In the not-too-distant past, the majority of themes on WordPress.com were ready-to-use Classic themes or Hybrid themes, with paint-by-number typography, multiple color palettes and and an overall “look and feel” created by a professional designer that we users could easily customize and fill with content. Today, if you venture beyond a theme’s static front page template, the current crop of newer Block themes are mostly lookalike, one-size-fits-all templates. Does that mean internal pages are also-ran? Not in my or many other people’s book. (See my first reply in the comments below*)
In this article:
Full Site Editing
In case you missed it, we’ve been rolling out a new set of powerful site design tools called Full Site Editing (or “FSE”) and it’s now available for all WordPress.com users!
Don’t worry if you’re just hearing about Full Site Editing for the first time. We’ve been releasing these new tools in a way that doesn’t actually require you to do anything with your existing site(s). If you are up for a change though, we’re happy to announce the launch of a brand new family of themes made specifically with Full Site Editing features in mind. As of this writing we have over two dozen themes available that support Full Site Editing.Customize Your Entire Site With New Block Themes – WordPress.com News
I have all these ingredients, but don’t know how they go together
Just add water and bake
Leave it to the Professional Bakers
Do It For Me themes (see below)
Customizer or Site Editor
Since the introduction of full-site editing in January 2022, my biggest disappointment has been and still is this: not everyone has the time, inclination or design chops to design their site and WordPress overlooks that most users want a theme that meets their initial needs without a lot of bells and whistles. Regardless, to make significant changes to a FSE theme requires a deep dive into the Site Editor. That is why, IMO, many FSE themes come with “variations”: Twenty Twenty-Two has 6, Geologist has 5, Quadrat has 6, and so on, to make it easier for users, as long as you don’t have an urge to tweak. And, depending on the FSE theme you choose, you can make some changes in the more familiar Customizer and completely ignore the Site Editor.
(And if you are as confused as I am about those Theme Showcase tags, here’s the Theme Showcase Tags glossary explained in full.)
prêt à porter themes
A few weeks back, Justin Tadlock noted the following on WPTavern:
While he is referring to the Site Editor, the same applies to themes in general. So the question is, why are developers/designers not providing users a completely designed theme from the get-go? We previously had “fixed” designs (Classic), some with dynamic elements even, and for many, like me, who sometimes discover they are wearing two different color socks, a prêt à porter theme is a blessing, especially one that is imbued with a personality. And now that block locking is available in WordPress itself, I truly hope it won’t be much longer before we have access again to completely designed themes that allow us to concentrate on writing and adding content.
Do it for me
Realizing that some WordPress.com users might prefer to leave the set up and design of their site to professionals (and have the pocket change to do so), WordPress.com introduced the “Do It For Me” service, where you can pay WordPress.com to customize and set up a theme from a select number of currently available themes. To me this says oodles about “ease of use” for the beginning or average WordPress.com user.
With FSE, I still feel like we are trying to recapture what earlier themes already provided without the extra effort. This isn’t to say that things won’t get easier as new iterations of full site editing are released in WordPress core. I just hope it will be sooner rather than later.
Edited to add: WordPress.com has been going all-out to bring FSE education to the masses. If you want to get a better grip with it, give this tutorial a try.
As always, the information in this post is correct as of publication date. Changes are inevitable.
Kjell Reigstad, who authored the above announcement on the WPcom News blog, ran a wonderful Design Principles series on the sadly forgotten “The Daily Post” that is still worth reading if you have the time and inclination.