When is it Worth Investing in Block-Centric Building in WordPress?
If you’re an agency developer or a freelancer, you want to build fast, performant sites for your clients, because that’s what builds your portfolio and brings you more business.
In this session, WP Engine Principal Developer Advocate Brian Gardner joins panelists as they share how builders can lean into block-centric building to bring more value to their clients—all while remaining on the cutting edge of WordPress core.
- Brian Gardner, Principal Developer Advocate at WP Engine
- Sam Munoz, Developer Advocate at WP Engine
- Aurooba Ahmed, Freelance Web Developer
- Phil Crumm, Marketing & Growth VP at 10up
- Katherine White, CTO at Kanopi
BRIAN GARDNER: Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. We have a great panel discussion planned for you, and we are going to be discussing when is it worth investing in block-centric building in WordPress. I’ve got some talented folks here from the WordPress community. So let’s meet them.
First up, we have Kat. Kat, would you like to say hi and where are you from?
KATHERINE WHITE: Sure. Hello, my name is Katherine White. I am the CTO of Kanopi Studios. We are an agency that designs, builds, and supports websites for clients who want to make a positive impact. I’m here in Austin, Texas and been working with WordPress since 2004. So excited to talk about the changes in the platform.
BRIAN GARDNER: Great to have you. Aurooba, how about yourself?
AUROOBA: Hi, everyone. I’m Aurooba. I’m a web developer. I’ve been working with WordPress for at least a decade. I’m up here in Calgary by the Rockies in Canada, and I’m excited to be here with everyone.
BRIAN GARDNER: Glad you’re with us. Phil! Phil, how about you?
PHIL CRUMM: Hello, everyone. My name is Phil Crumm. I’m senior vice president of marketing and growth at 10up, a full service digital agency. Does design strategy and engineering predominantly with WordPress. I’ve been in the WordPress community since 2004, 2005. So it’s been a little while and excited to see all of the changes the block editor is going to make for us.
BRIAN GARDNER: Glad to have you with us, Phil. Last but certainly not least, my fellow colleague here at WP Engine, Sam Munoz. Would you like to say hi?
SAM MUNOZ: Hello! Like Brian said, I’m Sam. I’m the community manager for the developer relations team at WP Engine. I’ve been a WordPress lover since 2014. Sounds like I’m the baby of the group here, but it’s awesome to talk about WordPress, and I love to do it. So I’m very, very enthusiastically excited to get into this panel.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah. This will be fun. As a reminder, my name is Brian Gardner, principal developer advocate here at WP Engine. I have been building WordPress things since 2006. So doing the quick math, we’ve probably got at least 50, 60, 70 years worth of WordPress tenure on this call. So I think we’re going to be well prepared to talk about what’s coming with WordPress.
That being said, why don’t we kick things off? I’m just going to open us up here with a little bit of lay of the land question. I’m going to ask, Sam, this question to you– although I know the answer because we talk often. But I want to hear what you think. Just to get folks up to speed, what is the difference between the block editor and the site editor? We’ve heard this term called full site editing and all of that. Where does that fit into the picture of modern WordPress?
SAM MUNOZ: Yeah, so there’s the classic traditional WordPress with metaboxes and all sorts of things like that, and then there’s this new modern WordPress. There’s the block editor, formerly known as Gutenberg, where you can build pages and layout posts and things with block pieces of different sections and layouts. And then there’s something called the site editor, this next iteration of modern WordPress, which is where you can not only update and change things within the page, but actually, the header, the footer, the colors, more about the site globally.
So there’s many dimensions here, which I find this conversation so interesting in that realm because maybe you are cool with blocks, but you’re like site editor, not for me yet. Or you’re ready to jump all in into all of it, or you’re hesitant about anything modern WordPress and you really want to stick with what’s known as classic WordPress. So if anyone else has more explanation of that, feel free. But I think that’s the gist of it. And it’s now known as just the editor if– oh, that’s right. The site editor, not full site editing. There’s lots of jargon changes always happening. So if you feel a little confused, you’re not alone there.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah. And we have WordPress 6.2 coming up here at the end of the month and it’ll no longer be called the beta Site Editor because we’ve removed the beta label from the WP Admin menu items. So that gets exciting. Before we get to the next question though, Phil, I want to ask you a follow up to Sam’s answer.
