Here is a short (11.5 minutes) overview of the latest site-building capabilities that are being added to WordPress. These enhancements to the WordPress Site Editor are presented by Anne McCarthy, a WordPress Product Liaison from Automatic. Anne is a sponsored contributor to the WordPress project who who leads the FSE (Full Site Editing) Outreach Program. Anne demonstrates the evolution of the native functionality to visually design your whole site that is being added to WordPress. She does this by comparing the initial beta version of the Site Editor that was released in WordPress 5.9 in January 2022 with what is currently available with release 14.8 of the Gutenberg plugin. These capabilities should be integrated into core with WordPress 6.2.
You will need a block theme
As Anne points out in the video, you will need a block theme to access the Site Editor. These are created from blocks rather than being coded in PHP like classic WordPress themes. The WordPress community is actively developing new block themes. There are now over 200 available in the WordPress theme directory. The Twenty Twenty Three (TT3) theme that was released as part of WordPress 6.1 is a block theme. That is the one we would recommend you start with the learn about the Site Editor.
After you install TT3 or another block theme, you will see that the WordPress Customer has been replaced by the Site Editor when you access the Appearances tab in the WordPress admin. You will see that the Site Editor is still flagged as being in “beta.” While the Gutenberg team has added significant new functionality to the Site Editor, there are still functionality “gaps” and the “user experience” is still in evolving. Because of that, the Outcome Labs team recommends doing a careful evaluation before using it for a new project or converting existing sites. You need to invest the time to really learn about block themes and the Site Editor to be able to decide if these new platform capabilities are mature enough to meet the needs of a project.
Is it ready?
The WordPress community went through a very similar technology transition after the Block Editor was first integrated into core with WordPress 5.0 in December 2018. Our team at Outcome Labs invested time over the next six months to learn about the new editor and develop new workflows for developing sites with it. We started a real pilot project after the release of WordPress 5.2 in May 2019. The Block Editor became our primary solution after the release of WordPress 5.3 in November 2019. We still had a project that was developed with a commercial page builder in 2020 because it was a better fit. The Site Builder is a bigger lift. It will take longer to mature enough to be ready for larger scale projects. We saw the same thing happen when the commercial page builders introduced full site editing capabilities.
Our team at Outcome Labs will be sharing our experiences and learning about the Site Editor here over the next few months. Please feel free to get in touch if you have questions, want to share or there is anything else we can help you with.