Podcast Episode

Why it’s a Good Idea to Switch to the Block Editor


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin from the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

PublishPress Future is a plugin that will allow you to make automatic changes to post, pages or other content types.

Why it’s a Good Idea to Switch to the Block Editor

In this episode, we explore the benefits of transitioning to the Gutenberg block editor in WordPress. We discuss the ease of use, advanced customization options, user-friendly interface, the versatility of blocks, WYSIWYG experience, mobile responsiveness, SEO optimization, third-party block support, as well as the compatibility and learning curve considerations. Additionally, we share exciting news about an upcoming webinar on full-site editing themes and an opportunity for listeners to be featured on the Your Website Engineer podcast.

Topics Covered:

  • Introduction to the webinar on full-site editing themes and registration details
  • Seeking listener stories about unique and regular usage of WordPress for podcast features
  • Reasons to switch to the Gutenberg block editor:
    • Ubiquity and presence of blocks across various areas of WordPress
    • Advanced customization options for individual blocks
    • User-friendly interface and multiple ways to add and manipulate blocks
    • Versatile block layout system for creating rich content and layouts
    • Enhanced WYSIWYG experience for accurate content visualization
    • Mobile responsiveness and ease of content creation on the go
    • Built-in optimization for SEO with schema markup and page speed considerations
    • Third-party block support for expanded functionality and options
  • Drawbacks of transitioning to Gutenberg,
    • Plugin and theme compatibility
    • A learning curve
    • Limited backward compatibility with existing content
  • Exciting opportunities to engage with the Your Website Engineer community through webinars and podcast features

Links mentioned in the episode:

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

[00:00:00] **Dustin:** On today's episode, we are gonna talk about why it's a good idea to switch to the Gutenberg editor. Right here on your website Engineer podcast, episode number 532.

Hello and welcome to another episode of your website engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and I'm excited to be with you today because today we are gonna be talking about different reasons why switching to the Gutenberg plugin is a really good idea in the year 2023. But before that, I've got a whole slew of announcements that I wanna share with you today.

My first announcement today deals with WordPress 6.3, and this is a release that's gonna come out in just in a month or so and not necessarily, we're gonna talk about all the features that are coming in 6.3, but today I want to talk a little bit about this new tool called the Command Palette, and I've seen these things popping up almost everywhere whether it be in Slack when you can do command K, and then you can just start typing, or a lot of code editors, you can do Command P and you just start typing. And these are really, really [00:01:00] cool features where it's kind of almost like Alfred on your computer or the spotlight search that you do could do a command space on the Mac and they just start typing.

We're starting to see this a lot more places, and the command palette is gonna come out and it's gonna allow us to do the same thing inside the WordPress dashboard. You can actually start to see some of it in kind of how it works inside of a full site editing template. If you're editing a full site template, you can go and click at the top and then you can start searching for the different template pages that you wanna work on or whatnot.

And it is, so much faster than clicking and moving around the dashboard with a mouse. And so I'm excited to see. I haven't quite installed WordPress 6.3 yet, but I'm excited to see what that looks like. And that is a feature that, like I said, is coming in in the next version of WordPress.

Speaking of that, there is also a link in the show notes that you can watch a live product demo, and that's set for July 20th at 16 utc, so you'll have to translate that into the proper time zone for yourself. But there is a Zoom link that I will share [00:02:00] in the show notes that you can actually just watch. It's a live kind of webinar type thing, and you can see all the new features that are coming in 6.3. So it's a product demo. You can see all the things, and I'm really excited to kind of see what the next future of WordPress has.

Another article today on the WP Tavern is talking about the real time collaboration with major improvements to revisions in the media library. And so this is starting of phase three. Phase two was all of the things that. Focused on customizations inside of WordPress. So that's where we got the block editor.

That's where we got the full site editing themes and patterns and all that kind of good stuff we've been working on the last couple years. But now there's an article that if you're interested in seeing what the next stage of WordPress is and how they're gonna improve the media library and what realtime revisions or realtime collaboration means, you can read that article that's in the show notes.

Just head on over to yourwebsiteengineer.com/ 532. Also in the news there's been in renaming in an article that really kind of highlights the [00:03:00] differences between patterns, reusable blocks, synced, non synced options. And it's kind of confusing because reusable blocks are, think about it as a block that you create and then you can put it on a page, and then if you edit or update the reusable block, then it replaces it everywhere on your entire site. And so that is a really good use case of a block.

