WordPress Gutenberg: Top 10 Cons & Disadvantages

WordPress remains a titan in the ever-evolving landscape of web development, with its Gutenberg editor being a central feature. Introduced to enhance the content editing experience, Gutenberg has been met with mixed reactions. While it offers many benefits, it’s crucial to acknowledge its shortcomings. This critique is not just about nitpicking but about providing a realistic perspective for those considering or already using Gutenberg.

It’s imperative to understand that every technological advancement, while bringing progress, also introduces its challenges. This article aims to shed light on these often-overlooked aspects, providing a comprehensive overview of Gutenberg’s limitations that every WordPress user should know.

Table of Contents: 10 Cons of WordPress Gutenberg

  1. Steep Learning Curve
  2. Compatibility Issues
  3. Performance Concerns
  4. Limited Customization
  5. Overwhelming Interface
  6. Frequent Updates and Changes
  7. Inconsistent User Experience
  8. Limited Support for Advanced Features
  9. Reliance on Blocks
  10. Lack of Backward Compatibility

The 10 Drawbacks and Disadvantages of WordPress Gutenberg Editor

As we navigate the labyrinth of Gutenberg’s features, it becomes evident that this editor has flaws. These disadvantages are minor inconveniences and fundamental issues that can significantly impact the user experience and website functionality. In the following sections, we will critically examine the top 10 cons of Gutenberg, unveiling the challenges beneath its polished surface.

1. Steep Learning Curve

While innovative, Gutenberg’s transition to a block-based editor presents a daunting learning curve that cannot be overlooked. This complexity starkly contrasts the simplicity WordPress is famed for, potentially alienating long-time users. For newcomers, the challenge is twofold: mastering a new tool while navigating the intricacies of website creation.

  • The interface radically differs from the classic editor, requiring users to learn new ways to create and manage content.
  • Basic tasks like formatting text or adding images involve new steps and interactions.
  • The complexity increases exponentially for complex layouts and custom blocks, demanding a higher skill level.

Real-Life Example: Consider a small business owner using WordPress with the classic editor for years. The switch to Gutenberg means relearning many aspects of content creation, which can be time-consuming and frustrating. This can lead to reduced productivity and even deter them from updating their website, negatively impacting their online presence.

Resolution: To mitigate this disadvantage, WordPress could offer more comprehensive and easily accessible tutorials and guides tailored explicitly for transitioning users. A hybrid model, allowing users to switch between classic and block editors, could ease the transition. Additionally, community-driven support forums and workshops can play a pivotal role in educating users about Gutenberg’s functionalities.

2. Compatibility Issues

Gutenberg’s modern architecture, while innovative, often clashes with the older, established parts of the WordPress ecosystem. This mismatch results in compatibility issues, especially with older themes and plugins. Such conflicts disrupt the website’s functionality and pose a significant challenge for users reliant on these tools.

  • Plugin Conflicts: Many existing plugins were not designed with Gutenberg in mind, leading to malfunction or complete incompatibility.
  • Theme Limitations: Older themes may not fully support Gutenberg’s features, resulting in broken layouts and styling issues.
  • Update Dependencies: Dependency on constant updates from third-party developers for compatibility may not always be timely.

Real-Life Example: Consider a small business website using a classic WordPress theme and a set of plugins for e-commerce. Upon updating Gutenberg, their product pages are misaligned, and specific plugins stop functioning. This disruption causes a temporary shutdown of their online store and demands urgent and potentially costly technical intervention.

Resolution: To resolve these issues, WordPress could enhance Gutenberg’s backward compatibility, ensuring it works seamlessly with older themes and plugins. Developers could be provided with more robust guidelines and tools to update their themes and plugins. Additionally, implementing a compatibility-check feature within Gutenberg could preemptively warn users about potential conflicts.

3. Performance Concern

With its block-based structure, Gutenberg introduces complexity that can negatively impact website performance. This can manifest in slower page loading times, a critical factor in user experience and search engine optimization (SEO). Such performance drawbacks are particularly noticeable on complex pages with multiple blocks and elements.

  • Increased Page Load Time: Each block adds additional HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which can increase the page load time.
  • Resource-Intensive: Gutenberg can be resource-intensive, especially on longer pages with numerous blocks.
  • Complexity Overhead: The complexity added by blocks can lead to inefficient code, further slowing down the website.

Real-Life Example: A blogger with a heavy-traffic site noticed a significant increase in page load time after switching to Gutenberg. Their in-depth articles, featuring various media blocks, became sluggish, leading to a higher bounce rate and lower user engagement. This decline in performance directly impacted their SEO rankings and audience retention.

Resolution: Optimizing the underlying code of Gutenberg to be more efficient and less resource-intensive could alleviate these issues. WordPress could also introduce more streamlined, performance-focused blocks. Additionally, educating users on best practices for block usage to maintain optimal performance would be beneficial.

4. Limited Customization

While a step forward in user-friendly design, Gutenberg falls short in advanced customization. Users accustomed to the limitless possibilities offered by traditional page builders may find Gutenberg’s offerings quite restrictive. This limitation is particularly evident when creating unique, intricate designs that stand out.

