Opinion: Is WordPress Gutenberg Editor a Failure or Success?

wp-gutenberg-failure-cover

I’ve been using WordPress CMS for more than 10 years now. I’ve seen its evolution from a blogging platform to a fully featured website builder.

About Gutenberg editor

In December 2018, WordPress launched Gutenberg editor. The community, including myself, received it with mixed feelings.

On the one hand it looked like something innovative, intended to change the way users create and publish content, on the other hand it seemed like an incomplete tool trying to improve something that was already working great.

I’m now writing this post using Gutenberg editor and there is nothing particularly wrong with it. However, I sometimes find it difficult to use and confusing, even after using it on a daily basis. It simply doesn’t provide the user experience I’m used to.

Why Gutenberg editor is not there yet

Overall, I don’t like Gutenberg. Let me explain why. There are so many little things that simply don’t work as required. Here are a few examples:

  • The UI is not intuitive – important controls are hidden, there are too many useless options, the icons are confusing and not representative. I don’t need spotlight mode, top toolbar, cog icons and other useless features.
gutenberg confusing icons
gutenberg hidden options
  • I don’t need the Edit/Select mode – in previous versions I could select the content from all blocks and copy or move them. Now I have to change the mode from Edit to Select and then I’ll be able to do the same thing.
gutenberg edit-select options
  • It’s not front-end editing – you add blocks in your back-end and preview them in the front-end. There is no way to edit blocks and other elements in the front end (except using the fullscreen mode which is not accurate).

  • Block/pattern editing is a nightmare – if you’ve ever used Elementor or any other decent page builder, you’ll understand what I mean. You can easily adjust a simple block like image or button, but when you have a more complex block, things get really complicated. It’s super hard to adjust elements and editing becomes a difficult task.
gutenberg block-pattern editing
  • Embeds are useless – what’s the point to embed a Youtube video if you can’t adjust the width of the video or set up the autoplay option. You will anyway need to include the video via custom code.

  • Images – you can’t simply drag and drop multiple images at once, as in Classic Editor. Now, you have to create a gallery, select your images, post the gallery and adjust the columns. Used to be simpler and more efficient.

  • Issues – if something goes wrong, let’s say you create an HTML block and your code is not valid, WordPress will notify you and give you options to Resolve the issue. Why? I don’t need to convert this block, I just want to edit the HTML code, which is not possible without converting the block.
gutenberg resolve block
  • It’s not drag & drop – you can only move blocks up and down and there is no way to drag and drop a block into a column or another block. The interface is clunky and the block toolbar flashes chaotically if you don’t select it to be on top.

  • List view doesn’t help – list view has been launched in the version 10.7 of Gutenberg. It was meant to be an enhancement. In reality it’s not helpful, as it opens on the left side and pushes the content to the right, making it difficult to properly view the layout, even in the fullscreen mode.
list view gutenberg editor

  • Responsive controls – these don’t exist in Gutenberg, so you can’t edit the layout for mobile devices. You can only preview the layout for desktop, tablet and mobile within the editor.

Full Site Editing (FSE)

A few words about full site editing (FSE), which is an upcoming/beta feature allowing you to edit different parts of your WordPress site like header/footer, archives, template parts, etc.

While the idea is nice, at this point it’s an overly complicated, clunky feature with inferior user experience. It’s extremely hard to use and confusing even for those familiar with WordPress.

access wordpress full site editor
wordpress full site editor interface
wordpress full site editor beta

There are only a few themes compatible with FSE, so it will take some time until we’ll get a decent number of themes and a functional website editor. Meanwhile, a 3rd party block builder will work better for most users.

Full site editing is not even close to the experience provided by block builders like Kadence blocks.

Conclusion

I like changes, but why did they change something that was working really well? Looks like they are pushing this product further, without listening to the community and in my opinion it gets worse.

Thank God we have Kadence Blocks or Elementor and can use any of them for now. I hope that Gutenberg will improve and the team will make it more user friendly and easy to use.

Currently, I won’t use it to create new pages or more complex layouts. I think that it’s way behind other block or page builders.

So, what do you think? Is Gutenberg a failure or a success? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “Opinion: Is WordPress Gutenberg Editor a Failure or Success?”

  1. WordPress is my main CMS for about a decade. I have made tons of plugins and themes and can say hands down without the slightest hesitation that Gutenberg is the worst thing to happen to WordPress.
    The post editor is bad enough but the widget interface seems more like a puzzle designed to confuse than anything intended to be used.
    I have the disable Gutenberg widgets and post editor installed by default on all boilerplates.

    1. Hi Chris, I feel you. I have the same feeling about widgets which are now Gutenberg first. I don’t find them really useful, while it’s nice that you can use blocks.

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