This article is part of the FromBlogsToBlocks campaign , a celebration of the 20th anniversary of WordPress #WP20.
My case may be considered a bit special because I am not a contributor or contributor to the “official” WordPress community. If you see my profile on WordPress.org, you will see it quite spartan.
However, for the last almost 23 years, I have dedicated myself body and soul to blogging, and to WordPress in particular, promoting the platform in my project Blogpocket.com and helping many people to build their blogs or their websites. I am well known in the Hispanic blogosphere; in fact i went TOP 100 influencer in Spanish according to Forbes 2021, (technology section).
To situate yourself, if you don’t know me, I recommend reading this post where I tell how I created Blogpocket on January 25, 2001: an online notebook.
To go quickly, my stage from 2001 to 2003 can be summarized as follows: I create Blogpocket on Blogger, work with Movable Type, program my own blog publishing system (Blogpocket) and start using WordPress.
Those were my origins but what was really exciting came in 2012 when I decided to optimize my website and change my content, leaving behind the microblogging that I had been doing until then, and promoting the dissemination of WordPress with guides and tutorials.
It was the time when the mantra was “Democratize learning blogging” and “Help bloggers understand the methods and tools for a successful blog”.
Later in 2015, my blog and I landed on SiteGround. There I realized something revealing: Blogpocket.com had improved in performance without me doing anything. But also something much more important: the tools to optimize a WordPress website should not be in the back-end but in the hosting itself. Little by little, SiteGround (as well as many other web hosting services) have refined their WordPress website hosting environment and today, in most cases, it only takes a few minor adjustments in order to get high levels of performance optimization.
Later I got to know the work of Jack Lennox and his theme Susty, and this wonderful article about sustainability when creating web pages.
At the end of 2019, I had a concise method ready, with a few tools and a concrete procedure, to have a website optimized for performance, security and SEO in a short time. He had also managed to automate the control of cookies with Cookiebot and knew how to adapt the data capture forms to the GDPR.
In parallel, many people created or improved their website thanks to my collaboration and my method to create a WordPress website optimized for security, performance, SEO and legality.
Meanwhile, at the end of 2018, WordPress broke abruptly with its classic editor and took a giant step by installing the block editor, better known by Gutenberg.
I soon realized that Gutenberg was much more than just a content editor. I noticed firsthand that one could be more productive using the block editor and that the barrage of block collections and new resources associated with Gutenberg was waking us up from a kind of slumber – WordPress was fun again 😉
Throughout 2020 there were two resources that were decisive in shaping something that had been in my head for a long time. One, the Reusable Blocks Extended plugin. Suddenly, you could bring any design to widget areas prepared in a theme without using a widget. This seems banal, it was far from it. The important thing was that any area of a theme, except the header, became susceptible to receiving designs made with blocks.
Let’s think slowly. Because that meant that if one was able to “empty” the home page and have a mechanism like the one provided by Reusable Blocks Extended to reach any area of the theme (sidebar and footer, especially), we had the power to design almost the entire theme! with Gutenberg blocks! We would only need the header.
The news was not that this could be done, because there were already very famous visual constructors that allowed it. The great (and good) news is that it could be done with WordPress, in a foss way, without code, free, flexible, native and compatible. Collaterally, the classical theme as a concept was diluted.
The other fascinating resource was Gutenberg Hub. Munir Kamal, its creator, envisioned an end user who didn’t know HTML or CSS handling Gutenberg blocks and trying to customize a theme’s layout. Aware of the enormous difficulties that such a user would suffer, a directory of block designs was invented, first, and a set of templates made up of block designs, a little later. He added a plugin, called Editor Plus, and programmed something divine: to insert block designs or Gutenberg Hub templates into a home page (for example), all you had to do was click a button to copy a code (that the user final you don’t need to know) to the clipboard, and then paste it into an empty paragraph block. Editor Plus allowed everything to fit together perfectlyb; and it made it easy to apply CSS styling to any block… without knowing CSS!
Long before all this, at the end of 2019, working on the classic Sample track from Genesis, and with the blocks bursting on stage, I had a revelation. We had to stop developing a theme, in the classic style, based on the Genesis Sample. The idea had to be another one more in line with the post-Gutenberg era and much more innovative: provide a clean Sample and ready to receive, except in the header, Gutenberg blocks. Sample would serve as a blank page and the design would be done by the end user… only with blocks 🙂
This is how my theme Blogpocket Nineteen was born at the beginning of 2020, together with the web Lanzatu.blog, a platform dedicated to learning Gutenberg. Others wrote posts about Gutenberg, I developed a special theme and a website 😉
But providing such a valuable resource just for Genesis users didn’t feel like the best thing to me. I remembered Jack Lennox, and his Susty theme, and I did the same as with the Sample, emptying Susty and leaving it ready to be filled with Gutenberg blocks. I named him Sustie, how unoriginal I am!
Susty’s only problem is that Jack Lennox stripped away so much to make it hyper-minimalist and tartar that he incorporated a navigation menu, which I call “no menu”. I spent much of the lockdown trying to replace Susty’s “no menu” menu with a normal one but always fell back into guilt and the feeling that I was betraying good old Jack. But finally, I decided to betray it and Blogpocket Sustie presented the traditional menu and the “no menu” menu as an option.
Throughout 2020, I worked hard to improve Blogpocket Nineteen and Blogpocket Sustie. And I saw, with great satisfaction, how it was successfully implemented in real cases.
Both themes, along with the blogpocket method, allowed you to efficiently create an optimized WordPress website, ready to receive content and custom design exclusively with Gutenberg blocks. All freely and free. And anyone could do it without knowledge of web development. It was only required to know how the WordPress block editor works. That was revolutionary, in the same way that one day we had in our hands a little box to format text and a little button that said “Publish”. We already had the opportunity to develop websites without knowing web development.
I arrived at 2021 with a method to create, in a short time, optimized websites; and with a new concept of a WordPress theme that allowed the design of the entire site with Gutenberg blocks. Just to see how in January of that same year, Automattic offered Blank Canvas, a theme for WordPress.com, with the same idea as Blogpocket Nineteen/Sustie. And to see how the experimental “Site Edit” feature was about to be integrated into WordPress core. It was called “Full Site Editing” (FSE) and it represented a new paradigm not only in terms of creating themes, but even in the concept of creating websites.
Soon we were able to verify, with the release of version 5.9, that the idea that I launched at the beginning of 2019 -when nobody gave a penny for the world of blocks- (build and design a website completely from scratch only using the WordPress blocks and no coding) was not only possible but included in the core with the full site edition and is now just the site edition.
Today, we can building a block theme from scratch with WordPress easily and without coding. What I wanted in 2001!
If you have read this far, thank you and I wait for you in Blogpocket.