Gutenberg vs ACF WordPress

Should you choose Gutenberg or ACF to build your business’s WordPress website?

Key Takeaways:

  • Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), a WordPress plugin, has enabled the intuitive creation of new content and rich content editing capabilities.
  • WordPress 5.0 includes a native content editor, Gutenberg, which replaces ACF for creating content blocks, especially for rich media.
  • Gutenberg may compel businesses to move from ACF-based sites and blogs to benefit from the latest WordPress updates and prevent the breaking of their websites.
  • ACF is usually the preferred choice when deadlines are tight and a website needs to be launched with urgency. To use ACF, a separate license needs to be purchased.
  • At Merit Data and Technology, we understand the unique advantages of both Gutenberg and ACF and can work with clients to choose the right editor for their context.

WordPress, one of the most popular content management systems, released Version 5.0 with a new editor called Gutenberg. This replaces the existing classic editor, TinyMCE (WYSIWYG), and facilitates adding content such as paragraphs, images, headings, lists, galleries, and embeds individual “blocks” of content. From a web editor’s perspective, this approach is way easier and intuitive when compared to adding all these types of content into a larger, single space for editing.

The release of Gutenberg has caused a ripple in the website designing community as it raises the question about the future of plug-ins like Advanced Custom Fields, which enabled adding extra content fields to the WordPress edit screens. Commonly referred to as Custom Fields, this plug-in was designed to make it easier for web editors to add new content fields with greater agility and more control.

Advanced Custom Fields (or ACF) and why it really helped web editors

TinyMCE, the WordPress visual editor, allowed rich content editing but was not capable of handling complicated situations. It was also not easy to fix formatting issues once the design was complete.

ACF or Advanced Custom Fields plug-in put the control in the developer’s hands, allowing them to edit, add, and tailor content editing based on the website’s specific needs. Any number of fields can be added and some could be hidden too. Also, it provides a large number of field types to choose from, such as text, media, choice, and layout. These fields can be added, edited, or arranged as required.

According to one estimate, ACF has more than a million active installs and has contributed significantly to the growth of the WordPress platform. It enables developers to empower their clients to have control over their content without using shortcodes, page builders, or even post_content. Developers can decide how the data appears on the site’s front-end and in most cases automatic formatting of “content blocks or visuals” can be added in.

ACF can also be integrated with a variety of other tools such as WP Offload Media and the image processing work is offloaded to the cloud service provider be it Amazon S3, Digital Ocean Spaces, or Google Cloud Storage.

Gutenberg: A WordPress Native Editor Designed for Rich Content

Gutenberg, the WordPress block editor named after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press with a ‘movable type’ more than 500 years ago, is considered a game-changer because it now provides WordPress users with a native tool to add content blocks and build pages without the need for plug-ins. This pushes WordPress on par with other page-building platforms.

Gutenberg is especially revolutionary for WordPress because their visual editor had not been changed in years and was limited in scope. But Gutenberg is intuitive, with greater features and functionalities, similar to other modern content platforms such as Webflow.

Key benefits of using Gutenberg

  • Easier to add rich media
  • Simplified user experience, especially because what you see in the back-end is what appears on the front-end in terms of formatting and layout
  • The process of WordPress upgrades becomes more seamless and worry-free
  • An intuitive interface for an easier content editing
  • Eliminates the need for shortcodes and plugins
  • Enables customizations in the content editor using discrete elements

Gutenberg handles WordPress updates better than ACF

On the one hand, ACF has had a tremendous role in WordPress’s success and many continue to swear by it. On the other hand, Gutenberg is a WordPress native product. What this means is that any updates to WordPress core will see those who have moved to Gutenberg remain unaffected. Those using ACF face the risk of their sites breaking in case of compatibility issues. Gutenberg also promises a shorter load time for websites while improving the user experience.

Gutenberg has compatibility issues and needs React.js developers

The adoption of Gutenberg may not be smooth all the way. Gutenberg has been built with React.js, a modern JavaScript framework for building web apps. It may require developers to learn modern JavaScript techniques to be able to use Gutenberg effectively.

Then there are questions about the fate of sites built with existing themes and plugins, their compatibility with Gutenberg, and the implications for those sites. Also, ACF allows for shorter development times. ACF is the go-to when one wants to have a website within short and tight deadlines.

What is also interesting is that the two can be used together to enhance the development of websites and enrich the fields.

Merit Group for WordPress Development

Whether you opt for Gutenberg or want to use ACF, Merit Group, a UK-based software and IT services provider, has a team with deep experience and expertise in building modern web/mobile applications, website development, maintenance and upgrades, in addition to next-generation software development.

Our development team brings deep experience in both front-end and back-end development. We are staffed with experienced professionals who have extensive experience in both WordPress and React.js, a critical combination for building content-rich websites.

Various enterprise clients in the U.K. and Europe partner with Merit Group for the following reasons:

  • 15 years of proven experience in software and web development
  • Expert software development engineers who work as an extension of your own team, offering full technical support and training
  • Expertise across a wide range of technologies including, Perl, Python, Oracle, PHP, Hadoop,, Tableau,, Microsoft SQL Server, and many more
  • Proven success in developing software for some of the world’s leading brands
  • We are a trusted partner and clients often put us on the critical path of launching new software, digital or data products

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