Introduced as a simple blogging platform in 2003, WordPress is now a full-fledged content management system that powers over 43% of the web. It is continuously evolving to remain the number one CMS platform for websites.
Every year, WordPress releases a number of updates, all intended to make the content management process simpler and better.
In 2018, WordPress introduced a block editor called Gutenberg. Replacing the classic editor with Gutenberg was a huge update for WordPress. This new block editor made it easier to create and edit WordPress pages and posts using a blocks system.
On top of that, to improve the Gutenberg block editor and make it more flexible, the full site editing concept emerged. It is also referred to as the second phase of the Gutenberg project and enables full site editing with content blocks.
In simple words, full site editing (in short, FSE) is a collection of new WordPress features that enable you to create and edit every aspect of your website using blocks. Before FSE, we could use blocks in the content areas of WordPress pages and posts only. Now, FSE allows the usage of blocks beyond the content area and offers many customization options.
Let’s explore what the future WordPress Full Site Editing (FSE) holds.
WordPress Full Site Editing (FSE) Features
Here are the four major Full Site Editing features:
Full Site Editing breaks the limitation of themes and Gutenberg plugins that allow you to use blocks only in the content section.
Before FSE, you had to access the WordPress customizer to add the site logo, header, footer, homepage settings, widgets, and more. Now, full site editing has replaced the customizer, widgets, and menu because you no longer need them. You can edit every part of your website using blocks.
Apart from blocks, you’ll also get pre-designed patterns to add different sections to your post/page. Using patterns can save a lot of your time since you don’t have to design everything from scratch. Furthermore, you can customize block settings and styles more globally.
With this option, you can fully control the website’s background colour, typography, layout dimensions, block colour, and even create your own colour palettes.
You can customize the style of specific blocks that automatically apply the settings throughout the whole site. This enables you to change your site’s look at any time from a single place.
Another major component in full site editing is the WordPress block-based theme.
The block-based theme is a new type of WordPress theme with templates entirely built using blocks. If you want to experience the full capabilities of full site editing, you need to have a block-based theme installed.
A block theme provides full flexibility and more control over customization options. FSE is a boon for non-coders who can now easily create custom websites without hiring a developer or relying on a page builder.
There are over 50 block themes in the WordPress.org repository as at the time of writing.
FSE allows you to create a new template for your WordPress pages and posts.
The template editor provides you with a blank canvas to create a custom page template using blocks with full control over customization.
You can also include multiple header, footer, and general layouts as the template parts. Later, when you are creating custom templates or editing the existing template, you can simply insert any of the template parts and follow that up with other content blocks.
Undoubtedly, Full Site Editing changes the way we will create and design a website with WordPress. FSE seems to have a lot of potential that is yet to be discovered in the coming months.
Full site editing is a major update and we can see a mixed reaction to it with both positive comments and negative criticism.
Some support FSE as a much-needed feature for WordPress to remain a competitive CMS and to improve the experience of building a site. Others are not so positive because FSE has changed the way they used to work. For those who already have many themes and plugins, learning and adopting alternative approaches for development is time-consuming and frustrating.
Many commercial theme and plugin authors in the industry are still unclear about adopting full site editing.
Whenever a major update releases, our concern would be its immediate impact on everyone working with it. Depending on how you work with WordPress, you’ll definitely see changes with full site editing.
Going through different discussions on FSE features, I’ve gathered some thoughts on its potential impact on different businesses and people working with WordPress.
Commercial Theme Authors
Many theme sellers haven’t jumped all in on full site editing yet. They already have many existing products where they have invested a lot of time and energy and are committed to supporting them. It’s hard to keep up with the changes and there are a lot of them compared to the classic theme workflow.
It has made some development aspects more complicated, so it’s going to be a tedious and time-consuming task to make adjustments and adopt full site editing. Many theme authors are still learning the ropes and experimenting with full site editing features.
There is no rush for theme authors to switch to full site editing though. Rarly adoption of the feature can help them have the edge over the competition and once the developers grasp the approach of full site editing, it could speed up their workflow compared to the old way of doing things.
Adopting FSE functionality to handle new client projects can be a smart approach for freelancers. But for your previous clients who are comfortable with the classic editor, providing them with options to edit everything on the theme can bring more problems your way.
Though it’s labelled as an easier way to build a website, expertise is still required for perfection and clients can quickly get heavy-handed with their involvement in the design process.
Here is an example of a business website built using full site editing.
If you are using any third-party WordPress theme, the first thing you have to make sure of is whether your theme is compatible with the full site editing feature. If your theme supports FSE, you can access the new site editors to change your website.
Even if you are not confident about the changes now, this could be a future-friendly option.
Page Builder Users
Page builder plugins are already providing full site editing features themselves. Most of the page builders are developed to cater to professional web needs. However, the full site editing feature in WordPress core focuses on providing design control and flexibility to beginners, despite it lacking the advanced capabilities that the other page builders are offering.
Page Builders have their own layout tools and blocks. Right now, the full site editing feature is not a replacement for them. Page builders provide a better design experience, advanced capabilities, limitless design options, and so on. However, we expect full site editing to grow and improve over time. Once we get there, page builders will likely start to look for ways of working together with the full site editing features.
Full Site Editing is a big milestone in WordPress’ evolution to improve user experience.