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Lots has changed for the WordPress website building experience over the last 4 years and today’s WP Product Talk has been on the frontlines of it.

Richard Tabor joins the podcast to talk about the major changes in Gutenberg, Site Editing, and the future of WordPress. Looking for a healthy dose of what’s under the hood of your favorite CMS? Don’t miss this episode.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Matt: We are WP Product Talk. And this is now episode eight of eight that we planned in advance. And we are bringing last but not least, Richard Tabor here today. If you all have questions or thoughts or opinions or whatnot about what we’re talking about today in any way whatsoever Tweet us.

[00:00:20] That’s the best way to get our attention. And use the hashtag WP product Talk. You can also just reply basically straight in this Twitter space. And we’ll see that as well. But I’m watching that hashtag WP product talk, so, use that if you can. I don’t know, maybe hashtags are old school.

[00:00:37] I’m not sure. I just keep using them, see what happens. But we’ll pay attention and we’ll try to get your questions answered as much as we can. Also wanna give a big shout out to the WP Minute. They have been distributing all of our Twitter space recordings over all the fun platforms, podcasting platforms for quite a while.

[00:00:55] Matt Mades is doing cool work over there, honestly. And I, I like supporting the work that they do over there. If you wanna hear this later in. You can look us up on the WP Minute WP product talk. But for now we’re gonna go around the horn and introduce ourselves. I am Matt Cromwell. I’m one of the co-founders of Give WP now doing marketing and operations and support stuff at Stellar wp.

[00:01:17] I’m really passionate about the freemium business model and helping small businesses succeed with WordPress with WordPress plugins. So, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do this talk regularly. And one of the people who I always enjoyed talking with, I invited her to be our co-host, Kimberly Coleman, introduce,

[00:01:36] Kim: Thanks so much, Matt.

[00:01:37] Yep. I’m Kim Coleman. I’ve been building a WordPress membership plugin, paid memberships pro for over 12 years now. And just really been a long term member of the WordPress community. Love the platform, Love open source. So I’m excited if this is helping other product creators in the WordPress space at all learn from our lessons.

[00:01:54] It’s a job well done. So Rich, I’ll hand it to you to introduce your.

[00:01:57] Rich: Yeah. Thanks Kim. Yeah, I’m Rich Taper. I’ve founded a couple of WordPress products over the years guess notably colos and theme beans, and went to GoDaddy for a couple years leading the WordPress Experience Team. And currently I’m the kind of product at Extendi.

[00:02:11] I’m all about WordPress and especially this new era of WordPress experience that we’re in. That’s all about blocks and block themes and the site editor and full site editing. So it’s, it’s my jam and it’s a pleasure to

[00:02:24] Matt: be here today. Awesome. Thanks so much for being here. And that brings us to our topic all things full site editing.

[00:02:30] We’ve said this in a couple different ways. I think kind of the pain point that Kim really helped identify is the way WordPress has been evolving over the last few years with Gutenberg and now full site editing. It brings new challenges to being. A plugin owner and somebody who’s trying to extend what the Gutenberg code base can do in WordPress.

[00:02:51] And is it problematic? Is it a huge, giant awesome opportunity? It changes things up quite a lot. We wanna talk about all those types of things and if [00:03:00] you don’t follow Rich on Twitter, you should, cuz he tweets about this kind of stuff all the time and every time he does, I find it really fruitful.

[00:03:07] Beneficial, helpful, educational it’s good stuff. So I’m really glad you’re here because I’m not gonna talk a lot because I literally have not yet built one website with full site editing . I have dug into it, of course. But it, I haven’t got my head around all of it yet, so. But the way we’re gonna kick off first is we wanna just talk about why this is so important, and I’m, I’ve touched on that a little bit.

[00:03:27] If you’re a product developer in any way, shape, or form, whether it be plugins or themes or services then you are wrestling now with what full site editing means for you and your product and your business long term. And that, that’s why I think this is so important. Rich, what’s your take?

[00:03:42] Why is this subject so important for.

[00:03:44] Rich: Yeah. You know, when we look at all the efforts that are going into this new era of WordPress it, it’s very clear that this is the future of WordPress. And, and this, you know, presents a shift in the experience that I, I don’t know that there’s been anything so drastic in WordPress in general, you know, cause the post types made a huge difference in the way that we build sites.

[00:04:06] But full site editing and the site editor in general are changing. The entire dynamic of the site, like we’re, we’re shifting from you know, index that PHP type based templates and, and designs to things that are built within blocks now. Like we have patterns and templates, parts and headers and footers, everything that’s blocks.

[00:04:23] And this, this shift is monumental as WordPress as a whole evolves to the next stage of becoming more of. A site design tool and a site tool to express personality and less of a tool that’s kind of configured and stuck. So I, I think that this is, this is just the future of WordPress and where we’re headed.

[00:04:43] Kim: It’s super interesting to hear that from you, Rich and inspiring because I do see you as a person who’s motivated, advocated for, and been a really early adopter of these changes in WordPress that bring more editing features to our user. I feel like the old guard in this conversation. I don’t wanna feel pitted against you in it, but I do feel like there’s aspects of this change and where things are going.

