How Will the WordPress Theme Ecosystem Change

How Will the WordPress Theme Ecosystem Change?

The WordPress core team and Gutenberg project team are working aggressively to complete WordPress 5.9 for its planned release in December 2021. This major release will enable the WordPress Block Editor to be used for Full Site Editing. This means you will be able to use the Block Editor to create your site headers, footers, navigation, and other areas of your site traditionally controlled by the theme you were using. To access this new capability, you will have to use a new type of WordPress theme specifically designed to enable Full Site editing, a Block Theme. This release will drive major changes in the WordPress theme ecosystem.

This release will be a significant milestone for the Gutenberg project. It will fundamentally change how WordPress themes and sites are designed and developed over the next few years. This is the initial release of this capability. There will be functionality gaps and other limitations compared to fully customized themes and the leading WordPress page builders. That is no different than when the Block Editor was first integrated into the WordPress core as part of WordPress 5.0 back in December of 2018.

This release will be the start of major changes in the WordPress theme ecosystem. The 2021 theme released with the platform will be a Block Theme. Justin Tadlock wrote an insightful piece last week discussing how the Block Theme revolution (yes, it will be) is picking up momentum. A key quote from Justin’s article and a link to the article is included below. It is definitely worth a read.

The WordPress Block Theme Revolution Is Quietly Picking Up Momentum

The recent wave of themes is different. They show that, yes, you can build beautiful block-based designs.

It can be hard to put faith into a system until you see a little bit of yourself in it. As more and more theme authors begin exploring block themes, more users will find those designs that represent who they are or meet some other site design goal. The block theme journey is just beginning.

It is going to be a fun ride once WordPress 5.9 launches and we hit the gas pedal.

Justin Tadlock • WP Tavern Oct 29, 2021

The Outcome Labs development and support team has been testing Block Themes and Full site editing for several months. We have also been developing strategies for how we will update our own sites and our client sites to WordPress 5.9 after it is released. We are working with our key Theme and Plugin partners to understand their strategies. We are evaluating new Block Themes as they emerge. We are also evaluating whether we will develop our own Block Themes. Our goal, as always, is to ensure that our clients get the best outcomes from their technology investments.

As discussed above, this initial version of Full Site Editing will be functionally limited and will probably not be the platform of choice for anything other than simple sites for three or four months after the December release. That said, we do believe it will be the “launch” for the fifth major iteration of the platform since we first started working with WordPress when we founded the company in 2008. When we first started, WordPress was a solid blogging platform. As the theme ecosystem evolved, it became a viable platform for full websites. Plugins advanced WordPress to an application delivery platform. Page Builders enabled non-developers to tap the capabilities of the WordPress platform. Block themes and Full Site Editing will lower the remaining barriers to enable people to design the exact solution they need without custom coding. This will fundamentally change the WordPress theme ecosystem.

If you are using WordPress as the platform for your site, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of what this release of the platform will mean to you now and over the next few years. If you have questions about Block Themes and Full Site Editing or need help planning your strategy, please get in touch!

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