In 2018, WordPress decided to show homage to Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type printing. They did this by releasing Gutenberg, which is a revised way of building a website using WordPress.
Immediately, people began to wonder if Gutenberg was going to be the end of free website builders. If the current reaction of web designers to Gutenberg is an indication of the future, website builders can breathe a temporary sigh of relief.
That being said, Gutenberg has the potential to definitely upend the website builder industry.
Today we’ll take a few minutes and look at what Gutenberg is and the current and potential future impact this update to WordPress could have on website builders.
We’ll also compare it with currently popular website builders to see where the differences lie.
A few days ago I updated one of my sites to use Gutenberg, but after 5 minutes I decided to stick with the old editor for now. In the future we’ll see 😉 .
So, let’s begin with today’s article!
1. How Does Gutenberg Work?
Before we delve into a discussion of Gutenberg versus website builders, let’s do a brief summary of what Gutenberg is and how it works.
Gutenberg is a new WordPress editor that sits poised to completely replace the existing TinyMCE editor. Some of its outstanding features include:
- Using blocks to design a web page or a post as opposed to single text fields;
- Blocks can include any element of the page, including images, text, quotes, embedded content, and more;
- Blocks can be dropped, moved, dragged, and arranged anywhere on the page.
In its current form, Gutenberg is limited, especially when compared to fully developed free website builders.
2. Gutenberg Is Not Ready to Replace Website Builders
Gutenberg, in its current form, is not ready to replace website builders. However, as the technology improves, it could give web builders a run for their money.
The big reason why Gutenberg will not be replacing website builders anytime soon is because it was not designed to be direct competition for website builders.
It has been designed to improve the user’s experience while editing content on WordPress. Website builders, on the other hand, have been designed to let people create a complete web page by using elements like sliders and post sliders.
As a result, Gutenberg does not offer a lot of the features that website builders offer. Here are a few examples:
- Gutenberg intentionally does not have front-end visual editing;
- Gutenberg allows you to tweak some basic things. However, it does not have the features that allow for a more in-depth styling of a website. These features are commonplace on website builders;
- Gutenberg uses column blocks. However, they are nowhere near as versatile nor do they come close to meeting the standards that are found on the majority of website page builders;
- Website builders come with a number of specialty blocks by default. Examples of these would include pricing tables and blocks for testimonials. These features are not standard with Gutenberg.
There are some workarounds that allow you to create this content, but it is a lot more difficult using Gutenberg than it is using page builders.
Over the years, website builders have fine-tuned their ability to allow complete novices to build a fully functioning website with just a few clicks of a mouse.
They do their job really well. Since Gutenberg lacks a lot of the features that website builders offer as default, in its current form most people agree that Gutenberg is not able to stand up to website builders.
Here is an example of Elementor page builder:
3. Website Builders Are Upping Their Game As Well
The fact that Gutenberg is not currently competition for website builders does not mean that they are simply sitting on their laurels and patting themselves on the back for dodging a bullet.
WordPress promises to continually improve Gutenberg, possibly to the point where one day it will be a legitimate competitor for website builders. Seeing this potential on the horizon, many website builders are stepping up their game.
They are working on using more advanced features, simplifying the page building process, as well as including AI as a way of taking a lot of the human thought process out of designing a website.
Some website builders are working on projects that will allow a user to simply input a number of parameters and user designed content and then artificial intelligence will design a unique website for the user that not only reflects the ideals of the user’s company but also has been designed with the latest graphic arts theories in place.
4. WordPress Is Not Sitting Idle Either
WordPress has a vibrant community of developers around the planet who are constantly working to improve the functionality of Gutenberg. These developers are competent and are able to build endless extensions for Gutenberg, improving its quality, functionality, and ease of use.
Soon, they will create features for Gutenberg that will make it competitive with a number of the website builder’s on the market.
In 2019, we are going to see a host of themes developed for Gutenberg by some of the best developers on the planet.
As this happens and as people become more familiar and comfortable with Gutenberg, it will likely garner a larger audience that could make it more of a competitor with website builders.
We (me, my collaborators and many people we know that use WordPress) do not see Gutenberg replacing web page builders anytime soon. The reaction toward Gutenberg, even among die hard WordPress fans, has been lukewarm at best.
As with any new technology, Gutenberg needs some fixes. The longevity of Gutenberg will be determined in part by how well WordPress reacts to user’s complaints and how well they are able to address the issues that users bring up.
Casual WordPress users may find that using Gutenberg in conjunction with some of the third-party plug-ins WordPress offers is going to be good enough for them. Hard-core WordPress users are still shying away from Gutenberg and are using time-tested WordPress-based page builders.
In the discussion of Gutenberg versus website builders, right now website builders have the clear advantage. It looks like they will maintain this advantage for much of the foreseeable future.
What do you think? Should free website builders be concerned about Gutenberg? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.