WordPress’ new site builder is not good, but it is here to stay

Wordpress rolled out the Twenty Twenty-Two theme which includes a new site builder that pushes site admins to completely rethink how they handle design with Wordpress.

WordPress has been rolling out its Twenty Twenty-Two theme across its CMS. To make a reference point, Twenty Twenty-Two is just as big in WordPress’ history as the rollout of the Gutenberg editor (block-based editor). The Twenty Twenty-Two theme comes with a page builder feature that enables site administrators to create a web design with the same drag-and-drop approach Elementor developed.

This change is happening, and website admins need to adapt to it. But the first version of this rollout is poorly executed, and leads to a lot of confusion and clutter.

For example, through this change, WordPress seems to be dropping the “customize” tool, which was not very good to start with. So now, if you want to change your site’s icon, you still have to use the “customize” tool, but if you want to change your site’s logo, then you have to open the new site editor, select the logo in the header’s template, and change it from there. Wouldn’t it be way more simple to create a “logo” sub-tab in the “settings” tab on the left-side menu ?

Editing the menus of your website also became complicated. While it was fairly simple before (“appearance –> menus” tab on the left-side menu), now you also have to handle it from the site editor. The only issue is that I was not even able to do this. From the site editor, you can select which menu you want to display, but if you need to edit a menu, the new site editor takes you to a menu builder that doesn’t work.

Also, there are many different blocks made available by WordPress to build a site, but the interface to discover them, select one, and then customize it is just terribly bad and laggy.

Quite frankly, I find the Twenty Twenty-Two theme so bad that I rolled back to Twenty Twenty-One to avoid falling into the time-wasting pit of bad UX.

At this point, WordPress should be more transparent as to what it plans to do next, and better coach its users during this transition phase. Millions of WordPress site owners use a site builder like Elementor, but it seems that the new site-building features of Twenty Twenty-Two will slowly kill those site builders. Elementor just took the precautionary measure of evolving its business model by lauching a “Cloud” feature, ie an all-included hosting feature for WordPress websites. In a way, as WordPress is cannibalizing Elementor’s business with its site builder, Elementor now has to compete with web hosting providers who all offer a WordPress-ready solution (like Dreamhost/DreamPress).

Therefore, right now, the Twenty Twenty-Two is not a big game changer and I wouldn’t recommend you drop Twenty-Twenty One for Twenty Twenty-Two for the moment. But obviously, a deep shift is happening and WordPress will keep pushing its site builder with refined features and designs. Twenty Twenty-Two is just the beta version of something that is deemed to happen. So I encourage all WordPress site admins to take this seriously and start to anticipate by figuring out how, a year or two from now, your site’s design will run mainly through WordPress’ native site builder.