The Future of WordPress Project in 2024

Join us as we explore the prospects of the Gutenberg WordPress editor in the early months of 2024, delving into its advantages and limitations.

With Special Guests Brian Gardner vs. Kevin Geary, Founder of Digital Gravy & Development Products Automatic.css & Frames

Brian Gardner – Principal Developer Advocate at WP Engine

Kevin Geary Founder of Digital Gravy & Development Products Automatic.css & Frames

Although the editor is user-friendly and straightforward, adjusting to the new block system may require time. This transition could potentially cause frustration for users accustomed to the classic editor. Additionally, Gutenberg’s requirement for increased flexibility is another drawback to consider.

This Week Show’s Sponsors

LifterLMS: LifterLMS

Convesio: Convesio

Omnisend: Omnisend

The Show’s Main Transcript And Links

[00:00:00.000] – Jonathan Denwood

Welcome back, folks. I had a great conversation here. We have two interesting individuals who do a lot in WordPress and web design. We’ve got Brian Gardner, and we got Kevin Geary here. It should be a great conversation. I’ve really been looking forward to this. I’m going to do my countdown, and then we’re going to go straight into it, folks. If you have any comments, we will probably show them during the discussion so anybody, the panel, Kevin, or Brian can respond. But if there’s time, we’ll probably take some of the best questions and reply at the show’s end. I’m going to do my countdown, and I’m going to go straight into it. So 3, 2, 1. Welcome back to the WP tonic this week in WordPress and SaaS. This is episode 902. I got a really special show here. I’ve been really looking forward to it, tribe. We got the fight of the century, as they say. What a load of rubbish. Brian’s already shaking his head. He’s wondering, why the hell did I agree to cover this? But it should be a really adult discussion, hopefully.


[00:01:28.030] – Jonathan Denwood

We’ve got two real experts here. We have Brian Gardner and Kevin Geary here. We’re going to be discussing where Gutenberg is at the beginning of 2024, where it’s going, and where the WordPress project in general is going. It should be a great discussion. Brian, would you like to give a quick 10, 20-second intro of who you are, Brian?


[00:01:55.940] – Brian Gardner

Yes, sure. I’m Brian Gardner. I’m a Principal and developer advocate currently at WP Engine. I was the founder of Studio Press and co-creator of the Genesis Framework, and I have been building WordPress websites since 2006.


[00:02:10.420] – Jonathan Denwood

Yes, you only know a little bit about it. Kevin Geary, would you Kerry, would you like to give a quick 10, 20-second intro for those that don’t know you?


[00:02:21.820] – Kevin Geary

Sure. I’m an agency owner and the creator of Automatic CSS and Frames. I’ve been using WordPress for about the same amount of time as Brian. Yeah, I’m just excited to be here.


[00:02:36.940] – Jonathan Denwood

I’ve got my great co-host, Kurt. Kurt, would you like to briefly introduce the new listeners and viewers?


[00:02:43.470] – Kurt von Ahnen

Yeah, thanks, Jonathan. My name is Kurt von Annen. I own an agency called MananaNoMas. I work directly with WP Tonic and Lifter LMS. It’s a pleasure to be here.


[00:02:54.410] – Jonathan Denwood

Like I say, it should be a great discussion. We’re going to discuss all things Gutenberg and WordPress, Before we go into the meat and potatoes of this great show, I’ve got a couple of messages from our major sponsors. We will be back in a few moments, folks. Three, two, one. We’re coming back, folks. Before we go into the discussion, I also want to point out we got a new sponsor. We’ve got Omasend. Omasend built an SMS platform for Woo. They’ve got a great with Shopify. They’ve seen the light. They’re moving into the WU commerce. They’ve got a great plugin. If you need to offer that for your Wu clients, have a look at what they’ve got to offer. They’re also offering 30% off for the first three months and $1,000 worth of migration. It’s a great package. You can find more info about this particular product and the other sponsors, plus a curated of the best WordPress plugins and services by going over to Wp-tonic. Com/deals, Wp-tonic. Com/deals, and you find all the goodies there. What more could you ask for? Probably a lot, but that’s what we’re going to get from that page. So let’s go straight into it.


[00:04:22.620] – Jonathan Denwood

Let’s get sparring. So, Kevin, do you have some constructive criticisms of Gutenberg and the Gutenberg project and where WordPress is because the two things are very now combined, aren’t they? Would you like to give a quick outline of some of your primary concerns and maybe some of your main criticisms that you recently have so effectively? Sure.


[00:05:01.780] – Kevin Geary

Yeah, and it’s obviously a very broad topic, and there’s a lot to talk about, but I’ll just, I guess, outline the premise. The premise, I think, would be that there are two camps now in WordPress. So you’re going to have the page builder camp. There are people who primarily do all of their work in page builders, and there are people who do their work in the traditional methodology of WordPress with custom themes. It’s probably more than two camps now. And then there’s the Gutenberg side of things, the block editor, right? And I live with the people I work with and the people in my inner circle and my audience and all of that, they’re primarily in the page builder camp. Now, these people are interested in the block editor because the block editor is, and this is, I guess, up for debate. I put a Twitter thread out there asking people if they thought the block editor was a page builder or not a page builder or a replacement for a page builder or not a replacement for a page builder. Nobody could agree, which I think is a fundamental problem. Half the people think it is a page builder, and half the people think it’s not a page builder.


[00:06:09.340] – Kevin Geary

Half the people think it’s supposed to be a page builder eventually, but the other half think it’s never supposed to be a page builder. So that’s another issue. However, the people who are primarily working as page builders do see the block editor as a potential page builder or page-building alternative. Unfortunately, if you do look at it in that light, you do see many tremendous limitations compared to the page builders we currently have. So anybody trying to make a transition from the page builder world to the block editor world cannot really make that transition. And when we run into some limitations in the block editor and block editor people say, oh, well, that’s easy to overcome. Just take out the code and start doing all this custom code just like you did in the old days or whatever. That’s not the answer that page builder people want to hear, and they don’t feel that that should be the approach, especially given, because there’s another wrinkle to all of this, the concept that the block editor is for everyone. The block editor is designed as an experience where we’re democratizing publishing, and everybody and anybody can come in and use the block editor in WordPress to build their website.


[00:07:32.160] – Kevin Geary

That’s the marketing, okay? So the answer can’t be that when we run into limitations, we’ll just get out VS Code and work around it this way. Nobody wants to do that, and nobody can do that. So that’s my premise is that there’s a massive disconnect right now between these different worlds in WordPress, and it’s not currently for everyone. And a beginner coming to WordPress or somebody transferring in from Wix or Squarespace or the like is not going to have a cohesive workable experience in the current state of WordPress, in my opinion. That’s my premise.


[00:08:11.410] – Jonathan Denwood

What’s your initial response to that, Brian?


[00:08:15.990] – Brian Gardner

So I’m going to start off by saying that I agree with just about everything Kevin said, with one small exception. I’ll clarify that in a minute. Dissimilar to Kevin, I don’t live in an agency I am currently, and have not been for quite some time, in the classic, historically, how it’s been done, WordPress camp. I started embracing full-site editing years ago when I developed Frost. It’s one of the big reasons why I joined WP Engine was to advocate for the block editor and WordPress in the direction in which it’s going. I want to obviously clarify also that this is not a sparring match, that while we are in opposite sides of the perspective, That we are- He’s only a bit of fun, right?


[00:09:04.160] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s what the WordPress drama crowd-Link Bate is your middle name, Jonathan.


