This past March Maureen and I attended the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference and had the honor of participating in the WordPress Community Session: WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg, and the New Block Editor. It was an amazing time and I thoroughly enjoyed being on the panel, sharing Valet’s knowledge, understanding, and insights surrounding the new editor — as well as fielding questions from those in the audience.
As part of the panel preparation, we were given a set of questions to answer for the presentation and questioning of WordPress 5.0, and we thought it might be fun to share some of my initial thoughts on WordPress’ new block editor, aka Gutenberg.
What is your favorite thing about the block editor?
One of my favorite things about the new block editor is the ability to create and build additional layouts that can be done without needing a Custom Page Template built. While it cannot be done with nearly the complexity of a Custom Page Template, it delivers enough power to provide a much easier way to present data all within the WordPress Editor. In fact, one of our clients here at Valet needed a basic page layout developed and this is exactly what we used. What would have normally required a Custom Page Template build by our stellar Development Team, our Customer Success Team was able to guide the client through the steps needed to build-out the page on their own.
What is one notable limitation of the block editor?
Unfortuently, the new editor relies heavily on contextual menus, making it difficult to easily see everything that’s available to the user all at once. Thankfully, the new editor is in its early stages and we should only see more improvements in the user interface. In the meantime, a lot can be learned by jumping in and “getting your hands dirty.”
What would you not know about the block editor unless someone told you?
Reusable custom blocks have got to be one of the most exciting features the new editor has to offer. It not only is changing how we solve problems within WordPress, but also provides more flexibility and power to the user. You can look forward to us sharing more about this in the near future.
What’s one tip for someone transitioning from the old editor to the new one?
Give yourself space to re-learn what you knew previously and the opportunity to learn new things. Don’t be afraid to fail! This is how we learn (preferably not on a live website with a published page).
Do you recommend people transition their sites right now?
Only if your theme supports it. If you try new blocks, be sure to test them before publishing to a live site, as the styles may not jive. From a technical aspect, all Valet clients had their websites tested months before the new editor was released, avoiding any breaks that may have occurred. If you are a Valet client and want to do more with the new editor and are unsure, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Customer Success Team!
How does the new editor change how you would select a theme?
It’s best to ensure a new theme supports Gutenberg and checking to see if it supports custom blocks as well. If your new theme doesn’t support Gutenberg, I would recommend exploring other options.
How does the new editor change how you would select a plugin?
If you’re asking the right questions to begin with, it shouldn’t have any bearing. Perhaps we’ll explore this in the future as well.
What are the benefits and drawbacks for 3rd party block libraries?
While these can be great shortcuts to creating new block types, understand what kind of dependencies you are creating. When the plugin is removed, you lose those blocks and the design styles associated with them. Choose wisely. Investing in a 3rd party block library has the potential of being as big of an investment as your theme.
What’s the difference between a page builder (Divi, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer) and the block editor?
This subject can get deep really fast, so let’s keep this simple. These page builders are about building a theme template; whereas, the block editor is about customizing the page content.
Feel free to leave a comment for discussion or if you have a question about the new block editor included in WordPress 5 — Gutenberg. If you’re a client of Valet, you can also reach out to the Customer Success Team and we would be excited to answer any questions about what we’ve covered, here. Or anything else, really. We love hearing from you. 🙂