Bullet Details

  • Basic Design Options: Gutenberg’s blocks have limited styling options, hindering creative freedom.
  • Inflexible Layouts: Creating complex layouts is more challenging in Gutenberg than advanced page builders.
  • Lack of Advanced Features: Sophisticated features like detailed typography controls and custom CSS/JS integration within blocks are absent.

Real-Life Example: A web designer tasked with creating a highly bespoke website struggles with Gutenberg’s limited design options. The lack of advanced styling tools and rigid block layouts forces them to resort to additional plugins or custom code, complicating the process. This limitation extends the project timeline and impacts the final aesthetic quality of the website.

Resolution: Expanding Gutenberg’s customization capabilities by introducing more advanced styling options and flexible layout tools would significantly enhance its utility. Drag-and-drop column adjustments and deeper typography settings would align Gutenberg more closely with traditional page builders. Further, allowing for easier integration of custom CSS and JavaScript directly within blocks could open up endless creative possibilities.

5. Overwhelming Interface

Introduction: Gutenberg’s array of options, while intended to enhance the user experience, can ironically lead to confusion and overwhelm, especially for beginners. The interface, packed with blocks and settings, can be daunting for those accustomed to the simplicity of classic editors. This complexity can detract from WordPress’s renowned user-friendliness.

  • Numerous Blocks: A vast selection of blocks can be overwhelming to sift through and understand.
  • Complex Settings: Each block has its options, adding complexity.
  • Navigation Challenges: Finding and organizing blocks in more complex layouts can be cumbersome.

Real-Life Example: A novice blogger, excited to start their journey with WordPress, faces a steep learning curve with Gutenberg. They find themselves lost amidst a sea of blocks and settings, struggling to create even simple posts. This complexity leads to frustration, discouraging them from fully embracing the platform.

Resolution: Simplifying the Gutenberg interface by categorizing blocks more intuitively and streamlining settings would make it more accessible. A guided tour or interactive tutorials within the editor could help new users acclimate more quickly. Additionally, offering a ‘simplified mode’ with reduced options could cater to beginners, gradually introducing more advanced features.

6. Frequent Updates and Changes

Gutenberg’s evolution, marked by frequent updates, can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it signifies continuous improvement; on the other, it introduces unpredictability and instability. Users often have to adapt to changes and relearn aspects of the editor, which can be disruptive.

  • Constant Learning: Regular updates often change the interface or functionality, requiring continuous learning.
  • Stability Issues: Frequent changes can introduce bugs or temporary issues, impacting user experience.
  • Adaptation Challenge: Adapting to new features or altered workflows can be time-consuming and frustrating for some users.

Real-Life Example: A digital marketing agency relying heavily on WordPress for client websites faces challenges with each Gutenberg update. They must constantly retrain their staff, adjust their workflows, and sometimes deal with unexpected bugs. This continuous adaptation strains their resources and affects their efficiency and service quality.

Resolution: WordPress could adopt a more predictable update schedule with clear and comprehensive change logs to mitigate these challenges. Providing advanced notifications and detailed guides on upcoming changes would help users prepare. Additionally, focusing on incremental, well-tested updates would ensure stability and reduce the frequency of disruptive changes.

7. Inconsistent User Experience

Gutenberg’s user experience can vary significantly based on the themes and plugins, leading to inconsistency. This lack of uniformity can frustrate users who work across multiple websites or switch themes. Such inconsistency undermines the predictability and reliability that users expect from a platform like WordPress.

  • Theme-Dependent Experience: The editing experience can change drastically with different themes.
  • Plugin Interactions: Plugins can alter or interfere with Gutenberg’s functionality, creating a varied user experience.
  • Inconsistency Across Websites: Users managing multiple websites may face a learning curve with each site due to different theme/plugin interactions with Gutenberg.

Real-Life Example: A freelance web developer managing several client websites encounters varying degrees of Gutenberg functionality across different themes. One theme might offer enhanced block styles, while another restricts certain features, leading to a disjointed and unpredictable editing experience. This inconsistency complicates their workflow, requiring extra time adjusting to each site’s unique Gutenberg interaction.

Resolution: Standardizing the core functionalities of Gutenberg across all themes and plugins would create a more consistent user experience. Encouraging theme and plugin developers to adhere to specific Gutenberg compatibility guidelines could also help. Moreover, offering a universal baseline of features that remain constant regardless of theme/plugin combinations would ensure predictability and reliability.

8. Limited Support for Advanced Features

Gutenberg lacks inherent support for certain advanced features crucial for complex website development. Custom post types and fields, essential for diverse content management, aren’t natively supported. This gap necessitates relying on additional plugins or custom coding, which can hinder advanced users.

  • Lack of Native Advanced Content Types: Custom post types and fields require additional plugins or custom code.
  • Limited SEO and Meta Control: Native SEO and meta-features are not as comprehensive as needed for advanced optimization.
  • Restrictions on Data Management: Managing complex data sets and relationships is challenging without external solutions.

Real-Life Example: An online magazine with diverse content and complex data relationships finds Gutenberg limiting in managing their content efficiently. They must rely on several additional plugins to handle custom post types for their various article categories, impacting the site’s performance and complicating content management. This limitation hampers their ability to scale and diversify their content effectively.

