Each month the Genesis Shapers meets for one hour to discuss the evolving WordPress landscape and how it relates to the Genesis community.
If you missed any updates, they can be found in the YouTube channel here.
In this Shapers Recap episode, David and Carrie are joined by Nick Croft, author of Genesis Explained.
Whether you’re a novice or an advanced developer, Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go. If you want to spend less time struggling with complex instructions, and more time building sites that make you proud, this is the book for you!
Don’t have time for the video? Enjoy the TL;DW:
The topic of this Shaper’s Meeting was Move Around the Block. Block Portability..
- Who in the WordPress community are you especially thankful for?
The Shapers were thankful for Anita Carter, Bill Erikson, Carrie Dils, Francesca Marano, Sridhar Katakam, Jill Binder, David Vogelpohl, Walter Lopez, Jesse Masservey, Ozh Richards, Jared Atchinson, Genesis Product & Engineering Teams.
Nathan Rice’s quote from meeting:
“I can’t possibly forget about the many MANY people who used stuff I built, who helped me make a living, and form so many connections with people around the world. For using, teaching, and evangelizing Genesis, and for just being an awesome group of human beings.
I sense a theme here … people who teach, and the connections we make within the communities that have formed around WordPress … this is what makes community so amazing!”
- Are any of your customers asking about theme styles / options for implementing Google Web Stories?
The Shapers mentioned that smaller clients aren’t exploring it at all, but it is coming up more and more with bigger clients looking for more visibility on Google (particularly Google Discover). It sounds like some have tried it and like it, and that there is at least some appetite from others to give it a try some time.
Jon Brown raised some good points around the debt of incorporating things like Web Stories (e.g. Schema, AMP, etc.) into Genesis technology that may or may not be material in the future. You can see a visual example of Web Stories at this point in the video.
Web Stories is still an area of research for the Genesis team and is not currently being worked on.
- What web design trends are you most excited about trying in the sites you build?
Ryan Murray talked quite a bit about the benefits Tailwind CSS as well as PWA’s and SSG’s.
Bill Erickson said “I’ve enjoyed the increased focus on accessibility and performance. It always feels nice to launch a site with a perfect 100 Pagespeed Insights score”.
Nick Croft mentioned one thread he is excited about is Headless WordPress. Sallie Goetsch chimed in with “I have heard people say that headless and Gutenberg are at odds with each other.”. This then kickded off an interesting thread where Nick explained “We’ve taken 3 approaches.
Convert blocks to JSON and then parse it. Use a script that converts them to react components from HTML. Just output the HTML and provide styles.”
Phil Johnston from the Genesis engineering team chimed in with “I had originally thought they (Gutenberg + Headless) were at odds as well, and on the surface they are. But there are some ways around that, like using the block parser package and outputting react components for certain blocks, passing the attributes in as props (like @Nick the Geek just mentioned)”
- Genesis Custom Blocks Pro doesn’t allow for block portability without the site using the block also using the GCB Pro plugin. If we added features to allow GCB pro custom blocks to be used by sites not running the pro plugin, what are your suggestions on how that should work? What do you expect when you export a block? Something that can be added into your theme’s functions.php? A plugin? Other?
The Shapers discussed all kinds of options, but the overwhelming crowd favorite was to make blocks created with Genesis Custom Blocks Pro portable via JSON files. The Genesis product and engineering teams are using this feedback to think about block portability with Genesis Custom blocks.
- Would you like to use GCB to create blocks used as a Collection in Genesis Blocks?
The overwhelming sentiment from the Shapers was “duh!”, but only so long as doing so would not create a dependency on Genesis Custom Blocks pro for the site that would use that block. This of course connects back to the discussion around block portability and is something the Genesis product & engineering team are exploring now.
- Want to help us test a completely redesigned Custom Block building experience for Genesis Custom Blocks?
Lots of the Shapers said yes! Will you help us test a redesign for the Custom Block building experience for Genesis Blocks?
- Do you support Genesis theme customers who use block-focused and non-block themes? Are you seeing that block-focused theme users have lower tech support needs? More? Does the block editor measurably make things easier for the end user?
The sentiment of the Shapers was that the block editor does seem to making WordPress generally easier to use, but non-technical users still have questions about how to do certain tasks. There is still more opportunity to make the block editor more intuitive for non-technical users.
David Vogelpohl: [00:00:00] Hello everyone. And welcome to the Genesis community live cast. And this is our Genesis shapers recap episode for December, 2020 shapers meeting. Move around the block. We talked a lot about block portability in this shapers meeting for those that don’t know me. My name is David Vogel. Paul, I’ve been a proud member of the Genesis community for a little over eight years now.
I lead Genesis at WP engine and I love helping the Genesis community get better together with my friends, from the shapers. Joining me for this recap episode or two Genesis shapers. First, I’d like to welcome back Carrie dills. I’m Carrie dills.com. Hey Carrie Audi. Glad to have you here and for his first appearance on a shapers recap episode, I’d like to welcome Nick crock of designs by Nick the geek.com.
Hey Nick. Hey, how y’all doing? Nick you’re you’re you’re so well known for like so many other reasons. I feel like it’s, it’s, it’s much more than designed by Nick, the geek.com. You’re also known like in the Genesis world for another fairly big accomplishment, what would that accomplishment be? Nick? Uh, I kind
Nick Croft: [00:01:28] of wrote the book on Genesis explained,
David Vogelpohl: [00:01:30] so.
Yes, you did. I love that. I remember, uh, you know, as I first became involved organizationally with, with Genesis, that’s exactly how people described you I’d senior on the way, but it was like, he literally wrote the book on Genesis. So Genesis explained, right? It’s it’s on Amazon and other distributors and things like that.