You come at this purely from the agency perspective. You’ve been at 10up for a long time, and you guys have a lot of things going on. What is the general sort of perception of this, as you guys talk sort of in our office, this meaning the site editor monitored WordPress?
PHIL CRUMM: The block editor has been amazing for us. We predominantly work with content creators and we work with creators who create complicated content. They want multimedia things, they want to be able to mix text and imagery, they want to be able to play with layouts and create landing pages or really immersive content. And the block editor is fantastic for that.
We’re still experimenting with the site editor to figure out exactly where and how it fits into the kinds of sites that our clients need to build. For many of our clients, there’s a spectrum of flexibility between the classic editor, the block editor, and site editor. And for many of our clients, that kind of middle spot that the block editor holds makes the most sense for them.
They don’t want random users going in and mucking around with the header or the footer. They want a little bit more control over global elements of the site. There are exceptions though with landing pages, with ad hoc experiences for events. With simpler and more straightforward sites, maybe they don’t want to have engineers involved in the long term maintenance. There’s definitely a lot of strength there.
But we’re trying it out, we’re playing with our calibration, we’re looking for opportunities to use it, but always trying to go back to that notion of “where do we need the flexibility and at what point does it start to become a little bit too flexible?” It’s exciting to have now three different tools that we can draw from to solve challenges in the way that we think is going to be sustainable and maintainable in the long term.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah, so we’re coming up as you guys know. We’re coming up on the five year anniversary of all of this when Matt dropped this Gutenberg thing is coming and we’re going to upend the way traditional WordPress has been used. I’m going to start with you, Aurooba. Just curious from your perspective because we have representation here from freelancers to agencies and stuff like that. So we’ve got some different ideas and different sort of outlooks on this. When did you first start playing with the Gutenberg plugin and at what point did you basically go all in and fully embrace sort of development and design moving forward with it?
AUROOBA: So I have loved the block editor from the very beginning And when I first discovered it I think it was early– it was before it was merged into core, but not very much before then and I pretty much was like, yes, this makes sense, I like component-based designs, I like atomic design, I already think this way, let’s just do it. I think I built my first production site with the block editor right at the end of 2019.
BRIAN GARDNER: Wow, OK.
AUROOBA: Yeah. But I mean, that was a very simple marketing site. I think at the time, it was such a baby, baby little editor and you can do a lot more with it now. But at the time, I was definitely like, yes, when it makes sense, let’s just do it.
BRIAN GARDNER: Well, a lot has changed in the last four weeks in four months of development. I can only imagine what things– I can’t remember– I mean, I can, four years ago, what things looked like, significantly different than it does now. So you are definitely out on the frontier with that.
So Kat, you come at this from a different perspective. You’re a chief technical officer at your agency. So you bear a lot of responsibility in terms of shepherding the people who work for you with design, development, WordPress, and all of that. At what point have you guys– you specifically and also you the company– at what point have you started playing around with all of this and investigating it versus where are you guys at now with using full site editing, block based building in your current workflow?
KATHERINE WHITE: Sure. So I personally started playing around with Gutenberg back when it was a plugin, before it was in core. I was really excited by the potential of it. But as you point out, as an agency, we kind of have to weigh the learning curve associated with the utility of it. I would say it was about four years ago that we started using the block editor in a limited context within the agency just kind of here and there or on very simple sites because for us at that point in time, it was like, oh, it’s really cool, oh, it’s a neat idea, oh, if we’ve got to build anything custom, it takes forever, oh– and so we hesitated on fully embracing it. I would say we started fully embracing the block editor about two years ago.
Now I am in the same place as Phil. So with the site editor, we are still not using that with most of our clients because there is such a thing as too much freedom, and we’re usually building bespoke single site experiences that are heavily branded, and we kind of want to keep a gate when it comes to the overall site architecture and experience. So–
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah, I think that’s an important distinction point. And we talk about this often, Sam and I do. We host, every Friday, a call called Build Mode Live where we speak to people in the WordPress community just around full site editing and block-based building and there really is a difference between the block editor and the site editor. Block editor’s when you edit your content on post and on page and that is even though it’s block based, the site editor is just different because that really controls the architecture of your site, the single pages, the headers, the footers.
