Gutenberg for developers: WordPress Weekend for March 2018

We shifted gears this month by taking a developer-centric look at the new Gutenberg editor. Half of the session was spent watching clips of Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s talk from WordCamp US 2017 and Zac Gordon’s intro to Gutenberg development course. The other half of the session was group discussion.

Here are some of the major takeaways from the meetup.

Gutenberg is the future of WordPress, not just the WordPress editor.

At launch, Gutenberg will take over the_content(), in the same way that page builders like Elementor or Beaver Builder do.

But one of the core concepts presented in Morten’s talk was the idea that Gutenberg will eventually control the entire site layout.

This would bring the entry-level DIY experience closer to the likes of Squarespace or Wix. And for developers, it opens up the opportunity to define layouts at a template level using blocks, rather than with a smattering of custom fields or widget areas.

Existing page builders will need to complement, not compete, with the Gutenberg experience.

There was a lot of discussion about what Gutenberg means for existing page builder plugins. A few of the scenarios we talked about include:

  • Builders continuing to replace the native editor.
  • Builders adding new features on top of the native editor.
  • Builders pivoting to let non-coders create custom blocks.

The companies and developers behind the page builder plugins have a number of opportunities/upsides over the native editor experience:

  • They can move faster than the core WP development team.
  • They can add enhancements that are “out of scope” for core features.
  • They can provide a greater level of support to users.

If Gutenberg does become the new standard for building layouts in WordPress, then the way forward is to complement what core WordPress is already doing.

Blocks are a new frontier for the WordPress economy.

The WordPress economy is built around products and services. On the product side, we have premium/commercial plugins and themes. Now blocks are going to be the next big thing.

We can look to freemium Elementor and Beaver Builder modules as an example of what the blocks ecosystem might look like.

Existing plugin authors have an opportunity here to port their products over to blocks. New developers have an opportunity to swoop in and replace abandoned plugins with new block-based versions.

There will always be a need for web professionals.

Another question was whether or not Gutenberg will take business away from web professionals because clients will be able to do more on their own.

What we’ve seen, time and again, is that there’s two types of clients: Those that want to learn how to do it themselves, and those that want someone else to do it for them.

In either case, there’s still a need for web professionals.

Gutenberg will still have a learning curve. The DIY’ers will need help with that. 1-on-1 training, for example, or group training. Or even providing a barebones starting point for them to build on top of.

On the other end of the spectrum, Gutenberg makes it easier for web professionals to quickly build sites for clients that don’t want to do it themselves. It’s the same perk that page builders offer. It’s just that with Gutenberg, that WYSIWYG functionality is now core to WordPress.

Bottom line? There’s always a need for web professionals.

Additional resources

If you’re interested in learning more about Gutenberg, check out the following:

What’s next?

April’s WordPress Weekend meetup will jump back to site administration topics with a focus on website analytics & webmaster tools.

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