenberg would be to only consider it for core when it's complete (including phase 2 & 3) and after leaving enough time for businesses to adapt, which also would be better for users who are relying on the products of these businesses. This would allow businesses to see the whole picture, plan ahead and build products that are really suitable for this new scenario. You usually can't build a product based on assumptions and pure speculation.

At the moment businesses have a disadvantage in comparison to the Gutenberg team as they don't have all the information to really prepare a business for this. Sure, everyone involved now probably gets what a block is and how the new editor is planned to work. However, it's not really clear what happens next (how widgets, menus or else will be replaced, etc...). Developing or modifying a product on pure speculation seems to be a waste of time. That means businesses can only wait, but if Gutenberg will be released as planned, there isn't much time to wait and to prepare for this.

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Neil Murray

I understood all this from reading the article. I just wanted to add a couple of other observations I personally had while reading the article.

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David Finch

HI Aline
I completely agree.
We have taken screen shots of the mess that the Gutenberg Plugin has made of clients sites on our test bed.
We estimated that one clients site would take 400 billing hours to fix not including the cost to us of fixing our own site which the Gutenberg Editor just turns into a total mess.

The current time line gives no thought to Best Practices, the development community need time to play and find the bugs, Theme Authors need time to adjust themes, plugin authors need time to make there plugins work with Gutenberg.

I am not against the change as I think it is a good idea and the right direction, but I am very concerned that the community seems to be being completely ignored and this will be rushed through without any thought for the potential negative impact this will have if it continues on it's current time line.

I am classifying this as a Ratners Moment (Ratners were a leading Jewellery shop in the UK) one ill considered idea and the company no longer exists, it went out of business in 6 months and I can see WordPress loosing it's 30% market share in the same time frame if they continue to ignore the concerns of the WP Community.
These concerns are being expressed by major players like Jools from Yoast.

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Neil Murray

So how much market share do you predict WordPress will loose in the first 6 months after Gutenberg is added to WordPress core in version 5.0?

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David Finch

Hi Neil

I can see a 3rd of there market vanishing into thin air if they continue along this current road map.
Gutenberg should be introduced as a full release plugin for at least 6 months before being implemented into the core. That gives us all time to prepare themes, plugins and clients to the change and also gives companies like mine the chance to move clients slowly to Gutenberg, not a rush and 1,000's of hours of billing.
My company has decided that we will not upgrade our clients sites to 5.0 if it goes ahead on the current time frame or I will have 50 plus broken websites.

The biggest headache for us is we have just spent 10 months building a brand new music publishing platform for a client that goes live on the 1st of January. We enabled Gutenberg to see what happens and basically SH1T ourselves. It could take another 10 months to fix it so we have no choice with this client but to leave them on 4.9 for the foreseeable future as they are not going to pay us again to fix the mess this rush to release Gutenberg is going to cause.

All of this is a real shame because we all like Gutenberg on a fresh install and as the article says our concerns are being written off as afraid of moving forward, instead of what the really are, concerns that this is being introduced to fast and with not enough engagement.

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Neil Murray

I predict WordPress will lose no market share in first 6 months after Gutenberg is added to core in 5.0. Suggest we both bookmark this post & see who is closest to actual result at that time.

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David Finch

Hi Neil

I truly hope I am wrong as I have an entire company built on supporting WordPress websites.

What I am really surprised about is the reaction of the WordPress core team about this issue, normally new ideas are discussed openly and concerns are addressed, not just pushed aside as "oh you hate change, go away"

I do think this has more to do with WordPress.com competing with other multisite builders that are now available, rather than WordPress core CMS.

Yes we shall see what happens but I can tell you without hesitation that there will be a lot of unhappy small business owners with broken sites.

Regards
David

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Neil Murray

I disagree completely with your conclusion that Gutenberg is "more to do with WordPress.com". I see no evidence for that.

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