Nick Croft: [00:01:52] Yep. Uh, Amazon’s the main one, uh, digital land paper. Uh, I’ve got some stuff that I’m also working on to make, uh, some courseware out of that. So. Kind of designs by Nick biggie.com has been there. It’s where justice explained, originated, but things are going to be sort of settling out into smaller stuff in the next few months.
David Vogelpohl: [00:02:10] So, all right. Well, there’s never a dull moment in WordPress and open, so it sounds like it’s keeping you busy, but I’m glad to have you here today and to talk to us about what we discussed in the shapers meeting. So for those that have seen these before, um, what we do is roll through the questions that were asked to the shapers.
And then, uh, discuss their responses. So of course the first question your, every meeting is the call for order looks like or call for, uh, those that were able to show up. It looks like Rimkus the freest, Matthew Cardenas of the, uh, Matthews on the engineering team. Uh, bill Erickson, Travis Smith. Uh, I was not there.
Um, actually I had a car scheduling conflict and we had a guest moderator for the shapers meeting who was actually. Uh, Nathan Rice, the co-creator of Genesis. How did Nathan do like, I wasn’t there live, I did read it in retrospect. It like Nick, did he do a good job? Yeah, I think
Nick Croft: [00:03:09] Nathan did a great job. Uh, it was really fun seeing him there as the moderator on it.
Um, and especially having worked with him in a previous life and then also, uh, you know, all the way back to the very beginnings of Genesis and the old, old studio press forums. Uh, so a little bit of flashbacks there.
David Vogelpohl: [00:03:29] Yeah, I know you and he go way back. I keep hearing horror stories with your name around the virtual water coolers, but yeah, Nathan actually did a wonderful job.
I mean, running Slack meetings is not foreign to this and word press, particularly those that contribute to core. Uh, but yeah, Nathan, I thought knocked it out of the park. At least when I read it. In retrospect, we also have a Brian Smith from the agenesis engineering team. Carrie dills, you showed up, you show up to all of them almost, despite it starting really early for you there in California.
Uh, Mike hamburger with my themes. Let’s see who else we got here, Ryan, Ken stir from the Genesis engineering team. Uh, Sally, uh, getcha. She’s there. The why by Dola Ryan Murray and John Brown, it looks like there’s a few Anita Carter also showed up. Uh, so quite a good number of folks there. Nathan’s first question though.
Uh, once we got past the kind of roll call and call the order, is who in the WordPress community are you especially thankful for? Um, Carrie, what was your answer? I said
Carrie Dils: [00:04:31] Francesca Moreno out of the, uh, Italian WordPress community. She’s a huge and present force, uh, both as a contributor to core and just champion into WordPress.
And, uh, she’s an also just really cool chick. Oh, I can fake it. I don’t that maybe disrespectful. I don’t think Francesca would mind though.
David Vogelpohl: [00:04:52] W, uh, could you repeat that last part? What do you think she might think is disrespectful
Carrie Dils: [00:04:56] if I tolerate chick.
David Vogelpohl: [00:04:58] Oh, okay. Yeah. Well, I’ll let, y’all work that out, but it’s glad to hear that you’re singing Francesca’s praises.
I think that probably she’ll certainly love. Uh, Nick, how about you? Uh, who are you thankful for in WordPress? Um, I
Nick Croft: [00:05:11] got in just a minute late and so I didn’t get to answer that in the meeting, but. Uh, it was, uh, a lot of people that I’m very thankful for and work for us. Um, uh, I think one that I come back to on a regular basis, uh, is actually Gary Jones.
Um, he is very. Precise. I’m trying to think of a nice way to say that. Uh, are we let us say,
David Vogelpohl: [00:05:42] but
Nick Croft: [00:05:43] he’s taught me so much, uh, in things and, uh, one of the things he he’s, uh, actually working at a, uh, WordPress VIP now, um, and has helped even in some of the stuff I’m doing on the side. Uh, with getting things set up with WPCS and all of these other things like that. So not only is my code better as a result of it, but my code is checking itself now to ensure that it stays better because of all of the work that he’s done.
Uh, so it’s, it’s taken a lot of effort and weight off of my shoulders of doing code reviews, code checks and all of those things because of the effort of things that he’s done. And, uh, it’s one of the things he got me into. A lot of CII CD stuff. So that all that stuff is happening automatically for us
David Vogelpohl: [00:06:27] now.
Yeah. I know a lot of people share that same sentiment about Gary and a lot of other contacts. Um, if I read through some of the other replies here from some of the other shapers, we, we did have a kind of a side, a sidebar here. John had no power. John Brown had no power due to wind in California. Oh my goodness.
That must have been rough for him. The why by Dola though says, he’s thankful for bill Erickson and Carrie dills here. And he calls out that, you know, their education work is really why he’s kind of making that flag. And I think those are also a great flags. Um, I like Sally is nomination of who she’s grateful for Schreder.
Um, so many people I think share that kind of similar Gary’s story was Schreder. Um, I know his code snippets are, uh, often used by people, not only in the justice community, but the WordPress community as a whole. Uh, Sally also wag Jill binder. Uh, Jill does a lot, um, around WordPress diversity. She also runs a company called diverse in tech, which specializes in achieving a diverse representation from speakers at events and, uh, whether virtual or in person.
Anita. Anita said me. That’s so awesome. Uh, you know who my person I was going to be thankful for was Gary.
Carrie Dils: [00:07:46] Love it. Wait, was it Anita?
David Vogelpohl: [00:07:48] It was Anita. I don’t know why she said she was thankful for me. That’s very sweet. Um, but I’m thankful for Anita, um, because of all she does to help others. And I don’t just mean in WordPress, like she’s in forum, she’s in the Slack channel.
She’s helping people learn. She’s helping people overcome problems. Like she does this in her home life. Like people completely disconnected WordPress. She’s always tweeting or posting on Facebook about some way she’s helping somebody that really, really needs it. And I think, uh, for, for me, that’s actually.