[00:05:06] And it can be scary for me as a plugin author to watch this happen and just be concerned that we’re giving people functionality to design their websites and do more with them in a visual way. But as a plugin author that’s building basically a platform. We want people to be able to build sustainable businesses and, and create their content and work on things that create value for them.

[00:05:28] And I often see people using design. As like a crutch or something they focus too heavily on rather than what needs to be really done in their business. So it’s, it’s interesting for me to watch that. I feel like you’re, you’re totally right. Plugins have helped WordPress grow out of just being used as blogs, and I think site editors helping is going to help it also in, in a similar way that, that monumental change.

[00:05:49] So I’m watching and I’m taking it really slowly but it’s super critical right now for a plugin author to be watching

[00:05:56] Matt: Totally. One thing, a bit more clarity on [00:06:00] this rich, I wanted get your take on. I think one thing that’s a little strange for folks is understanding the relationship between full sight editing and a WordPress theme.

[00:06:09] Especially if you’re a theme author, if you’re a business is built on themes. Can you speak into that a little bit? Like how do you see full sight editing really impacting themes?

[00:06:18] Rich: Yeah. Themes, you know, now are, are very different. Block themes are some of all parts. It’s, it’s, it’s header parts, it’s voter parts, all the patterns that you include into it, and the styles and the full site editing experience which you can navigate from.

[00:06:33] The site editor puts all of those pieces on the page for you to manipulate. For, for better or worse. You know, I think right now, and kind of to speak to what you were saying, Kim, it, it’s provid. We’re providing a lot of design tooling and trying to figure out like, what do we need to put there? And then, then think the next level is taking that experience and refining it and, and cleaning it up and removing some of the complications so that it is perhaps more difficult to break, but also more easier or easier to personalize.

[00:07:02] So the, the full say editing and themes kind of are, I would kinda consider those efforts almost one. Themes drive that entire effort. If you don’t have a block theme, you don’t see the site editor at all right now. So like that’s, that’s kind of the, the line that’s drawn in the. .

[00:07:16] Matt: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. I was, I mean, my first impression was really fully formed when I tested out 2023.

[00:07:24] That of course is like intended to showcase full site editing a bit. And the whole way that they support multiple different styles and whatnot was interesting. And just. Because I’m, I know how old school themes are built and things like that and how they use the customizer and and those things.

[00:07:40] I, I was immediately drawn to like, I wonder where 2023 stops and full site editing as a feature starts here. Like there that, I think that’s a little bit of that, that area where I’m like, it almost feels like 2023 is probably not really a whole ton of code. I, I didn’t even look at how much code it is, but doesn’t seem like it has a lot.

[00:08:00] Opinions about what you do with your site. It’s letting the, the, the feature, the full site editing feature really take over a lot more. Is that, is that about right? Do I have that right?

[00:08:08] Rich: Yeah, I, I think you’re, you’re right on it. You know, if you, if you did look at the 2023 style sheet, you’ll see that there’s, there are no selectors in there.

[00:08:17] It’s completely, it’s just the, the header of the style sheet, and this kind of, you know, we’re moving towards a system that’s, JSON driven. So you have styles that can be abstracted from the theme perhaps and used in plugins even. So it’s creating this system where the theme decides some of the presets, like on way you see things the way, the way things feel.

[00:08:36] But you can go in and change. And add to that at that starting point instead of where previously themes were very much like, this is your site, like this is the way that your site’s going to look. Maybe you can change some colors and some themes. It kind of flexed a little bit more in the customizer to change specific things, but they were tied to how that theme worked.

[00:08:55] Theme about JSON and, and the way block themes worked. Abstract all of that from that so that [00:09:00] in, in the future, I would say these could even get smaller. Maybe it’s just a json file that includes what, what styles are available, what patterns are available, what headers and footers are available, and you can configure your site from one file perhaps.

[00:09:13] Matt: Yeah. Yeah. I think some of the hesitancy or anxiousness around some of that is the idea of like an end user jump, jumping into 2023 and building out their whole site and feeling like they have success within a short amount of time. Like, I do feel like it puts so much more onus on the, on the ability to build out the whole site.

[00:09:35] Or am I, am I off base there?

[00:09:37] Rich: You know, I think there’s some, there’s definitely some value to. I would say where, where CORE is being more general right now, it leads to a lot of opportunities for for folks to come in and build experiences. And, and to, to create that better. Either, you know, better right out of the box WordPress experience or better client agency, client developer type relationship experience within WordPress.

[00:10:00] Like, there’s avenues that are kind of wide open, I would think to, to lean into those. But things are also moving incredibly fast, like that innovation is, is, is so incredible right now. Like it’s, it’s blowing my mind. It’s hard for me to keep up and I, and I’m in it, you know, knee deep every day. Um mm.

