WordPress Theme Developers Begin Marketing Themes as Gutenberg Compatible

WordPress theme developers are starting to advertise their themes as being compatible with Gutenberg, ahead of the new editor’s imminent merge into core. Work on the 5.0 release may be ramping up sooner than expected after yesterday’s announcement that 4.9.9 may be a quick release for PHP 7.3 compatibility or possibly cancelled altogether.

Themeforest, the largest marketplace for commercial WordPress themes with more than 11,000 products, has a specific tag for Gutenberg-compatible theme listings. Searching for themes that mention Gutenberg in the description turns up 139 products. But what does “Gutenberg compatible” mean?

Gutenberg compatibility seems to be more of a buzzword among most of the Themeforest listings, indicating that the theme includes styles for all core blocks. However, in some instances theme authors have also tested shortcodes for compatibility with the new editor. A smaller number include access to premium blocks as part of their advertised Gutenberg compatibility.

Searching the WordPress.org Theme Directory for “Gutenberg” produces 26 results where compatibility is mentioned in the theme descriptions. Themes are noted to be “fully compatible” with Gutenberg or specifically “designed to work with the new editor.” There is a wide spectrum of interpretation on those selling points – from basic styles for core blocks to themes that explore all the possibilities that Gutenberg opens up with features created specifically for manipulation inside the new editor.

Independent theme shops have been leading the charge in creating themes built to showcase what Gutenberg can do through pairing with plugins that offer block collections. Themes like Editor Blocks, Atomic Blocks, and CoBlocks all have accompanying plugins that add custom blocks. This particular approach of packaging blocks into collections may not last very long, as it tends to make individual blocks more difficult to find.

At the moment, advertising a theme as “Gutenberg compatible” is a temporary marketing strategy, as Gutenberg will soon lose its code name and become simply “the editor.” That special distinction will evaporate as soon as WordPress 5.0 lands. Gutenberg support will quickly become a matter of basic WordPress compatibility. The days of using it as a marketable feature are limited, and the pressure is on for theme developers to ensure their products are ready.

In the video below, an excerpt from the “Theming with Gutenberg Course,” Zac Gordon examines considerations for theme developers who are working towards making their products compatible with the new editor. Gordon emphasizes that Gutenberg should work out of the box with any theme. However, there are a few features, such as the full width cover image, that may require special styles in order to work on the front end. The bulk of the compatibility work is ensuring that the editing experience matches the frontend and that Gutenberg blocks are styled harmoniously with the rest of the theme’s features.

There are many tutorials available to help theme developers (and agencies preparing client sites) get started with making their themes ready for the Gutenberg era. Check out the resources below:

Things to consider when updating a WordPress theme for Gutenberg

Preparing WordPress themes for Gutenberg with the Block Unit Test

Getting your theme ready for Gutenberg

10 Comments


  1. I don’t like the “Gutenberg ready theme” label you hear a lot these days. You see, any theme will and should work with the new editor out of the box anyway.

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    1. The label helps users right now know a theme supports Gutenberg. Perhaps sometime later in the future to make it that all themes are supportive might work in theory…. but were are talking about 10’s of 1000’s if themes. Remember too that Gutenberg is not officially released yet

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    2. any theme will and should work with the new editor out of the box anyway

      Sadly, some editors add extra components to the editor, which may not be supported under Gutenberg. However, for most themes, that probably is true.

      However, there can be more to a theme being “Gutenberg compatible”. For example, supporting the wide and full width image/embed option. Unfortunately, many developers are simply using this badge to indicate that it just generally works with the editor.

      My hope is that after its release into Core, there will be more standards over what “Gutenberg compatible” actually means.

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  2. At last I’ve found a reason to retire my (outdated) themes on wp dot org… don’t have time to learn about blocks, nor the knowledge. It’s time to move on and to focus on something else ;-)

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  3. Nice idea but there is absolutely no way that the name Gutenberg will disappear, especially if the official alternative is calling it “the editor”.

    You can’t search for “the editor” in Google as its too vague. It’s not clear to the millions of existing users if by “the editor” the writer means the original editor or the new editor so every article would have to say “the editor” and then say “you know, the Gutenberg ‘the editor’ editor”.

    I can’t see it happening. It would be stupid of them to try to force it. Gutenberg is a great, unique, name and it lets people embrace it and discuss it and advertise it easily.

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    1. I do agree, Gutenberg is a product name, like TinyMCE, Wysiwyg and etc., it’s a unique type of editor, that doesn’t just work anywhere, but on the platforms that support it only.

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  4. Wait for it … it won’t be long you will find themes over there with 1 million custom Gutenberg blocks, all integrated into those themes of course … LOL!

    It was the same with the build in short codes, build in sliders and every other way imaginable to mix up content & design (what a CMS should save you from).

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