The inspiration for adding this question to the shapers agenda. Um, she goes on to mention Walter Lopez, Jesse, uh, can’t pronounce his last name. I don’t know if you guys can, uh, mess servi Mr. Bay. I’m not sure like stairs, I’m sure Jesse’s a wonderful person. I apologize, Jesse, if you’re listening, uh, it looks like some other people had mentioned, uh, Oz Richards, uh, which also got a lot of notes there.
Ryan Murray liked bill and Carrie is where as well as Jared Atkinson, uh, he’s kind of an ag Genesis person now running the plugin WP forums. Nick, you had to have crossed paths with Jared Atkinson at some point.
Nick Croft: [00:08:56] Jared, Jared. And I do go back to the beginning of Genesis, uh, uh, Jared, Carrie, and bill, and I think involvement down in the, around Austin a couple of times and, uh, going out there with them and really enjoy that.
David Vogelpohl: [00:09:10] Well, that’s all, you mentioned, all three of those folks are at least Ryan here. Ryan Murray wrench mentioned all three of them. Is it folks he felt, uh, thankful for? You know, it’s funny, y’all, y’all tend to do group together. I remember going to a wiggles concert and for those that don’t know what a wiggle is, kids thing, what brought my daughter there?
And I turned to the right on our row and I see bill Erickson and Jared sitting there with their kids also insuring enjoying a wiggle show. So it’s kind of neat to get a little, uh, look, I guess, networking there at the wiggles. It, that was a fun time. You get much into the wiggles Carey. Is it cross your path match?
Carrie Dils: [00:09:49] No, I’m going to say that I leave the wiggles and wiggles networking for guys. But I do want to know if that made the wiggles tickets of a business, write off a tax, write off since you, yeah,
David Vogelpohl: [00:10:02] it did occur to me. I, it did occur to me, but no, we did not write it. At least I didn’t, I don’t know if bill and Jared did, but maybe they did because it kind of made it a mini word camp.
Like a wiggle word camp. Uh, the wiggles actually have some wonderful music by the way care. If you ever want to check that out, uh, it’s like probably the least annoying kid show you can watch as an adult. Um, and then Sally, again, super sweet kind of thinking the WP engine in Genesis teams, uh, for kind of leaning in on Gutenberg, obviously, lots of stuff changing, um, but really, really sweet to see that from her.
All right. And then, Oh, I need is thankful for Slack. Are you, are you, uh, Carrie and Nick are y’all thankful for Slack or is it, is it now a burden that, that rules your life? I am
Nick Croft: [00:10:46] very thankful. It was black. Uh, I’m also very thankful for the do not disturb feature built in the swelling. Um, uh, I, once upon a time I would constantly be checking in to, uh, whatever the media accounts and doing stuff at 10, 11, 12 o’clock at night.
Uh, now I’ve realized I missed a lot of my kids’ life and so I tend to shut it down around five o’clock and people pay me. I can go check in on it otherwise, you know, uh, I can see it in the morning when I get on
David Vogelpohl: [00:11:18] well, Yeah, Slack. Definitely. I think the asynchronous part I’m thankful for that. I definitely feel like, um, it was really good.
Cause I think a lot of people have now adopted these modes of communication, um, which makes it easier to communicate in that way with, with a higher number of people. All right. For the next question though, we’re going to go with some screen-sharing we’re going to kind of take a look at some stuff.
Cause we’re going to talk about concepts, which are visual, which you tend to do when you talk about things like themes and blocks. So the next question for the shapers is, are any of your customers asking about theme styles or options for implementing Google web stories now for those unfamiliar, with what a web story is, you’re probably familiar with what an Instagram story is.
So this is kind of a content format for the web and I’m guess I’m air quoting because there’s a whole lot of backstory on all this. Um, but the way I think about it is kind of like a mobile friendly, but really easy kind of slideshow. If you will, for presenting content to users. Now in the social context, the notion of stories has taken over, right?
We have Facebook stories. We have Instagram stories. It’s like the content format for social. And what Google has implemented is basically the same content format for the web and the thesis behind this. And you can see Google posting about it and talking about this is that the stories format is kind of ruling the roost if you will, and social.
And so we need an answer for that for the web. And so what marketers and developers and designers are now thinking about is, okay, well, does web stories fit with my website strategy? And then what advantages do I get from using web stories? Now, web stories do show up in organic search results. They’re also featured in Google discover.
So there are ways to use them to attract new attention from search engines. And so we just wanted to ask the shapers, like, is this a thing, is this popping up on your radar? Uh, before we get into like the, the comments from the shapers that, uh, are not present here today. Uh, maybe I’ll stop, start with you, Carrie.
And then maybe you could answer Nick, Carrie, like web stories. Isn’t on your radar, not on your radar. And I know you’re not necessarily doing a ton of client work these days, but I’m just saying like, how are you thinking about it just as a general strategy?
Carrie Dils: [00:13:37] Uh, it, it was not really been on my radar, honestly.
And. I don’t know with Google, there’s always a little bit of hesitation, like, uh, a Google product. How long is it going to stick around or is it going to have the longevity? Um, but no, personally I haven’t tinkered with
David Vogelpohl: [00:13:51] it yet. I mean, I hear that. Counter-argument like, you know, it’s a new thing from Google.
Is it gonna stay or is it not going to stay? I mean, we have, we’ve had amp for years. We’ve had schema for years. Like, what is that like one product? And I don’t know if there is one for you, but like, what is, if there is like, what’s that one thing they did that they never kept out that gets you where he does it.
The Google social network kind of came into
Carrie Dils: [00:14:14] the Google plus social network. Yeah. Your,
David Vogelpohl: [00:14:16] but you’re just bummed. You were, you were burned by Google.
Carrie Dils: [00:14:19] I mean, I put all my eggs in that Google plus basket just got burned.
