By an old crusty web developer
I must admit, I did wince at the thought of the idea of the Full Site Editor. I have my comfort blankets when it comes to WordPress and when things change I get a bit tetchy at times. Furthermore, I’m not one to give my clients total control. It seems a good thing to not overwhelm clients. Instead allowing them to be focussed on what they’re good at seems like a good thing.
With that said, I’ve been trying to embrace change a fair bit. Some elements will be needed to integrate within my themes. I’ve certainly been spending the last year building sites in the block editor. Overall the sites have been stable, but there’s always room for improvement.
So with the new site editor becoming a thing, I thought I’d take an afternoon out to spin up a website for a potential affiliate product. I have had a domain name – buyafuckingaircon.com – for a while. It was bought during the depressing 2022 heatwave in the UK and Europe, when I was ridiculously hot sitting in a (shaded) area of a beer garden in Berlin. My house has weird insulation – it’s freezing in the winter when I write this and boiling in the summer. I remember a site that I loved the concept – buyafuckingshovel.com (web archive here) – that emailed you once a year in the summer to reminder to buy a shovel. That side project has lived rent free in my head since I first saw it.
Sure enough, the summer, more expensive, edition of it was purchased.
And sat on.
With a quiet afternoon where I had a project that was beginning to drag, I decided to use my time more productively to try and build out the site in about an hour or two. Whenever I work on a new side project, to do something I’ve never done before to learn . I learn a lot by doing so even if the side project is a bust I’ll leave with knowledge.
So the goal was build a side project site, wholly in the in the new full site editor, in under 2 hours.
I documented my thoughts on a Twitter thread (which served as a bit of a precursor to this blog post, but here are my thoughts.
Getting started with the new site editor
Beginning you have to have a theme that has to use it. So I’ve been using Twenty Twenty-Three. I was using a WordPress installation that was installed via my host (Siteground), and I deleted the default page and post. First view of the site editor was this.
I feel like the deletion of the default post and page was a bit of a mistake with the menu breaking and there being no information on the home page could confuse people. I also was confused with the “Mindblown” tagline and the talk of book recommendations. As this wasn’t any way related to the site. It feels like it’s both the placeholder content that WordPress has (“Hello World” with an encouragement to delete the post), or irrelevant content. Irrelevant content is fine or content that encourages users is fine, but I find mix and match a bit confusing.
I backed out and created a page with N7 Ipsum on it, and set it as the home page and there was a lot of change. A thumbnail space was added and everything appeared a lot different.
The interesting thing was that – even though it’s the front page – we don’t use the “front page”, but the page layout. It’s valid (if you look at the WordPress template hierarchy you can use page templates on the home page), but confused me a bit. I’m not sure if it was the Twenty Twenty Three lacked it or it was an issue with the full site editor as I expected a front page template.
Far, starting up does seem a bit confusing, but it perked up when I clicked on “Templates” as I could see the templates available and how to edit it. That’s incredibly welcome and probable more useful for developers to use if they use the Full Site Editor on a more regular basis.
The delight was in the template parts. As well as the header and footer, you can edit the comment template, which is great as it’s an absolute nightmare to edit.
But, I got there. A bit slower than I would have liked, now to build an actual site. Or something useful.
The first job was to clean up the home page layout. We won’t need a title tag, nor a featured image, we’d need to remove them.
Sure enough, selecting them, and hitting “delete” removes them. Nice and simple.
Obviously now we’ll need to change the header. We don’t need the menu as we stated above it’s a one page website. The goal then is to make the title text central, a h1, and make the menu stand out.
A massive positive at this point was switching between templates. I’m changing from the page template to the sitewide header template. It’s intuitive (you click, it loads) and it’s quick. Seriously. I have WP Bakery & Elementor running on instances on my Siteground server, and this is quicker than all of them.
The first issue was changing colours. The default palette didn’t have many colours and I wanted to change the theme colours. Alas I couldn’t, as there were “styles”. So I picked one that I didn’t particularly find offensive (the red one). There are custom colours by default in WordPress. I don’t know if this was switched off in Twenty TwentyThree or this is how things are now with the full site editor.
The next couple of issues were traps that I fell in and my clients fall in all the time and it’s something I’m not sure how to fix – selecting the element. As the site title is an element that exists as the header. I was able to edit it but not sure how to change it to a H1. It took me a while to realise that the paragraph symbol needs to be clicked and then changed to a H1.
I then wanted to centrally align the logo, and couldn’t. Eventually by clicking on the row and going up the element tree I was able to change the item justification.
We then changed the footer. Changing the footer was largely fine, though removing the WordPress link and replace with my freelance link to Dwi’n Rhys was a bit of a faff.
In the end, we had with something like this.
My next goals was change the header a bit. Get the header flush to the top of the screen, and remove the white gaps at the top and bottom of the page(s).
And this is where I tapped out, and had to use CSS. The issues were that the white line you see was a border. I couldn’t work out how to remove it. Furthermore there was an issue with how the form (Mailpoet) was displaying on mobile. Simple fixes really, but outside of the FSE. There was a problem with using CSS, and I share that in the goals.
Let’s look if I achieved my goals.
- Did I build a new site? Yes 🎉🎉🎉
- Did I build it wholly in the new site editor? No. There was a small amount of custom CSS. In the end the solution was found in a thread, that – err – required me to log into the customizer within WordPress which was hidden. Not ideal
- Did I build it in under 2 hours? Not quite. Let’s call it 4. But 2 is reasonable with a bit of knowledge behind me.
I did want to shout out a resource. Full Site Editing with WordPress is a site I landed on that talked through some of the issues I had again and again. A big thanks to Carolina Nymark for putting the resource together.
Am I going to be building themes in it professionally? Probably not. When you approach me for WordPress development my rates and experience will mean that I operate at the price point that you get coded themes, rather than thrown together code. With that said, I can possibly use it professionally for those clients that just need a simple solution built quickly. Those quick sites for a retainer that I get asked? Perfect for this.
But for quick side projects? Getting a site up and out and ranking? Sure. For your own personal blog? Sure. Especially with Twitter being a dumpster fire, owning your own content will become more and more popular again, or so I hope.
Oh, and buy a fucking air-con. Your summer self will thank you.