What are custom Gutenberg blocks and why are they so powerful today?
- And more importantly, how can you use them?
Make no mistake. They are the future of WordPress (and probably the future of CMS). And I promise you, you WILL love them once you see what that they can do. If you’re one of those people resisting the WordPress Gutenberg editor with every fiber of your being…you don’t have to do that anymore!
What’s a Gutenberg block?
If you haven’t already tried the latest WordPress editor, it adds content in the form of blocks. Every bit of content you add (whether it be a text, image, video, whatever) is added by choosing a type of “Gutenberg block”. If you want to add text, you choose the “text block”.
So what’s a custom Gutenberg block?
A custom Gutenberg block is pretty much any Gutenberg block that was added via plugin (and sometimes themes). Being that the default WordPress blocks only cover basic types of content (text, image, video embeds), you will most likely need a custom Gutenberg block for any other type of content or content layout. Just about every content plugin being created now will be enabling its functionality via custom Gutenberg blocks (e.g. Atomic Blocks) .
For example, maybe you want to have a image slider.
- With the OLD WordPress way – your slider plugin created a shortcode for you to paste into the page where you wanted the slider to appear. Or added to a theme position using a widget.
- With the NEW WordPress Gutenberg way – your slider plugin creates a custom Gutenberg block to add into the page where you want your slider to appear. And again, also possible via widget.
Yes, the end result is the same…but how you get there is totally different. With Gutenberg block, it’s done much easier. Perhaps for something simple like image slider, the difference isn’t so apparent. But for other types of content, there’s a whole world of difference. It’s wayyyyyyy easier to add custom content to your pages. Also easier to manipulate their styling and layout, and whatever other options available.
How to install Gutenberg blocks
It couldn’t be any easier. Just search “block” or “blocks” on WordPress plugin repo. You’ll find tons of options and many integrations with existing plugins. I keep seeing many new goodies every day.
But you know what’s even more fun than installing a 3rd-party Gutenberg block? It’s creating your own! 😉
Why should you create your own custom Gutenberg blocks?
I don’t recommend this (or find it necessary) for all sites. But I’m willing to bet a large majority of WordPress sites could greatly benefit from it.
If you answer YES to any of the questions below, you are probably a great candidate for custom Gutenberg blocks:
- Relying on a pagebuilder for a custom page layout?
- Relying on a plugin to style or layout your content in a specific way?
- Have custom content (or content areas) that’s hard or unintuitive to edit?
The next questions are the ones you’ll probably be asking me:
- Why should you create a custom Gutenberg block instead of installing from an existing plugin?
- How do you create one if you’re not a programmer?
- Will custom Gutenberg blocks be easier to maintain and update?
- How much will it cost?
As with any plugin or theme, it’s nice to create your own because then it’s customized for you and works with everything you have. When you install a 3rd-party theme or plugin, it may or may not be updated as you need. It might also break when it updates or break when it doesn’t update. It could be more bloated and full of features you don’t want, while still lacking critical features that you do want.
If you’re not a programmer, you can hire a programmer to put one together for you. It’ll likely be easier to maintain and update over time because it’s catered to your specific use. You probably won’t even need to update it much (or even at all) if your design doesn’t change.
The cost is nominal. Much cheaper than you think. Some PHP programming, some CSS styling, maybe a tiny bit of JS. Anywhere from $100-500 depending on how it aggregates content and displays it onto the page.