Do you remember what it was like to use WordPress 5.0? Three years and ten major releases have drastically changed the experience of building sites, but it’s not always easy to see when you focus on some of the smaller, iterative changes that add up slowly. Anne McCarthy, WordPress Product Liaison at Automattic and Release 6.0 Co-Coordinator, created a short 13-minute video that shows the immense amount of progress contributors have made on site-building features.
McCarthy takes viewers back in time to WordPress 5.0, released in December 2018, which introduced the Twenty Nineteen block editor and default theme thanks to the work of over 400 contributors. It shows how to use the Customizer with the default theme. Those were simpler days and it’s clear now how limited the Customizer was in implementing even the most basic changes.
The video contrasts this experience with the upcoming 6.0 release, which showcases the work of over 500 contributors on features that didn’t exist three years ago.
McCarthy quickly demonstrates the 6.0 site editing experience, replacing template elements and showing the extent of customization available for images, colors, typography, control of displayed posts, style variations and the impressive array of design tools available.
Ten major releases later, almost every aspect of a WordPress site is customizable through the site editor. For those who haven’t made the jump to the full site edition yet – it’s basically like the old Customizer but with superpowers, better instant previews and the interface is a panel on the right. At this point, I don’t think the usability is at a level where someone can just walk into it and immediately know what it’s doing. It takes a bit of exploring, but it’s headed in the right direction.
Videos like this show what’s possible and how far WordPress has come since the block editor was first introduced. This also indirectly responds to Joost de Valk’s recent claims that the not-yet-completed Full Site Editing Project is partly responsible for WordPress’ recent decline in market share.
While WordPress remains the undisputed market leader among CMSs, some say this small percentage drop is inconsequential. Matt Mullenweg has said in previous interviews that he views market share metrics as a “tracking indicator” in the quest to create the best possible experience for users and developers. A growing market share, in this sense, is a sign of user satisfaction.
WordPress jumped into the block paradigm at the right time, just as many other apps started to embrace the concept of composable blocks for creating content and designs. The complete edition of the site is an extension of this vision, but it takes time to turn it into something refined and pleasant to use. McCarthy’s video is a good reminder of the limitations users once ran into when trying to edit their sites, and the “why” behind all the effort in FSE.
“As someone currently on the WordPress 6.0 release team, I can attest that the project needs more contributors,” said WordPress contributor Nick Diego. mentioned in response to the recent market share discussion. “The fact that FSE took so long is not a lack of effort. Many contributors have invested themselves body and soul in the project. We just need more help.