[00:10:17] Matt: But yeah. Yeah, that’s interest. It sounds like we came full circle because now we’re back at, you’re basically saying like, Yeah, you’re right. What WordPress core and the site editor is providing now is very minimal minimalist even which presents a whole bunch of opportunity for product devs to, to really shine and, and have a lot more catered experience for those end users.

[00:10:40] Is that what you’re saying?

[00:10:41] Rich: Yeah, I think there’s a, there’s a lot of room out

[00:10:43] Kim: there. Cool. I, I would absolutely agree with that. I recently had a plugin. I added some patterns too, and I was shocked with how straightforward it was to create them and, and how much I could build into my plugin that was design focused.

[00:10:56] They were templates for things that I wouldn’t have been able to submit to the pattern directly, directory directly because they did use plugin functionality within them, but, Really straightforward as a, as a product to create those. And it’s something I wanna explore more. And I do, like you said, Rich, I see that as a huge opportunity for products to come on board and have a more opinionated design that people can drop in and readily use but still be able to customize in a familiar interface.

[00:11:21] Matt: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . . Nice. Okay, cool. So let’s jump into our next segment, which we typically call story time. We’ve all, the three of us have some different experiences with the way that WordPress is evolving and changing, and we want to hear a little bit from each other about about those experiences and what we, what the, that might teach other folks about this subject.

[00:11:42] So, I’m gonna go a little bit outta order. Kim, I’d love to hear your take first. What kind of experiences do you have with this?

[00:11:48] Kim: Oh, for sure. So for us we were slower to jump on board with block development when we’re talking back when the block editor then called Gutenberg was coming on board, I think maybe [00:12:00] even a year and a half, two years till we felt that the core code base was stable enough, not changing so much that we would be, you know, coding for a moving target, which was a fear we had because we’re still supporting and maintaining the plugin, releasing features that we.

[00:12:14] And you know, when we’re watching WordPress as a plugin product shop, you’re watching the direction of WordPress. You wanna be able to, you know, be on par with the features your users are, are requesting and needing. But how soon do you jump into that? How soon do you decide, Oh, this was like Optin and everyone was still installing classic press and disabling this feature.

[00:12:34] So, we really took a, a slower, more, you know, weight watch, watch this, get more. And then when we did double onto double down and it was really fun to rebuild some of our functionality into a block format. We still offer a short code version, but that was kind of our first step. Was adapting what was a short code into a block, and we found it pretty easy to do with the way that the block editor and there’s a great handbook out there to, to leverage from, and there’s still different approaches for how people create their blocks.

[00:13:04] But that was kind of the first step into it. Right now my negative story time is related to site editing and menus, which are very different from. We’ve seen menus with WordPress for many years, created in the admin. We have an add-on that allows people to swap which menu is shown based on what membership level the user who’s accessing your site has.

[00:13:25] So you could build a menu more specific to a pre-sales acquiring a member, and then for people that are logged into a membership, Give them a more specific menu with, without those sales links, without maybe a link to your pricing page. Again, that’s not necessary for them and create a better user experience.

[00:13:42] It’s tricky with site editor the way that headers and menus work. But we’re actively working on it. And you know, I think as a product shop, You might have to get a little vocal and more involved in core development to say like, this is a feature, this is an important feature. And the way you’ve the direction you’re taking with menus, you know, disables our ability to do this.

[00:14:01] What can we do? Can we have a hook somewhere, please? Can we have a filter somewhere please? And we see those things kind of getting. Moved into JavaScript, moved in to changing in other ways. So that’s my kind of story time. It’s been fun to get on board with block editing, but then when we face challenges like this, You know, we, we don’t know what to do.

[00:14:19] We tell people to install, like, and use menus in a classic way, which isn’t always the right answer, but we’re all in flux, so,

[00:14:25] Matt: Yeah. Yeah. No, our, our story is very, very similar in the sense that when Gutenberg was getting launched for the first time, we were like, Oh man, now we’ve gotta be like maintaining multiple code bases for the same feature, meaning like, Widgets and also blocks and short codes and also blocks.

[00:14:45] But honestly, since then it’s also gotten even more complicated because you also want to have compatibility with things like Elementor or with a Beaver Builder or Divvy. And they all have their own form of, of blocks and widgets and [00:15:00] modules and whatnot as well. And the, all of that has gotten a bit more complex.

[00:15:04] In some ways it does to me still feel like short coats are the easiest one to port across all of those places, but they’re definitely not user friendly at all. Blocks are way more user friendly than short coats are. So along the way we’ve struggled with all that stuff as well. And and also essentially trying to say, Oh, well, it, it, everything that we build still has to work well with TinyMCE the old classic editor as well.

[00:15:27] And all that has been challenging, but in many ways we also are recognizing, like if we can say definitively that generally speaking, given the add-ons are compatible only with 5.0 WordPress 5.0 and higher, then we can kind of stop catering towards the older code. And stop worrying as much about the old legacy methods.

[00:15:49] And start focusing more and more on the new methods. And what we have started doing now is building out a brand new donation form builder. I’ve mentioned it on the show a couple times but we’re calling it NextGen donation form builder. And it is built on top of, of the Gutenberg framework.

