Do you remember what it was like to use WordPress 5.0? Three years and ten major releases have radically changed the site building experience, but it’s not always easy to see recognize when focused on some of the smaller, iterative changes that slowly add up. Anne McCarthy, WordPress product liaison at Automattic and co-release coordinator for 6.0, has created a short 13-minute video that shows the immense amount of progress contributors have made on site building features.
McCarthy takes viewers back in time to WordPress 5.0, released in December 2018, which introduced the block editor and the Twenty Nineteen default theme through the work of 400+ contributors. She demonstrates using the Customizer with the default theme. These were simpler days and it’s clear now how limited the Customizer was for implementing the most basic changes.
The video contrasts that experience with the upcoming 6.0 release, which features the work of 500+ contributors on features that didn’t exist three years ago.
McCarthy quickly demonstrates the 6.0 site editing experience, swapping out template parts, and showcasing the breadth of the customization available for images, colors, typography, controlling the posts that are displayed, style variations, and the impressive array of design tools available.
Ten major versions later, nearly every aspect of a WordPress site is customizable through the site editor. For those who have not yet made the leap into full-site editing – it’s essentially like the old Customizer but with super powers, better instant previews, and the interface is a panel on the right. At this point, I don’t think the usability is at a level where someone can just get in there and immediately know what they are doing. It takes a little bit of exploring, but it’s moving in the right direction.
Videos like this one show what is possible and just how far WordPress has come since it first introduced the block editor. It also indirectly answers Joost de Valk’s recent claims that the full-site editing project not being done yet is partially to blame for WordPress’ recent decline in market share.
While WordPress remains the uncontested market leader among CMS’s, some say this small percentage of a decline is inconsequential. Matt Mullenweg has stated in previous interviews that he views market share stats as a “trailing indicator” in the quest to create the best possible experience for users and developers. A growing market share, in that sense, is a signal of user satisfaction.
WordPress jumped into the block paradigm at the right time, just as many other apps began adopting the concept of composable blocks for creating content and designs. Full-site editing is the extension of that vision but it takes time to make it something polished and delightful to use. McCarthy’s video is a good reminder of the limitations that users previously labored under while trying to edit their sites, and the “why” behind all the effort going into FSE.
“As someone who’s currently on the WordPress 6.0 Release Team, I can attest that the project needs more contributors,” WordPress contributor Nick Diego said in response to the recent market share discussion. “The fact that FSE has taken so long is not a lack of effort. There are many contributors pouring their hearts and souls into the project. We just need more help.”
There’s no denying progress has been made but this needs to be taken in context: 6.0 is about 4 steps forward from the 10 steps backwards in reliability that was introduced by 5.0.