David Vogelpohl: [00:14:25] Oh my goodness. Are you going to tech talk now? Is it replacement? Is it, is that what you do too?
Carrie Dils: [00:14:30] My career could have launched off years ago if I
David Vogelpohl: [00:14:33] just focused on something other than Google plus. Okay. I got you. What about you, Nick? I know you’re doing more like more client facing work. Um, are you, uh, are you seeing web stories pop up with any of your clients? So a little over a year ago,
Nick Croft: [00:14:47] uh, one of our clients, uh, with, with reactive contacted us and said that they heard about the Google web store.
He saw how it was implemented in the search results and wanting to use that as a method for, uh, controlling a couple of searches. Um, the, they have a pretty large site, lots of content. And so a few searches would come up with, with some content that wasn’t entirely what they were really targeting. Um, and so they saw that the Google web stories were surfacing to the top of the search results and decided that was going to be the best way to control a few searches.
And then, uh, created a few stories that targeted those keywords. Uh, at the time it was using the, uh, the amp plugin. It wasn’t a separate plugin. And it was a beta feature that was activated in the amp plugin. So that, that gives you a timeframe for when we implemented this, uh, we, we turned it on implemented.
It had to do just a little bit of, of effort, a little bit of training, and, uh, got them started on creating their first web stories. They publish that and then did exactly what they want. And they, they showed up in organic search results surface to the top of the page, uh, in a way that just sort of let people learn.
Uh, about something before they got into some of these older articles and stuff that weren’t really going to target what they wanted, uh, on those particular limited members searches. So it, it worked out very well for this client. Uh, I think they’ve been pretty happy with it and something that, uh, you know, any other client that comes in with this kind of thing I need, uh, I feel that we’re well positioned to be able to answer it and bring it in, uh, to both the organic searches.
And also, uh, the, the kind of customized discovery experience. Um,
David Vogelpohl: [00:16:39] you’re seeing that the content that you’ve created to date with web stories did show up in search results and you felt in a meaningful way. Um, did you have any way that you tried to account for like how much traffic or value that drove
Nick Croft: [00:16:54] don’t have access to that data for this particular client?
Uh, but they said that it did exactly what they wanted. So I. I don’t know that it’s driving, uh, they’re a large client and have a lot of traffic coming in. And their main goal was they wanted to control
David Vogelpohl: [00:17:13] to
Nick Croft: [00:17:14] be confusing control of the story on a couple of searches. Uh, and so Google stories allowed them to control that story.
Uh, just get the kind of upfront information, especially on the mobile results. Where just on a couple of things that, that they were doing, they were servicing older articles that were very well ranked and it wasn’t exactly the content they wanted to show to people and start. Uh, so this just allowed them to control that environment.
David Vogelpohl: [00:17:44] So I’m sure that, you know, the value, uh, it seems like the, the, the condition of did it or the requirement, if you will, uh, it should help us rank and get more visibility was true. And I’m sure the value of that depends on what’s ranking and what content is raking or whether that’s driving to a, towards a conversion.
And then also of course, the popularity and value of the keywords you’re ranking for it, but it does sound like that was assistive. Um, and to your point of quiet reported, uh, that it fulfilled what they were looking for. What I was doing. Were you watching my screen as you were talking through all that?
Yeah. So for those watching, what I did was I installed the, uh, what do you call it? The Google stories in, and then I added a news story. Um, hopefully you weren’t judging my design skills there, Nick, as I did that. Um, but what this plugin ultimately does. Is allows you this kind of wizzy wig interface to build these kind of essentially slides again, kind of optimize for the more mobile format you can have custom designed.
You don’t have to use this kind of click and drag approach. Um, but it’s easiest of course, to demo very quickly. Now, the question for the shapers was you can see here that I kind of dropped this into a page and it gave me the story experience of this was an, a mobile view. No, you would see it like a Instagram story we’re progressing.
Uh, but as you can see, it just kind of dumps it in the page. You still might want to stylistically kind of in case this element or this block, if you would, within the page. Um, and really the focus of the responses from the shapers as I look here, uh, Nick, I don’t know if you’d agree with this, but they’re saying like, look, it’s only our bigger clients that are asking about this and our smaller clients aren’t even aware.
Nick Croft: [00:19:38] they, the bigger clients who are keeping up to date on the latest trends are the ones that are aware of it, the smaller clients aren’t, but that’s why it’s our job to know what the right answer is for them. And it’s not necessarily, this is something that I use on every client, but when I’m talking to them and finding out what their needs are, I want to have this in my tool belt to say, this is going to address what you’re asking for.
You don’t even know about it, but this is
David Vogelpohl: [00:20:02] going to help you. So it’s this notion of like trying to help them solve this fundamental business issues. And so, because you’re on that bleeding edge, if you will, you’re able to bring these strategies to this smaller clients. Yeah. It’s kind of a chicken and egg, as we think about it in the Genesis technology standpoint, I talked to the product engineering folks after this.
And, you know, thinking about like, well, you know, should Genesis technology help folks with this or not? You have a plugin, of course, but you started asking things like, should we start making custom blocks and whatnot? Um, I think the jury’s still out there, but I think the feedback from the shapers was really interesting, but you have this dynamic of like, people don’t know about it, so they’re not asking for it, but maybe they should.
And you get in this kind of, um, you know, I don’t know, like deer in the headlights moment where you’re like, should we build a head on that or should we not? Um, and so this kind of discussion is super helpful. Um, Carrie, do you have anything to add to this? I’m sorry.
Nick Croft: [00:20:57] Uh,
Carrie Dils: [00:20:57] I started, um, uh, Mike Kim Berger’s response was interesting that it building in support for that kind of scares him and he mentioned.
Schema and micro data back in the, uh, back in Genesis and yay. We support it and then format shift and Google things die. And then, you know, uh, anyways to his point, it something that could possibly be bolted on as opposed to, um, native in, in the code. So you can have access to that integration if you need it, but you don’t necessarily have to be
David Vogelpohl: [00:21:30] stuck with it.
