With WordPress 5.9 update a new acronym became the trendiest buzzword inside the community. FSE – Full Site Editing is the big news in the industry that everyone is talking about.
To give you a hint, FSE option is strongly connected to WordPress themes, customization, and usability. In this article, I will explain what Full Site Editing is and will list some of the best looking and functional WordPress block themes.
What is Full Site Editing (FSE)
It is no news that WordPress was moving toward a global drag and drop editing platform that works independently of website builders.
The 5.9 version brought this feature to all users and should help them build websites easier, without advanced knowledge of coding.
FSE (Full Site Editing) is the new option allowing you to fully edit your WordPress site (including pages, headers/footers, sections and elements) using block themes and the default website editor.
But there is more to add about FSE, as it simplifies a series of editing processes that were previously possible using custom code or 3rd party plugins:
- The new site Editor – block themes such as Twenty Twenty-Two, allow you to edit and preview the website inside the new default Editor
- No Customizer and Widgets – all the adjustments are available in the Editor. From there, you can change your website title, menu, logo, etc.
- Everything is block based – blocks can be placed anywhere on the page, and later customized
- Templates – block themes can add different templates like , blog archive, single post, single page, etc. that can be customized
- Template parts – you can add different templates like headers/footers and other parts that can be displayed on different pages of you site
These are the most important FSE additions that WordPress 5.9 comes with. Another important aspect is that you can use Full Site Editing with and without the Guttenberg plugin.
Note: In order to use Full Site Editing, you need to install a block theme like any of the themes listed below.
Now that you know what FSE is, let’s jump into some of the best block themes on the market.
Top 8 WordPress Block Themes (FSE ready)
New block themes are released quite frequently, which means that we’ll have a decent selection in the future. Meanwhile, I decided to make a list of 8 most inspiring block themes. Here they are:
Created by: Brian Gardner (theme acquired by WP Engine)
Active installations: N/A
Compatible with: WordPress 5.9 or higher.
Besides that, Frost is also among the few themes that come with plenty of block patterns (over 70) and above all – it’s free.
In the editing process, it feels that so far Frost is close to what a complete block theme should look like.
It has the highest number of customization options, and regardless of how you build the blocks – it still follows these standards. Colors and block patterns match very well and have a consistent style.
Frost is a great example of a block WordPress theme done right. Compared to other themes, it provides a superior user experience and design elements.
Created by: Elma Studio
Active installations: 800+
Compatible with: WordPress 5.8 or higher
Elma Studio doesn’t have a large collection of themes compared to its competitors and instead is focused on updating and supporting its great collection.
With this plugin, the editing experience is enhanced by multiple customization options and block types that are not available in the default editor.
It’s also important to note that Aino works only with Gutenberg. Elma studio mentioned that more people are choosing or switching to the Gutenberg editor, motivating their choice.
Building an online shop with Aino is intended to be an easy process. Aino blocks are WooCommerce compatible, and due to this, you can create e-commerce websites without knowing code.
It’s indeed revolutionary but the credits don’t belong to Aino alone or the theme studio, it’s rather an FSE feature. After all, no one said that WordPress’s latest update wouldn’t work with e-commerce.
Created by: Anders Norén
Active installations: 600+
Compatible with: WordPress 5.6 or higher
Tove is probably the most playful and fun theme in this top. It was named after the Finnish author, painter, and Illustrator Tove Jannson (1914-2001).
The last part makes Tove more difficult to edit, as it requires some basic knowledge about how blocks work.
Tove has been initially designed for restaurant and cafe related websites, but it can also be used and customized for educational websites, such as schools or kindergartens.
At the same time, due to its FSE compatibility, Tove could be suitable for a lot of small and medium business websites.
Created by: Automattic
Active Installations: 200+
Compatible with: WordPress 5.7.2 or higher
Just like its description say, the Skatepark block theme is designed for events and organizations with an emblematic duotone image effect and bold fonts.
Designed by WordPress.com owners – Automattic, it was launched in February 2022 and is an exclusively block based theme. It’s also compatible with older WordPress versions – starting with 5.7.2.
Editing the theme is neither complicated nor simple though. The duotone can be easily removed/replaced with another effect which is great.
