Podcast Episode

423 – Best Plugins to Add More Blocks to Your Site


Best Plugins to Add More Blocks to Your Site

In today’s show, I highlight some new plugins that add more blocks to the block editor.

The ones covered are the following:

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Full Transcript

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On today’s episode we are going to talk about the best plugins that we can add to our site to add more blocks to our WordPress 5.0 sites. Right here on Your Website Engineer podcast episode number 423.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler. I’m excited to be here with you today because I have found a bunch of plugins that we’re gonna talk about today that gives more functionality and more blocks when it comes to our new WordPress sites. And I say new, but they’re the same WordPress sites we’ve been using since WordPress 1.0 or whenever we started using Word Press. But we’re in WordPress 5.0 now and we’re talking all about that today.

I do have a couple announcements that I want to share with you today, so let’s go ahead and kick that off with the announcements. We’ve got two announcements over at the WordPress.org site. We’ve got WordPress 5.0.3 maintenance release is now available. It’s got 37 bug fixed and seven performance updates, and so that focus was – or the focus of the release is for fine tuning the new block editor and fixing any major bugs. So if you haven’t updated to 5.0.3, I recommend doing that.

Also in the news, a 5.1 beta 1 is available. It’s still in development and it is one of those things that 5.1 is slated for February 21. And so we had this big long delay between 4.9 and 5.0 because we’re getting ready for this block editor, and now that we’ve got the block editor out, now they’re starting to put more and more milestones out there. So in just a couple weeks or about a month or so, we will get WordPress 5.1, and so they’ve got some things there, and there’s a link in the show, and it’s for what you can test and how you can check things out and run this beta software on a development site, of course. You’ll never want to do that on a live site.

Also in the news, I wanted to share an article, that it’s a surprising finding from people behind WooCommerce stores. So this was an article written on WooCommerce.com just talking about people that are using WooCommerce, and it was really neat. And it’s kind of a longer article, but it talks about the different surprises. So like surprise number one is the largest percentage of WooCommerce users are coming from Europe. 40% of WooCommerce customers or users of WooCommerce are from Europe. And then 29.7% are in North America.

Then the other, another surprise is established business owners have a physical presence. And so there’s eight different surprises that you can go through and just kinda learn. Actually nine. There’s a surprise one. And you can find out more about who is using WooCommerce and what kind of store owners are taking their sales and marketing online and using WooCommerce.

The other news that I want to share today is from WordPress.com and talking about how to customize your WordPress.com dashboard. And there I have some new colors, and these new colors are basically improvements to the WordPress dashboard for more accessibility and a more customized experience. So now you can customize your dashboard by choosing one of the two admin colors, a classic bright for a fresh, modern feel or a classic blue for the standard that you’ve grown to know and love.

And so that’s something that you can check that out and you can go and customize your color scheme if you are using WordPress.com as the dashboard to manage all your sites, or if you have WordPress.com hosted site. So you can find out more there. There’s a link in the show and it’s for episode number 423.

Now, two other announcements, and they’re both podcast related. I was on a podcast episode. The WP or the BobWP WooCommerce Show, and this was a bunch of people going through and saying what their predictions are for ecommerce in 2019, and it starts off with Matt Mullenweg and then it goes through a whole handful of others. Bob was walking around WordCamp US with a microphone in his phone, and he was taking recordings and making recordings of people. And I gave a brief little synopsis there of what I thought the digital trend was gonna be with WooCommerce in 2019.

And then another podcast that I’ll be on that’s being released the same day this show is, and there’ll be a link in the show for this, is the Get Options podcast over with Adam Silver. It’s usually hosted by Adam Silver and Kyle Maurer, but Kyle was on a work trip, and so I got to step in as the second time being a featured host on the show. And we talked about a few different things.

It’s kind of a fun show. You get to give some real options and some fake options of what you would do in certain situations or answer these questions, and so Adam and I always have a lot of fun together. And so I was on that show. If you’re interested in listening to that, I just recommend subscribing to the entire show and listening to whenever I’m on. I’ve been a guest and I’ve been a host, and it’s a lot of fun, and I recommend checking it out.

