Why I’m switching to Twentyseventeen and Gutenberg

When I build websites for clients I build everything from scratch. I am able to control a lot of functionality this way and build a website specific for that one client/brand/voice. But when I build websites for myself, like my personal blog, I typically end up buying a theme with a slick design from themeforest.net and just rolling with it. That stops now and here is why… There are two main reasons why I would want to use a purchased theme: a modern design and a drag and drop builder like Visual Composer. The modern design is pretty obvious. As a developer I don’t want to spend time designing a site, even if it’s my own. Design is not my forte so why not focus on what I know? So buying a theme with a slick and modern design saves me a lot of time and energy. The drag and drop builder is a little less obvious. As a developer, I don’t really need a plugin like Visual Composer to create beautiful and engaging content on the web. I could just code the page myself, but then again, why bother? I want to focus on the content not on CSS and JS to create columns and add animations. One problem with plugins like Visual Composer is that it wraps ALL your content into shortcodes. This means that if you ever stop using Visual Composer your content in WordPress will be totally useless. For example, this is what your content will look like if you ever deactivate Visual Composer after having built a page with it:
[vc_section full_width="stretch_row" full_height="yes" content_placement="middle" css=".vc_custom_1522596553539{background-image: url(https://roami.io/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IMG_0333.jpg?id=278) !important;background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}"][vc_row][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][flying_heading]Rehabilitated Banker. Software Developer. Amateur Cook.[/flying_heading][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section][vc_section full_width="stretch_row" content_placement="middle"][vc_row][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_wp_text]Welcome to my site!        
My name is Mario Vallejo - this is my personal blog.
My name is Mario, I am a software developer/architect at Photon Software. I love cooking, photography and writing code and that's pretty much all I talk about here.        I am a software architect at Photon Software. I love writing code and designing complex software solutions for our clients.
I write about some of the projects I get to work on and how I approach them or new technology that I get to explore in my spare time. I also post photos of the food I cook and picture I take around Chicago.[/vc_wp_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][vc_wp_text][/vc_wp_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section][vc_section full_width="stretch_row_content" content_placement="top" css=".vc_custom_1522598163138{background-color: #5b5b5b !important;}"][vc_row][vc_column][vc_wp_text]To release stress my favorite thing to do is to cook. I can spend hours in the kitchen coming up with a new recipe and trying new ingredients. I feel like cooking is my creative outlet in a rather logical world where I spend most of the hours of my day.
My Instagram Is Mostly Food!
     
     <!-- wp:heading {"level":3} -->
     <h3>My Instagram is mostly food.</h3>
     <!-- /wp:heading -->
     <!-- wp:shortcode -->[/vc_wp_text][flying_space height="60"][vc_wp_text][instagram-feed showheader=false][/vc_wp_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]
Not useful at all huh? And trust me, it is a pain to fix! Sure, one solution is to never deactivate Visual Composer, but is that really sustainable? I mean do you really want your whole site’s content to depend on a third party plugin? Another issue is that Visual Composer has so many features and options to allow you to build all kinds of animated content that it often runs into conflicts. I call these features the bells and whistles. They include things like animating content on load or hover, adding parallax images and much more. These bells and whistles play two main roles in my opinion: One is to make you think that these bells and whistles help your content and two is that the more you use their features the more you depend on Visual Composer. Visual Composer knows that once you start using their plugin you can’t go back. Once you build one page with Visual Composer, that page depends on VC forever. So they keep adding more of the same features to keep you hooked into thinking that adding CSS transitions to your content is going to help your visitors digest any of it – It won’t.

The Solution: Gutenberg

Gutenberg is a page builder introduced by Automattic, the company that runs WordPress. Gutenberg introduced the use of “blocks”. Blocks are used to build a page’s content similar to Lego Blocks. You can easily insert blocks into your page and drag them around to organize them. Blocks can be paragraphs, images, galleries, columns (beta), and much more. Gutenberg is 100% compatible with WordPress and the Classic Editor. I have been testing it for a few weeks now and it works like a charm. It offers a lot of the drag and drop functionality that you would see in Visual Composer but it does it in a way that does not completely take over the content. Gutenberg is able to work with existing content that was not built in Gutenberg, and in the same manner you can easily switch from Gutenberg to the Classic Editor. I know Gutenberg is in very early stages so there is still room for it to grow. And you may be thinking: “But Visual Composer does a lot more than Gutenberg”. Sure, right now it does, but then again why do you need all those bells and whistles? You don’t. Plus are the bells and whistles really worth depending on VC? I don’t think so!

Focus on the content

The less bells and whistle, the less distractions, the more your readers will focus on the content – the heart of your blog or site. Unless you run an e-commerce site or an app your users are coming to you because of your content. If you are a photographer they want to see your pictures. If you are a blogger they want to read your posts. My advice, focus on what the user came for. Having said that, I understand that there is a value in presenting content to the user in a beautiful fashion. The same goes with plating food – you could just throw everything on the plate but the more beautiful the plate looks the more appetizing the food looks to the person eating it. I believe that presenting your content in a clean and orderly fashion is key to helping the reader digest it. This can be easily done using Gutenberg and Jetpack

Jetpack

This is the first plugin I install on every site right after installing WordPress. Jetpack comes packed with tons of features like an interactive multimedia gallery or infinite scroll. It even adds common functionality to your blog like Testimonials or a Portfolio to expose your work. On top of the features mentioned above Jetpack has your back when it comes to security, stats, forms, and much more. It is and will always be free, although you can upgrade your account to a paid membership to unlock all of Jetpack’s potential. Learn more. With Jetpack and Gutenberg I honestly do not see a reason to ever use Visual Composer again. Right now I switched all my blogs to use the Twentyseventeen theme and it will stay that way until the new theme comes along I guess. We’ll see how Twentyeighteen looks! #RIPVisualComposer

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