Yeah, it’s very interesting. I think when you also factor in the search visibility part, you know, it starts to make the decisions more complex because when and where do you provide features? I like the bolt-on suggesting suggestion. So that way, you know, not everyone has to inherit a strategy, um, that may not be particularly universal.
All right. Let’s see. Um, okay. The next one thing real quick. Yeah, please do. Just
Nick Croft: [00:21:59] looking at me. You’re bringing up in the, uh, the playground there, um, with the, the client I was referencing where we use this already,
David Vogelpohl: [00:22:08] uh, for
Nick Croft: [00:22:09] their use case, we didn’t surface the story inside of their website. Uh, it’s submitted by, uh, uh, Google, um, search console.
And so it’s really only. Surfaced in Google. Um, but looking at your use case, I can see a potential advantage would be to have, uh, either alt on plugin, um, or start integrating in a themes where it creates story experiences. So if you have this activated in this story, as opposed type is supported and represents a kind of a
David Vogelpohl: [00:22:43] native story view,
Nick Croft: [00:22:45] that looks more like the Google stories.
Um, Page. So somebody wants to put, you know, in their menu stories, you click on it and you can just start viewing stories that they’ve created on the site. I think could be, uh,
David Vogelpohl: [00:22:57] a helpful
Nick Croft: [00:22:58] experience rather than just relying on
David Vogelpohl: [00:23:01] putting that into Google. So, and that was when I started looking at stories.
This was the fundamental question I had, which is, is this a type of content that I should put on my website because it’s better at communicating or converting or whatever the thing I need to do is, or my putting it on my website because I want it to show up in Google search results. And, you know, it sounds like those could potentially be separate strategies.
I mean, everyone always says, of course, Right and create for the user, but the reality is you need people to find that content. So you end up doing both users and search engines. Um, but it sounds like your strategy was explicitly around search visibility versus like enhancing or modifying the website’s experience.
Um, someone might experience it or it kind of in there in its organic state, if you would. Yeah.
Nick Croft: [00:23:48] Very good. Just not a thought on that.
David Vogelpohl: [00:23:51] Well, keep pushing the edges. Nick, let us know how it goes. Uh, it seems like the jury is still out, uh, for mass adoption, but it seems like there’s definitely a lot of opportunities there.
All right. Moving on to our next question. The shapers agenda, uh, what web design trends are you most excited about trying and the sites that you build and what do you think the future will look like? Um, Sally says she doesn’t pay a lot of attention that she’s exciting, excited for what’s coming in CSS.
Uh, uh, Nick, are you excited for what’s coming in CSS? She doesn’t clarify about what she’s excited about CSS, but what about you? There, there
Nick Croft: [00:24:30] are some things that are just on the edge of support, like, um, CSS, masonry. Uh, that I’m really excited about. Cause we just, I’ve done like three projects this year that all of them all masonry and, you know, to some degree or another, you
David Vogelpohl: [00:24:46] have
Um, although we, you know, tried to solve that with a very light experiences, mostly CSS that gets progressively enhanced the Java script. So that actually kind of walks together. Uh, and that’s great, but. I’m looking forward to CSS, masonry, where you just have to, you know, add that and it’ll just do everything magically and beautifully.
Um, I’m been learning a lot on grid, uh, and very excited about the things that you can do in there. Uh, but there’s a few things that are just on the edge of support, uh, bleeding edge that are exciting. Uh, I’m looking forward to as well, uh, like masonry and a few other, uh, new things that are. Just barely supported in Chrome right now or something.
And we’ll start seeing them, hopefully in the next little bit as CSS or coalesces,
David Vogelpohl: [00:25:40] you didn’t say any of these things live, Nick, I’m not singing it. This is like gold. I’m going to have to send this recording to the product engineering person. That’s seeing this. You talked about headless when you talked about dreads.
Yeah. Tell us about headless. What would get you
Nick Croft: [00:25:53] excited? But like one of the biggest things, uh, billers, and just before that mentioned accessibility and performance. Um, and performance is going to be an increasingly big deciding factor. Uh, for Google they’ve announced it, uh, accessibility is going to be increasingly a big deciding factor.
And so, uh, uh, I’ve gone out and gotten my web accessibility specialist. I just, uh, heard last week and have a CC PWA and another, you know, so there’s a lot of accessibility things I’m working on. Um, but we’re also been learning. I’ve been doing, uh, uh, course learning DATs fee, um, and other things like that.
And some of the cool stuff you can do and Gatsby, or, uh, some other headless frameworks is, is, is basically library loading. And they’re making it basically, uh, a progressive web app. So when you put it on links, it’s like instantly bringing up and then you can set up, uh, you know, Uh, and CSS cleanups. So it will remove all of the stuff from your CSS.
That’s not on the page. So instead of loading CSS for content, sidebar, content, sidebar, sidebar, con, you know, and all these other different layouts that you have and all the blocks and all the things like everything that gets loaded, uh, you load exactly what’s on the page, which means your page CSS is a fraction size.
Like in some cases, 10% literally. The bottle it’s, it’s huge what you can say. Um, and so that’s, what’s making me excited about headless is the idea of bringing in the content, post-processing it. And then generating static content. So it’s, it’s like having a caching plugin in that sense, but then that extra processing of cleaning up the CSS and that kind of progressive web app experience, pardon me, is what makes me be really excited about going headless versus just finding the best caching plugin.
We’re probably not gonna adopt it right away. Um, but it’s definitely a metadata trend in the overall web. Um, it’s really interesting to hear you bring that up. Nick, lots going on in that arena. Um, Ryan Merlin, you mentioned tailwinds, CSS, uh, Carrie, any thoughts on tailwind? Have you played with tail end?