[00:09:08.820] – Brian Gardner

I get it. No, I’m an old school soul. So we are all in the same gang here, right? We’re East Coast and West Coast, but we’re all doing the same thing. And I’d like to think that regardless of how we communicate online and stuff like that, we need two things to acknowledge. One, folks like Kevin and I and others who have larger follow All I mean is we need to just be conscious of the way in which we communicate our opinions, because a lot of people look up to us and our opinions and how we say things really matters, because those tones get taken out through comments and WP tavern toasts and stuff like that. So we just need to be aware and cognizant of how we voice our opinions. Number two, I feel like we’re all here to just make WordPress better in some way. And yes, there’s acknowledgment that things fall short. I think WordPress is and can be a page builder, I think it’s more meant to be a site builder. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s meant to replace all of the page building experiences because we know WordPress is backward compatible to a fault at times.


[00:10:15.600] – Brian Gardner

And so for the next several years, we’re still going to see classic editor plugin. We’re still going to see page builders as they are now, classic themes, even Genesis themes from back in the day, still work and continue to work. And I think that And I’ll just jump in really quickly here without over-talking. The part in which I’m not quite sure I agree with is I think WordPress and the block editor in this new experience is for everybody, though not everybody needs to use it. It’s open to everyone, but it’s not like… And I’ve never been a person who says everybody should use this or needs to use this. In fact, we have a lot of people that we come in contact with WP Engine agencies and stuff like that. They build with ACF, they build with older themes, they build with page builders, and that’s okay and that’s fine. We’re just here, at least our little department inside of WP Engine, to just help educate people who are interested in using it and also trying to test it to help make it better, working with folks at Automatic and just the core contribution team to just be the voice and to hear where the pain points are and to see if there’s a way we can creatively make suggestions via GitHub and so on to just really help solve some of the problems.


[00:11:26.840] – Brian Gardner

I think what we’re experiencing, even though we were five or six five years in, is just everything’s still mid-flight. It feels better than it was a year ago, two, three, four years ago. And again, WordPress is so big and there’s so many different ways it can be used, and that’s okay. And I acknowledge that it’s not going to be for everybody, or at least everyone right now.


[00:11:47.780] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, before I asked Kevin to respond to that, I understand where you’re coming from, Brian, but I think to me, the key thing is that Kevin did did a video and he showed what I considered not a beginning, wanting to develop a beginning layout, but not a particular, very advanced layout. You using native Gutenberg, and you can’t do it, Brian. The response he got back was not, I wouldn’t say misleading, but I also thought it was not very constructive. People saying, Well, you can build your own custom block or you can use JSON. I understood where they were coming from, but that’s not the crowd that Kevin was really talking to, really. I find that very concerning, a very intermediate layout. You can’t do in native Gutenberg? Did you see that video? And were you concerned, really, Ryan?


[00:13:10.440] – Brian Gardner

I’m not concerned in the sense that I feel like everybody looks at this as black and white. It can’t do this, therefore it stinks. It can’t do this, therefore I shouldn’t use it. I should use this because of that. And the reality is it’s an evolution. It’s an evolution in working towards things, hearing pain And the stuff that Kevin is doing, I think, is well-articulated. I think it’s constructive. I think the peanut gallery, as I’ll call them, that comes in and likes to support him, the way they say things might be a little more on the drastic side of things. I think Kevin’s held himself quite well. But this thing powers 50 % of the Internet. There’s a lot going on. And there’s very few people actually working on the project relative to the size of its impact. And so I think it was Gandhi who said, be the change you want to see in the world. So you could do that several ways. You can be thought leaders. You can write blog posts around ideas of what it can and can’t do, showcasing things, where there’s limitations, hopefully in the spirit of just trying to be constructive and positive around areas we can improve.


[00:14:21.360] – Brian Gardner

And then there’s the side where if you’re a coder or a developer and programmer, and I sometimes not, go in to GitHub and write the code to make the you want to see. Instead of going… And I think Kevin’s doing this, but there are some people who I see who are basically sea goals in this because it’s easy to just drop your opinion about something and move on. Now, I also want to acknowledge really quickly, and then I can let Kevin talk, is that I get paid to spend all of my time, not all, but a lot of my time in this educational learning world. We have weekly calls with folks who are in agencies, and I realized there’s a thing called billable hours. I don’t have time to learn this because I got to keep up with the projects that are coming in. And so I encourage folks, the five for your future, but also five for your future, not just the future. Spend a little bit of time, an extra hour a week, just getting involved and playing and spending up local and throwing on the latest beta version, see what’s going on, just so you can start to work towards understanding where this is going.


[00:15:20.890] – Brian Gardner

Because the reality is this is where WordPress is going. Now, where it’s been will continue to be where it can be for quite some time, as I mentioned earlier. So, yeah.


[00:15:33.200] – Kurt von Ahnen

You know, Jonathan, this reminds me of when we interviewed Matt on the show, and both of us, our eyes went up over our foreheads when he said, well, we’re about seven years in and this is a 10 year project.


[00:15:45.510] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, I never heard that one.


[00:15:46.900] – Brian Gardner

I think Josefa was the one who said we were five years into a 10 year project, but recently. But yeah, go ahead.


[00:15:52.550] – Kurt von Ahnen

Yeah. And it was just like, well, wow. So what’s the next 30 % of the project going to look like? And what gaps will it fill and how capable will it be then? But the conversation today is this is where we’re at today, and why do we have to lean on page builders so much?


[00:16:13.630] – Jonathan Denwood

Right, Kevin. I’m going to let you… I’m tempted to frame this to you, Kevin, but I’m just going to let you respond. I’m just going to let you respond to what Brian just outlined.


[00:16:25.820] – Kevin Geary

I will respond to Brian, but I wanted to respond to Mike first. I probably have a bigger objection to anything that Mike has said so far. He said that Brian responded with a video showing how to do everything that I did, and that’s just factually incorrect. He did accomplish the layout, but he did not accomplish the layout with Native Gutenberg. He had to bring a code editor into it. It took him three to four times as long as it took me to do it in bricks. And that’s part of the argument. The argument is that we have a a page builder like bricks or Oxygen, where we demonstrate constantly that we have what’s more or less a single environment for building sites and pages. I can do all of my work in that single environment. I can do it to a higher standard. And when I go into Gutenberg, I’m no longer in a single unified environment. I’m in multiple places. I’m breaking up my project into some of it’s done in the block editor, some of it’s done in VS Code, some of it’s done JSON. Some of it, it’s all over the place.


[00:17:32.860] – Kevin Geary

And I think we can all agree that that is a wildly inefficient model compared to an integrated development. We have one area called bricks or oxygen, and I don’t use oxygen anymore, but to bricks, where we can get our work done. And if we’re talking about a crowd like Wix users, and I know that WordPress is competing in some form or fashion with Wix, with Squarespace, with Webflow. These are all integrated environments. These are all environments where people can do their work in a single tool. And so coming into WordPress where they’re being asked to do work in multiple tools with multiple skill bases behind that, this is not a situation where they can just walk in. And for me, when we go back to trying to get more people using WordPress, that’s a tough ask. That’s a tough sell to say, no, you can’t just walk walk in. The first thing that they have to do when a beginner walks in, I think it would be really good for everybody involved in WordPress to just go back to step number one. If we’re onboarding a brand new user into WordPress, what are we asking them to do?


[00:18:46.270] – Kevin Geary

They have to come in. Now it’s very easy to install WordPress, so that’s not a hurdle anymore. So that’s done for them. But the minute they open it up, I mean, it’s choose a theme. Or is it going to be an FSE theme or a traditional theme? Is it going to be a page builder? Because some page builders even turn off the theme. Well, right there, it’s like we’re at a decision point. Now I have to know all of these things in order to make a decision. And then if I do make a decision going forward, then there’s a plugin issue, then there’s this issue, and then that issue. And And so it’s not, from an onboarding perspective, very user friendly, and it could be much more user friendly than it is. I know some of this is baked in because, hey, it’s open source and look at all of these options. And I know that’s going to be the argument. Understandable, 100 %. But If you came in and loaded up the 2024 theme and you use the native block editor like I did in that video, I would assume that somebody with my level of skill could just build a relatively simple layout according to some standards that were set.