So maybe for an example is on the show notes page for each podcast episode, I say there are plugins in the WordPress repository. Well, that's not correct, but you know, there's a lot of plugins on the repository and if I wanted to update that regularly, I can just use a synced block, they were called reusable blocks and just put it on the page and then I could update it one place and it would update site-wide.

Well, now they're trying to rename them all to patterns. And so patterns are fully synced patterns or non synced patterns. And so the fully synced patterns would be like a reusable block and a a non synced pattern would be one that you just, oh, I've created this pattern so I can, like, maybe it's a checklist or whatever, but then you can edit those and it, the editing only affects the one [00:04:00] page that you have edited.

It's not site-wide. So if you wanna get an idea of what the differences are, go ahead and check out this article as well in the show notes. The other cool thing that we've got going on in the WordPress space is something new called WordPress Playgrounds. So if you head on over to playground.wordpress.net, it will actually open up a WordPress website in your browser.

Without having to install anything. And it is marvelous. It is really, really cool. And you could go in, you can go straight to the dashboard. It's really snappy too. So you can go in and you can add plugins. If you wanted to add plugins, if you wanted to check out a theme and you wanted to test some things, this would be great.

You can add a plugin. Right now, you can't add directly from the repository, but you can upload a plugin directly in your browser. Your browser window, so like Chrome or Firefox is, is your window. But then inside of that you actually can see like there's an address bar. You can change the different PHP versions, you can basically you can just go around and you can change settings. It is [00:05:00] something that definitely needs to be played with and try out.

If you are interested, even as today, if we're talking about, oh, I would like to learn more about the block editor and how I can use blocks and maybe I should start to switch to the block editor, then you can find out more by just going in here and clicking on the Hello World Post and then start playing with the block editor without having to affect any of your sites that are on your network.

It's a cool, new experimental. They're still working on it type thing, but it's, I think, gonna be very, very powerful. I think there's some thought process in the future of being able to install a plugin from the repository, or like if you're on the WordPress repository and you find a plugin, you're like, oh, I wonder how this works.

You can click a button and it'll open up in playgrounds, and then you can start modifying and setting it up and using it. So I think there is a lot that is gonna be coming in the future, but I just wanted to kind of put that out there.


I've got two more things here on my list and it's all about content being created here on YourWebsiteEngineer.com. The first one is about a webinar that I'll be doing on July [00:06:00] 26th at 1900 utc. That is 3:00 PM Eastern and that is noon Pacific, but that is gonna be a webinar. Talking about full site editing themes.

I have seen so much improvement on just the ease of creating websites with the full site editor. And I've also seen a lot of gotchas and problems and things that shouldn't happen and, and how to fix things that are broken.

So I wanna highlight all of those things. I'm gonna basically going to be taking a site that is already built in a legacy theme, and I will be transforming it and turning it into a brand new full site editing theme. So that is kind of the topics. If you're interested in registering, head on over to yourwebsiteengineer.com/webinar and I will get that information to you and you can sign up and register.

If you've got questions, you can attend live or you can send me an email with questions and I am so excited to do this and excited to get back into doing regular long form monthly webinars.

So that is July 26th, 2023 at 3:00 [00:07:00] PM Eastern.

And then lastly, I am looking for you actually as a listener of the Your Website Engineer podcast. I'm interested in hearing stories from people who are using WordPress and if maybe in unique and unusual ways, or maybe just in regular ways. Like, I wanna know, like how do you manage multiple sites?

What are your favorite tools for managing websites? What kind of plugins are your favorite? Like, I wanna know all of these things and I want to be recording them and publishing them as your website engineer content coming out in the future.

If you're interested in hopping on a call for 20 to 30 minutes and sharing some of those things that you, how you use WordPress, I would love it. Head on over to your website engineer.com. Use the contact form and just say, pick me for the podcast as the subject.

And I will be happy to reach back out and get things coordinated. I wanna do a couple of these before WordCamp US. If you're coming to WordCamp US, I'd love to do a couple there as well and just hang out and just learn. I had a person that I chatted with just the other day and they were saying like, oh, this is the process that I use for this and I do this.

And I was like, this is just so fascinating and I think there's [00:08:00] so much good information held by you all that. I want to kind of pick your brains and try to figure that out and share that with the community. So those are my announcements. Whew. That was a lot today.

I do have a plugin that I wanna share with you today that is called PublishPress Future, and this will automatically unpublish WordPress post. So this will make, allow you to make automatic changes to post pages and content types on a date that you choose. In the future, you can delete a post or you can change its status to draft or update the post categories or do any other type of change.