So those were the announcements. I’m gonna skip the plugin of the week section because the whole thing is about plugins, so we’re gonna go ahead and just talk about those right now.

The last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about Gutenberg. We’ve been talking about this new editor. It’s kind of the same thing, like you can call it Gutenberg or you can call it the new block editor, but basically it brings this block-based approach to creating content in WordPress. Rather than a single text book like we’ve had in the past, we get to define each of these areas with blocks. And so a paragraph is a block, an image is a block, a block quote is a block. You get the idea. Like everything is a block. Every time you hit enter and you create a new line, that is a new block. And whether you have bulleted text there or like I said, a block quote or a table or anything like that, those are blocks.

And so this opens up opportunities for third party developers to create their own blocks, and you can use them while creating content in Gutenberg.
And so there’s eight plugins I want to talk about today that will give you new blocks or new features, and we’ll talk about how these work and how they may work for your site and what you’re looking for.

So the Gutenberg plugins are pretty simple. You can go to the WordPress repository and download them. And some of them have paid versions, but most of them – all of them that we’ll talk about are free, but again, some of them have those paid upgrades. And they’re basically just plug and play. You just install and activate, and then you can immediately start using the blocks in the regular Gutenberg interface.

And there’s really no settings, like most of them you just turn on and then you get the features as you’re building out your post and your page.

The first one is called Atomic Blocks, and it’s a set of Gutenberg plugins from the same team behind Array Themes, which is a popular theme shop with a great reputation for quality code. And so it adds 11 new blocks with more on the way. So they’ve got a Post Grid, a Container, a Testimonial, Inline Notice, Accordion, Share Icons, Call-to-Action, Customizable Buttons, Spacer & Divider, Author Cap and Drop – or Author Profile and Drop Cap. So once you install these, then you can just start searching for blocks, and you find them all under the Atomic Block.

They do have a demo, and if you’re interested in finding out a demo and seeing what some of these look like, you can head on over to it looks like AtomicBlocks.com, and it shows you what some of these are and how they work.

The Post Grid box is an eye-catching, full-width section with a big title, a paragraph of text, and a customizable buttons. If that’s something, you know, kind of like think of it as a full-width – like there’s an image on one side and then some paragraph text and then a button. There you have, like I said, the Inline Notice block, so it adds colorful notices or messages to your site with a title and a tagline. You can do Sharing block icons, so if you wanted to add social sharing icons to your page with size, shape, and color and style options, you can do that as well.

The Author Profile block, the Accordion block, so text can toggle and get bigger and smaller. It’s really cool. Like these are really neat, and they feel very, very high end, the Atomic Blocks do, that is.

And so that is the first plugin that I want to talk to you about. It is called Atomic Blocks, Gutenberg Block collection, and it’s in the WordPress repository.

The next one is called Stackable, and this is another Gutenberg block plugin that seems to be getting some traction. It’s got 17 blocks, and so there’s a lot of blocks there, and there’s a full list of them on the plugins page, and you can find that in the show notes. But some of the ones that come up that are very popular are the Pricing block, the Count Up block, the Video Pop-up, Testimonials, Team Members, Call-to-Action, Improved Button, and Expand & Show More.

And so just like the Atomic Blocks, you get new stackable area in the Gutenberg interface after installing the plugins, and you get some customizations that you can do as well. And you can find out more, this one’s in the WordPress repository as well. And they have all of these blocks, and they have demos of them so you can see exactly what they look like.

And so the one that I wanted to test out and look at is the View Block for the Count Up. And so these are the one that you’ve probably seen these on websites before, and they’re stats. And so as you scroll, it goes and it’s like, oh, you know, you put like a large number, like how many times this podcast has been downloaded, you know? Say it’s four million times. And so then when somebody scrolls to that page, or like to that section of the page, it’s going to automatically increase. The numbers are gonna scroll all the way to that specific number, and then they’re gonna stop when they hit the desired number.