Carrie Dils: [00:28:28] Uh, it’s funny. I actually, after the shapers meeting, I had a call with Ryan and asked him to show me tailwind. Cause I hadn’t
David Vogelpohl: [00:28:35] worked with him.
Carrie Dils: [00:28:37] It was good. It was interesting to see what he was talking about and uh, semi. Along with what Nick said about, uh, the benefits of removing unused CSS from, uh, the page and pre, uh, pre rendering, uh, so that when you hit a page it’s already there and you’re getting that performance aspect.
Um, and in terms of, well, I guess the question was. Uh, excitement about trends, not necessarily
David Vogelpohl: [00:29:06] in
Carrie Dils: [00:29:06] Genesis, but, um, yeah, I’m always a little bit leery of CSS frameworks. Um, but it did look like it had some cool, some cool capabilities.
David Vogelpohl: [00:29:17] All right. Well, it looks like bill Erickson also commented and the trends that he, uh, he’s excited about the focus on accessibility and performance.
I know Nick, you mentioned that too, at least on the performance side. Uh, the accessibility and performance as a design trend is really interesting. Uh, obviously there’s design decisions, um, that affect your accessibility things like color saturation, contrast, um, you know, but also, uh, performance. I mean, I I’ve even seen in projects that I’m involved with, um, in a variety of contexts, when people start talking about the design of a page, they start making decisions at the design.
Part of that process that says, Oh, this approach probably isn’t best because it’s going to cause a performance issue. And I’m hearing this coming organically from not just the developers right before you’d have those stakeholders or marketers say like, Oh, we need a slideshow. We need a, we need this or this kind of element that might be pretty or cool to look at, but might cause performance issues, especially when you start stacking them up.
And I think that’s a trend that’s transcending, just the developers. Um, and is now being embraced by designers and the decisions they make and stakeholders and what they request for to kind of frame those requests around the trade off between what I call suffering and joy, the joy of adding something to your page, but then the subsequent suffering, uh, you know, the performance that might add to your site.
All right. Next question. On the shapers. Uh, Nathan Rice asked Genesis custom blocks. Pro does not allow for Bork block portability without the site using the block using, uh, that’s going to use the block also using the Genesis custom blocks for a plugin. That was a mouthful. Let me explain what this is with Genesis custom blocks pro you have additional features like repeating fields and other features that allow you to create more complex types of blocks.
Now, when you give that block to someone else, they also have to run the pro version of Genesis custom blocks. In order to use that block, you just gave them, this was surfaced in the conversation that was happening, uh, in the days, leading up to the shapers meeting. As John Brown and others started playing around with Genesis custom blocks to start creating their own collections for Genesis blocks.
So they were going to say, I want to use GCB to make blocks for my own collection and essentially service. Like, look, I can’t give this collection to anyone else unless they also have Genesis custom blocks pro. Um, what the shapers really were then asked is, well, okay, look, this is great. We understand this.
We definitely want block portability for the blocks. You create widget Genesis, custom blocks, including in the pro version. How do you want it to work? Uh, you know, as we pursued this and it seemed like the summary from the group fundamentally was a Jason based approach. Um, I guess Carrie asked you the last one.
I’ll start with Nick this time. Um, Nick, what, what was your thought like with block portability? Like how did you feel like the best approach would, uh, what was your favorite approach for delivering on block portability and GCB pro? Um,
Nick Croft: [00:32:38] well, I, I definitely sided on the Jason, uh, approach. I’ve worked with advanced custom fields.
Uh, largely I tend to do that kind of hand coded stuff, but in some cases, inherit clients were. They’re using advanced custom builds. And, uh, with one client
David Vogelpohl: [00:32:52] particular, we use
Nick Croft: [00:32:53] advanced with us some fields pro and created a very custom interface and was able to export that as Jason and put that in their site using the advanced custom fields plugin, um, which is really the ideal solution is if there was able to have like just the just custom blocks plugin.
And if I create it in just custom box pro, I can export all that as Jason file import that for my client. Um, and then they’re able to tab, I’ve says blocks that I created, um, for their site. And that’s kind of the ideal solution. Uh, I think for what we’re discussing and collections, et cetera, being as part of that,
David Vogelpohl: [00:33:34] it seems like there’s a lot of resoundingly agreement with that philosophy.
We see Rimkus to free Frias here, uh, noting his agreement, Ryan Murray. Uh, I believe John Brown’s on board for that approach as well, Sally, uh, get, uh, right off the bat, um, kind of mentioning that as well. Carrie, what about you? Any, any opinions on this? I know you’ve spent a decent amount of time creating blocks with custom blocks.
Any thoughts on that portability issue and how you might think, uh, it should be approach? I don’t
Carrie Dils: [00:34:04] think I had anything to add that wasn’t said already to that general consensus of that is a problem that needs to be solved if you’re building for clients. Um, and one suggestion Ryan had that I was a borrow from, uh, WP toolset, but, uh, saying that if the, you can basically license, add a license on your client site that enables them to, uh, have access to.
David Vogelpohl: [00:34:31] Well, yeah, that’s possible today. But I think in thinking about it, like from the third party theme provider perspective, you don’t know these people, you’re certainly not going to put your pro license on these, these random people buying your site versus say an agency customer, uh, in this paradigm exists any of course, with premium themes where people will buy the theme, get the support license for it, get the updates, wear it, and then use it on a client site where the.
Uh, agency is the one that, you know, holds that there’s benefits if you will. Um, and so that’s possible today with Genesis custom blocks pro um, I think John’s point was more like, well, what if I don’t want to do that though?
Carrie Dils: [00:35:13] Yeah, I wasn’t necessarily saying share your PR your, I wasn’t saying share your pro license, but some sort of a licensing equivalent that would, uh, enable customers to not necessarily have Genesis custom blocks pro uh, but still have like a key to unlock, uh, support for, uh, blocks created with
David Vogelpohl: [00:35:31] that.