And so generally– and I would assume this as the case. Phil, may you can answer this– when you turn something over to a client at that point, they don’t need to touch that stuff. It’s really the content, you said, complex content that you usually work with your customers. Speak to that a little bit just around what you feel comfortable turning over versus what you don’t.
PHIL CRUMM: Depends a lot on the client, depends a lot on their team and the problems that they’re trying to solve in the long term. Like Kat, many of our clients are clients who have very stringent design guidelines, they have very rigorous brand guidelines. They don’t want those things to change arbitrarily. The friction and having to go to an engineer or go to a designer to do it is actually a feature for them.
So for the majority of the clients that we work with, they’re very comfortable with the idea of having a lot of flexibility within the content itself, but they don’t want anybody touching the things around the content. Where that changes are the experiences that are a little bit more one off or a little bit more flexible where they want a little bit more creativity. I use event landing pages is a pretty common example of this, both with our team and when we’re talking to clients.
Those are things that have a little bit of a shorter lifecycle, they’re often things that are targeted at a slightly different audience in the main web experiences, they’re a place where a little bit of creativity and a little bit of flexibility can actually be a good thing. So we might be able to build an event landing page platform that uses the site editor, not just the block editor, but the site editor, and uses some block patterns as some starting points so that folks have an idea of where to begin. But if they want to be a little bit more experimental, they can embrace that flexibility to do it.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense and so Sam and I come at this a little bit differently because we wear two hats in this conversation. We wear the hat of developer advocates at WP Engine. So it’s essentially our job to inform and educate people around all of the stuff that’s coming, how it can be used.
But you and I, Sam, are both self-starter entrepreneur types and so we do things and build things for ourselves and have customers and clients also. And so I’m curious your thoughts from either perspective, either what you need to do as part of your job perspective, but having started and owning an agency earlier, where do you sit with this? And presuming that was a world in which you lived in, how would you handle working with clients in this new regime?
SAM MUNOZ: Yeah, so I guess to clarify first too, when I was an agency owner, I actually was so– I can’t touch blocks. I just have to focus, I have to stay with my own workflows. And that’s something that I hear so much from people is we already have established workflows, we have a page builder we’re using, or we use ACF or we’re using whatever other tools that are out there and we have ways of doing it.
But one thing that I always really valued when running my business was how fast can I get this client off on their own and doing things on their own and not pinging me for logo updates and color changes and changing the font and updating the size of this. And so it was so important to me to create all these video tutorials when I pass things off. And honestly, I think things like the site editor and the block editor in general just empower the end user so much.
And although in some cases, especially for a retainer for someone, we’re just like doing updates for them already. Maybe that’s a negative because we don’t want them going in and making changes. But if it’s important to our business values to allow our clients to move forward by themselves, then modern WordPress features really do that. We can just let people go, they can make those changes, and then they can hire us back for more of those advanced stuff that they can’t do by themselves.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah. Aurooba, I know that you are more on your own than the rest of us here, right? Aurooba Makes it doesn’t get more singular than that. Talk to us about this from an independent standpoint, because unlike Kat who is CTO of her company, you’re CEO, chief everything officer, right, with what you’re doing. So as you’re trying to deal with clients and product building and turning things over, how do you balance sort of learning all of this stuff? I know you’ve got some thoughts about this and then beyond that, let’s start sort of moving into the features we like about full site editing and how that sort of helps expedite the development process.
AUROOBA: Yeah, so I think one thing to clarify is that I am on my own, but I also consult with a bunch of agencies. Usually, one or two at a time. So I’m often in a team perspective as well, sort of, as a drop in. So I often see that side of things as well as the, quote unquote, freelancer side as well.
As a freelancer, I think that it can be really difficult to improve, but also maybe easier than an agency perspective because you kind of have less– it’s less expensive for you to spend your own time than to have a team that you also have to train when you want to try something new. So I generally think the site editor is this baby version just the way the block editor was when it first came out, right?
