Full Site Editing is starting to make its way into WordPress core, and you might have some questions about what it means for your website.
So today let’s take a look at what full site editing actually is, what it means for your website, take a little bit of a live demo of it and think about whether you should use it for your website right now or not.
Hey there and welcome back!
So if you know anything about WordPress in its present state, you’ve probably heard about full site editing. And you’ve probably heard that part of full site editing, or FSE, will be rolled into WordPress core when WordPress 5.8 is released on July 20.
So today I wanted to go over what full site editing is, how you’ll be able to use it from the front-end stand point once it’s fully rolled into WordPress core, likely in late 2021, and discuss whether it’s a good idea for your website to use.
I do want to note that I will be through FSE through the eyes of just a plain user of WordPress, not a developer’s. If you’re looking for a developer’s perspective on full site editing, I’ll probably do a deeper dive into that part on my personal channel at a later date.
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Now let’s get started.
What is full site editing?
So what exactly is full site editing anyway?
Well, full site editing, or FSE as I’ll call it often, is basically the endpoint for the entire Gutenberg project. It will allow you to edit every part of your website — the header, the different queries on different templates, the footer, all of that — without any lines of code. And you’ll be able to do that by using various blocks.
It’s really the final step into making WordPress more like the website builders you see out there like Squarespace and the like.
As you’ll see when we get to the demo portion, you’ll be able to easily change what the header of your website looks like, or you can change what’s in your footer, or you can create cool new templates.
You will have full control over how everything looks on your website.
Just remember that with great power comes great responsibility.
Will this feature ruin my website?
Good news! FSE will not ruin your website. Or at least not right away.
Your current PHP theme that you’re using right now should work even when full site editing is rolled into WordPress core. Or at least it should. It just depends on if the theme was actually built correctly or not.
But you will have to actively do something with full site editing to “break” your theme or your website. You would have to create a new template through the block editor and use it on a post or page in order to make things look weird or awkward.
So when the team announces that FSE will be moved into WordPress core, don’t worry your website is not going to break. Everything is going to be just fine.
Is full site editing available for my website?
Not quite. Or if you’re watching this right after the video was released.
WordPress 5.8 sort of brings FSE into core. You can create template parts (like headers and such) and custom templates in FSE that will allow you to make customizations on the fly, but the true full site editing experience won’t be available until at least WordPress 5.9, which will likely come out in November or December 2021.
Now, you can test drive FSE by using the Gutenberg plugin, as that’s where active development and testing is taking place. But I would only use that in a testing environment.
Of course, if you’re watching this after WordPress has released a version that has full site editing truly into core, then well, it’s available to use.
How FSE differs from traditional themes?
So, how will FSE themes differ from traditional PHP themes?
Well as I mentioned at the start of this video, I’m going to shy away from the technical discussion right now in order to look at it from a user’s perspective.
So as you, the end user, will see it, FSE themes will essentially just add in custom styles that you can use. They’ll add in a default background color, set the color for links and buttons and so on and so forth. Some of them will likely come with default layouts that you can use right out of the box, but in the end all of it will be customizable.
That might mean that your webpages are lighter and load quicker. It also puts people into the position of being web designers, which can be a pretty scary experience if you don’t know what you’re doing.
There are a lot of positives and negatives when it comes to using an FSE theme.
Here is the site editor. I am running Gutenberg 11 I believe, and I also have the WordPress 5.8 release candidate version 1 running on this website. So some things might look a little bit differently depending on when you’re watching this video. I’m also running the twenty twentyone block theme that’s experimental at the time of this recording.
So one of the first things that you’ll notice is that it looks a lot like the block editor that you know already. And one of the cool things is that you can come over here and set your default global styles. You can set, you know, your fonts, colors for text and background and all of that right here and that changes throughout the site. So that’s really cool.
Right here we’re looking at a page home template since that’s what my main website runs. So that’s the default view that loads. And you’ll notice that we have the header, we have the post content area and we have the footer. And we can change that throughout all of the page templates that we have.