[00:16:05] It will. Operate a lot like the, the block editor. But it is not the block editor. It’s basically the, the, the bones of Gutenberg itself that we’re leveraging for the architecture in order for us to be able to build a lot faster. Like being able to drag and drop stuff between spaces.

[00:16:20] Like we don’t have to build that out. That’s all built into Gutenberg already for us. All of the navigator and the sidebar and all that stuff is all already there. We just get to pull it in and use it the way we want to use it. But the actual editor itself, we get to customize it the way we want to.

[00:16:36] And that, that is similar to what Kim was saying earlier, early on in the Gutenberg phase, it was like coding for a moving target. Now Gutenberg has gotten a lot more stable and been around a lot longer, battle tested a lot more. And we’re able to see how robust it really is in, in, in its inner parts and building on top of it.

[00:16:56] The one thing I will say though, that currently we have, I think two, two and a half or three full-time devs working on this new editor. And it is taking quite a while. It’s, it, you know, we are using it in order to get to market a lot quicker. But the end result is, is still a very large endeavor. And it’s not at all like, kind of like old I think Kim you said old guard and I feel like old guard too.

[00:17:20] like, old guards is like build out a custom post type, add a bunch of meta fields to it when they hit publish, make sure it renders correctly on the front end. Doing that kind of route is relatively straightforward. But building out your own way of integrating with Gutenberg is a lot more complex than, than the old one.

[00:17:38] Kim: I wanna let Rich Story time also, but just to extend what you said, Matt, the, users will live now in almost two UIs, you know, and that’s a consideration that. Person whose users are often going to be in the admin managing their membership site. I think what you’re doing, Matt, is great because you’re adopting a ui they’ll be [00:18:00] familiar with mm-hmm.

[00:18:00] with the, with site editor, with block editor with the tools that they’re using. Even though it might not exactly match one to one, you’re leveraging it because teaching someone how to. WordPress in the admin wasn’t something we ever had to do because it was a part of their workflow already. Getting to that point, getting to the point of having published a post, gave them a familiar interface.

[00:18:21] I think with site editor people will be more unfamiliar with the admin area of WordPress, and I’m curious how that’s gonna change. Our need to kind of train that aspect of managing the admin of WordPress site or that we have to adopt the, the similar ui. So I’ll, I’ll stop complaining and I want Rich to story share, if possible.

[00:18:39] Rich: Yeah. You know, I, I, I go some of those same sentiments for me, it’s, it’s been all about pace. Having worked on colos before Gutenberg was even landing in core it was challenging to keep up with the pace of development. way back, it was, everything was very manual, every control, every color, every attribute even color picker type stuff.

[00:18:58] Like you had to create everything individually in blocks and it led to a ton of work to maintain and a lot of stuff to update all the time. And and I think that’s why a lot of folks at that point in time, like started building collections cuz you could start reusing some of those same components that you had to build in house to keep up to date with what Gutenberg was doing.

[00:19:17] But at the same time, all the changes and the improvements that have happened over these years have moved Gutenberg into a, you know, a quite a impressive building suite. I know there’s, there’s still a lot of work to do and there’s always gonna be a lot of work. Then I always tell, like, my team is like, something’s always 80% there.

[00:19:32] You know, there’s 20% that we can always improve and, and keep moving the needle on. But I would say that that pace has been a struggle. And then secondly, I, I like to, you know, play on the bleeding edge of WordPress and trying to keep support with, you know, all the new Gutenberg stuff that’s, that’s in the plugin itself versus what’s in core.

[00:19:50] It has been a challenge on any project I’ve worked on and and some projects we’ve had different solutions, like we’re, you know, some of them even include a version of Gutenberg that we kind of opt into supporting. Some include particularly exclude Gutenberg and just kind of stay with core.

[00:20:05] I, I don’t prefer that method because like I said earlier, the pace of innovation is so fast. What’s in Gutenberg even after, even before 6.1 came out, was already, there’s already some massive improvements in some of the experienced side of things that aren’t out yet, but they’re in the plugin and so I like to play and, and figure out what those are gonna be.

[00:20:24] And so it can get hard to kind of maintain support between even those two. Not even counting the older versions of WordPress. But I, I definitely, definitely share those sentiments on that front.

[00:20:34] Matt: Mm-hmm. . I just shared the thread that you have there, Rich, about WordPress 6.1. So much of what we’re talking about really was launched in 6.1.

[00:20:42] I think six, 6.1 really pushed it much more in everyone’s view. Oh, what’s your take overall on just 6.1? Is it, is it all that it’s cracked up to be? Are you excited about it?

[00:20:52] Rich: Oh yeah, I think it’s a great release. There’s a lot of design consistency, some controls, some of the content only editing [00:21:00] modes, like those are all hitting the pain points right on the head and on what, what things need to be improved.