I’m going to give a release like specific use case right now where I would love to use the site editor. But I can’t because, like it’s been said, there is just too much power there. We have a bunch of sites, they’re all the same kind of theme, but they have different colors and different fronts. That’s it.
What I would love is for to be able to build this theme and say, hey, for this site, just go in, change the colors using the site editor, and here, change the font, done, nothing else. But I don’t have an easy way to lock it down. So I can say, hey, in the site editor, you can only curate and do these certain things because too much flexibility– they’ll just break the site. So I love the concept of the site editor, but it’s definitely not production level unless you’re a DIYer or like a landing page type of thing that fills it.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah, many of the folks who attend our build mode live calls talk about that very specifically. We’ve got two major themes that take place on these calls. One is I want to learn, but I don’t have the time because there’s like a cost involved. And so you balance the ROI and all this other stuff. And I have my own thoughts about the benefits of learning this and expediting development and workflow and stuff.
And then there’s the other side of the coin where people are like, I can’t feel comfortable turning this over because, Aurooba you said– and maybe Kat, you can speak to this– the turning it over and the inability to lock it down fully, even though there are controls and settings in place– and we all know this is a work in progress and we’re sort of fixing and building this in flight, which is equally frustrating but also pleasurable at the same time– Kat and Phil, how do you handle turning things over and knowing not only how to build this up, but then how to lock it all down also?
KATHERINE WHITE: Well, and I think that’s where we’re at with the site editor. There are some controls and it’s really exciting. And when I think about the things that have been iterating in core recently, the updates they’ve been making theme.json, the work that they’ve been doing with blocks and the structure and the encapsulation of blocks– there’s a lot that’s happening that is targeted, I think, ultimately at being able to have fine grained control over what happens in the site editing experience, but we’re not there yet. So that’s why we’re watching it with a lot of interest.
And to Phil’s point, sometimes you do have clients or events or small sites where it makes sense to give them a lot of flexibility to be very timely with their updates or make a lot of changes. But overall, we’re still in kind of wait and see mode where site editing is concerned.
PHIL CRUMM: WordPress’ ultra flexible capability system, I think, is a very large part in why it has been adopted so widely and in so many different kinds of use cases, especially in the enterprise fortune 500 level. I am very much hoping and looking forward to seeing us continue to iterate in the permissions around the site editor, to a lesser extent the block editor. And that’s a little bit more mature, and we’re starting to see the kind of restrictions, and we’d like to be able to implement be pretty straightforward.
Ultimately, if the site editor is going to be a tool that agencies like 10up or agencies like Kanopi can embrace for a lot of the clients that we work with, I think we need to see that kind of permissioning system in it where we can have more finely tuned control over who exactly can change what and what they can change.
A lot like Aurooba, I’d love to be able to use the site editor as a tool for us really to be able to switch out fonts, switch out colors, what I call kind of the coat of paint customizations in a way that is limited so that once we get our clients in those sites, we train them how to use the tools that we want, and they just don’t see everything else.
We’ve had some luck in the past in telling people, don’t go here, it’s dangerous, you will break something and that will not be good for anybody. But at the end of the day, especially when they’re learning a new tool, it’s going to happen at some point and somebody is going to stumble in or somebody’s going to accidentally change a menu that they think is just on that page and oops, now all the links are missing across the whole site.
And until we get to the place where we can programmatically keep folks from doing that, as Kat has said, as I said earlier, I think it’s going to be tough for us to be able to adopt the site editor in particular so that we can take advantage of the good parts, take advantage of the other things, and really end up with kind of a super user permission versus a regular editor versus maybe one day, folks will hire a team that’s just responsible for the kind of chrome of their site outside of their content.
It’s an area of specialty for them we, trust them to manage it. And I think we’re on that path there’s definitely a framework for that. It’s inspiring to know that WordPress’ capability system has been so robust and works so well. We know how to do it. It’s just a work in progress so far.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah, I’m going I’m going to drop a Kenny Loggins reference here. When you say danger zone, there’s several software technologies– GitHub, I think, is one of them. When you go to delete a repository, there’s this label that says, danger zone, which is hey, you’re entering waters– there are sharks here, this is scary stuff, don’t touch any of the stuff. So it is kind of funny the visual I get when we think about cringe moments, when we turn things over and people have the ability to do the things that we don’t want them to be doing.