Or if you wanted to say that you had 50 different locations in 12 different countries, you can do that. You can pick the number of – or how fast the numbers are increasing. It’s really cool, and I’m trying to find an excuse to use something like this on my website. But it is something that’s really neat.

So that one’s called Stackable, and it’s the second one that I wanted to share today.

The third one is Advanced Gutenberg, and it is a product out there by Joomunited, and it is a little bit more in depth than the other two. It adds more than just blocks. It adds 12 new blocks, so things like Icon List or Google Maps, Accordions, Tabs, Advanced Tables, Advanced Buttons, and more.

But beyond that, it also adds some back-end settings that allows access controls for Gutenberg, so you can create custom profiles with user roles, or make it so that individual users can control exactly which blocks they have access to. So if you don’t want somebody to have the Accordion block, you can turn that off inside of the plugin.

This is a cool plugin. It’s got more than 5,000 active installs, and it was updated just a couple hours ago. So it’s got a bunch of features. It’s got a video that you can watch, and you can see all of the blocks and see what it can do inside the WordPress repository, and there’s a link in the show notes for episode number 423.

Item number four, or plugin number four, is called Advanced Gutenberg Blocks, and this isn’t to be confused with the one before that’s called Advanced Gutenberg. This is Advanced Gutenberg Blocks, and it adds 10 new Gutenberg blocks, and it does a website card preview, a WordPress plugin card. So it lets you display information from a WordPress.org in your post, so it’s great for WordPress blogs.

It’s got testimonials and it’s got – it allows you to not only just add blocks or add these new blocks, the plugin also allows you to hide Gutenberg blocks from the interface. So even if you wanted to get rid of some of the default blocks, you know, kind of strip out some of the ones that you aren’t using, you can use Advanced Gutenberg Blocks, and that one will allow you to do that as well.

And so this one, again, is on the WordPress repository. This one’s got just about 1,000 active installs, so not quite as popular of a plugin, but it does have some really cool features and there’s a video of it working on the plugin page as well. So that’s number four. Advanced Gutenberg Blocks.

The one that I stumbled upon this week was called CoBlocks, and it’s Gutenberg Blocks for Content Marketers. And so this is from the team called ThemeBeans, and it adds 10 new blocks. And so it’s a Author block, Dynamic HR block, Click to Tweet block, a GIF block, GitHub block, Pricing Table block, and Accordion block.

These all just live right there inside the block editor, and you can add them, and it gives you a new collection of building blocks for the new editor. And so it is one that looks really cool. This one’s got 1,000 active installs. Again, it’s got 10 active blocks that you can use. There’s a video on the page as well, and you can see what you can do with the CoBlocks plugin.

So this was one that – that was the first one that I found, and I was like, huh, I wonder if there’s more. And then as I started looking, I found these eight different ones, or these seven other ones, and thought, hey, this is what I need to talk about this week and share some of these tools to make it easier. And you can install multiples of these if you want to on your site.

Now, I wouldn’t install all eight of them, but you can try them out and see which blocks you’re using. If you need an Author block and a Count Up block, you know, maybe find one that does both of them, or maybe you’ll need one or two of them. But they’re really cool, and it just – I’m really excited. It brings me excitement and joy to see how WordPress is evolving and how much easier and better it can be to create our posts and pages on WordPress.

Now, number six on the list is called Bokez. And it doesn’t have too many active installs now, it’s just something that’s fairly new that’s out there. But it does have 13 new blocks, including a Pricing Table, a Post Grid, Testimonials, Accordion, a Progress Bar. That’s one that we haven’t heard about yet. There’s 14 total of these. It only has 100+, so anywhere between 100 and a few hundred active installs, but you can do a button, you can do a Notification block, a Block Quote, a Divider, a Progress Bar, a Separator with a heading block. And so this is one that’s really cool as well.

So you can do all these. There’s no video on this one, but you can see some of the examples in the screen shots for the Bokez plugin. And so it’s really cool. I love these Accordions in the frequently asked questions, where you can expand and contract them, and that is one that shows up in a lot of these. So that’s number six. Bokez.