[00:21:05] 6.1 0.1 or maybe, you know, the next couple releases, even minor ones. Are gonna have the same sort of improvements, like the same level of effort. But in, in some of the writing, editing improvements and some of the, like, the way you apply styles to the site the way the, the patterns open up on the sidebar, like all of those are, are already in the Gutenberg plugin and those are just as big and they, they’ve already been done.

[00:21:27] So I, I’m getting even more excited about the next couple of releases of WordPress as we continue to, to push in that direction. But. Like I said earlier, a couple times, like this is moving incredibly fast and I, it’s not like fast where everything’s breaking, but it’s fast where like I’m, I’m jumping on the train and I’m riding this one because like the way that we’re innovating and some of the foundational parts that we’re kind of shaky to get in over the last couple years are now solid and now we’re ramping up in that

[00:21:54] direction.

[00:21:54] Matt: I wanna share just something Roy CFA chimed in. He’s listening in. Hey Roy. Actually, literally, Hi Roy. But he’s saying, Listen in that in now themes are changing. Our new theme is so minimal. It has nothing, no styles, no templates, because you don’t need any of it. Once full site editing takes control.

[00:22:11] I love it allows a, a niche theme with many specific templates, or a blank designer playground. I love the enthusiasm. I love the excitement around it. That I think that sounds awesome. Let’s, let’s segue into you know, the real meat here in terms of oh wait. Looks like Kim, are you still there?

[00:22:28] Did we lose Kim? I think we did. Hold on one second, folks. There we.

[00:22:33] Kim, you should see a co-host invite again. Let’s move into opportunities. Are you

[00:22:38] Kim: back? Yes, I am back. Sorry about that.

[00:22:39] Matt: No worries. Let’s talk about opportunities full site editing brings. I, I do need to clarify. I got one comment that we keep calling it full site editing. That’s really the feature.

[00:22:48] The name in WordPress itself is supposed to be the site editor. So, just point clarification there. let’s talk about the site editor. Talk about the, the feature of full site editing, what opportunities it brings with products. Kim, do you wanna kick us off with that? What are you thinking?

[00:23:02] Do you have stuff you’re already planning or thinking about with with your product?

[00:23:05] Kim: For sure. I’m thinking about giving people more drop in layouts, more patterns that they can leverage that are specific, like let’s say a pricing table. There are a few attempts at pricing tables in the pattern directory to bundle them within your product and give people like optimized pricing layouts that they can use to, to build better funnels in their membership site, for example.

[00:23:29] That’s something that’s on my mind for sure. Things are hard. We have a lot of front end forms. We don’t wanna give people too much control to modify and change and, and they might see a front end form and think like, Oh, I don’t need billing zip code, That’s fine. And saying, Oh, no, no, Like that is needed.

[00:23:45] That’s part of your gateway validation process, so you can’t get rid of that. So trying to manage what users need and want to change with what is safe for them to change. You know, part of what I liked about traditional themes was that you could find one that was [00:24:00] optimized for your use case and drop it in, and it kind of checked a lot of boxes for what you might not already know about good UX for that type of site.

[00:24:11] And it’s gonna take time for site editor to get the, you know, number of themes out there, number of patterns out there that implement those best practices so that people aren’t building sites that. Actually drive conversions. For example, if you’re building a product site with W Commerce if you’re building a donation site with Give, and you forget to add like a login link in the upper right area of your header or within a mobile menu, let’s say, you know, people, users of your site can’t use your site the way that they need to.

[00:24:38] So I think as much as we can, the opportunities. , like build things into the plugins that you’re creating that will help people avoid, you know, shooting themself in the foot by omitting some of these important features for me. Rich, do you see any major opportunities with the site editor related to products?

[00:24:54] Rich: Yeah. You know, like the site editor pushes blocks towards every aspect of the site and I think we’re all pretty aligned on that. I think there. Feel a lot of experience though that exists outside the realm of block editing that could be brought into the block context rather easily. You know, there’s been some, you know, some folks Abilene into like what forms could look like or, or what, you know, maps like the simple, like content based.

[00:25:18] Blocks. But I think that there are a number of experiences that could be centered more around experiences and not blocks. So not content driven, like I need to put something on my page, but like, how do I create an experience leveraging you know, the site editor or the block editor and try to figure out ways that help me get jobs.

[00:25:35] To be done taken care of. Like if I’m going to sell something, like what is the, what is a prime experience leveraging all this new stuff to help me sell something or if I’m gonna, you know, run a donations campaign. Like how do I leverage some, you know, a way to set up and create forms. And I know GWP is working and experimenting in that lane, but like leaning into that direction seems much more of the, the opportune area instead of.

[00:25:59] You know, regular content blocks, I think, you know, just blocks themselves is, is kind of, I don’t know if it’s mature, but it, but a lot of things have been done already, so it’s trying to figure out like what are the ways. to, to target those jobs that need to be done. Like to help that site owner or site user be successful doing what they’re trying to do.

[00:26:17] Mm-hmm. , and that’s, that’s the area I would 100% lean in right

[00:26:20] Matt: now. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, that’s a good point. I, I think there’s a ton there for sure. And like I said, our experience so far in terms of the biggest opportunity we see is trying to build out a brand new way to visually build a donation form. And that really was missing for us.