This would be a great example. Currently for this week, it's Prime Day over the next couple days here in the United States. And you could have an article like My Favorite. Things that are on sale for Prime Day, and then after the sale is over, you want that to unpublish because you don't need that post on your website anymore.

And so things like that would be really good. Kind of a good feature set for the published press Future plugin. So if you're interested in that, head on over to the show notes or search for published press Future, and you can find that in the WordPress repository.

All [00:09:00] right, so let's dive in and talk about different reasons why switching to the Gutenberg editor is a good idea.

The first reason is because it's everywhere. As we continue to work on WordPress, as WordPress continues to evolve into the future, you we're starting to see the block elements show up pretty much everywhere. So if you've converted a site to a blocked. Theme or block template, or even you start using the Gutenberg block editor, then we have the opportunity to see that in posts or pages, any custom post types you may have.

They're starting to show up in the widget area, so if you're in widgets, you can add blocks to your widgets. They're popping up everywhere. You can start to customize these. If you're using a full site editing theme, you can obviously build the whole site with blocks.

That is the first reason why it would be a really good idea to start using the Gutenberg editor, because if you become proficient, if you spend an hour or two just kind of learning how things work and where things are, then I think the rest of your time using WordPress you'll be able to do things much quicker and much more efficiently.

The second reason for using the Gutenberg [00:10:00] editor, and I'm gonna kind of interchangeably use Gutenberg and Block Editor. They're essentially the same thing, but I wanna talk about the advanced customization, enhanced, advanced, all the customization things that you can do with the block editor. This is one of the coolest parts when, when WordPress was just the standard old school, like just put all your text in one box.

Like there were so many questions that I'd always ask, like, how do I change the font? Or I wanna make the size bigger, and you just really couldn't do that. That was always like a CSS adjustment. Now with enhanced customizations of the block editor, you can basically create a block. You can make a heading, and then there are block attributes that are on the right hand side.

You can change the text, you can change the background. If it's a link, you can change the link color. You can set the typography from small, medium, large, extra large, and, X extra large. You can do the letter case like, so if you wanted every letter, title, case or whatever the case may be, there are so many options for every single block that's out there.

So that is the, probably the, the highest strength reason why to use the Gutenberg block editor because you can customize [00:11:00] things so much easier than you could with the old school editor.

The next reason is that there is a user-friendly interface, and I think this is user-friendly because there's about three ways to do anything that you want inside the block editor. So if you want to add a new block, you can go up to the upper left hand corner, next to the WordPress logo and click the plus arrow, and then it's gonna show you all the blocks that you can add.

And you can scroll through those, or you can search and you can type in, like I'm looking for a pull quote or a verse or something like that. And you can find those by searching. Or you can just hit enter on your page where you're editing, and then you can start typing and that'll be a regular block.

And then you can transform it to a different block. Or you can click the little plus icon that's underneath your paragraph and you can add a block that way. Or if you're on a new line, you can type slash and then start typing like table, and then it'll, it'll pull up in a little window that it'll say like, oh, here's your table, and then you'll be able to set the settings for the table.

It's really powerful in the way that you can just move your content [00:12:00] around. And, and the other thing is like, once you have blocks in place, you can move them up or down with arrows or there's a, I don't know what it's actually called, like the table of contents view. And then you can just drag whole sections.

You can highlight a whole bunch of sections and move all those blocks up or down, depending on how you wanna rearrange your layout.

There's a versatile block in layout system. I think that's kind of a point here, and it means that it's dynamic and it's flexible. And then you can create rich elements like columns or kind of a publication style layout without any plugins.

There's a section called Patterns. And if you, you add a pattern, you can add these banners across your site or you can add called actions, or you can do like a featured page or all these different types of patterns are built right into WordPress, and you can create your own and you can use what we call earlier reusable blocks, but now they're called patterns.

You can set up these patterns, so maybe on a blog post, you always have a certain pattern and you can just hit the button and then you can fill out all the details.

Another reason for using the Gutenberg block editor is because it [00:13:00] is almost a perfect, what you see is what you get experienced. So they call that WYSIWYG. In the, in the old school editor, there was so many times we would use short codes or we would add a link to a YouTube video, and it's just the link.