[00:19:49.350] – Kevin Geary

And I could not do that very easily. Some things could just not be done. The rest of it was just not very easy. And then I went over into bricks and I said, look, I can do it in 15 minutes like that. It’s a cakewalk, right? That’s what I mean when I say that there isn’t a efficient onboarding process because that should be the case. And we go to Brian’s argument about powering 50% of the internet. I think that does add a lot of complication. But what it also adds is responsibility. The responsibility to build a tool where you can walk in from Wix or Webflow. It’s like it powers 50% of the Internet because look how awesome it is. Right now, we have a tool where it powers 50% of the Internet, but people can’t even walk into it and feel like it’s a great tool to use in its native state. It has to have a page builder attached to it. It has to have a block system attached to it. It has to have all these other things. And again, I’m thinking from native perspective, I want WordPress native to be awesome.


[00:20:53.360] – Kevin Geary

My journey into criticizing Gutenberg and the block editor is because I wanted to build a product for I kept running into tremendous limitations and issues, knowing my workflow, knowing my audience’s workflow about how this environment is not set up for success for us. And then that’s why I challenged the for everybody narrative, because if it ain’t for us, when we can work in almost any environment, I can’t imagine that it’s hardly for anyone. That became my initial argument against that marketing talk. Now, I know that was very random, but those are the ideas. There’s a lot in there.


[00:21:29.340] – Jonathan Denwood

Before I go over to Brian, I just want to ask Kurt, because I, I wouldn’t say 100% agree with you, Kevin, but I lean more towards your intellectual position. I warm to it more than some of your most verbal critiques, which I think some of them were… It got to the stage where there were personal attacks attacks, which I thought were totally unjustified. But that comes with the WordPress space, basically, unfortunately. It’s got some strengths, but there’s a minority that always descend on personal attacks on people. That’s how they operate. But Kurt pointed out something to me, Kevin, because I thought full-site editing and the way that Gutenberg was going, plus I saw your video and I It really got me a bit hot and bothered because I thought, This is a train wreck. You’re just pointing out the obvious, and it’s not good enough. But Kurt pointed out to me, he on boards a lot of people with his work with Lifter LMS, and he said a lot of new people love Gutenberg. That’s what you said to me, didn’t you?


[00:22:53.150] – Kurt von Ahnen

I did. It’s the weirdest thing, but I volunteered at church with a lot of youth. And when you hand a kid an iPhone or a tablet or anything, they’ve never seen it before. Five minutes later, they got a game open, they’re playing the game, everything’s just like, they’re happy. And you’re going, how in the world did that kid just pick up that device and do that. I’m in my 50s. It took me three hours to figure out how to use an iPhone, right? I think it’s the same way with these different building environments. I think when a new brain, when new eyes come in and they’re not tainted by what they’ve seen in the past. They don’t have old habits to break. I think they just adjust and they just fall in line. I know Elementor hasn’t been part of the conversation yet today, but I was really slow on adopting Elementor. And then next thing you knew, I had 30 sites on Elementor. And then when Elementor would break, I had 30 sites to fix on Elementor. And that weaned me off. When full site editing came out, I was like, I’m going to have to force myself to figure out how to do this efficiently because I can’t keep having all these other websites break when I’m managing customers’ products.


[00:24:12.820] – Kurt von Ahnen

So it’s just weird trying to think about how my customers feel from an agency perspective, how do my customers feel with the product? If they go, Well, I’m going to take care of my own content. They all say that, but barely any of them ever do, but they all say it. Then when you give them just a clean blocks environment, they seem to do well with it.


[00:24:33.640] – Jonathan Denwood

Right. I want to put this to you, Brian. I think we got to clear one or two things up, Brian, before we move this conversation forward, Brian. First of all, hopefully you did see the video that Kevin did with that layout he was attempting. First, is that because I don’t know enough, because I’m not actively I don’t actively develop websites. I just work on my own stuff. First of all, I think the demo Kevin chose to do was, in my opinion, a very basic intermediate layout. First of all, would you agree with that? Secondly, I think some people did respond to him and said, I can do this. I think their attempts at trying to do an intermediate layout in native Gertendberg were laughable. I’m sorry, they were laughable, in my opinion, but I don’t know enough. I would like your opinion on that because they were utilizing native hand coding, third-party plugins, it went on and on. And far as I was concerned, they were talking gibberish, Brian. Absolutely. So what’s your reason? Because I think we need to clear up. I I’m saying this, and I just want you because you know a lot more, Moni.


[00:26:04.380] – Jonathan Denwood

In 2024, the demo that Kevin did, you cannot do that, utilizing native blocks without using third party or modifying hand coding. What do you say about that?


[00:26:25.160] – Brian Gardner

I would love to give you clarification, and I’m going to be open and honest here. I did not watch the video in full, mainly because my February has been a personal challenge. And so that being said, and knowing this call was coming, I should have done that. I apologize. I did not. I would love to look into it, and I wish I could give a better answer. I’m not going to pretend like I watched it and try to fluff through and just say it is what it is. I apologize for not having done that work. I can’t answer that question, but what I will say is this, and I will go back and watch that this week and see what I can do and come up with not my own hypothesis or opinion, but I just want to be able to be educated around what the conversation was. I saw the conversation happening. I meant to always go and watch the video. I never did. One thing I will say is this. I think that the capabilities of full site editing and the block editor are significantly more there than I think a lot of people think.


[00:27:27.370] – Brian Gardner

I’m not saying it can do everything. I’m not saying it’s as powerful as Elementor, but I feel like a lot of people have formulated opinions from three or four or five years ago when it was more rough. I often come in contact with people who say, Oh, I use a block for this or use a page builder for that. It’s our job to inform them. There are now capabilities within block editor to do a lot of what we’re talking about. Now, I don’t know the types of projects Kevin works on. I assume they’re on the higher, more sophisticated end, like 10up and web dev and all those. The block editor is a challenge in those cases because those customers are paying lots of money. They’ve got requirements that probably and may always have greater asks of the block editor than what it can solve. But I just wanted to acknowledge that for a significant portion of the WordPress user base, the block editor can… Now, the education, I’ll interrupt myself, the education part is where it’s lacking, because people don’t know this. They don’t know that this feature or function or this capability exists. And that’s partly on me, it’s partly on Our team is going to be automatic.


[00:28:32.460] – Jonathan Denwood



[00:28:33.340] – Brian Gardner



[00:28:34.790] – Jonathan Denwood

I’m sorry. I don’t want to be rude.


[00:28:38.480] – Brian Gardner

Go for it.


[00:28:40.260] – Jonathan Denwood

I’ve had enough of this argument, basically, Brian, that it’s educational. You need to go and look at the video, and maybe later on in the next couple of months, we can come back, because it’s not an educational problem. I do understand, though. I do understand where you’re coming from, Brian. You can’t build an intermediate layout. If you’re a professional web designer and you’re wanting to do a basic layout using native Gutenberg, you can’t use in just the native editor with that. I’ve got a comment here, and I’ve interviewed one of the founders of the WP, and they’re very nice people, Brian. But they say, Brian coded a block stall with a hover of… Well, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? I don’t get it. I don’t get this, Brian. You got a group of really nice people, and they’re living in cloud dying cuckoo land, as far as I’m concerned.


[00:29:47.870] – Brian Gardner

I will disagree with your disagreement, but we can move on for the spirit of progress.


[00:29:52.460] – Kevin Geary

I’ll speak to the Ollie WP comment. When people say the the overall layout was easily made in the block editor. The overall layout was not the goal of the section that was being built. I wrote a blog post with very specific requirements, just like a client would, just like an advanced developer would. Hey, we’re not just building what we see. If we were all just building what we see, our jobs would be tremendously easier than they actually are. There are accessibility requirements. There were focus requirements, there was a lot of requirements requirements under the hood, and a lot of those requirements are what created the problem. And so people can gloss over the specific requirements that were in the blog post. Just like many did, many did. That’s a very easy layout to achieve. I didn’t choose a hard layout. I made it easy on purpose. It was the underlying requirements that weren’t so easy. And that’s what everybody either skipped or missed or couldn’t replicate. And that’s where the The big problem came in. So I think with the Ali comment saying the overall layout was easily made, but none of the advanced requirements were met until we went into VS Code or some other environment.