[00:26:36] Like I I personally was really getting tired of, of constantly just configuring settings and never knowing what my donation form was gonna look like in the end. And and being able to see it actually visually in front of me and just tweak the settings and see it, how those settings impact the forum directly is definitely, I think the future.

[00:26:55] But like I said, it’s a big lift. It’s, it’s a heavy lift. I, I think there’s a lot more [00:27:00] opportunity for smaller shops to be leveraging blocks for sure. And but there’s also this way in which I’m concerned about just the. Potential for bajillions of blocks, . And I think that’s a little bit of what you were saying, Rich, in terms of like the, the, the there’s lots of other ways to leverage it besides just content blocks.

[00:27:20] But that, that is exactly what we’re seeing though, is just, there is kind of like a, a race for getting the, the, the plugin with the right keywords on, or I mean, excuse me, the block with the right keywords on them. And we have all these plugins now that are just big, giant libraries of blocks and things like that.

[00:27:35] I don’t know, there’s, I feel like there’s more there, but I’d love to see really good examples. Of, of folks who are leveraging the site editor more. Have you seen anything like that out there yet, Rich? Anybody really leveraging the site editor or experimenting with it? No,

[00:27:49] Rich: not, not a lot. I, I think, and I don’t even know if I would tie it to like the site editor, but more of like the editing experience, maybe more so, like, like with what you’re doing, I think it falls in that category even though it’s not necessarily the site editor mm-hmm.

[00:28:02] But I do. Having, you know, visual direct manipulation type interfaces. And, and now with things, you know, with styles being referenced in theme json, you could even pull in like what the button’s supposed to look like instead of having, you know, a default style. You know, like, you know, back in the day you would install, you know, the classic case where you saw Ed and out of the box.

[00:28:21] You know, it’s a little rough, but the functionality is great, but like you’re gonna go through and have to clean up a lot of stuff like you can. Take those values from D json and plug them in right outta the box so that when you turn on edd, it looks brilliant. Like there’s, there’s, there’s a path towards that type of WordPress experience, and that’s just the start.

[00:28:38] That’s just like, how do you get, get your plugin or your product looking fine, or like working fine. Then there’s the, the, you know, I Couldn was saying about like all the pattern type functionality where it’s like, Okay, well, , maybe we have 10 basically patterns of give WP forms that are, or landing pages even.

[00:28:55] And you, you pick the one you want and then you manipulate it from there. So it’s like creating an experience where it’s more personal right outta the box instead of just getting it there. Mm-hmm. . And I think leaning in that direction is, is where is where we need to be. Mm-hmm. ,

[00:29:08] Kim: I, I’d be really excited as a plugin dev to know that I.

[00:29:11] You know, all themes had a style established that I could leverage for buttons and that they would look great. It wasn’t some made up button or some weird class that I didn’t know from your theme that was using. I remember a conversation on Twitter a while back about color palettes and naming colors.

[00:29:28] Mm-hmm. , and could we establish calling a color, primary and secondary, and action could be established standards that then plugin owners. Do the same thing. They could say like, Oh, well we wanna color this in this way for you. Here’s how. I don’t think I’m up to date on, on where things are at with 6.1 enough to know how that’s been, how those conversations have moved forward.

[00:29:48] But I do think an opportunity we didn’t talk about yet is if you are developing a product and you see the future of this site editing experience as where WordPress is absolutely gonna go, doubling down on it [00:30:00] now means that other users who love this editing feature will like your product more. You know, it becomes a differentiator to say, I am tightly integrated.

[00:30:09] I. , you know, I provide the most functionality for this in ways that, you know, 10 years ago, five years ago, we were saying the same thing about other page building experiences. Like you love using Elementor, so you should use paid memberships. Pro you should use give wp mm-hmm. because we know we’re gonna work together.

[00:30:24] Mm-hmm. and you won’t have to relearn anything. , you’re gonna get to keep using that favorite builder you have. So, it may be too early to do that. But if, if you’re also loving the site editing experience as a product, you know, call it out on your site, identify that you’re staying up to date with it, that you wanna maintain compatible with it cuz users might see that as a differentiator.

[00:30:43] Matt: Mm-hmm. . I, I will say one of my favorite experiences, I’m a little biased, but it’s still the truth. Like one of my favorite experiences still to date with landing pages and building out with Gutenberg. It really, it does come from cadence. The cadence theme, I just think really handles those things really, really well.

[00:31:01] And Ben Ritner is the the guy behind that project and Already working hard on how Cadence is going to leverage full site editing really well. And I’m excited to see that evolve and change over time. But I, I do think that there are ways to, to really make the editing experience awesome and look awesome and feel awesome and that, that feeling of like, Oh, I just built this page out, and it wasn’t even that hard.