And then up here, normally in the block editor you would think that this would take to a posts or pages page, but actually it adds in this navigation. It takes a little bit of time to get used to, but whatever at this point.
So let’s check out the index template.
Okay, so here we are with the index template. So it looks a lot like the template we just looked at except that we have actual posts in here. The main thing here is that it’s loading this query loop block, which loops through a query just like PHP template would do. And you can change whether it has post title, post content, post metadata, whatever. You can have a lot of fun with these.
And obviously making a change here would make a change where you’re loading categories and archives and what not, and maybe the home page if you don’t have a front page or a home page dedicated.
Now we’re going to get to the really fun part and that is creating template parts like a different footer or a different header and that kind of business. So let’s go and do that.
So to create a new template part, you go to appearance and template parts. As you can see I was testing around with it and created a template part already. But we’re going to add in a new template part.
We’re going to give it a title. And I’m just going to add in a simple site logo. And then I’m going to hit publish. And it’s been published.
So now we need to go into a template and edit the footer. Okay so we’re back in the homepage template. And now we’re going to change out the footer. So I’ll select the footer. Actually we’re going to remove the footer.
And then we’re going to add in template part, choose existing, and then here’s our alt footer. And then we come over to advanced and then specify that it’s the footer, like so. And then we go in here and center it. And then save.
And if we were to go and look at the front end we would see this different footer out there.
So that’s all there really is to full site editing. I do highly encourage you to go out and create a dev environment or sandbox environment where you can play around with full site editing but also not break your live website. Because I really think it’s going to take a lot of testing it out, experimenting with things, breaking things, trying new things to really understand what you can really do with this new site editor.
Future of FSE
So now what is the future of FSE in WordPress?
Well for one, I’m pretty excited to see where this all goes from here. I think that once people get the hang of it, you’re going to see some really really cool websites. And hopefully those folks will spin those sites into tutorials to help other people learn how to create really cool FSE websites.
Now, there will also be people who completely ruin their website trying to play web designer with FSE. You know the ones that think they know web design when truly they don’t. But that’s always been a thing with WordPress, as anyone who runs a WordPress website with multiple editors or authors will tell you, trust me. But if you’re smart, and you take things slow, and you watch tutorials, you’re going to be just fine.
There will have to be an adjustment to how things are done right now. Theme developers will have to figure out where their place in the ecosystem is now. And the market for new and cool blocks and block patterns is really going to open up. It will be interesting to see how all of it plays out.
Plus, traditional PHP themes aren’t going anywhere any time soon anyways. They have been the bread and butter of WordPress since, well, WordPress became a thing. They aren’t going anywhere overnight. If you feel better off just using one of those PHP themes over an FSE theme, then go for it. There are too many people and too many big websites that rely on those traditional PHP themes for it to be deprecated basically overnight.
Should I use FSE on my website?
So now here’s the million dollar question: should you use FSE when it’s rolled into WordPress core.
My answer, to be honest, is not quite yet.
First off, the number of themes that support FSE completely at this moment is very small. The theme you are using right now for your website probably won’t have support for it right when it’s rolled into core.
Now that’s not to say that it’s completely useless or pointless or that this is all a waste. I think that within a year of it being in WordPress core you’re going to see some really cool FSE themes, some really cool blocks and block patterns and ultimately some really really cool websites that you’ll be able to create and your neighbor will be able to create and your friend will be able to create. And that’s a pretty exciting feature if you ask me.
Also, when it’s released it won’t be 100 percent done. Honestly nothing is. There will still be iterations of fixing things, maybe adding a few features here and there and improving the overall user experience. Which is a positive for iterative development.
So to be honest I would wait a couple of WordPress release cycles before using FSE.
But I also would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for it.
So what do you think about full site editing? What excites you most about it? Or what are you most concerned about? Be sure to leave your comments down in the comments section below.
Next week we’ll be discussing some ways that you can make sure your WordPress website is as secure as possible.
To see that video and more videos on WordPress, ecommerce, digital marketing and other website related topics, be sure to hit the subscribe button and to ring the bell for notifications.
But until next time, happy WordPressing!