[00:31:12.030] – Kevin Geary

We started messing with JSON files. We started doing all this other stuff. And when I added the videos, the rebuttal videos that were actually good, I added them to the blog post, and I thanked the people for creating them. And I said, This is fantastic. This is exactly what I wanted to see. But it also proved the point that, number one, if you’re going to do it with native, it’s four to five times as long, it’s four to five times as much work, and it’s in multiple environments. That was the end of it. I don’t fault Brian for not watching it because I’m just- No, I tell Brian, I’m not having a go because I know Brian has been really busy and been dealing things in February.


[00:31:49.970] – Jonathan Denwood

He’s an extremely honest individual, Brian. That’s why I asked him to come on this because I knew that his arguments to you, Kevin, would be factually based. They wouldn’t be personal attacks because that isn’t Brian’s style. We’re going to go… That particular video is actually not…


[00:32:15.800] – Kevin Geary

I mean, it is a decent example, but there’s so much more for us to talk about.


[00:32:20.690] – Jonathan Denwood

We’re going to be broadening it out in the second half of the show, folks, which we’re going to have our mid-break now. And then I’ve pushed back a little bit to Brian in this first half, I will be starting the second half pushing back a bit on Kevin’s position, because I think there’s some problems with your position as well, Kevin, with third-party page builders and web builders. But before we go for a break, I just want to comment on Ollie’s WP, really nice team and a great project. It’s certainly part education You can’t really hit just magical. It’s a new tool. Well, this is the whole problem, is it’s not a new tool. We’re five years into this project. That’s the whole problem. It isn’t a new tool. It’s five years into it, folks. This is the problem, in my opinion. We’re going to go for our break, folks. We will be back in a few moments. We’re coming back, folks. We’ve had a good discussion. It’s a bit passionate, but it always does. That’s the great thing about WordPress. So, Kevin, I think my great co-host has pointed out a couple of problems with your position, Kevin, not with your demo, which I think your demo was fair, and I think some of the reactions it were extremely unfair.


[00:34:02.270] – Jonathan Denwood

I think it’s some of the things that my co-host pointed out. It’s all right using a third-party page builder, but look at what my co-host pointed out with the 30 websites and basically a bit of a shit fest with Elementor, bringing out constant updates that break websites left, right, and center. Look at Oxygen and the founder there. I do not warn with his statements and his business practices. Look, Divi, really nice people, but I cannot, in all consciousness, ever recommend Divi as a plopper web development tool. It’s all right having a go at Gutenberg, but I think some of the justifiable criticism on your position, Kevin, is you don’t point out the considerable problems of utilizing a third party page builder, Kevin. You just keep going on about Gutenberg’s weaknesses and you base it on fair examples, but you don’t really… And people have a go at you, Kevin, because they say you have products and a book of business that encourages you to attack Gutenberg, but you don’t also point out the weaknesses of third-party plugin solutions. How would you respond to that, Kevin?


[00:35:43.160] – Kevin Geary

Well, anybody who thinks I don’t criticize Element or divvy hasn’t watched a single minute of my videos. I do have a lot of- I’m just pointing out what other people say, Kevin. I have plenty of criticism for many of these tools. I also don’t think we should pretend that the Gutenberg project has never broken anything. I remember not too long ago, a fairly major issue. I can’t remember what it was because I’m not in that world that much, but it caught it out of the corner of my eye. I don’t think their hands are 100% clean in terms of breaking things that people previously wanted to work. There’s also the aspect of, something Brian said earlier with regard to, there There are these different environments, and you can choose the one that you like best, and that’s great about WordPress. There’s two angles here. Number one is, and I know Brian can’t actually answer this question because he’s not in the heads of Matt and so on, but is there a concerted effort, or will there be a concerted effort in the future to phase out third-party page builder-like tools, for example? I know that there’s a democratize advertising data movement where we’re going to be creating integrations, or automatic is going to be creating integrations, to move people from page builders like Elementor and Divi to the block editor.


[00:37:13.210] – Kevin Geary

Some of those seem like a potential, I would say, attack vector on page builders. But the second aspect of that is, I was doing something in the block editor the other day, and I was watching a video, and they had controls in their block editor that I don’t have in mind. And I started asking myself, why is that? Why is their WordPress different from my WordPress? Well, they have a FSE theme that enables these controls, and I’m using bricks. And bricks is not an FSE theme. Bricks is its own theme. It’s its own page builder. And so when I go into Gutenberg to do things in the block editor, those controls that should exist for me do not exist for me unless I’m doing something else wrong. And so we have this situation where I actually want to use the block editor, but because of the theme/page builder I’m using, tools that should be available to me are not available to me. I do see that as a relatively big problem. And then as far as criticism goes, I never criticize these third-party tools, and I should be more open to the block editor. I’ll just reiterate, again, that a lot of these criticisms and all of this discussion around the block editor, my focus on it came from wanting to develop a product for the block editor.


[00:38:40.570] – Kevin Geary

And we are actively going to start development in March on this tool. So I’m looking at it as I’m coming into this environment, and these are the issues that I’m seeing, not just, I want everybody to stay in page builder land and ignore this block editor. That’s not the situation here. The situation is I want to move more heavily into the block editor, and I’m just pointing out these limitations and issues that I’m running into.


[00:39:05.740] – Jonathan Denwood

How would you respond, Brian?


[00:39:07.880] – Brian Gardner

So first and foremost, whether it’s on the clock or off the clock, Kevin, I want to volunteer any of my time to help facilitate any part of that process, which you and your team are moving towards the block editor in March. So if that’s Zoom calls, I would love to just sit in, listen to you guys talk, address pain points, help be conduits between things that are going on and all of that. So I I just want to throw that out there. Number two, and we keep using the word problem, and I’m starting to have a problem with the fact that we’re calling everything a problem here. I acknowledge this is going to sound extremely utopian. I am Disney-based guy. If you build it, you can dream it, thing. These are all opportunities, right? They’re not problems because we start calling them problems. We’re automatically associating negativity to everything we’re trying to do.


[00:39:55.600] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, but Brian, I’m English. I’m read on negativity.


[00:39:59.680] – Brian Gardner

I’m just saying I’ve always tried to be a half glass full guy. So while nothing’s perfect, nothing will ever be perfect, let’s look at these things. I love that Damon called this out earlier in the chat. And of course, Damon is a colleague of mine, so I want to acknowledge that as well. Where do How does it go from here is really what I want to spend the last 20 minutes of this conversation going. We could talk about, Yeah, we’re five years in, and it should be further along. A lot of these things are very, very true. There’s a lot of work. I do want to acknowledge Carolina Neymarke as an advocate for bringing functionality that’s in the block editor into classic themes. I just saw something go through yesterday that was, Hey, let’s enable these controls patterns inside of classic themes and stuff like that. And yes, obviously, by nature of the progress on the project, classic themes might feel, and maybe even are poor stepchildren in this totality. But there is work to help bring because there’s an acknowledgement. People don’t want to get there yet. They don’t want to use an FSE theme.


[00:40:56.660] – Brian Gardner

They don’t have a need to start using an FSE theme because their current site But how do we bring some of that capability? And there is work being done to pull some of that into it. So that’s just what I wanted to say, just relative to where we’re at with this conversation.


[00:41:11.960] – Jonathan Denwood

Right then. Fair enough. I’m sorry, Brian. I’m just English. I’m gloom and do, Brian. I’m sorry. It’s just my nature. I can’t help it.


