Alexis Lloyd and Riad Benguella Will Lead Phase Two of Gutenberg

As activity ramps up to try to get WordPress 5.0 released in November, Matt Mullenweg has announced who will lead phase two of the Gutenberg project. Phase two focuses on Customization and entire site layouts.

Alexis Lloyd, Head of Design Innovation at Automattic, will handle the design and product side. Riad Benguella, a JavaScript Engineer at Automattic, will handle the technical side of the project.

One of the goals of phase two is to replace widgets with blocks and menus with a navigation block. Lloyd and Benguella commented on the post, introducing themselves to the community.

“Hi all! I’m thrilled to be working on phase 2 of Gutenberg,” Lloyd said. “I think there’s a huge opportunity to take the ease of use that has been brought to page/post editing in phase 1 and extend that to the full site experience.

“I’m coming from many years leading design and product teams in news organizations (including designing and building custom CMSes), and am looking forward to bringing my experience to WordPress, as well as learning from the deep expertise in the community!”

“Hi all! I’m so excited to be working with you all alongside @alexislloyd to build upon the amazing technology that is Gutenberg in order to bring the content creation experience in WordPress to a whole new level,” Benguella said.

“For those who don’t know me yet, I’m a JavaScript engineer at Automattic. I’ve been fortunate to have contributed to the Gutenberg project since its beginning, including a lot of work on Gutenberg APIs, JavaScript in Core, and Accessibility.

“I look forward to bringing my humble expertise to achieve the second phase of this project, as we look into things like widgets, menus, templates, and site-building in general.”

Theseus’s Paradox Makes More Sense Now

In episode 331 of WordPress Weekly, one of the items we discussed with Gary Pendergast is the future of Gutenberg beyond the editor. At its core, Gutenberg is supposed to unify a number of areas of WordPress.

Blocks are the unifying evolution of what is now covered, in different ways, by shortcodes, embeds, widgets, post formats, custom post types, theme options, meta-boxes, and other formatting elements. They embrace the breadth of functionality WordPress is capable of, with the clarity of a consistent user experience.

From the Gutenberg Plugin Page

I hypothesized that since Gutenberg is an interface to manage blocks and that menus as well as widgets will become blocks, the menus and widget management pages in the WordPress backend can be replaced or removed in favor of Gutenberg.

In this way, the Menu and Widget management boards on the Ship of Theseus would be replaced without sinking or disrupting the entire boat.

With Mullenweg’s announcement regarding phase two, the Ship Of Theseus or Theseus’s paradox begins to make more sense. Gutenberg becomes the foundation for bringing many areas of the WordPress project up to par without starting from scratch.

3 Comments


  1. Alexis and Riad are both super talented folks, I’m very excited to see where they take phase 2 of the Gutenberg project.

    Tavern readers will likely recognise Riad from his work on building Gutenberg phase 1, as well as the excellent tutorials he’s been writing on his blog. If you haven’t seen it yet, he just published a super clean demo of using using modern JavaScript in WordPress plugins.

    As you mentioned in the post, Alexis brings years of design and product experience in publishing and CMSes from outside of the WordPress world, It’s going to be pretty cool to see how she adapts this experience to WordPress and Gutenberg.

    One thing I’m really looking forward to is seeing how the actual role and processes for design in WordPress can evolve. Historically, the “designer” role in WordPress has been relegated to styling and layouts: the shiny things. Similar attitudes existed in large organisations years ago, these have since been abandoned in favour of “design infused” processes: where designers and developers work together in a cooperative, respectful, iterative fashion. Neither role is more important than the other, both are working on different aspects of the same thing.

    We’ve already seen how effective this kind of process can be in Gutenberg, demonstrating that this evolution of design practices isn’t just for corporations, major OSS projects can do it, too. Even if you’re not a designer, you can look at the block editor, and see the consistency across the interface, something that WordPress has historically struggled to do.

    You’ve possibly heard of design languages for other projects: Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, or Google’s Material Design are great examples. For developers, these kinds of standard design documents allow you to build really nice interfaces without needing a designer to lay everything out for you. For designers, you get to focus on the bigger UX issues, rather than needing to style the same button 100 times. We’ve already seen the beginnings of a WordPress design language in the Make WordPress Design Handbook, I’m quite optimistic about how this can be expanded as WordPress 5.0 is released, and Gutenberg phase 2 ramps up.

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  2. The problem I’m having… you’ve managed to sum up in Theseus’s Paradox. If Gutenberg is effectively to become the new WordPress ‘engine’, why not just launch it as a separate product/platform? That way the classicists and modernists will both be happy!

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