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 share briefly.

The Winners

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

But the real winners will be the users. They will appreciate it as it will be easy 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 the Gutenberg is the new editor, but content editor only; which it is, but it doesn’t stop there. It also allows editing the layout and different parts of the visual appearance of the theme itself. The reason why we misunderstand it is probably that the development has three phases.

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

Of course, we will only see the full capabilities in action once development reaches a particular 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.

Potential 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 more guessing that reality.

On the other hand, sales were dropping for prmiumWP themes lately, so some innovation was necessary.

Lately I’ve seen some massive sales from premium theme makers, which I believe is due to Gutenberg, but this is just my opinion. 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, for example, this 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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