[00:41:26.740] – Kurt von Ahnen

That’s the way it keeps me around.


[00:41:27.730] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah. Well, Kirk’s much more positive than me. But I’m negative to everybody, Brian. So there we go. Well, let’s move the conversation on. I think the other area that you’ve I’m going to upset Brian again. I’m going to be a bit negative again, Kevin. I think some of your other bigger concerns was where the Gutenberg or the WordPress project was going. I think I think one of your main problems, Kevin, is this idea that it democratizes publishing and this whole concept, and you think intellectually, it’s a bit… It’s It’s struggling for the right word. I’m going to find this whole idea that you can open it, democratize web design or completely. You got a problem with the whole concept. Can you give us some of that and a better? Because I’ve really done a terrible job here overnight, Kevin. And then I can get Brian to respond.


[00:42:42.420] – Kevin Geary

Sure. I think there’s two things. One, I wanted to bring up from a previous conversation regarding the education side of things, how fast can somebody pick up the block editor and then talk about the value or the merits of democratizing web design. I was on oxygen for a very long time, produced a bunch of oxygen videos, and then I made the switch to bricks. And the learning curve for switching from oxygen to bricks was a weekend. Now, I’ve been using the block editor for months and months and months and months and months that requires you to be educated about how the tool does things. That’s the fundamental problem with the block editor, is that it doesn’t have- Can I…


[00:43:39.260] – Jonathan Denwood

I’m not being rude here, Kevin, but I just need to… I had a very similar attitude, but Kirk has pointed out. I don’t know if we’re totally correct here because my native position is very similar to yours, but I think because you’re technically much better than me, but I think we suffer from the same thing. We got baggage, Kevin.


[00:44:07.910] – Kevin Geary

No, I understand. Well, no, it’s not baggage. So fundamental web design is not baggage, right? It’s like, okay, so And I tell people this all the time, you open bricks, Elementor, Divi, they all they all brag about how they have four gazillion blocks. You can add anything. Okay, when I use bricks, I use the same four blocks blocks over and over and over and over and over again. I use a section, I use a div. They have a block block, which is just a div that’s set to flex by default and 100% width. And then I got heading, a text, a link, whatever. These are the basic, basic, basic things. If I go into Gutenberg and if I opened any web design environment, I would expect to see a section, a div. If they want to call it a group, that’s fine. Call it a group, whatever you want to do. But one issue with this is that all of the semantics are different. All of the naming conventions are different. You do fundamentally have to relearn how to do web design because they’ve built a new paradigm for building websites where one didn’t need to It’s not going to exist.


[00:45:15.060] – Kevin Geary

So for example, everybody knows. My mom knows. If you go, Hey, we need a new section on a page. Hey, she can get that. She can get that. So why not have a section element? Because we know that section elements are funded They’re fundamentally different from other types of containers. They have a different semantic tag. They have structurally different.


[00:45:36.600] – Jonathan Denwood

I think Brian wants to respond. Sure. Go ahead.


[00:45:40.310] – Brian Gardner

Go on, Brian. Okay. So, Kevin, just to clarify, adding a group lock and changing from div to section as part of the UI, what are you asking for that’s different from that?


[00:45:51.380] – Kevin Geary

I’m sorry, you cut out for just a second.


[00:45:52.980] – Brian Gardner

Say that again. I was saying when you add a group block and wrap something in a group, and then just with the drop down, change it from a div wrap to a section wrapper, which is easy to do, arguably. What is what you’re asking for? How is that different from the capabilities of WordPress in this case? Just so I understand when you say you should just be able to add a section. Like, well, yeah, you got to add a group, but then basically tag it as a section. Very easy to do. Semantic markup as one would expect.


[00:46:23.470] – Kevin Geary

Correct. So one big fundamental problem with that is that nobody that doesn’t know anything about Webdesign. Let’s go back to my mom. So my mom needs to add a section to the page, so she adds a group block. She will never, never, give her a whole year. She’ll never find that area where she needs to change that to it. She doesn’t even know. She needs to look for that area to find and put it in a section. Having a section element that’s a section by default. We also know that sections typically have different padding constructs than other containers. Where do we get that padding construct product from? Where is that global setting set? If we look at things like automatic CSS, we look at a page builder like Bricks that allows you to set this at the global level. Hey, there is this thing in HTML called a section, and it behaves different from other containers. So they give you a section element that has all of these default changes and differences built into it so that you don’t have to do it over and over and over again across the website. Because that’s the other thing.


[00:47:26.580] – Kevin Geary

There is just an efficiency standpoint here. Every time I add a group, it’s like, all right, I got to go to this other area, three panels deep and find this HTML tag section where I change this to a section. I got to remember to do that, which opens the possibility for some things to be sections and not sections because we simply forgot. There’s a lot of problems. And my argument has been, again, everybody knows even a day one beginner what section means. Just give them a section element that’s got to be different from a group block. They’re just not the same thing fundamentally. And there’s a lot of issues in the block editor like this where it’s like, it could have just been the thing that it’s always been called, but we’re just going to call it something new because I guess this is a new thing that we’re building. And I think they got a little bit into their own I don’t know if it’s an ego thing, I don’t know. But there are situations where it’s just not easier. It’s just they changed it for the sake of changing it, not because anybody benefited from it being changed.


[00:48:26.320] – Kevin Geary

The other thing with semantic tags, by the way, is that it’s extremely limiting. So I can use literally any tag I want on any box inside of bricks. I am very limited, and this was one of the actual from my video. This is a prime example. I could not make a list out of the group block. When you add a group block container, you can’t change that to a UL or an OL. You can’t change any of its children to LIs. That was a fundamental requirement of the section that I created. And that’s one thing I was not able to do inside of the block editor because those aren’t options.


[00:48:59.370] – Brian Gardner

Okay, Can I ask you a fun question? And this is not… Anyway, do you or anybody that you have on your team, are you guys, and I just don’t know the answer to this question, technically capable of assisting the team to make that transformation, that transform option, part of the core project? Do you guys have the skillset to say, Hey, we can go in and just write this code and submit this as a PR, so that the problem that we’re acknowledging here can be then solved for everybody to use WordPress?


[00:49:33.390] – Kevin Geary

Yes. The problem is I’m not convinced that they believe it’s a problem that needs to be solved. And I’ve come up against this many times where people say, Hey, just become a contributor. And it’s like, I can’t become a contributor if I’m going to do all of this work and propose all of these things that the rest of the people contributing don’t fundamentally see as a thing. Because any time I bring up a challenge like this, we’ll use the new terminology. So any time I bring up a challenge like this, a lot of times I’m met with, Oh, well, that doesn’t need to happen. That’s not that important. That’s not how we work. You need to learn how we work. This is an education thing. This is a new paradigm for building websites. And so I think any time we just are going to abandon fundamentals that have been around for just decades now, like a section is a section is a section. And this is what’s fantastic about page builders. And I explain this in my Page Building 101 course, 100 % free. So I’m not selling anything. In the very intro, we talked about what is the purpose of a page builder?


[00:50:44.930] – Kevin Geary

The purpose of the page builder is to make our efforts more efficient. We don’t want to write. It’s not because I can’t write HTML. It’s not because I can’t write simple JavaScript or simple PHP. It’s that I don’t want to because it’s slower and I want an environment. Once they came up with the concept of a page builder and says, Hey, look what this thing can do for you and how fast you can work when you use it. And then the big hurdle there was, but look at all the shit code that it outputs on the… I don’t want all that mess, okay? And so what I want is I want the page builder to write code like-Yeah, I think this is the fundamental thing.


