The WordPress site editor no longer has the “beta” label attached to it.
And, if you’ve done any research into WordPress, you’ve probably heard a lot about the site editor, both the positives and negatives.
All of which probably leads you to ask this one simple question: should you use the WordPress site editor for your new website?
The answer, like a lot of them when it comes to tech, is it just depends. I know that’s a bit of a let down, but it’s the truth.
There are a lot of cool things that the site editor can do that you can’t do with regular or classic themes, especially when it comes to customizing your website. But at the same time it presents a lot of challenges, especially if you don’t care so much for the design side.
So before you make the decision to use or not use the site editor, let’s dive deeper into what it is, the positives and negatives and look at scenarios where you might want to and not want to use it.
Table of contents
- What is the WordPress Site Editor?
- The Pros for Using the WordPress Site Editor
- The Cons for Using the WordPress Site Editor
- Making the Decision to Use the WordPress Site Editor
- Use the Crosswinds Framework to Help You Create an Amazing Website
What is the WordPress Site Editor?
So first of all, let’s talk about the WordPress site editor.
In short, the site editor allows you to customize every part of your website, from the header to the footer to the colors to the various templates on your website — right from the dashboard. There’s no code experience required to make your website’s look and feel unique to you or your business or organization.
This moves WordPress into a similar spot like Wix or Squarespace where you can build your entire website visually.
The trick, though, is that you need to be using a block theme that supports the site editor, like the Crosswinds Framework.
And these themes help you get started with creating your website. A lot of the block themes today give you a really good outline for a good site, with various templates and a boatload of patterns that you can use to quickly put together great pages. And most come with a number of style variations which can change the colors and fonts used on your website with just one click.
From there, you can edit everything. You can change what the header and footer look like. You can customize the default page template or create your own page template. And you can make changes to the single blog post template and any archive template.
With the site editor, you can customize everything about your website.
And if you want to try out the site editor in a sandbox environment, you can play with it over on WordPress Playground. And fullsiteediting.com is a great resource for diving into WordPress site editing.
The Pros for Using the WordPress Site Editor
So let’s first take a look at some of the reasons that you might want to use a block theme and the WordPress site editor.
You Can Customize Your Website Without Any Code
One of the biggest selling points for the site editor is that you can customize your website without any code and just do it visually through the dashboard.
This means everything is customizable for you, the end user.
You can change the header and footer for your website. You can customize the page or single post or blog page templates. And you can create any other type of page template you want.
You can control everything on your website, which gives you a ton of power.
New Tools Are Coming Out to Make This Easier
Learning how to use the site editor can be a bit tricky, if we’re being honest, but each WordPress release makes things easier for you to use.
In fact, the latest release, WordPress 6.3, had a big focus on improving the site editor and making it easier for people to use on their website. And as someone who has used the site editor since it was introduced in core in 2022, I can definitely say that it has improved a lot since then, and it will only get better with time.
So even if you’re concerned about usability now, it gets better with each release.
You Can Truly Make Your Website Your Own
And finally, you can really make this website your own on your own. You can take any block theme — yes, even the default theme — and make your website look way different from someone else who might be using the same theme. And you don’t have to worry about finding a developer to help you out with it.
You can change the colors and fonts, create an awesome homepage, customize all of your templates, craft great headers and footers all visually right through your dashboard.
Plus, it’s all through WordPress core functions. You don’t have to worry about adding another plugin that might break your website down the road.
If that sounds like something you want to do, then the site editor is going to be the way to go for you.
The Cons for Using the WordPress Site Editor
On the other hand, there are a number of really good reasons why you might not want to use the WordPress site editor, which is totally fine. Let’s dive into those.
It Can Be a Steep Learning Curve with the Site Editor
As I mentioned above, the site editor comes with a pretty steep learning curve.
If you’ve used the block editor a lot, you’ll have a good starting spot, but there are some things that are a bit different in the block editor.
For starters, you have more tabs and options all over the place in the site editor, like the global styles panel, which can feel overwhelming at times. And now you’re throwing in template parts to the editor, which might be overwhelming as well.
Plus, now you’re making design decisions for your website instead of a theme developer.
It can certainly be a lot to deal with that you might just not want to worry about.
There Aren’t a Lot of Block Themes Out There … Yet
Another issue is that there’s a lack of block themes available for you to use. Yes, the Crosswinds Framework and the child themes are an option, but if you want to take a look at other block themes, there’s not a whole lot there yet.
That makes sense since it’s been about a year and a half since site editing rolled into core and less than a year since the beta label was removed. And theme builders are working to fill that market.
But the depth of themes here isn’t nearly as much as what you can expect with classic or PHP themes. So if you want lots of options, a classic theme might be the best for the moment.
Making the Switch on a Website Can be a Challenge
One thing I’ve found with WordPress site editing is that switching a website from a classic theme to a block theme can be a challenge, even for a seasoned developer like myself.