[00:31:23] And it looks amazing. Like, especially when you’re not a designer there, it’s really hard to beat. It just creates like this huge amount of product and platform loyalty. I, I can see for sure that. If we can provide that very reliably in WordPress, it definitely is helping to make sure that there is a future for WordPress, cuz a lot of folks are still worried and concerned that that we’re losing adoption.

[00:31:47] I, I, I’m not like saying the sky’s falling at all. I don’t really see it that way at all. But I do think that we have to have a strong vision towards the future. And that future does have to be visual building, not just tweaking settings to see stuff rendered on the front. So I’m, I’m on board personally there.

[00:32:03] Let, let’s, let’s pivot over into another one we wanted to touch base on for everyone which is threats that come with big WordPress core changes. We all have these experiences in one form or another. I think I want to tie this though as much as we can, not just to the fact that that core changes are problematic for product developers, but also like how do you kind of prepare for that, How.

[00:32:26] Watch out in advance. And how do you manage that? As these big changes come especially from Rich and, and Kim, what’s your perspectives there? Rich did, did, did you and your team get all prepped for 6.1 before it was even launched, or has it been, did it take a lot to get it ready or whatnot?

[00:32:42] Rich: It didn’t take a lot to get, to get our products ready for 6.1. But it did take, you know, staying up to date with what’s going on and all the new. Capabilities that we could add into some of the things that we’re building. It’s more about, I would say, you know, one of the threats is, is getting outta the loop and not being able to define your footing again.

[00:32:59] You know, if you’re, [00:33:00] if you’re going to, to play on the, the bleeding edge and really lean in on the future of WordPress, I think it’s important to, you know, to, you know, either follow the right belongs or follow the right people on Twitter or, and really stay in involved either even on GitHub if you can, to kind of see what’s coming ahead and put some input in and really, Get a handle of what it’s what changing and, and really it’s there.

[00:33:20] You know? I don’t think we’re really doing a lot of breaking changes anymore. You sure? There are. I mean, there’s incidents, there’s edge cases that are happening and there always will happen probably until we get to where, you know, a block theme really is just adjacent on file and some patterns maybe.

[00:33:33] But, but being able to, to stay in tune with what’s happening will really put you in a position where you can stay ahead of the curb. I would say that, That’s pretty important. And then, you know, there’s always a chance that something that you do and you create takes off and is considered for WordPress core.

[00:33:48] I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s it could be. It could be tough, you know, if, if you’re leaning in on something, like if you’re building like an accordion block or something and it makes, it, makes an accordion block, makes its way into core, then, you know, like that was, that wasn’t really a job to be done.

[00:34:01] That was a little, a little project that that, you know, if everyone can benefit from that, that’s a good thing and, and you kind of pay for that way. I’ve had a few, a few things go into or from that sort of approach and I think it works cuz you can move fast and prove out ideas before, you know, trying to navigate getting it into WordPress itself.

[00:34:18] But, but on that lane, I would say I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t go generic. I would go, like I said earlier, like really focusing on those jobs that need to happen and lean in in that direction and and stay ahead of core. That’s, that would be my approach. Mm-hmm.

[00:34:31] Kim: Rich, could you like, talk to the I guess the process of that?

[00:34:35] So, As far as I know in the school sound very, you know, uninformed. But there is, there’s still a Gutenberg project, you know, that’s moving forward. And then there’s cores approach and development. So, which are you watching more or less, or how are you staying up to date and on that bleeding edge? When you talk about, you know, staying up to date riding it and, and being really doubled down on, on the trend and the movement.

[00:34:58] Are you watching one more than the other? Are you watching both? Equally.

[00:35:01] Rich: Yeah, I, I, I mean, I’m, for my pov I’m almost exclusively following the Gutenberg project. You know, WordPress as a whole is getting a lot of improvements. But my attention is focused on what’s happening on Gutenberg itself. So on the Gutenberg GitHub repo.

[00:35:17] you can follow the prs that are going in. You can create your own issues. You can provide feedback, even design some ideas and put them all front and center for everyone to, to kind of review and, and, and, you know, leadership picks and chooses what, what kind of thing is going to the next effort. From that pov and then using that plugin that is, you know, added on to, the Gutenberg plugin, you can keep up with what’s going to go into core.

[00:35:38] Instead of waiting for the RC it is to land. You can get a quite a quite ahead view just to see, you know, how is, how is my experience gonna interact with what’s coming ahead and, and where are the opportunities that, that are either missed currently with within Berg that, you know, WordPress isn’t considering, or you know, the greater WordPress isn’t going to do.

[00:35:58] And that kind of, you know, [00:36:00] that could create a lane for you. Or you kind of feel like, okay, well I could see WordPress heading in the destruction, but, and Gutenberg’s heading down this lane. I don’t really, you know, if I’m building a product that I’m trying to, to grow on my own, I don’t really wanna go in that same lane.

[00:36:13] So you can kind of see that ahead of time. But that’s where, that’s where I stick to, to find out everything related to all this new

[00:36:18] Kim: stuff. Well, thank you. That’s super inform. I think for me, if I share a threat that I feel, you know, I mentioned earlier, Most of our users live in the admin for some portion of their day when they’re administrating orders and managing people in different levels and, and looking at discount codes and all that stuff.