[00:51:26.070] – Jonathan Denwood

Before I got, because we got about another 12 minutes It’s because Brian needs to go off to a meeting, so we can’t be over. And you’re very passionate, Kevin. I think I do understand where you… Before I throw it over, because I’ve got a couple of questions for Brian. But before you go, before I do that, my only comment, Kevin, is, like I said, is that I totally understand where you’re coming from, Kevin, but I think sometimes you over play the benefits of something like bricks or oxygen or whatever it is, because Kurt has pointed out the reality which is linked to animator of consistent sites breaking. The beautiful world of the page builder has great strengths, but some people say that you don’t point out, and you pushed back on me on that, that the world of the page builder has its separate problems.


[00:52:32.670] – Kevin Geary

Well, like I said, if we can’t use the native block editor, then you have to have a block system. You have to have frost. You have to have something, right? And that is another layer that does have potential breakage. I don’t really see a fundamental difference between a third-party block system and bricks. I just don’t see a fundamental difference if we’re just talking about the potential for breakage.


[00:52:58.050] – Jonathan Denwood

Right. So, Brian, I I think this is only my opinion, and I would like you to comment on it, is there’s a decouperty here. I sense it’s in automatic itself, and the business drivers. I think it’s been commented that really WordPress, Gutenberg really needs to be where Canva is going with their page building website, build a true drag and drop. But can a true drag and drop builder produce accessible code, clean code? Can it be Can it be a tool for those that are just looking to drag and drop and also fulfill the needs of an agency developer or a freelancer that wants to build high quality websites, Brian?


[00:54:03.970] – Brian Gardner

For starters, I can stay late, by the way. I had a call leading up to this one, so I can stay late if we need to. Well, one of the things I feel… Well, first of all, Kevin acknowledged this earlier. WordPress is open source, so let’s start there. Most of the things that we’re talking about, Squarespace, Wix, Webflow, Framer, all of these tools are not. And by nature of that, you have things that are benefits from that and then drawbacks from that. One of the drawbacks is you’ve got a whole community of people, like plugging into it with third-party things. And it’s not a walled garden. It’s not controlled environment. That being said, I think With everybody who talks about WordPress, uses WordPress, everybody wants it to do what everything else can do, which means Jack of all trains master of none, to some extent. And no, I do not think that we are going to see WordPress ever be at a place where you could literally Really just drag an element to whatever exact pixel or XY coordinates as you want, and then just hit publish. Why? Because that’s not maybe the exact intent of where WordPress…


[00:55:09.830] – Brian Gardner

WordPress is a robust, sophisticated CMS that’s been around for 20 some years. And I say the word gimmicky lightly here, something like, oh, you can just click a button and then color it blue and put your picture here. That is really not, in my opinion, the general WordPress persona. That’s a hobby, it’s looking to quickly spin something up. And WordPress is really not for them at that point. So I don’t think those capabilities need to find their way into WordPress core.


[00:55:38.950] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, before I throw over to Kevin, I want to respond. First, this is just my opinion, Brian. I don’t believe that WordPress is a truly open source project. In governance, in the way it’s managed, I put this to the joint founder, to Matt Mauweg, a few weeks ago. I got his normal response. Technically, it is an open source project, Brian, but I don’t think it follows the true… It is controlled financially. It needs the money from automatic. It isn’t truly an open source project. It never has been for a very long time. I think this realization, for various reasons which I don’t fully understand, we end up with a lot of… I don’t know how to put it, really, Brian, but miscommunication and delusionary statements like it is a truly open-source project, and anybody that really works in it knows it isn’t, Brian. But that’s my position. I’m not saying it… I might be totally wrong, Brian. And also, I think this is the problem, Brian, is that I think… I don’t really know where it’s going, Brian. You seem to have a clear understanding that I get from the leadership of Automatic to be quite truthful, Brian.


[00:57:22.940] – Jonathan Denwood

It seems to want to be everything, and that’s the problem. So I’m going to throw to Kevin. So what would you respond to Brian? And what do you think I’ve just said? Do you think I’m totally losing it, Kevin?


[00:57:42.570] – Kevin Geary

Well, no, I think this takes us back to the democratizing web design concept, where anybody can be a web designer. And Brian mentioned hobbyists building websites and such. And I think if a hobbyist is going to build a website, right? And I think it is important to look at the user profiles of people to use WordPress or want to use WordPress. And this probably speaks to Kurt’s point about people liking the block editor as a beginner, right? And we have to figure out why they like the block editor as a beginner. I also I’m trying to get clarification on Brian’s earlier statement about site editor versus page builder, because I think there’s probably an interesting distinction there. But what I would imagine a hobbyist does is they come in and they load up some theme/ template system It doesn’t matter what we call it. And they customize maybe some colors, and they change some content around. And they’re not building pages. They’re not adding sections and groups and building layouts and all of this other stuff, primarily. Maybe if they have to for one specific purpose. But the most part, I think they’re purchasing some predefined, predesigned layout system and adding their homepage or about page, all that, swapping out content, changing some colors, hitting publish and moving on with their life.


[00:59:01.750] – Kevin Geary

That’s what I see as a general hobbyist, right? Now, somebody that uses a page builder who wants to actually start from a blank page. People aren’t familiar with bricks. You start with a white page. That’s what you start with. And then you add fundamental HTML elements like sections and divs and such, okay? If the block editor, what’s funny, I say funny, but it’s depressing about the block editor is that if you just gave me a section and a div and a heading and text and link and a custom CSS box, I don’t even need all the inputs. People look at bricks, it looks like an airline cockpit. It’s like, look at all these controls and inputs. You actually don’t need all of that, any of that. If it just had a CSS box and fundamental HTML elements, I could do almost anything that I want to do in it. The flip side is that the reality is that I can’t do hardly anything in it because it doesn’t give me any of that. It doesn’t give me the custom CSS box, nor does it give me the fundamental HTML elements that I need. We can go into class-based workflow versus non-class-based.


[01:00:05.310] – Kevin Geary

There’s an argument there for, Hey, anybody, if we’re democratizing, people shouldn’t have to learn a class system. Okay, we can figure that part out. But where we’re at right now is just the blockader doesn’t even have the base level fundamentals for somebody like me to come in and use it as a page builder. But I think that’s where we get back into the conversation.


[01:00:26.770] – Jonathan Denwood

I think that’s a good question I can put to Brian. So, Brian, do you think you’re a tremendous… You are the godfather of third-party themes in a way. You’re one of the… You developed this whole market in a way, or you’re one of the founders. I don’t think there’s any one individual that knows more about this than you. Do you honestly feel that if you were an experienced web developer, looking to build semi or full custom websites that you would be happy utilizing native Gutenberg to build those websites?


[01:01:12.750] – Brian Gardner

Generally speaking, my answer to that is yes. And Kevin, to your point about the section element, we’ll call them blocks, I guess, right? I mean, keep in mind the group block, there’s a stack and a row variation. So if you’re saying we should have an element block and a heading block and then a side block and a sidebar block, then all of a sudden you’ve got maintenance on all of these things. So as a sophisticated developer or builder of WordPress, unlike your mom in your example, I would think it would be very easy to say, I’m going to throw this stuff on a page, wrap it in a group. I know where this section thing is, and then move on from that. What I will say is this, and I know we’re going to be running out of time here, but I want to acknowledge just where I’m at. And Jonathan, to answer your question, we sold Studio Press to WP Engine almost six years ago. The reason behind that I was unsure of the direction of Gutenberg at the time, our team was small. And so I was like, We’re not going to compete, so let’s just sell and find a better place for it to land.


[01:02:09.480] – Brian Gardner

And in part, I was a little bit unsure of the direction of where WordPress was going. I’ll admit that, and I’ve never denied that. When I realized, and this was five, six years ago, when I realized the trajectory of where WordPress was going, I realized the way in which I like to build products and to design websites and stuff, which isn’t for everybody. I’ll start with that. I realized this is heading in a direction to which I feel like it reemowers me and the people who I like to build for in a way. And 10up and WebDev and Kevin, maybe some of the use cases that you have may not be that audience. I realized where this was going, and I’ll say this, and I’ve said this often recently, I’m more excited about WordPress today than I’ve ever been in the 18 years I’ve ever worked with it. Now, it’s because I I know how to do what I need to do with it. It allows me to design in a way that’s easy and I can expedite and do things that are unique. Somebody wants to drop a link, go to wellnessmama. Com. I recently launched that site, and that home page is full site editor with no plugins.


