Gutenberg will change WordPress forever. It’s changed quite a bit since I reviewed it back in August. The goal is to have an interface that’s more intuitive – similar to Wix or Squarespace – that would be easier for those new to WordPress to use, add new features, and become more standardized. If the news I heard at WordCamp US 2017 is any indication, Gutenberg will change the way we see and design websites.
Users will be able to move the layout elements around to create uniform designs that they want to see. For example, if you want your browser to show the logo of every website in the bottom right corner of the screen and the menu vertically on the left, Gutenberg (eventually) will let you. This is in part an attempt to improve accessibility.
In other words, Gutenberg will control the entire screen – not just the content area. The content itself will be blocks. Each content block will have its own attributes. Content blocks such as headings, body text, quotes, etc., are built in, but we’re not limited to those. Developers will be able to create their own content blocks. For example, you can create a content block for recipes and sell it as a plugin. Even with all of the things it can do, the output of Gutenberg is clean HTML 5. It will take several phases for all of the features to be implemented.
With all of the layout options and content blocks, the question I hear a lot is how this affects builder plugins and themes such as Beaver Builder, Elementor, and Divi. Will they become obsolete? What about all of the layouts and child themes that we’ve created? What about all of the websites we’ve built? Will the future of WordPress put developers and designers out of business?
The future of WordPress will not put developers and designers out of business
First, let me assure you that big-name companies that provide builder tools, such as Elegant Themes with Divi, have no intention of going out of business. They’re not even afraid of what’s coming. Instead, they’ve been learning about, and even contributing to, the Gutenberg project for a while. They’re helping to influence what Gutenberg can and cannot do. They can use Gutenberg to their advantage by creating new blocks and utilizing the blocks that are built in. And – they’ll be able to turn Gutenberg off within the theme, so they’ll still have control over the website’s design.
Second, it will take years for Gutenberg to do what Automattic has in mind. The world of web design will be much different by then. Just think about today’s tools vs last year’s tools. What a difference one year makes!
Third, layouts and child themes will work as normal (that’s the plan anyway). Gutenberg is purposefully designed to not break websites. Themes include controls for rows, columns, etc. Gutenberg relies on the themes for this data.
Fourth, websites still need to be designed and built, and builder tools will still be the best options for many designers and developers. And in my opinion the best of those options is, and will still be, Divi.
Elegant Themes is forward-thinking. New features are added and older features are expanded. Everything becomes more streamlined.
The drag-and-drop builder is intuitive and powerful. It’s hard to imagine a design that can’t be done with Divi. Beginners can build nice sites easily and professionals can create designs that I can’t even imagine.
There are lots of layouts already designed by professional designers. Elegant Themes gives away a new free layout every week. The layouts include multiple pages and royalty-free images, and the ET blog even has tutorials on how to use them. My website is one of those layouts.
The number of tutorials available is amazing. Many of the developers and designers that use Divi have websites with tons of tutorials for free. You can learn how to do almost anything with Divi.
The third-party support is over the top. If you want a layout, child theme, or plugin to add new features to your website, you’ll have an easier time finding it for Divi than other themes. There isn’t another theme with the amount of products available from third-party suppliers. There are dozens of marketplaces and online stores to purchase from.
The number of people willing to help is overwhelming. If you need help with Divi, you can go to ET’s support page, the ET blog, one of the many groups devoted to Divi on Facebook, or one of the many websites that focus on Divi. Elegant Themes has a passion for this community and they want to see them grow. That’s why they give away so many layouts and images, publish tutorials, highlight plugins, write about websites made with Divi, and focus on designers. They celebrate their community.
There’s no need to switch themes. There are no design restrictions with Divi. You can create old designs or cutting edge designs of the future. If you need to update your website’s design every year or so, Divi makes it easy to change designs. In fact, you can work on a new design in the background while your old design is active, and then change to the new design when you’re ready. That’s what I did with this website.
Here’s a list of my favorite features:
- drag and drop builder
- frontend builder
- header custmizations
- layouts and child themes
- plugins to add new features
- a/b testing
- custom CSS
- options panel
- tech support
- Facebook groups
- thousands of tutorials on the web
If I use Divi, do I have to use it forever?
No. You can move away from Divi and still retain your page and post layouts by using the Divi Builder plugin. However, they won’t look the same as they do with your Divi site. Your layouts will keep their modules, but they will live within the confines of the new theme. This means they won’t look exactly like they did with Divi, but they’ll still work. You’ll still have forms, text areas, code modules, etc., but if your new theme has a sidebar your layout will live within the content area next to the sidebar.
This is mostly useful if you’ve created your blog content using the Divi Builder to add elements to the blog posts. If you intend on retaining the exact layout for your page design, then you really should keep Divi anyway. So yes, you will need to do some design-work with your new theme. But, you’ll have that issue with other themes, so that’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Anyone who has changed more than a theme or two has seen broken content. This should be expected no matter what theme you’re moving from or to. To say this is a problem with Divi is to misunderstand the nature of WordPress themes.
Fortunately, with Divi there’s no reason to change themes. If you want a new design, simply design something new, grab a layout pack, buy a child theme, or hire a Divi designer (there are lots of them and they’re easy to find). With Divi you’re not stuck with one design. Creating something new is what Divi’s for. Divi is powerful enough to create any design you need. There’s no need to switch themes, so this isn’t even an issue. You can change your design as often as you want and do it with Divi every time.
I recommend Divi even with Gutenberg on the horizon.
Queue the question: “But you write for the ET blog, so did they pay you to say that?”
No (but like most blogs I will get a kickback if you use my affiliate link – which I appreciate). I’m a freelance writer and I write for a lot of companies. If they needed me I would write for Beaver Builder, Elementor, Avada, X, Make, Genesis, etc. No matter who I write for, Divi is my WordPress theme of choice. I don’t like Divi because I write for Elegant Themes. I write for Elegant Themes because I like Divi and the Divi community.
The bottom line:
Gutenberg will not do away with the need for builder themes and Divi is the best out there as far as I’m concerned (and I’ve tried a lot of them in my WordPress writing career). Even with Gutenberg coming, Divi is still the best choice to design and build your WordPress websites.
Let’s hear from you! What do you think about Gutenberg and Divi? Let us know in the comments below.