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7 WordPress Block-based Themes for Full Site Editing

Like it or not, but WordPress Gutenberg aka the block editor is here to stay. The Gutenberg editor was released in version 5.0 to a lukewarm response. Millions of WordPress users still prefer the classic editor as is evident from the 5 million+ downloads of the classic editor plugin.

However, you should remember that the block editor is improving with every release and newer features are being added continuously with the ultimate objective of enabling full-site editing in WordPress using the block editor.

On the other hand, block-based WordPress themes are just taking off. They are still not wildly popular since the block editor is not a very user-friendly editor when compared to established page builders like Elementor, Divi, Beaver, etc.

What are WordPress block themes?

Block-based themes make use of the WordPress block editor to enable a full-site editing experience. You are no longer limited by the theme features. Rather you can, in theory, customize every aspect of your website with the help of Gutenberg blocks.

They differ from the conventional themes that merely support the block editor and block-based plugins but do not allow full site editing using the block editor presently.

Most of the WordPress block themes require the Gutenberg plugin to function. This is because full-site editing has still not been introduced into the WordPress core and is expected to be included with WordPress 5.8 release.

On the other hand, the Gutenberg plugin already includes the latest improvements to the block editor before they are introduced into the WordPress core.

Also, full-site editing themes do not include the WordPress Customizer to make changes to the theme settings. Rather they make use of the Site Editor panel for website customization.

But block-based themes offer one distinct advantage over the conventional themes: performance. Since the block editor is part of the WordPress core, using blocks to create and style your website adds minimal CSS overhead when compared to the CSS added by the popular WordPress page builders.

That’s why you should take a peek at the 7 block-based WordPress themes that I have listed on this page.

Blockbase

Blockbase by Automattic is an experimental full-site editing theme. Once you activate Blockbase, you will notice the Site Editor tab which opens the full-site editor.

You can edit different templates with the help of the Gutenberg editor, including, the Index template, Front Page template, Singular template, 404-page template, and Search page template.

Blockbase-WordPress block theme
Full site editing in Blockbase theme

You can change the complete layout of the post or page by editing the Singular template. There are useful dynamic elements to play around with like Post Title, Post Content, Post Author, Post Date, etc.

The best part is that you can add pre-defined block patterns to your pages and then further customize them according to your needs.

Blockbase also allows users to add Template Parts like header, footer, sidebar, etc. to the content and save your custom template parts. Think of template parts like sections or patterns to be reused multiple times.

The templates and template parts created by you are available under the Appearance menu within the WordPress dashboard.

Template parts - WordPress block themes

There is also a child theme of Blockbase called the Mayland (Blocks) theme that has been recently released by Automattic.

Naledi

Naledi by Anariel Design is another experimental full-site editing WordPress block theme. It works exactly the same way as Blockbase except that it offers few more templates to play around with.

Naledi WordPress full site editing theme

Also, the default homepage template has been nicely designed and you should experience greater fun in customizing the theme template.

Armando

Armando has been created by Carolina Nymark especially for blogs and sports teams. It includes a host of templates like About, News, Sidebar, Testimonials, and Tours.

Armando full site editing theme

Apart from this, you can edit the blog pages and posts directly from the Site Editor navigation panel.

Hansen

Hansen by uxl is the most popular block-based theme currently with 200+ active installations.

Hansen WordPress block-based theme

Hansen offers the highest number of page templates and block patterns of all the block themes mentioned on this page.

Other WordPress block themes

There are a handful of other block-based themes that allow full-site editing on an experimental basis that are worth mentioning.

WordPress Block Themes: Conclusion

Full site editing is an experimental and novel feature in WordPress development. No wonder, block-based themes have very few takers at this point. But after the introduction of full-site editing in WordPress 5.8, block-based themes will surely gain much wider acceptance among the WordPress community.

The fortunes of WordPress block themes is itself tied up with the development of the Gutenberg editor. At this time, the WordPress editor is not very user friendly and also lacks some of the advanced features of the popular page builders. That’s why most WordPress users still prefer page builders over the WordPress editor to design their blog pages.

But as the WordPress development team irons out the inconsistencies in the block editor and introduces newer features and blocks, it will be used more extensively by the novice WordPress user. That’s when the block-based themes will really take off for good. Until then, keep experimenting.

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About Trishan Mehta

Trishan Mehta is a WordPress fanatic since 2009. When not WordPressing, he is busy exploring hidden natural getaways whenever he can grab an opportunity.

3 thoughts on “7 WordPress Block-based Themes for Full Site Editing”

  1. Hey Trishan.

    This is wonderful. I’m eager to explore blocks building and themes building with blocks (which is what this sounds like).

    I normally use Divi, which is incredible so far as builder goes, but has some issues as a regular theme. And Kadence seems very flexible. However it seems native WP tools will be a key to speedy websites, and certainly over time Gutenberg and other aspects will get more and more capable.

    I intend to start exploring Twenty Twenty One theme, Gutenberg and themes like these much more as I see them as the future, and sadly I am not confident Divi will fix their frustrating theme holes (author box not created automatically for example on blog posts, must use theme builder to add it).

    Anyway cheers for this article.

    Reply
    • Hello Mike,

      I am just as excited about block-based themes as you are. Page builders are great for design but slow down page load and since page speed matters more than ever now, block-based themes are the perfect solution to this design vs performance dilemma.

      I am using GeneratePress Premium to create everything on this site using WordPress blocks and I really feel this is the way forward.

      Cheers.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the tip. I will look into this GeneratePress Premium. First I’ll continue to explore Twenty Twenty One and plugins that work with modifying the layout (like Twentig which is dope so far in my experiments).

        Also expecting July update to WP 5.8 will be interesting to see what features are arriving.

        Cheers and keep up the good work.
        Mike

        Reply

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