Number seven is Cadence Block, and it is – this one is unique in the fact that it’s more focused on adding layout blocks than content blocks, at least for right now. So the biggest feature is the Row Layout block. So it allows you to nest one to six columns inside of a block, and then you can add any of the other blocks that you’d like to use. So you could add your own backgrounds or custom margins and paddings for both desktop and mobile, and you can play around with it and just really see what it looks like. It kinda feels a little bit more like a Page Builder, so you take your page and then you can select your layout and you can make like a left column that’s 30% and then the right column that’s 60% or whatever.

And so you get access to Advanced Headings or Advanced Buttons and Icons and Separators and Dividers, all with Cadence Block. And this one’s on the WordPress repository as well, just like all of them are, and this one has 10,000 active installs. So there’s a lot of people that are starting to use this.

But again, the big feature is the Row Layout, and they have a demo on their website so you can see all of the different things that you can do with their plugin. So that’s the Cadence Block, and that’s found on the WordPress repository.

The last one is called Editor Blocks, and it is a good option that adds new content blocks to Gutenberg. So currently Editor Blocks has 10 new blocks, so it does a Hero block, which makes it easier to create that Hero area, so that long kind of wide box that goes across your website with maybe a Click-to-Action button. That has got Pricing Tables, a Team Members, there’s a Wrapper block, a Testimonial, a Brand. So if you’ve – so kind of like a logo grid of customers or places that you’ve been featured.

That sounds a lot like the As Heard On plugin, which is my only featured plugin on the WordPress repository. But that kind of feels like the same thing. So I’m gonna have to check that out and see if it’s compatible or see what that looks like, and just see. And that’s called the Editor Block for Gutenberg, and it’s got more than 1,000 active installs, and so you can go and you can see all of the different blocks. You can see what it looks like, and you can see all of the examples right from their WordPress repository page there. Called Editor Blocks for Gutenberg.

And again, there’s a link in the show notes for all of these.

So in essence, if you have kind of established and you’re happy with the new blocks or happy with this new editor, I would recommend going through and checking out some of these plugins just for the fact of seeing what’s out there and what other ways and what other types of content can be created easily with a block.

And I believe with all these blocks you can, you know, you can use these blocks. Maybe the Pricing Table as a block, or you know, the Count Up, or the Testimonial one. Whatever block that you choose to use. And then like last week, you can use them and create them as reusable blocks. And then once they’re reusable blocks, then you can use them over and over again across your entire website.

So that’s more about the blocks and some different blocks that you can use on WordPress this year, in 2019, and just continue to make your site easier and easier to build out and create the perfect content, create that perfect website for yourself.

The cool thing with all of these plugins is it just, it feels so intuitive. It feels like it’s just part of WordPress, you know? You go and you start adding a new block, and you don’t have to go and click on a different area and try to use a different button that was in the old editor to pull up this information. It’s just, no, it’s all in the blocks now. So if you added the Accordion, you just type /accordion and start typing, and the Accordion option would show up, and then you could fill out the details for the block, and then you can create that block.

So that’s what I really like about Gutenberg. I know that I’ve been on kind of the high horse the last couple weeks and just talking about all the cool new features. I know there’s some problems and there’s some issues, like there always is with software, but I’m really excited about where WordPress can go now that we have Gutenberg and now that it’s a lot easier to create the perfect page or the perfect post on your website.

And so we’re gonna continue to talk about Gutenberg the rest of the month, and then we’ll dive into other tips and techniques and things that we can talk about the rest of the year so we won’t overwhelm you with – I don’t think I could do 52 weeks of Gutenberg, but I can do a whole month’s worth, and we talk about all the new features and the things that we need to be aware of when it comes to the upcoming year.

So that’s what I want to share with you today. Take care and we’ll talk again next week, and we’ll do more Gutenberg news, or a new fun way to do something with Gutenberg next week. Until then, take care, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye-bye.