WordPress was traditionally made up of plugins, themes and the native content editor.
Plugins extend the functionality of WordPress. Themes handle the appearance of a website. While the native content editor was where you entered your content.
In 2018, the classic editor was replaced by the block editor (or Gutenberg). This new editor, as the name implies, uses blocks to help you create content easily.
Initially, the block editor was met with a lot of criticism. Among the complaints, many felt that the new editor was being forced on the WordPress community. In fact, it still maintains a 2-star overall rating on WordPress.org.
On the other hand, many embraced the new block editor since it provided a better user experience.
Traditional themes bundle the code needed to control the appearance and functionality of the website within the theme file. With block themes, Gutenberg will provide much of the theme’s appearance and functionality.
In short, all block themes will have a shared set of features and style rules.
Block themes will then provide the user with predefined blocks, color schemes, etc. to help speed up the design process.
Many view this shift from traditional themes to full site editing and block themes as a way of democratizing design. It makes it easier for non-tech users to be able to create their own websites without relying too heavily on developers.
While some designers and developers may interpret this as giving too much free rein to the user, it is ultimately what the user wants. Simply take a look at how popular other platforms such as Wix and Squarespace have become and you’ll have your answer.
Full Site Editing and Block Themes will bring with them many benefits for the user, including:
A consistent experience when customizing themes.
Users will be able to switch between block themes easily without losing key features. This is because Gutenberg would be providing these features to all themes.
Full Site Editing has not yet been released, but it is well underway. After having viewed a preview of the native Full Site Editor in the last WordCamp EU, I have to admit it was quite underwhelming. This is especially true when you compare it to well-known drag and drop page builders like Elementor – more on this later.
However, the project is still in its infancy and if you believe that the future of WordPress lies in Full Site Editing, you should definitely consider opting for a theme that uses this same mindset.
Essence Pro is a beautifully designed, clutter-free theme. It allows your readers to focus on the essentials when visiting your site.
What About Page Builders?
I touched upon page builders earlier in this article. Page Builders initially started coming on the scene to address user-friendly design before the concept of Full Site Editing came into play.
Plugins like Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Divi created a beginner-friendly interface to create beautiful websites. That is, even if you have no idea how to code.
We personally took this on board by creating our very own WP Mayor redesign using Elementor.
This page builder gave us the possibility to A-B test different post and page layouts. It also lets us try out different UX techniques, all at the click of a button.
For example, if we ever want to change the look of a certain button, all we need to do is move over to the Elementor interface and within a few minutes, our changes are live.
I believe there will still be a place for page builders, especially in the current market. Full Site Editing is still quite new and page builders will definitely give you more customization options at the moment.
Full Site Editing is still in its early stages. Like it or not, however, WordPress is definitely moving in that direction.
To prepare your websites for this new shift, I recommend using block themes to handle the appearance of your site. My top recommendation is Genesis Pro by StudioPress.
Not yet ready for Full Site Editing? I suggest you then go for a solid page builder like Elementor to still give you the benefits of full site editing without committing to this new framework.
What are your thoughts on Full Site Editing? Do you believe it’s the future of WordPress?