The Impact of Gutenberg on the WordPress Theme Ecosystem

Gutenberg is supposed to be the new way we can edit and present WordPress themes and content. I’ve read several opinions, and as with any significant change, some are afraid of it, others welcome it.

From what I’ve seen, there are both pros and cons which I would like to elaborate on briefly, but only scratching the surface.

The Winners

For one, Automattic will win with the update as they need to keep WordPress competitive with others advancing; making more and more user-friendly CMS software.

The real winners will be the users. They will appreciate it as it will be a lot easier than now to customize themes without coding (or with some minimal CSS). However, for now, I see a lot of negativity from users looking at the plugin (it’s available as a plugin for now while in development, and will ship with WP 5.0).

I believe part of this is the fact that it’s still in development, and we don’t understand it entirely yet.

In many people’s minds Gutenberg is the new editor, but content editor only; which it is, but it doesn’t stop there. It will also allow to edit the layout and different parts of the visual appearance of the theme itself. The reason why we misunderstand it is probably that the development will have multiple phases.

The first phase is focusing on the content editor only, and then dealing with customizing themes.

Of course, we will only see the full capabilities in action once development reaches a certain stage. As we love and use WordPress, we will be testing the plugin over the coming months, and I encourage anyone using WP to do the same.

Negative consequences?

I believe this is a very positive direction but if I had to point a less positive point, here’s what I think: while theme developers are endlessly creative, I can imagine a drop in the demand for premium WP themes directly because free themes will provide easy customization options.

Options, ease of use and premium appearance are the main reasons why we choose premium themes. But of course, at this stage, this is just guessing not reality.

On the other hand, sales were dropping for prmiumWP themes lately, so some innovation was necessary, so seems like we’re at the same page.

For example, lately I’ve seen some massive discounts from premium theme makers, which I believe is due to Gutenberg. As with any change, there is some uncertainty.

At the moment quite frequently it’s hard to re-create a theme setup that we see in a demo, which should change forever.

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Frank Rankowitz

Founder of WebHostingsWorld. Avid reader and web enthusiast. To counter the geek in himself, he took up running a few years ago. This, the love for web and good coffee are what keep him going.

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