Trying Out Gutenberg

Where’s my image gone? (below).

WordPress is aiming for an intuitive yet rich content experience with the Gutenberg changes. Version 5.0 will bring block-based content natively into WordPress posts and pages. You’ll no longer need a page-builder plugin to do advanced formatting, and it will be easier to drop in an image, gallery, or optimize text positioning or headlines. In theory.

Simplicity is the glory of expression.

Walt Whitman

Playing With The Blocks

So far so good. Pretty intuitive. The Block Cap block failed and popped an error. I’m a little concerned about what happens to existing content, particularly buttons and other functions built into themes and overlay plugins.

I’m not seeing as much control of white space as I expected. Must be something I’m missing that will let me adjust spacing, padding, etc.

How Do I Change Button Text?

This Is A Preformatted Call To Action

Nice to see this kind of functionality, but formatting it isn’t intuitive at all. Where is the padding? Where do I change the button text? How do I control whether the button link opens in a new tab?

Where’s my button gone? In the draft, trust me, there’s a button…

Yes, It Does Columns

Ah, the much-hyped text-in-columns capacity. If it works well it will definitely improve the layout of some desktop sites, but will that translate into painfully unreadable text on mobile?

One of the things most of the page builder plugins have learned to do fairly well is optimize the mobile experience. I’m sure Gutenberg can learn it to, but I deeply question whether it’s ready yet.

Putting images side-by-side doesn’t seem so easy, however. Nor does embedding a combination of image and text. It obviously can be done, as there’s a block with an ad embedded. Feels very vertically-oriented, yet there’s some weird stuff going on with vertical scrolling at times.

Just Not There Yet

I don’t think this is nearly ready for primetime, nor do I think my web design clients are going to fall in love with it. Some will, but not the average person. Most of them will struggle and spend hours trying to make something that looks decent, then feel betrayed by the implied promise of this being as easy as Wix and Squarespace, which Gutenberg is apparently trying to “compete” with.

Seems strange to me, as WordPress is already demonstrably better if you’re running a business… but maybe that’s the SEO geek in me being oblivious to how much people care about looks over function, instead of understanding that it’s the synergy of both that delivers results.

Is Gutenberg conceptually “better” than the default WordPress editor? Yes, I think so. But it’s not ready to deliver on its promises yet – and the default editor is a pretty low bar to compete with. Also, because I do so much SEO, I wonder what the consequences there will be.

I just looked at the preview, and both my image and button failed to show up. Interesting. Maybe they only show when published, or maybe they’re broken. Neither is optimal. Since there was discussion of rolling out WordPress 5.0 as early as this month, that’s a bit frightening.

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