That being said, let’s shift over to kind of a rapid fire question here, which is what is the one or two features that are currently available. And I’ll pre-qualify that question either in Gutenberg or we know what’s coming in 6.2, the one or two features that we like most about the block/site editor. I’m going to actually jump in first. I love the responsive typography and the responsive padding and step spacing that’s now available. I think we hear a lot about this in build mode. People are saying, oh, I want to a site, but it’s got to be responsive. And X builder, whether it’s Cadence, or Divi, or Elements, or whatever has controls.
And I don’t think a lot of people realize this that the current iteration of the block editor, 6.2 even more, so has the ability to creatively set up typography and spacing, padding, margins, things of that nature so that it can be percentage based or using a clamp range scale which basically means you can set it a min max, which means as you reduce it on mobile, things respond actually quite well. So that is one of the things I’m most excited about. Sam, I’ll start with you.
SAM MUNOZ: I love reusable blocks. I think that they’re so useful for clients and things like opt ins and just anything that you want to change and update in one spot and have it be used everywhere else. I also think patterns are awesome too. I just think that both of those features combined are super charged for the block editor and for, again, passing things off to clients later, having them be able to build out their own layouts, or work within the confines of what you’ve created for them while sticking with a branded nice looking experience. So I’m a big fan of those two things.
BRIAN GARDNER: So Aurooba, what is your favorite feature?
AUROOBA: My favorite feature is theme.jason honestly. It comes with its own complications, that’s for sure. But I love design tokens, and I love how much– I love it so much that we can set more and more of that in theme.json and just have it translate everywhere. I’m just so stoked to see how it progresses and gets more fleshed out.
BRIAN GARDNER: Before we get to you, Kat, I’ll echo that. theme.jason, what it did for me as a theme designer, developer, is it removed my requirements of shipping a theme with a stylesheet and then a block editor stylesheet. We lived in a world where we had to sort of supply both. And what theme.json does, it sort of outputs in harmonious fashion visual parity between front end and back end. And so one place, source of truth. I love it too. Kat, why don’t you tell us what is one of your favorite things?
KATHERINE WHITE: One of my favorite things. All right. I am with Sam on block patterns. I think block patterns have a ton of potential, and I’m actually excited about the usability improvements that they’re making in 6.2 to make them a little less unruly. But I’m also on the theme.json train. We’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with integrating it with design systems for tighter collaboration between our design team and our engineering team, which is a lot of fun because it does inherently lend itself so well to those style tokens. So lots of good stuff happening.
BRIAN GARDNER: Cool. Phil, how about you? What does 10up think is really, really great about modern WordPress?
PHIL CRUMM: All of the above. Y’all gave great answers already. theme.json I think can and will be transformative for the way that we do work, especially as Kat said, when we start thinking about how we embrace design systems and try to make that transition from design to engineering smoother, make it easier to iterate in the long term. Block patterns are wonderful for reusable content. The majority of the publishers that we work with have a call to action something on every page. It is very nice to be able to create that design and put that together for them, give them some flexibility if they want to change the text and a CTA or change the call out for a particular piece of content.
To your point, Brian, the improved responsiveness support both in typography and in general in the editor has been fantastic too. I like to call the block editor what you see is what you mean instead of what you see is what you get. And there is this weird two year arrow where you could lay things out that would look OK in the block editor because it’s a little bit narrower, it tends to be the same size.
And then as soon as you got on the front end, if you didn’t use the blocks the way that they were originally designed to be used, you could occasionally get something pretty weird to happen and the improved support there has definitely helped. So all in all, it’s great to see so many great improvements, so many things that I think will make a meaningful improvement both to our workflows, the way that we can build with these tools, and the way they empower the clients that we work with too.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah. I think it’s safe to say we’re all raging fans of where this is and where it’s going. Though that being said, and not to rain on our parade, let’s talk about gaps though. And I’m not talking about block gap for those of us who know what that is. Gaps in– and we’ve all agreed also that we’re in flight, that it’s not quite there yet.
