I’ve always been a somewhat contrarian thinker. At a recent word camp Sydney I noticed a strong focus on WordPress theme builders, specifically Elementor, Beaver Builder and, to a lesser extent Divi. I was, despite all the great content, a little bummed out at the lack of focus on the Gutenberg editor, and working in core WordPress itself. The consensus seemed to be that Gutenberg was not ready for building sites. Of course, being a contrarian, I disagree.
I’ve been inspired by this site built with Gutenberg (and obviously a lot of resource).
Don’t get me wrong, I admire page builders, Divi has helped me get our little agency off the ground, particularly with low budget, short timeframe sites. Having researched Elementor and Beaver Builder I’d reached the conclusion that Beaver Builder would suit me, but, facing yet another yearly licence fee, then looking into the range of available Gutenberg blocks, and especially the ability to create your own, I decided, at least for our own site, to embrace Gutenberg, and document the adventure.
From the moment I started using WordPress in 2011 I disliked the Tiny MCE editor, I didn’t like the way it marked up content, and the mess it would create if you switched from the text editor to the WYSIWYG editor. It was suitable, I guess, as a blog post editor but completely unsuitable for layout, a remnant of WordPress’ journey from blogging platform to fully fledged CMS.
So began the journey to understand how to develop and layout sites in WordPress, a journey that travelled through the early just add copy and images Woo Themes days ( where clients always wanted layout changes anyway ). Then early page builders like Headway Themes which did the job but left you with a bloated and slow site, the Theme Forest theme based sites built on the Visual Composer / WP Bakery builders and a quagmire of plugins, also slow, the Divi page builder which, for me anyway, helped get clients good looking sites quickly and on budget, but slow too, and the emergence of Beaver Builder and Elementor.
All of these builders do a great job of abstracting away the need to understand how WordPress works at a deep level, and the need to code, but, when we do know how WordPress works and we can code, there’s a realisation that WordPress is a highly flexible framework itself and by using builders we’re bolting a framework on top of a framework. To me that’s always been a compromise.
I think the Gutenberg editor bridges the gap between drag and drop and deep level WordPress. It does allow for page layout, and its capability continues to grow, and grow quickly. The nice thing is it feels more organic, light weight, and connected, and provides an opportunity to evolve and grow with WordPress core. Let this journey begin.