[01:03:18.770] – Brian Gardner

And so I see the potential in this. Yes, it’s taking us some time, and yes, I get frustrated often when I go to do a thing and there’s a reason why it’s not working. I ping nick Diego, I ping Rich Tabor, I ping Anne McCarthy all the time and say, hey, here’s the fundamental problem that exists. We need to escalate this or this is a problem for a lot of people. And so I get frustrated almost daily. So I don’t live in a unicorn utopian world with it all because I try to push the boundaries. I see the potential. I like to help make that change and to do whatever I can. It’s why I joined WP Engine. It’s why I’m thrilled I get to get paid to do this as my job because I love it. And so I think to your Jonathan, I’m trying to remember exactly how you asked me the question that you did.


[01:04:04.740] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, I have that problem as well, Brian, all the time.


[01:04:08.390] – Brian Gardner

I know it’s not rose-colored glasses all the time. And again, I don’t know even where I’m going with all of this other than I’m a huge- Well, I’ll consistently have the same problem, Brian, so I won’t worry too much.


[01:04:23.210] – Jonathan Denwood

My great co-host will give test to me for that. I want to close the podcast, but are both of you up to continue the discussion for 10, 15 minutes? Is that okay? Sure. We’re going to close down the podcast part of the show, folks. We’re going to continue the discussion for a little while. You’ll be able to watch the whole show on the WP Tonic YouTube channel. Go over there and subscribe to it. That would be much appreciated. So folks, so, Brian, let’s wrap up the podcast part of the show. So what’s the best way for people to find out more about you, Brian?


[01:05:05.760] – Brian Gardner

My personal website, briangardner. Com. I recently just made the decision to put everything I do into that website. So all of my projects, my design, my WordPress-related stuff will be at briangartner. Com. Up in the corner, upper right-hand corner with the native social icons block, is the best way to connect with me, mainly Twitter. That’s where I interact as much as I possibly can, Twitter X, whatever we’re it these days. Those two places.


[01:05:33.080] – Jonathan Denwood

So Kevin, what’s the best way for people to communicate that you’re the anti-christ of WordPress thing?


[01:05:40.570] – Kevin Geary

Everything About Me is at geary. Co, G-E-A-R-Y. Co. So just go there, and that’s the central hub.


[01:05:47.770] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, and he’ll respond to your ridiculous comments in his every best way, folks. I’m going to give you, Kirk, what’s the best way for people to… Jesus, I get myself into so much trouble. What’s the best way for people to contact you?


[01:06:10.670] – Kurt von Ahnen

I’m also on X at Mañana Nomás, and then Manana Nomas is my company name, Everything Social or the manananomas. Com website. Lastly, LinkedIn. I’m on LinkedIn almost every day, and I’m the only Kurt von Ahnen on LinkedIn, so I’m easy to find.


[01:06:26.450] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. We’re going to wrap up the podcast of the show, folks. We will be back next week with another great interview. Well, we got our Roundtable show coming up this Thursday, so please join us for that. That should be an interesting discussion as well. We got a couple of great WordPress people joining us, a special guests on the Roundtable show. We’ll see you soon, folks. Bye. So let’s continue.


[01:06:59.730] – Kurt von Ahnen

So if I could jump in just a heartbeat, because it’s come up a couple of times. I don’t know why Kurt’s clients would like this or that or the other. When I work with these clients, I generally ask them, What It’s a use case thing for me. I’m very big on use case. So what’s the use case of this project? What’s the use case of that? And so if I have a client that’s big on generating content, and they’re going to use something like multi collab with multiple writers, and they’re going to work on things on on site before they hit publish, I’m going to be honest. I mean, the block builder works phenomenally because it gives you full screen writing experiences. You can format things almost the way it’s going to look on the site. Whereas if they’re in a page builder, I end up having to make tutorials, like click here to edit the page, click to edit with this tool. You’re going to be in this tool editing now. The words go in this little box on the left, and then click Update. But when you click Update, it’s either going take you back to the dashboard or back to the post.


[01:08:03.080] – Kurt von Ahnen

And it’s just this disconnected experience. And so for those clients, even though it takes me longer to build the site, which I know is what the focus of this most of this conversation was, I can knock this out in a page build or look at a split, and then blocks, it takes me forever. Well, as an agency owner, trying to make my customer happy, sometimes I end up putting the extra into the blocks so they get the end user experience that they expect from their product. But then I have a ton of other customers that aren’t going to do crud in their website other than connect to a store, integrate with something else. And then in that case, I can load up a page builder, save myself my agency time, and increase my margins as an agency because I’m more efficient. Does that make sense? Or am I just crazy?


[01:08:50.420] – Jonathan Denwood

Go on, what do you want me to do?


[01:08:52.090] – Kevin Geary

To me or to Brian?


[01:08:53.690] – Kurt von Ahnen

Anybody. I want to see who jumps in first.


[01:08:57.510] – Kevin Geary



[01:08:59.370] – Brian Gardner

You could go Kevin, but I’ll just say nobody’s crazy here. Everyone has their own use cases and everyone needs to do a thing differently. I mean, I think the problem, not the problem, the opportunity, is that everybody is trying to make one thing do everything. And there are times where, yes, use Divi You have to. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m not judging you because you do. If that’s what’s best for your agency because you know it, you don’t have time to learn, that’s fine. It’s like an acknowledgement of reality.


[01:09:26.320] – Jonathan Denwood

Go ahead, Kevin. What do you rate?


[01:09:29.850] – Kevin Geary

So Recap that real quick, Kurt. Why exactly? What were you advocating for?


[01:09:35.250] – Kurt von Ahnen

It goes to not my experience, not my user interface. But when I think about my end client using the website, what suits their use case best? Just one that I can call out is people that are really big on generating tons of content, print content, they work better in the block editor. It’s more if they get that bigger workspace, it’s more- Are you talking blog post content?


[01:10:00.120] – Jonathan Denwood

Can I jump in, actually? I think this… I want to see if Kirk agrees. I think what Kirk is saying, and I think I’m having a bad influence on him because I think he’s getting some of my disease here a little bit, but I just want to summarize it. I think what he’s talking about is some of the pushback that you got, really, Kevin. Some people said, Well, you can’t give a normal person access to some of these page builders. It just freak them out. It will just… You couldn’t give bricks to a normal client. But then You had this new plugin, Gutenbricks, Bricksbuilder, gutenbricks. Com. This looks really interesting, this concept that you could build a website in a page builder, and then you can just give them… You could build blocks in bricks, and then just give them access to certain… That looks really interesting. It’s a very new plugin. I don’t know who the developer is behind it. I went to their website, I said, You need a Detailed About Us page, so we know something about you. But it looks really, and I saw WP Tuts and a a couple of other videos about it, and it looks a really interesting concept.


[01:11:35.570] – Jonathan Denwood

I think you pushed back quite a bit, but I agreed with some of the statements. You do not want to give to the average client access to bricks.


[01:11:48.570] – Kevin Geary

I’m sorry. Well, I think we would have to come back to have this discussion. But I think for business websites, there’s a fundamental problem with giving the client access to any content editing capability for For most use cases. If a client comes to you to a professional and says, Hey, I need a website for my business that I’m going to rely on this website for rankings, for conversion to sales and leads and everything else. And that expert is basically saying, Okay, then we’re going to do the layout like this, and we’re going to write the things the way that we’re writing them for a very specific reason. That’s what an expert is saying. You’re paying me because this needs to be done a specific way in order to make it a success. And if we hand the keys over to the client when we’re done or whatever, and they’re like, Hey, you want to go in and just change headings? You want to change slugs? You want to change body content? You want to change that feature content? You want to swap images out? I mean, have at it. It’s basically giving the reins over to somebody who’s not a copywriter, doesn’t know how to choose photos, doesn’t know SEO, doesn’t know anything.