Resolution: Integrating advanced content management features, such as native support for custom post types and fields, into Gutenberg would significantly enhance its capabilities. Improving its native SEO and meta-control features would also benefit advanced users. Additionally, providing built-in tools for complex data management would eliminate the need for multiple external plugins, streamlining the content management process.

9. Reliance on Blocks

Gutenberg’s block-based approach, while innovative, can sometimes be more restrictive than liberating. Every element being a block can lead to a cluttered interface and complicate what should be straightforward tasks. This reliance on blocks for all content types may not always align with the user’s workflow or the nature of the content.

  • Overcomplication of Simple Tasks: Simple tasks like formatting text can become cumbersome due to the block structure.
  • Interface Clutter: The multitude of blocks can make the interface cluttered and hard to navigate for complex pages.
  • Inflexibility for Non-Block Content: Content that doesn’t fit neatly into a block structure, like dynamic or interactive elements, is more complicated to manage.

Real-Life Example: A content creator focusing on long-form articles with varied formatting finds Gutenberg’s block structure cumbersome. What used to be a straightforward task of writing and formatting becomes a juggling act of multiple text and image blocks. This overcomplication slows down their writing process and detracts from the creative flow.

Resolution: Offering a more flexible approach where blocks are an option rather than a necessity could enhance Gutenberg’s usability. Incorporating a hybrid model that allows for both block-based and traditional linear editing would cater to a broader range of content types and user preferences. Simplifying the management of blocks for complex content would also improve the overall user experience.

10. Lack of Backward Compatibility

Gutenberg’s forward-looking design comes at the cost of backward compatibility, a critical aspect for long-standing WordPress websites. Sites with a rich history of content created with older editors may face significant challenges when transitioning to Gutenberg. This can lead to issues like broken layouts, lost formatting, and the need for extensive content reformatting.

  • Transition Issues for Older Content: Existing content may not display correctly in Gutenberg, requiring extensive updates.
  • Learning Curve for Existing Users: Long-time WordPress users may find adapting to Gutenberg’s new system challenging.
  • Potential Loss of Data: In some cases, transitioning to Gutenberg can lead to data loss or corruption, especially with complex or custom-coded content.

Real-Life Example: An educational institution with a decade’s content on WordPress faces significant hurdles when updating to Gutenberg. Once seamlessly integrated into their website, historical articles and instructional materials appear misformatted or broken. The process of editing and reformatting this vast archive is daunting and resource-intensive.

Resolution: Enhancing Gutenberg’s backward compatibility would ease the transition for older websites. Providing tools and guides for smooth content migration from classic editors to Gutenberg would be invaluable. It additionally offers a compatibility mode.

Gutenberg Editor vs. Classic Editor: Which One to Use?

The Gutenberg editor is ideal for revamping their website with a completely distinctive appearance. It opens vast avenues for developers to enhance their websites with dynamic layouts while minimizing the need for multiple plugins, streamlining the process, and making the site more efficient and lightweight.

However, the added functionalities of Gutenberg come with increased complexity. Gutenberg may not be the most practical choice for users who need basic image and text editing. Furthermore, those eager to utilize its advanced features might find them not fully accessible.

Choosing the right editor boils down to your specific requirements. For instance, Gutenberg is an excellent fit if you’re in a creative field like media or entertainment or run an online magazine and you frequently post visually captivating blogs.

Conversely, the classic editor suffices for casual bloggers who don’t prioritize elaborate visual content. While it’s possible to use Gutenberg for straightforward posts, there’s little point in investing time to learn its advanced features if they are not necessary for your content.

Conclusion

Gutenberg is a bold innovation by WordPress, marking a significant departure from its classic editor. However, this leap forward is not without its pitfalls. The steep learning curve, compatibility issues, and performance concerns are just the tip of the iceberg. Limited customization options, an overwhelming interface, and constant updates further exacerbate the situation, challenging even the most adept users. These disadvantages underscore a crucial truth in the tech world: progress often comes with a price, and in the case of Gutenberg, it’s a blend of complexity and adaptation.

Moreover, the inconsistent user experience across different themes and plugins, limited support for advanced features, an over-reliance on blocks, and the lack of backward compatibility highlight deeper issues. These are not mere teething problems but fundamental challenges that question the usability and efficiency of Gutenberg. As WordPress continues to evolve, addressing these shortcomings becomes imperative. Gutenberg’s future depends on embracing innovation and ensuring that this innovation is accessible, reliable, and user-friendly. Only then can Gutenberg truly revolutionize the WordPress experience.

Suggested article: Top 10 Pros and Cons of WordPress

Avatar

Daniel Raymond

Daniel Raymond, a project manager with over 20 years of experience, is the former CEO of a successful software company called Websystems. With a strong background in managing complex projects, he applied his expertise to develop AceProject.com and Bridge24.com, innovative project management tools designed to streamline processes and improve productivity. Throughout his career, Daniel has consistently demonstrated a commitment to excellence and a passion for empowering teams to achieve their goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *