With the release of WordPress 5.0 just around the corner, a lot of people have been asking me what does that mean for those of us that use page-builders like Divi and Beaver Builder.
The short answer is that it is too soon to tell but I have been reading up, asking around, and even pestering some people to get their thoughts on the future, and so I hope this helps shed some light.
What is Gutenberg?
WordPress is changing the way we create content on our WordPress websites with the integration of Gutenberg into WordPress core. Gutenberg is named after Johannes Gutenberg who is the inventor of the printing press.
Just as the printing press revolutionized publishing, WordPress is hoping Gutenberg will do the same thing in this age of the internet. Without getting too technical, the way we will build pages and posts in WordPress 5.0, will be very similar to using a page builder like Divi (without all the bells and whistles yet).
There are several articles out there that explain Gutenberg in more detail so I won’t bother going into detail here. Here are some excellent links if you want to learn more about Gutenberg which is currently available as a plugin in the WP Repository.
What Does This Mean for the WordPress Theme & Plugin Developers in General?
Many theme and plugin developers are working around the clock to determine the road map adjustments they will have to make.
- Make minimal changes to ensure everything works which is the most cost affordable roadmap for many.
- Fully embrace Gutenberg and modify the product to work seamlessly within the new “block” structure which is the most costly and time-consuming route to go.
- Fork WordPress and make a new market and ecosystem based on a custom CMS platform that works with your existing products.
- Retire existing plugins and themes and change the business roadmap altogether.
This is truly a tough decision for many as not everyone has the budget and staff to change their entire product line overnight. So there will be some big decisions to be made in the WordPress ecosphere. Here is what Tony Perez, Co-founder of Sucuri, had to say about it on his blog
“This does not mean that there won’t be a plugin ecosystem in 5 years, but rather that it’ll be dramatically different than today. Tools that prove invaluable in moving the platform forward will prove market need, and this need will be productized at some level. The impacts here will move beyond just the plugin domain, there are affects to be felt within the theme space as well. One could argue that when the site creation process is introduced how themes are leveraged will fundamentally change. When you simplify the creation process, do you really still need a theme at all? If so, what does that theme really look like?” – Tony Perez, GoDaddy SBU Lead & Co-Founder of Sucuri (read more)
I am excited to see that many products and theme developers are fully embracing the change even though we have yet to fully see what that will look like. Take for example the team at Modern Tribe, makers of The Events Calendar.
“We’ve chosen the second path. It’s the more expensive route, and requires us to shift our focus away from other things we’re excited to build. But for years, we at Modern Tribe (makers of The Events Calendar) have been obsessed with the evolution of content creation, and how we can improve the experience of creating events. Just making things “not-break” is an inadequate response to such a unique opportunity to change the content-creation experience in WordPress on a foundational level.” – George, Modern Tribe. (read more)
Many major product developers like WooCommerce are already creating blocks for WordPress 5.0, and it is exciting to see the possibilities.
“Our design team has explored and experimented with adding product Blocks (recent products, featured products, etc.) to posts and pages. But as you’re well aware, publishing products should be a very different experience to authoring a blog post.” – James, WooCommerce (read more)
What About Page Builders Like Divi and Beaver Builder?
I believe companies like Elegant Themes and FastLine Media LLC (the makers of Beaver Builder) have invested way too much to let their customer base down.
Robby McCollough is a partner at FastLine Media, makers of Beaver Builder. partner He recently gave a presentation at our local WordPress Monterey Meetup, and the topic was “How Blocks, Views, and Gutenberg might change the future of the web.” And of course, we would not let him leave without asking him some serious questions. 😉
Robby shared that they are playing around with a few blocks and some other ideas, but it is still too early to determine what exactly is going to be on the roadmap for the future. Either way, they feel there will always be a need for advanced customization which is where they can come in.
“Gutenberg is the self-proclaimed editor of the future, but Matt also mentioned that they’re designing Gutenberg for new users. I think there’s always going to be another level of customization and features that Page Builders can provide. Hopefully, Gutenberg will successfully increase WordPress’ market share. When those new users are ready to take their designs to the next level, we’ll be there!” – Robby McCollough, FastLine Media, LLC (the makers of Beaver Builder) (read more)
If you are interested in hearing more about the pros, cons and fears coming from the community, just check out the comments at the end of his post.
And of course, this article would not be complete without talking about Divi, by Elegant Themes. The owner and founder of Elegant Themes, Nick Roach, is a smart businessman and a visionary. He has been ahead of the curve in many ways.
So I trust that whatever direction they decide to take with Divi, they will be very successful. I reached out to Nick for a comment and this is what he had to say.
“First of all, Gutenberg will not break Divi. There will be a choice to use the Divi Builder or Gutenberg just like there is a choice right now between the Divi Builder at the current WordPress post editor. We are also exploring creative ways for Divi and Gutenberg to interact, but what that interaction looks like will depend on how Gutenberg development progresses (and will continue to evolve as the project matures).” – Nick Roach, Elegant Themes.
Will it be Webageddon?
So does the release of WordPress 5.0 mean we are on the verge of Armageddon? Absolutely not. All of our websites are not going to crash suddenly, and we will not have to be up 72 hours straight fixing broken websites.
What it does mean is that the WordPress community and its ecosphere is going to change in a big way. We are going to see a whole new flood of plugins and plugin developers providing new “blocks” to add to our website.
It may even mean fewer themes as Gutenberg develops over time. But this is going to span years, not months because it will also depend on how quickly the rest of the community adapts.
How will this affect us little guys?
The reality is many WordPress users like the simplicity of the current text editor and may be scared to make the switch or they will leave WordPress altogether for platforms like Wix and Squarespace. So this just might actually open up our market base to a wider audience in need of professional web designers and developers to build their websites.At the end of the day, we all are building our business on a platform that is evolving and changing and if we are going to continue using it, we must adapt and adapt quickly. #gutenberg #wordpress #divi #pagebuilders Click To Tweet
Many are even predicting the WordPress community will break up into smaller CMS adaptations. This too could be a good thing as it could create new markets to break into after what has become a very crowded WordPress plugin and theme market.
I am excited to see what the future of web design and development holds. I love WordPress and I love Divi and will most likely continue using both for quite a long time.
Will page builders be replaced? I think that the introduction of Gutenberg will cut into Divi’s and Beaver Builder’s “Do-it-yourself” market somewhat but the designer / developer market will remain strong because I believe they will always stay one step ahead.
Yet at the same time, we cannot forget that at one time the “Framework” model used by Headway, Genesis, and others, was replaced by page-builders which no one expected.
At the end of the day, we all are building our business on a platform that is evolving and changing and if we are going to continue using it, we must adapt and adapt quickly.
“This evolution is not unique to WordPress, it happened with Google, Twitter and the list goes on. The platform will always do what is in the best interest of the platform. Just because WordPress is democratizing publishing, it doesn’t mean it is a democracy.” – Tony Perez, GoDaddy