Big Bite Creative to Launch New Amnesty International Website based on Gutenberg

The team at Big Bite Creative has developed a new website for Amnesty International using Gutenberg, soon to be launched at amnesty.eu. The agency worked in partnership with WordPress.com VIP to provide the London-based human rights organization with the tools to create multiple sites that could be uniquely customized for their editorial needs.

After successfully using Gutenberg to launch a site for an international bank, Big Bite CTO Jason Agnew said his team gained confidence to use the new editor for the Amnesty site. The client approached Bite Bite around the time of WordCamp Europe when Matt Mullenweg unveiled a roadmap for getting a stable Gutenberg release before the end of the year.

“On top of this the Amnesty project suited Gutenberg,” Agnew said. “Their brief mentioned 14 components which could be used to build out multiple sites. I honestly think it would have been difficult to build something that required this level of flexibility with a field manager like Fieldmanager, CMB2 or ACF. Perhaps it would have been possible with page builders like Visual Composer, but these platforms are still figuring out how they will work with the WordPress 5.0.”

Through the use of a combination of prompts, custom blocks, nested blocks, and predefined styles, Big Bite made it possible for even non-technical editorial staff to create and arrange content to build out websites for various outreach locations.

“It’s been fascinating to give the client full control over the site structure compared to the more traditional development of templates,” Agnew said. “We are still in the early stages of launching sites with the new platform, but the client has built up the EU site on their own without much support, which should be going live early October. Now they are in the process building out websites for Mali and Iran, with the goal to launch around 20 sites initially. We’ve had the editorial team describe the experience as fun – that’s from a team who have used WordPress with ACF in the past, which does offer an intuitive UI but still requires a level of training of what fields relate to what pieces of content on the front-end.”

As many others have reported, one of the most challenging things Big Bite encountered in extending Gutenberg was the project’s incomplete documentation.

“We’ve had our challenges, and particularly the Gutenberg documentation is not up to standard, which leads to a lot of time being wasted,” Agnew said. “But I have to say once our team get over the first block or two it wasn’t an issue. It’s important to say that the Gutenberg team Slack have been a great help when we did run into problems. We did discover IE11 support is still a work in progress, for example, copy & paste didn’t work, meta boxes wouldn’t render causing saving issues with posts.”

Agnew said for most issues there isn’t a lot one can do to resolve them apart from waiting for each update as the plugin improves, but it’s something agencies need to account for when working with clients. The Big Bite team also found that Gutenberg compatibility is still an issue for many of the plugins that they looked at using for the project.

“Apart from using Yoast we’ve mainly custom built the theme due to many plugins still requiring UI changes to work well with Gutenberg,” Agnew said. “Probably the most significant feature we wrote was language syndication system.”

Big Bite plans to open source Amnesty International’s full theme, which includes all of the custom blocks. Prior to that they are going to remove all the branding to avoid lots of new sites popping looking like the Amnesty brand. The agency is aiming for publishing the code the same day as WordPress 5.0 is released or earlier if the release is delayed beyond January.

For a closer look at the Amnesty International project, check out Big Bite’s announcement post. The video below was created in partnership with WordPress.com VIP and offers a tour of some of the custom Gutenberg blocks they created for Amnesty.

10 Comments


  1. One can only imagine how much more time would’ve been wasted had Big Bite Creative not been able to work “in partnership with WordPress.com VIP”! :)

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    1. Hi Scott,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m Iain from Big Bite.

      The primary purpose of the article was to share the video we created with WordPress.com VIP to show how Gutenberg can be used, and how it is impacting such a great charity.

      Despite the challenges we raised in the article, the delays in the project are not related to Gutenberg. This is the second commercial project we will be launching with Gutenberg, and we are confident in the approach.

      As you can imagine projects of this size can often experience small delays, and in this case, the Amnesty team wanted to spend a little longer refining their content before launch.

      Don’t worry once it launches we’ll be letting everyone know along with more detailed posts about how we approached the build.

      Thanks.
      Iain

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  2. Where can we see the amnesty site based on Gutenberg? When will the site be launched?

    No link here, no link in bigbitecreative blog, no link at WordPress VIP, just an announcement about “launching in September”.

    Wouldn’t it be better to publish this article after the launch really has happened?

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    1. It will soon be available at http://amnesty.eu. There was a bit of confusion on this point, as the amnesty.org design looks very similar to the one that was demonstrated in the video. It’s actually their international branch that is built on Gutenberg and set to launch soon.

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      1. Sarah, thanks for clarifying. But did they demo Gutenberg-based site before it was ready? Or is it delayed because they are encountering more “challenges”?

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  3. This is very interesting!
    Can’t wait to see what the new default theme of WordPress post-Gutenberg will look like and be capable of!

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  4. I can’t remember the link, I was using a train station’s wifi while waiting for my next train to arrive…UK citizens might lose the .eu domain. If Amnesty is based in London….they might lose their .eu domain. (due to BREXIT)

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  5. Good to see Gutenberg being used for such a great org. And thx to Big Bite for taking a big bite out of developing with Gutenberg. It’s a big risk doing a project like this, but good partnerships and good communications make all the difference.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words Jaki, we couldn’t agree more! :)

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  6. I remember when you were able to tell right away that which websites were made with WordPress, now days this platform has become more flexible and customizable than some html temples. The learning curve is not that steep either, making wordpress very popular with blogs and ecommerce. I would say that since they need to keep up to date with whatever plugin they use, they need to have someone in charge of the maintenance of the page. I hope Big Bite and Amnesty International develop a long relationship.

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