[01:12:51.830] – Kevin Geary

And they’re just willy-nilly making changes. These changes have wide-ranging implications in terms of their rankings and conversions. And so my The argument has always been, is it even in their best interest for them to do that? Not that we block them from doing it, but I have conversations with my client that’s, this is not in your best interest to just go willy-nilly changing stuff all across the website, right? So there’s that argument, which, again, we would have to come back for. But then there’s the democratizing publishing where any hobbyist should absolutely just be able to use WordPress to build whatever they want and do whatever they want, 100 %. Now to Kurt, because I didn’t want to leave Kurt hanging there. In terms of using the blog editor for writing blog posts, I 100% agree that that’s its absolute best use case. Never have I ever said that somebody should be putting blog posts in bricks or oxygen or element. That’s probably the worst thing that you can do. WordPress is fundamentally a content management system. That is a gross mismanagement of content to do that, right? So yes, you should be writing blog posts in the block editor, and that’s always been what I’ve advocated for, and it needs to be a great experience experience for that.


[01:14:00.670] – Kevin Geary

And I think it is a good experience for doing that. It’s where it extends into the page building world that we really run into the challenges. I have zero issue with the block editor for content production.


[01:14:13.670] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. Brian, I totally agree with you. I think if it’s managed in the right way, and that is a slight concern for me, is that I see enormous opportunity. Where do you Where do you… Are there a couple of things that get you really excited that much? And where do you think WordPress and Gutenberg is going to be in 12 months time?


[01:14:45.670] – Brian Gardner

From a feature set, probably not too far further than what it’s at now. I think a lot of the feedback in these next several versions of it are to, let’s fix what’s here rather than keep trying to add new things. I think we’re in a refinement phase. They’re doing a lot of work around workflow and stuff like that. So I’ve seen a lot of comments, and they’re good ones, and they’re ones I would support also, which is, hey, let’s stop trying to just make it do new things and more things halfway there and just say, let’s take even a year, I mean, one or two releases at best, but let’s refine, let’s hear the feedback, let’s identify the stuff, the code that’s already written, how do we tweak it slightly to where it can do all the things that we wanted to without flaw, right? Hard to say that. So I would say 12. And as a feature guy, somebody who gets excited about the shiny new toys, that’s hard for me to want because I want the new things and I want them to work well also. But as I said earlier, I run into a lot of things.


[01:15:44.420] – Brian Gardner

I’m like, oh, If this thing just existed or if this setting existed in this block, I could then do that. I’m satisfied with just knowing that those things are also accounted for.


[01:15:55.720] – Jonathan Denwood

So you would like to see a period where there’s no dramatic change, but things were more were just developed and built out a bit more. I think some of the comments is that one of the criticism of native Gutenberg is you can’t really do dynamic data that effectively without utilizing a third party system? How would you respond to that, Brian?


[01:16:23.700] – Brian Gardner

Generally, it’s not an area I live in. I mean, that might be plugin functionality. If anything, for now, there are things like ACF and stuff like that where you can do that stuff. That’s probably an instance where I would say, let’s not tackle that beast because it’s just too big. And I think we’re starting to see some other things inside of… And I have We haven’t looked into the block bindings yet. I know there’s a lot of work around custom fields and stuff like that being talked about. I would like it to just get better with what we’ve got before a bunch of this new stuff comes.


[01:16:56.850] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, I would agree with you. So, Kevin, if one or two things could be done to native Gutenberg that would make you more happy, it could move the feed on. Would it satisfy your professional urges, Kevin? What would be one or two things you would love to see that the WordPress Gutenberg project would implement?

[01:17:34.950] – Kevin Geary

It’s only one thing, and it doesn’t have anything to do with me. It has more to do with, I guess, the people that I am representing, like my audience, right? I was only being podcasted. Yeah, and the way that we work. We feel that there isn’t a lot of representation in the contributor space for the typical agency owner who uses a page builder, right? And when we talk about things like HTML best practices and just going back to the fundamentals of this, we know it because it’s the language of web design. And we’re being asked to learn a new language of block building, which is acceptable in a way, but there seems to be a rejection of specific ideas that we bring to the… Just an outright like, Oh, that’s not how we’re doing things. Or these people over here that you don’t even know and have never met don’t care about any of that stuff, so we don’t care about any of that stuff. That’s the vibe we often get a lot of times. And so when we bring ideas to the table, when our relatively ginormous audience, I mean, think of the size of elements or the size of…


[01:18:48.990] – Kevin Geary

I mean, these are the people we’re talking about, right? When that amount of people come in and have questions about the block editor being done this way when it’s always been done this other way, If the block editor, and trust me, I’m not like an anti-progress, okay? Automatic CSS does things differently than any other framework has ever done them. But it’s for a particular reason and a measurable and identified reliable difference in outcome. And so if the contributors or the block editor say, no, look, we did it this way because look how awesome it is when you do it this way versus the other way, I can get on board with that. But when it’s different just to be different, or it’s different and objectively worse, I do have a problem with that. And we point out why we think it’s worse or it’s just different to be different and doesn’t really need to be that way. I would like them to be more open to hearing what we have to say. And again, I think, and you’re going to see this in the chat, when people try to have this conversation, it’s, oh, well, you can do that.


[01:19:50.840] – Kevin Geary

It’s no problem. Just open VS Code edit this JSON file, and then go over here and create a custom block theme thing. And it’s like, no, hold on. That’s That’s not the realm that we’re in right now. And so that can’t be the answer, especially if we want to meet the objectives of having a block builder that’s for everybody. So I think it’s that fundamental conversation that has to be like, why are we? Why does it feel like we’re being excluded from this conversation?


[01:20:20.550] – Brian Gardner

Okay, let me jump in really quickly for two reasons. One, because I need to leave, and two, because I need to leave, and I’m going to drop a link in our chat. If one of you can do that and throw it in the comments, In 10 minutes from now, there’s an open conversation happening called Hallway Hangout. Let’s chat about overlapping problems in the site editor, facilitated by Anne McCarthy, opening it up to the community. So it’s sanctioned by, I guess, automatic or at least the WordPress core contribution team to invite people to come in in a way to communicate these things, not that’s on a podcast like WP-Tonic that might seem opinionated. This is like an open place for us to say, Hey, here’s where it sucks, here’s where it doesn’t, here’s where… They want to hear the pain points, and that’s a good, open, transparent way to do it where there’s some accountability built in because of how it’s being facilitated. I’m planning on joining that also, and I’m here to give my own two cents, but also all of the stuff that I hear through our work at WP Engine to bring to some of those pain points.


[01:21:16.710] – Brian Gardner

Kevin, to you, your team, or anybody listening or watching right now, you can go in and have these conversations because they make them open. I look forward to hopping on that call, but I need to jump from this. Yeah, sure.

[01:21:30.820] – Jonathan Denwood

Sure, Brian.

[01:21:31.800] – Kevin Geary

Just really quick, before Brian has to leave, I just wanted to say I have tremendous respect for everything that Brian does and has done. I’m insanely interested in Frost and how he’s put everything together. He was open to getting on a Zoom earlier in the show, so hopefully, that invitation is still available. I’d love to get on a call with him and go through some of that because it’s imposing what he’s accomplished, and I want to learn more about that. I just wanted to say that before Brian had to leave.

[01:22:02.470] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, thanks, Brian, for coming on the show. I think it’s been a part of my English humor and doom and gloom, Brian. I think it’s been a very constructive discussion, actually. Thank you so much. We’re going to wrap it up now, folks. We’ll see you soon. Bye.


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