And I get this sort of fun like Matt Mullenweg is dad and he’s driving us to like a European vacation trip at Griswold, and we’re all like, are we there yet, is it ready yet. And I can’t imagine what folks who are waiting for like the next phase is, the collaboration and the multi-language, internationalization phase, what they’re waiting for because they’re waiting for us to get to our destination first.
Really quick, what are some things that were– maybe, Aurooba, we’ll start with you– some things that feel like it’s falling short, it’s not quite there yet, things that you just, kind of on a daily basis, you’re like, oh, I just wish I could do this one or two things?
AUROOBA: So I started using WordPress back in the day because it was super flexible and it lets you hook in in so many different places to really curate that experience for the clients that you’re building for and one thing that I would really love to see is some of that filter-bility come to the block editor Chrome, being able to add things to the top a little or remove them, add certain preferences based on the experience that you want the client to have.
I totally appreciate wanting to keep it really tight and have this really nice design language. But I feel like there’s definitely is– it’s possible to do that and still provide a little bit more extensibility, a little bit more flexibility in terms of what we’re able to have around the editor itself. That’s something that I find myself hacking a lot and I wish that I just didn’t have to hack it and it could just happen.
BRIAN GARDNER: So Kat, tell me, from your perspective, what you think are a few areas of improvement or things you’d like to see either put into or refined in this whole new thing called WordPress?
KATHERINE WHITE: So as far as the block editor goes, the thing that comes immediately to mind for me is still accessibility in the editing experience. It’s been a problem with the block editor from the very beginning. And there are a lot of things that are technically possible, but still from a usability perspective, really challenging, even things like inserting a block if you use assistive technology.
So that’s an area I would still love to see improvement. It’s been a real challenge to mitigate those issues and get ahead of them just because of based on the speed of development that’s still happening with the block editor. So new issues are being introduced, and we’re still playing catch up, much less trying to get ahead of the platform in that regard. So that’s probably the biggest one from my perspective.
BRIAN GARDNER: I’m going to talk community here because I hear a lot either on Twitter or on calls in just the space in general. And I feel like there are some misconceptions, some people who have opinions or thoughts or think they know what’s going on. Aurooba, what are some– if you’ve heard any– some things that you’ve heard that people– that are sort of false perceptions, things that you hear people say in passing about WordPress, oh, it can’t do this or it’s not that or whatever that you’re like, no, really, actually, it is, and here’s how and why? Anything come to mind there?
AUROOBA: I think one of the biggest things that comes to mind is people think that native block editor stuff can’t be performant and it absolutely can be. In fact, all the core blocks are pretty good at being performant. And especially if you’re curating that experience on its own, it’s a very light, very fast website. It’s all the other extra stuff that people may be adding not in a great way that really causes the problem and sort of harms the perception of the block editor. But yeah, it is a very performant editor on the front end like what it outputs. The back end, maybe not yet.
Oh. Go ahead, Phil. What do you think about that– you’re kind of at an internal, external perspective because you’ve got so many people that work with you there at 10up. So you’ve got to hear that set of folks talk, but then also just out in the community as well.
PHIL CRUMM: I think that particularly for folks who aren’t in this as much as all of us are, it’s hard to understand what exactly the block editor is and isn’t. I use my phrase earlier what you see is what you mean. I’ve tried to lean into that to try to explain it in that it isn’t a WYSIWYG editor, it isn’t a Wix. At the same time, it isn’t anywhere near as constrained as what you’re used to in the old Meta Box world. So we often hear it on both sides.
Folks will disqualify WordPress or has some skepticism around the block editor because they think it might be too flexible. Folks will disqualify WordPress or have some skepticism about the block editor because they think it isn’t flexible enough. We often show folks demos. When we show them, even taking something as simple as a piece of content on a marketing site or something like that between the native core blocks, maybe a custom built CTA block– you can build something once and reuse it probably in dozens, if not hundreds, of different combinations.
And to the end user, it’ll look like every single one of those was deliberately designed. But on the administrative side of things, it’s all the same blocks, and they were just thoughtfully put together, thoughtfully designed, thoughtfully built, take advantage of responsiveness, and some of the other cool things that have been worked on within core recently.
