Gutenberg: Where do we start? Part 1 – Why Gutenberg?

This is part 1 in a series on getting started with developing Gutenberg blocks, for people who aren’t sure where to start.

Before I start to learn anything, I like to ask why? Unless there’s a compelling reason to learn something, there’s always the possibility that we might not keep going if things get a little confusing.

And also, it’s a question I’ve heard people ask when I talk about Gutenberg: Why is it needed? Why are we making this change?

I have a friend who runs a choir for LGBT people. She has a website on Wix. She knows people who do WordPress, but she went with Wix. Why? She can put images where she wants easily. It’s a click or two and everything is labelled and obvious. It’s all visual.

I have a friend who blogs about cross stitch using WordPress. Or, at least, she used to. She got frustrated because she couldn’t get things positioned correctly, and didn’t know how to embed content from other sites, and found the writing process clunky. Now she uses a combination of other sites that are easy and visual.

I know that the plural of anecdote is not data. However, we all know people who have taken that path. We’ve seen the Wix adverts on YouTube. We’ve all inserted an image, aligned it right, and then yelled at the screen because it keeps moving down when we start to type again.. We’ve all done the “position image -> preview -> reposition image -> preview -> edit html” dance in WordPress.  Everyday users don’t get that far. It’s not easy, and it’s not obvious.

We might know that putting a URL on its own line in the editor will embed it on the front end. Everyday users don’t get that far. It’s not easy, and it’s not obvious.

Take a step back and watch some first time users try to embed a YouTube video in the current editor.

Some people have suggested that Automattic is only doing Gutenberg because they want to compete with Wix, Weebly, Squarespace.

The reality is that we are all competing with them, no matter if we’re consultancies, agencies, web hosts, or theme authors.

A few years ago when the average user might have gone to a WordPress host, bought a theme, possibly paid a little bit for consultancy – now they have a host of options to choose from, most of which have better writing experiences than WordPress currently does. Now they’re on other platforms, and personal choice turns into business choice.

Gutenberg! Or is it Ghost?

Heck, even Ghost, the Markdown based blogging software, has embraced an easy to use visual editor.

We need to evolve to survive. We need to evolve so we’re leading, not playing catch-up.