Now, if you add a link to a YouTube video, you see the YouTube video in your editor, if you are adding a block, you're gonna see it rendered exactly as you are on the front end. Now, sometimes some of the custom fonts and some of the things aren't exactly right. Maybe some of the spacing, maybe if you've controlled it with CSS, it's sometimes be exactly the same on the back end, but it is a pretty close what you see, what you're building on the back end is what you're gonna get in the front end.

Another reason to use the Gutenberg block editor is it is extremely mobile responsive. It makes it very, very easy to create content on the go. You can add new blocks on the go. You can move blocks up and down on the go. Like it is. It's a really good experience. Versus the, the old school editor, eh, not quite so good.

Another thing on my list of good reasons to move to Gutenberg [00:14:00] is that there is some built-in optimization for SEO. It has all these SEO capabilities enabling users to optimize their content for search engines more efficiently. it's easier to set alt tags for images. The editors also optimized for schema markup and page speed.

So those are two big factors that play into the search engine rankings, plus all the blocks arranged neatly to accommodate smaller screens. And so those are like three big things without going into a huge deep dive on the, all the SEO things, but just having a, a good page markup, having a fast paid speed, page speed, and having your site look good on mobile by using blocks. Those are three of the biggest concerns when it comes to seo.

Another thing is about third party block support. So Gutenberg allows for third party blocks, and what this means is you can install extra plugins on your WordPress site that will generate blocks that you can use inside your site. So for example, like if you wanted to have a table of [00:15:00] contents, like table of Contents on a Page is not something that's built into WordPress automatically, but it does have the ability you can install a plugin, then you can add a block called table of Contents, and it will automatically add a table of contents, for your post and pages.

These are actually surfaced really well in the block editor. So if you go up to the plus icon in the upper left hand corner, click on that and search for, say, for example, table of contents.

And you'll see that there's no table of contents, but it shows several different blocks that you can install and you can add it to your post. So that will help you add the appropriate plugin to your site.

As with anything, there are some drawbacks to moving to Gutenberg. There are some compatibility issues with certain plugins and themes. They might not be compatible with everything yet. I mean, we've had several years to get used to it, but some plugins maybe still are using short codes, or maybe they don't have the right features built into the theme yet.

That's okay. That will happen. So you'll just have to kinda check to see which plugins you're using if they are or are not compatible with the Gutenberg editor. [00:16:00] There's also a learning curve and I would say this is probably the hardest one, that there is kind of a steep learning curve, and I wouldn't even say steep.

I would say it's really steep to learn how to use the full site editing mode. But to use a block, I think it's pretty simple. You just start writing your content and you add blocks and you can move them up and down, and then you have to learn where the, the settings are over there in the right hand column.

But other than that, the learning curve I don't think is very steep to start using the block editor.

There is some limited backward compatibility with existing content. So if you go back, if you're one that regularly goes back and edits previous post, then you'll have to switch, like there's, there'll be some compatibility. You can actually convert an old blog post that's in the classic editor to a blog post, and you click that button and it's gonna do its best job that it can to go through and make all those changes.

But there will be some compatibility issues that you'll have to resolve on the way to making sure that that post can be republished then.

So those are the reasons why I wanna share that it is a good use of your time [00:17:00] investment energy to learn how to start using the block editor for your next project or even on your current project. I know it's a big pain when you have hundreds of posts. I've got 500 podcast show notes and half of them are in the classic editor and half of 'em are in the, in the new editor, and it's just like, do I want to go back and fix them?

Granted, if you start using the block editor starting today, like all your previous content will render completely fine. You don't have to worry about it. It's just if you want to go back and fix them all, you're welcome to. Otherwise, you just keep 'em as they are and you just keep progressing forward.

And I think it's gonna be a very fun year looking at some of these new features that are coming in WordPress 6.3. Now remember about the webinar, remember about, speaking on the podcast or being on the podcast. So the first one is the webinar. You register over at yourwebsiteengineer.com/webinar, and that is on July 26 to 2023. If you can't make it live and it's a weird time, it doesn't work out, you can still register and you will get a link to the replay when it is over. So go ahead and do that.

[00:18:00] And secondly, if you are interested in sharing your story about how you use WordPress or maybe some cool workflows that you have, or anything along those lines, go over to yourwebsiteengineer.com. Use the contact form and send me a note saying that I would be interested in being on the podcast.

And then we can coordinate a time. Again, I'm looking for some people doing it via Zoom, or if you're coming to WordCamp US, make a note of that in the contact form as well. That's all I've got for you this week. Take care and we'll talk again soon. Bye-bye. For more great WordPress information, head on over to your website engineer.com.