There’s a lot more that you have to do to make sure your website is completely converted.
If your old theme has any custom page templates, you have to recreate those through the block or site editor. And if a page uses things like Advanced Custom Fields, those all have to get moved to blocks.
There are a lot of moving parts when converting your website. And it’s going to take a while to get your website back looking great and everything else set up.
If you can, set up your new block theme and website on a staging site and then move it over to your live site. Otherwise, maybe it’s best to stay with your current theme.
Responsive Controls Just Aren’t Quite There
This last one is admittedly a bit nit picky, but it can be really important for your website. As far as I see it, the responsive controls for how your website looks at desktop, tablet and mobile screen sizes just isn’t there yet.
You can’t control the number of columns in the query loop block that’s in core. And you can’t change the number of columns in a columns block as the screen size shifts. And it appears that the core grid block that may be coming sometime soon won’t have those options either.
This is actually a problem that I solved in the Crosswinds Blocks plugin and Crosswinds Framework. This way you can have more control over how things look as the screen size goes up or down.
Plus, you can’t hide or show a block based on screen size without using another plugin.
Hopefully these get better with time. But if responsive design and control is something you need, maybe it’s better to stick with your current theme.
Making the Decision to Use the WordPress Site Editor
So, now we get to the big decision: should you use the site editor for your website?
And to be honest, like a lot of things, the answer simply depends. It depends on your situation, what you need for your website and how comfortable you are with essentially creating a website on your own.
So let’s go through a few questions you should ask yourself to help you make this decision.
Are you Creating a New Website?
From my experience, creating a new website with site editing is much easier than converting a website from a regular theme to a block theme. It’s possible, but it does take a lot of work.
But if you’re creating a brand new website, you don’t have to worry about converting anything. You simply have a blank canvas that you can create anything from. That can make things a whole lot easier for you.
Also, the default is to use the site editor with the TwentyTwenty Three theme that is the default active theme on all new WordPress websites.
So if you’re building a new website, maybe it’s a good idea to consider using the site editor.
Do You Like Your Current Theme and Design?
If you already have a current website, then do you like the way your website looks already? If so, you really don’t need to do anything.
No one is forcing you to use the site editor. The classic/PHP/legacy/whatever they’re going to be called themes aren’t going to go away overnight. So your website will continue to work day in and day out.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But if you’re starting to think that your website needs a new redesign, then maybe it’s time to start to think about redoing it with the site editor.
Do You Want to be Able to Customize Your Website Completely?
The biggest selling point for the site editor is that it allows you to customize your entire website without touching any lines of code.
So, do you want to be able to customize every part of your website?
The instinctive answer might be yes. But remember, with great power comes great responsibility.
You are now in control of a lot of the design decisions that designers and developers used to make for you. And they were professionals who knew what they were doing. You might not have that experience.
What colors should you use and where? Where should you create a call to action button? How can you craft a header and footer that looks great? How do you create pages that get conversions?
If you don’t want to play web designer on your website and just want to focus on your content, then a classic theme is probably best for you.
But if you want to have that ability to customize everything, then it’s probably worth giving the site editor a try (especially over page builders).
What Type of Website Do You Have?
The type of website you have or want will also play a big factor in choosing whether or not to use the site editor.
If you’re creating a simple website or a portfolio website, using the site editor and a block theme should be pretty straightforward. And even if you’re just creating a website to generate leads, then you should be good to go.
Where things get complicated is, well, with more complicated websites.
While it’s definitely possible to create online stores (hello Commerce Street and Code Review), membership websites and other complicated sites, it can be a bit of a challenge that you need to think about beforehand.
If you’re creating an online store, community website or some other website that’s going to be complicated, maybe the best thing to do, at least right now, is to use a classic theme.
What’s Going to be the Best for You in the Long Run?
Finally, you need to think about the long run with your website. Your design should at least last you a year if not two or three really, especially if you pay a lot of money for it. So are you willing to keep up with various changes with the site editor and manage a block theme website?
If you think it’s going to be worth the effort, then go for it!
If you’re starting to realize that it’s going to be more of a hassle than it’s worth, then stick with a regular theme. That’s completely okay! Better to figure that out now than when you’re halfway through the build … trust me.
But make sure you take some time to really think about whether or not using the WordPress site editor is going to be worth it for your website.
Use the Crosswinds Framework to Help You Create an Amazing Website
Have you made the decision to use the WordPress site editor for your new website? Awesome!
Did you know that you can power up your site editor experience by using the Crosswinds Framework? The base theme is completely free for you to use and allows you to customize every bit of your website while improving a lot of the gaps in the site editor that we just went over.
And if you want to get a head start on building your website, you can check out one of the niche child themes that work for you, whether you’re creating a website for yourself or your business.
It’s the perfect way to start using the WordPress site editor today!