[00:36:34] So I’ll be curious how and what happens to the admin area of WordPress as the more visual features are? What’s getting some focus? I would say there are still people working in the admin and, and trying to tackle things like the issue of notifications and things like that. . I wouldn’t say it’s a threat to products, but I would say it’s something to be concerned about.

[00:36:54] I mentioned in my show notes here about like set up wizards, for example, and we have a lot of plugins I see are, are starting to make some common choices, but it’s not because it’s, you know, a UX for the admin or a wizard built into Core press. It’s like WooCommerce had a good looking one and then a few of us were like, Oh, that looks good.

[00:37:11] We’ll we’ll use that too. So I think if products. Work together on those kinds of things and work together on how the admin functions and, and, I don’t know, develop that piece of things alongside some of these site editing tools so that we have more commonality so that we aren’t all training our users on how to use a different setting screen for each of us will be interesting.

[00:37:32] Mm-hmm. . I’m also seeing that like, you know, with the block editor a lot of plugins are putting little icons and little. Jump to my stuff, kind of features. There’s one for Yost. We use a video player. I think there’s one I use Block. See Theme. There’s one for the block. See Theme. I don’t know if Colo has one.

[00:37:47] I am using HO Blocks on one of our sites, but it’ll be interesting how plugins can leverage and plug themselves into and, you know, potentially clutter. The, the block editor, the editing experience for users and what protections we can put in place so that maintains that sleek, focused writing experience that users really want and like out of, out of WordPress.

[00:38:09] Matt: I’ve been looking all over Twitter a bit at different resources that Rich, and also I’m, I’m tweeting right now about Maia Ventura. He’s really influential in the way all of this is, is rolling out. So check the thread underneath our Twitter space here for all the tweets I’m sending out about those things.

[00:38:27] One. We’ve kind of hit our, our our time right here at 45 minutes. So, want to go around the horn and I keep saying that I don’t even like the saying very much around the circle. Let’s even take a chance, take a moment to give our best advice for WP product shops in terms of core and changes and, and the site editor.

[00:38:46] If somebody is trying to. Lead their product for the future and they’re worried about full sight editor. What are you gonna tell them today, Rich?

[00:38:53] Rich: Yeah, I would just reiterate to you know, stay informed. Stay ahead and think bigger. You know, go big right [00:39:00] now. Like, this is the time where things are still shaking out and we’re, we’re really kind of finding the ground.

[00:39:04] And WordPress is, you know, like I said earlier, like moving in a fast direction. Like now is the time to get going and, and think.

[00:39:10] Kim: Kim, I’m gonna, I’ll share my circle here. I would say focus on what you do. Well make sure that. You know, aren’t distracted, especially if you’ve been a product for a long time. If you go deep into a hole and, and develop a bunch of features for block editor, you know, you might be missing other opportunities and other needs of your product during that time.

[00:39:29] You’re, a lot of us are very small development teams. Like Matt said, two to three people directly focused on developing this form builder. That’s a lot of resource to send into. Section of your product, and you might not even have two or three total developers on your team. Mm-hmm. . And then I would say as you build features to help users edit their sites, don’t give them so much control that they will create an unsuccessful business and unsuccessful website or, you know, could potentially break functionality for themselves.

[00:39:57] So just continue to, you know, be a handhold and supportive, but and not give people too much.

[00:40:02] Matt: Yeah, I was . I was gonna say something similar in the sense that most important thing is always to be listening to your customers and what they want and what they need. And. They are not most likely going to be saying, I really need this to work in the, in the site editor, or, I’m, I’m, I really want you to extend this into a block in one form or another.

[00:40:23] They’re, they’re most often not saying those types of things. They’re gonna say, I really need your form to do X. And if you can do that in a way that also works with a site editor like in a header area or a footer, a sidebar or any of those things then, then that’s a good opportunity to try to do a both end, meet your customer’s need and get to know the site editor a little bit better at the same time.

[00:40:45] But generally speaking, focus is the most important thing for product owners. Focus on what’s most important. Chase it down and don’t don’t get too squirreled off on, on new fancy new things. But try to take those opportunities as they come one by one. So, this has been really great, really thankful for Richie being here and for this subject.

[00:41:05] Kim, I think put it on our roadmap. Good stuff. So thank you so much. One more shout out to the WP Minute. If you wanna hear this anytime check it out over there or on Spotify or all those other podcasting platforms. We have something up coming next week. Kim, what are we gonna be talking about next

[00:41:21] Kim: week?

[00:41:22] Absolutely. We’re going on a more business focused topic for, for people who build WordPress products. We’re gonna talk with Jason Coleman, my partner, about budgeting and forecasting revenue expenses. So you might not be in that mindset yet, but 2023 will be here before we know it. So, hopefully we can teach you some strategies and talk about how we manage finances within our product teams.

[00:41:41] Matt: I’m looking forward to that for sure. Thanks everybody so much.


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