All right. Well, that’s a very good point. I think we’re going to go back to the screen sharing for the next question. So this question was like, With block portability with Genesis custom blocks. How do you want it to work? Jason was the most, um, you know, kind of common preferred method if you will. Uh, but the next question was, was interesting.
Again, it was kind of the pun intended Genesis of the first question I just referenced. Um, but the next question is, would you like to use Genesis custom blocks to create blocks? Used as a collection in Genesis blocks. So this is one of those things where I feel like we just need to see a live. So I’m going to go ahead and go back to the screen sharing here.
So as a refresher, and if you’re unaware in Genesis blocks, there’s a notion of something called collections. And it’s basically a, the way I like to think about it is it’s themes, demo content that’s chopped up and instantly available to use. So you can see they follow it, the blocks and sections and layouts, all follow the same design pattern.
And so developers can actually go and create their own versions of these collections, um, to if you will invoke in the Genesis blocks contacts. Um, and so as a third party theme provider, like one of the reasons this was added to the Genesis box context is to make this kind of extensible to third-party theme providers.
So the idea there is that the theme providers would create their own versions of collections. And then if you got a theme from a third party provider, then great, they have their stuff in there and it’s available for you to use an invoke. If you will, at the click of a button, it seems kind of like an obvious question though.
Like, should you be able to use a Genesis product to create things for another Genesis product that uses those same kinds of things they gave blocks? Um, Nick, what did you think? And this is obvious and some we should obviously be able to do.
Nick Croft: [00:37:31] Um, I think that it would definitely be helpful. Uh, I’ve mentioned the past working with, um, block patterns, which is a similar kind of concept.
That’s being baked into WordPress, where you have to sort of go create it. Then you have to go to the code view, copy all that out, put that into a file register and do all of these things. And I think that. You know, if the, the collections had a means of kind of creating that. And, um, in, in WordPress, there’s a way to turn something into a, uh, uh, a reusable block, you know, if there was a way to turn that into a collection instead, and then to have an export for that, that I can then drop into my theme, uh, or, or into a, uh, a lot of times I use a, uh, kind of standalone plugin for a client.
Instead of putting everything in a theme. So something like this for me, we go into a plugin for blocks. Um, but being able to make that portable for clients or for customers, if you have a, uh, a theme shop and you’re creating these sort of things, make that portable for your customers would be really helpful.
David Vogelpohl: [00:38:39] Yeah, I remember you telling me about your block patterns, approach of mimicking the same kind of experience. Um, I know we talked about this back in the day, but it’s kind of this full circle where block patterns were in part inspired by what you’re seeing here. Um, and then now from the technology perspective, the team is actually looking to leverage the kind of core version of what you see here.
At least from the technology perspective, as we think about creating blocks, though. Uh, at least for collections, one of the things that’s important to us just to provide flexibility for those that might do that. So I think, you know, our consensus after the feedback from the shapers is that yes, people do want to use Genesis custom blocks, um, to be able to create collections.
But that’s not always true. I mean, some people want to, uh, kind of code them from scratch if they will, or maybe take another approach to creating that collection. Um, so I think that flexibility is also important. Um, Carrie, have you built a block without using something like GCB or ACF or so like PHB type blocks?
David Vogelpohl: [00:39:58] Maybe, hopefully. Okay. Oh,
Carrie Dils: [00:40:04] just want to interject one point along the, uh, the collections on the,
David Vogelpohl: [00:40:08] excuse me,
Carrie Dils: [00:40:10] that, uh, if you go back to the origins of the Genesis framework and adoption across the community, one of the things that, um, People have loved as the ability to make their living from it. Right. Um, and part of the subset of people that make their living from it are those third party theme sellers that are able to build a child theme that runs on top of the framework and in this new paradigm of, uh, you know, as we move towards a block first feening and, and whatnot.
I think the ability for third-party theme sellers. Or third parties to build on top of Genesis collections and then use that as sort of the underpinning, um, is really in spirit of how people have used Genesis in the past to, uh, to run their own businesses. If that makes sense.
David Vogelpohl: [00:41:00] Oh, absolutely. As a matter of fact, I’ve been mentioning the same flow to, uh, folks building their own kind of custom vision.
Like, if you think about it, like, what does Genesis do? And it’s really, frankly, what does WordPress do at its rate? These are technologies that allow developers to build experiences that content creators love to use and the Genesis blocks context. And in third party game context, people will have their own collections, their own as blocks their own sections, their own layouts that they distribute to many people.
But that doesn’t mean that like custom teams also don’t want an easy button. Know, this is what WP engine does in our own website. We have our own predesigned, pre optimized versions of, uh, blocks and website elements in general that our content creators just can kind of pop on a page and start building with right away.
Sure enough. I use that. I choose the one block that I got to use the recovery button on there. It is working like a peach, um, but you know, the, these kind of, uh, you know, I called the magic time issue and really fundamentally in the block context and not exclusive to Genesis blocks. You know, you’re just really asking yourself, like, what time machines am I going to create?
What am I going to design? What, what integrations do I want to include in my magic time machines? And that’s fundamentally how I think about all this and the Genesis context, you know, this is done through collections. Um, but again, having that be open, not just the people that distribute lots of beams, the people that make their own, their own stuff and one in vocable and usable in the moment.
I think it’s just an exciting time to be in WordPress. All right next up on the agenda. Uh, let me make sure I’m not skipping my questions here. Uh, the next step we have, uh, do you want us to task to completely redesign Genesis custom blocks building experience? Um, and it looks like Sally said, okay. She would.
The why was down Anita Carter, Carrie, you said you were going to do it. Did you fill out this form for the beta
Carrie Dils: [00:42:57] group? I did. I’m I’m in, but I haven’t gotten anything on the back end yet. So I’m not sure what the timing of that looks like.
