Over the last couple of weeks, we gradually rolled out WordPress 5 through our website hosting plans updates. We took a different approach for this update as this version introduced one of the biggest changes in WordPress so far: the new block-based editor also known as Gutenberg. Updating many active WordPress installations, especially when such an anticipated and, at the same time, feared change is happening, can be a serious challenge. Today, we are happy to report that after its release, most of our WordPress clients are already using the latest WordPress 5 version. The process has been quite smooth and we wanted to share our insights and encourage more people to make the move to a great block-based editing experience.
Our Most Common Support Requests
1. Concerns That Their Website May Break
The top reason people contacted our support team wasn’t for an actual issue, but rather a concern that the update may somehow break their site. We addressed this issue by sharing our experience from the first phases of our gradual update and the fact that there was no increase in the percentage of website issues with this version than any previous WordPress version rolled-out at scale.
The Most Common causes that break the site’s functionality are:
- Outdated Theme and Plugins that are not compatible – This can usually be resolved by adding a simple plugin “Classic Editor” ( https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/), or in more extreme and rare cases with old sites – the site must be rolled back to a previously stored backup for a temporary fix, or a theme update or change is required to be compatible.
2. Concerns That The New Editing Experience Would Be Too Difficult
The second most common fear was that changing the editing experience would make managing a website harder.
Actually, the WordPress team has addressed this concern in quite an elegant way. All existing posts are converted in a single block called the “classic block”. Editing your posts in this block does not dramatically differ from editing them before the update. The update itself does not automatically apply multiple blocks structure to your existing posts.
On top of that, we have added the Classic Editor ( https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/) plugin as part of the update process. With our settings, the new block editor is the default while the old classic editor is also provided as an option for each post. This plugin can also be used to convert the WordPress editor back to the old experience while still receiving all the important security and feature benefits of each new WordPress version.
3. Issues With Accessing The Wp-Admin After The Update
After the update, we received several complaints that people were getting a blank page when attempting to access their wp-admin. The vast majority of them were solved by clearing the cache for their website and were not related to the new WordPress version in any specific way.
A very small percentage of these cases were due to an incompatibility of the new WordPress version with an installed plugin or theme. Often, the plugin in question was non-critical and could easily be disabled. However, for the few sites that were really not ready for the update (Outdated and Incompatible Theme and Plugins), a one-click restore using our auto-update tool was an option to revert the site to its state before the update.
4. Issues With Accessing The Site Itself After The Update
We had an insignificant number of such issues reported. This is also due to the fact that our auto-update system checks automatically if the update has not resulted in an error and reverts back to the previous version if such a case is detected. However, the percentage of such “failed” updates was not significantly bigger for WordPress 5 than for any other major version.
As a whole, we can safely say that the mass update we did was smoother than expected. Once again, congrats to the whole WordPress team in charge of this new version for all their hard work on shipping safely one of the most notable releases in WordPress history.