As we look into this next generation of WordPress, I think we all need to do our part and be cognizant of how we can help educate folks and help them understand what these tools can do the kinds of use cases that they’re good for and honestly even admit the kinds of use cases that they aren’t good for. I saw somebody share a wireframe on Twitter a few months ago of what would WooCommerce look like on the block editor. And they had replicated the product editor where you can fill in 20, 30, 40 fields depending on what plugins you’re using and how you have your product set up within the block editor.
No, it’s not what the block editor is meant to do. That’s not the kind of content that the block editor excels at. And of course, it is exciting to have a shiny new thing. It is always exciting to think about how we can push the limits of that flexibility. But it’s also important to remember, there are certain kinds of content that this experience is way better for, probably the best editing experience there is across any platform.
And there are also ones where it isn’t quite going to be as good a fit. And the fact that we still have the classic editor, we still have Meta Boxes, you can still build those kinds of experiences that you need to is a feature for us. It isn’t admitting that, oh, Gutenberg, or the block editor isn’t this great thing, it isn’t as flexible as we want it to be. WordPress has the fortune and the challenge of working with all kinds of different sites and all kinds of different types of technical challenges. And we need to pick the right tools for the job and be willing and ready to admit when a tool might not be the right one.
BRIAN GARDNER: Well said, well said. Sam, you and I live in the community of WordPress. In fact, it’s part of your job title, community manager here at WP Engine. I know you’ve got some insight into this. And after you answer that, we’re going to close out because we’re running short here on time. We could talk about this probably for another six days. So we’ll have a quick rapid fire question. But just curious, your perspective from the community side of things.
SAM MUNOZ: I think the big misconception– but it’s not quite a misconception, but it’s a hurdle to overcome, and we alluded to this earlier is that learning this new thing takes time, especially if you’re well embedded in whatever systems you’re already using. Learning something new takes time just in general and adapting to new systems– it’s a considerable amount of time and it’s a trade off with things like client work and going out and selling your services and all of that stuff.
But to Phil’s point, there is so much time that can be gained back by using things like blocks and reusable blocks and theme.json and just all of the things that modern WordPress has to offer, which means that, yes, you might be investing some time now and it might be something that you’re just doing on the side on top of client work.
But if at the end, it means that you can have more expedited workflows, you can book more projects, you can serve more clients, or you can take more time off because you’re able to rapidly build websites, I think that that’s a net positive that we should consider when weighing, should I invest time and effort into the block editor and modern WordPress.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yes. We’ve got to finish up here. As a product builder in WordPress, somebody who’s built and sold a business to the company I work for, ironically, I have a lot of ideas. But I want to hear from you guys. Does anybody have any quick ideas around product building in terms of themes, plug-ins, or whatever? Because I know there’s got to be– with this new technology at our hands– several things that either we’ve thought of or haven’t thought of. So feel free to just jump in and just go with what your idea might be.
PHIL CRUMM: I want to see a personalization plugin that leans into the block editor. That kind of variant content has always been super awkward in WordPress. We’re going to have to solve that for internationalization anyway. And it feels like a very natural counterpart that has always felt like a gap compared to especially some of the more enterprisey CMSes.
BRIAN GARDNER: Cool. Anyone else?
AUROOBA: I feel like all the ideas that I think of are more about developer experience rather than necessarily on the front end for the actual end users because I still think of so many ways that we could make it easier for people to customize the block editor and blocks and creating libraries, especially around in fact like certain types of bespoke blocks and their requirements. So that’s where my head kind of goes.
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah. And I’m sure we could probably continue to bake out all these thoughts. Again, like I said, we could talk for six days on this stuff. So I think all of us are passionate about this. But I want to circle back to the question– when is it worth investing into the block editor. There’s an adage like the best– the two best ways to plant a tree are today and 20 years ago. And while not 20 years ago, because we’re just literally on the anniversary, I think today is the best day to start investing into the block editor as a product person, as an agency person.
6.2 really levels the playing field in terms of settings. It brings everything into production ready. And so we talk about this often on build mode that right now is the time to start working on it, to learning it because you’re going to put yourself ahead of some of the competition. So I want to thank you guys for being on this particular discussion. I know we’ll see you in the community. Feel free, for anybody, to hit them up, to ask questions. And thank you for joining us today, and we look forward to giving you more.