David Vogelpohl: [00:43:06] It’s on us. It’s not on you then.
Carrie Dils: [00:43:09] I have locked that tennis ball back over the net.
David Vogelpohl: [00:43:12] Okay. Well, Ryan, Ken Starr, Luke Carlos, you’re listening. Carrie’s waiting for feedback on that data. I’m sure it’s all in the works. Carrie, you’ll get that update. Say, um, we’ll post a link to the beta signup form in the blog post for this recap episode, to check that out on studio, press top blog. If you’d like to go, uh, let’s see what else we have here.
Final. Is this our final question? It might be. Do you support Genesis theme customers who use block focused and non-black themes. Are you seeing the block focus, theme users have lower tech support needs or more, uh, does the block editor measurably make things easier for the end user? So even here in our recap to date, I’m saying things like, Oh, these are magic, tiny machines.
Look, people can just click on stuff and inner content and change. The design is so much easier. Uh, like you see it instinctively feels like that should be true. But the question to the shapers was, is this actually true? Um, Carrie, are you seeing that? Do you, do you feel like people are, are building sites more easily with the block editor, at least in your experience on any train?
A lot of people, have you seen this, like through the training lens, like block editing makes it easier for people to adopt WordPress and build with it. I’m
Carrie Dils: [00:44:25] still seeing quite a bit of a pushback. On it. But of course, what I’m seeing is only anecdotal to my little, little window of the
David Vogelpohl: [00:44:35] facts, like, like page builders better, or they just have their way of doing things and don’t want to learn the new way.
Carrie Dils: [00:44:42] Exactly. Like a, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it sort of. Sort of mentality. Um, but the folks that the answer did here in the stream all do, um, you know, active theme support for their theme. So, uh, Mike and his, my theme and Laura engage with, um, uh, restored three 60 themes. And so they probably have more insights.
Nick probably has more insights in that than I
David Vogelpohl: [00:45:05] do. Yeah, it seems like Lauren out. We’ll get to you here in a second, Nate, but I just want to read what Lauren said are on our end. I’d say the support level is about the same on both sides. So Lauren runs a third-party theme company. If you’re not familiar.
Um, I deal with a lot of people that don’t, uh, who just don’t get all this stuff yet anyways, and need a little bit more handholding. So it seems like the jury is still out. At least from her perspective on whether the block editor is actually delivering an easier experience, reflects again, instinctually, it seems that way.
Uh, Nick, what do you think?
Nick Croft: [00:45:37] Um, I guess I’ll just share an experience I had with a client recently. Uh, we built out some stuff and part of it uses block patterns. Part of it uses some custom blocks, uh, and they’re able to go in and make changes. Uh, they have contacted us a few times. Like how do we add in the jumbotron box?
Uh, they, they don’t necessarily know what to call it. And so I’ve had to. Record how to find the block pattern search for jumbotron, insert it and then change backgrounds and stuff if they want to, uh, and give that to them. Um, so, you know, front end, I would say, it seems like that’s a little bit more effort because I’ve had a record almost every single block pattern.
Like it hasn’t clicked like just for the block patterns or go to the block to do this or that. Like every single one that we’ve created, I’ve shown like I did one big video showing the whole thing, and then I’ve had to do individual ones every time they want to add, how do I do this list where you go in and you add a list and then over on the side, you click the style that shows the checkbox on it.
Um, and so they have to do that. On the other hand, we also created a custom post type for events and for, um, uh, press articles and, uh, in. They wanted to add new ones and didn’t know how to do that. So I had to go record something for that Matthews and the old traditional metaphysics, you know, title, uh, event date, blah, blah, blah, down the line.
Uh, yeah, so I had recorded something, just show them how to do that. So in some cases, it’s just that, you know, any kind of interface is new. Any kind of interface is different. If it’s not something they’re using live, usually every day, they are going to have questions about it. Um, if they’re not the kind of inquisitive person that’s willing to go in and like click around and try and figure things out, they’re going to come back to you and say, how do you do this?
Even if you’ve written documentation and recorded videos, uh, there’s going to be ongoing stuff until it just kind of clicks. Um, and I think block editor, Mehta fields, uh, you know, classic editor, they’re all the same experience for people who aren’t doing this. And they just need to know somebody is there that cares enough to answer and not be like, Ugh, You’re you’re asking me this question.
So simple. Um, well, somebody who’s going to be like, I get you, I understand you got to do this every day. Let me walk you through this again and treat them like a person. And that’s what they want, regardless of what interface you’ve given them. And that’s, what’s going to make the difference for them, regardless of what innovation given
David Vogelpohl: [00:48:06] them.
I love it. I love it. What a wonderful thought to, uh, to end on their neck and very, very user focused, uh, very apropos. Um, well, uh, I, to kinda that ends it really for the list of questions we asked the shapers here and this recap episode, uh, Carrie, thank you for joining us here today. Thanks for having me.
If you’d like to check out more about what carries up to, if you’d like to learn Genesis in particular, visit Carrie dills.com D I L s.com. And Nick, thank you for your time here. And thank you for
Nick Croft: [00:48:37] having me enjoyed it.
David Vogelpohl: [00:48:39] If you’d like to check out what Nick is up to check out designs by Nick, the geek.com.
You can also check out the book Genesis explained. Thanks everyone else for listening and stay tuned for future episodes of the Genesis community live casts. Again, I’m your host, David Volvo. Paul. I’ve been in the Genesis community for a little over eight years now. I lead Genesis at WP engine and I love helping the Genesis community shape ag community.
Get better together with my friends, from the shapers. Thank you. .
As a reminder, the Genesis Shapers are a global, hand-selected, and diverse group of people representing companies from across the community who share a representative voice for the strategic direction of Genesis, which is combined with the feedback we receive directly from customers across social channels, and through Genesis WP on Slack.