On the other hand, there are not too many blocks to edit, and if you want to change only a small section of the page, you’ll have to build your own blocks from scratch.
Choosing a theme style is also possible. You can select different fonts for your text or links, edit the color palette and adjust the colors for different elements like background.
In the end, I think that Automattic could do better, but it’s still a decent theme that was worth mentioning.
Created by: unisonthemes
Active Installations: 400+
Compatible with WordPress 5.8 or higher
There are not so many block themes that offer a balance between customization and functionality. But there is Elyn, which can be changed in multiple ways, but at the same time, some elements are just great by default.
Testing the Elyn block theme was a smooth process with no challenges at all.
At the same time, Elyn can work for several types of websites. You can turn Elyn into a blog, fashion, food, or any other image focused website. So if you want to make something solid based on this WordPress block theme, you need a vision.
Of course, Elyn is also great as a playground for testing out FSE features, even if it comes from WordPress 5.8 generation.
Created by: deothemes
Active Installations: 600+
Compatible with: WordPress 5.8 or higher
Block themes come really handy for blogging websites. Taking into account that this generation of themes is relatively new, Ona is a successful experimental block theme for blogging.
Just after installing it, I was surprised by how well elements are arranged in the editor. It’s really easy to edit Ona – from replacing elements up to adding new blocks without messing the design, this theme has it all.
Even if Ona was initially designed for blog related websites, I think it can be used for portfolios as well. Due to a great blend of block types, photographers could use Ona to promote their works not only with images but also with words.
7. Twenty Twenty-Two
Created by: WordPress.org
Active Installations: 500,000+
Compatible with: WordPress 5.9 or higher
WordPress 5.9 default theme – Twenty Twenty-Two is not a real success among block theme users but it still can be used by average users with basic knowledge. The theme design is appealing and has a unique style.
In the editor, however, it may be difficult to start editing the blocks without prior knowledge and experience with WordPress.
Adding new blocks is tricky as their position is not always the intended one – a challenge that I faced right from the very beginning.
Another annoying process is understanding how to replace the black background at the top of the page – you have to edit each section manually, and it takes more time.
Other than this, the editor works the same way as for other block themes. But you might find minor bugs here and there when working with the Blocks menu from the editor’s sidebar.
On the one hand, it’s true that FSE is still in beta and I understand the risks of it. On the other hand, I expected more from a default theme, especially when there are several complex block themes from different publishers that work better than Twenty Twenty-Two.
Overall, Twenty Twenty-Two theme has the potential to become more than just a massive testing playground if perfected in time. Meanwhile, you can track its reviews and see when it will get better.
The worst reviews so far highlight the following aspects:
- Lack of tutorials
- No widget-aware
- Takes too much time to configure
- Issues with the mobile menu
The best reviews talk about the following features:
- Works great with Gutenberg
- It’s very flexible (but I guess the entire update is about it)
8. X3P0 – Reflections
Created by: Justin Tadlock
Active Installations: 300+
Compatible with: WordPress 5.9 or higher
The X3P0 – Reflections is a relatively new theme, released in February 2022, and is designed for single-page websites. Its main advantage is simplicity, and it has only 2 core components that can be combined – the background and the cover image.
However, it is among the first FSE-ready block themes that came out, especially for this update.
Out of all simple block themes I tested, Reflections is the best for beginners. You can start editing existing elements and see how FSE works, and add new blocks for a more complex build.
Just like with other block themes, the editor gives you 30 solid colors and 12 gradients to experiment with the background, text, or links.
The best part of this theme is that it teaches you how blocks work together from scratch.
Regardless of how revolutionary it seems, Full Site Editing is the next step in WordPress evolution, that I expected and even anticipated ever since builders came along. The accessibility and ease of building a website with basic knowledge are at the core of this update.
How big it will be, and what role will creativity play in an apparently standardized new theme generation is the main question.
I think that more theme studios and designers will focus on building new block themes. The inevitable will probably happen, and there will always be great themes that were built on the failure of bad themes.
I don’t think we’re there yet, as Gutenberg is far from perfect. Meanwhile, I will stick to what works best at the moment, and this is either Astra or Kadence theme. Read my Kadence theme review and let me know what you think.