This week I talk to Rene Morozowich, a self-employed WordPress Developer, about how she dipped her toe in the waters of Gutenberg by doing a low-risk, brand new site for a client new to WordPress.
You can find Rene on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReneMorozowich
And here’s her website: https://renemorozowich.com/
Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the second episode of this miniseries I’m doing about Implementing Gutenberg. I’m Joe Casabona, and today my guest is Rene Morozowich. Is that right?
Rene Morozowich: Yes, it is.
Joe: She is a self-employed WordPress developer, and we’re going to be talking about how she used Gutenberg on a local company’s website. Is that right?
Rene: Yes it is.
Joe: All right. Welcome Rene, thanks for joining me. I appreciate you taking the time.
Rene: Thanks Joe, for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Joe: Cool. Why don’t we start out with who you are and what you do?
Rene: Great. I am a self-employed WordPress developer. I live outside of Pittsburgh, and I’ve been doing this for over a year, and I love it. I love WordPress. I love development, and I love working with people, I love the variety. I love that we’re doing this at 10 o’clock in the morning. It’s all good. This is a great career path.
Joe: Absolutely. I’m happy being in this space as well, despite some of the drama. If you’ve seen me on the Gutenberg live show, you’ll know that I get pretty worked up about certain things, but it’s all from a place of love. I’m a New York Italian. We’re passionate about things.
Rene: Right, because that’s not a bad thing.
Joe: Absolutely. Cool. You are outside of Pittsburgh, and I enjoy the Pittsburgh accent. Specifically certain words like “eons,” and the hard “o” that you have. I’m not going to drink scotch in Pittsburgh, and I’m going to drink “scotch” in Pittsburgh.
Rene: And I have to end all of my sentences with “enat.”
Joe: That’s a new one, I didn’t know that one. I’m going to remember that.
Rene: It’s a good one.
Joe: Awesome. Cool, why don’t you tell us a little bit about this project and maybe why you decided to use Gutenberg for it?
Rene: OK, great. The client is a local insurance company, and they had a website a long time ago, but then hadn’t had a website for several years. They had no WordPress experience, and they didn’t have a website at all. Coming into it, instead of having to teach them the classic editor, and then in six months or whatever the timetable was, reteaching them Gutenberg. I thought, “Just start with Gutenberg from the start,” because it was a basic site. About, Services, Contact, Request for Quote. They were going to do some blog posts but again, very basic. We used a Genesis theme that already existed with just a little bit of customizations, so it was pretty straightforward. I thought it’d be a good candidate for Gutenberg, so that I know also too with other clients, how it works.
Joe: Absolutely. That’s great. In my teaching of other people– that’s not the best way to word that. When I teach other people that’s generally my approach, is that if they have never used WordPress before, start at Gutenberg. Because it will reduce the amount of teaching, you’ll have to do.
Joe: I’m going to go a little bit off script. I provided these questions earlier, but I do want to ask if the site is launched and you’ve already trained the clients on this, what was their reception to Gutenberg?
Rene: They were fine with it because they didn’t know any different. It’s just how it works. They’re familiar with things like Microsoft Word and Outlook, and these are all visual things. They know buttons and where to click, and we say “This is how it works,” and they were fine. Also, we didn’t get complicated, we didn’t do any of the beta stuff, like columns. We didn’t do image galleries and things like that. We did a couple short codes, headings, and paragraphs. We used the classic editor just for a tiny little bit, but I ended up converting those to blocks. So, they were fine with it. They didn’t have any problems.
Joe: Cool. In using Gutenberg for this project, what do you think it’s something that was made easier by using Gutenberg?
Rene: I liked how you can move the content around, it was easy to drag and drop, especially when they changed their mind. “We want to add this first,” or “We can’t put that in that order.” Really easy to drag and drop. I also liked on the top left there is a little button with an eye in it for the content structure, so you can see that you’ve used the appropriate headings in the right order. I have some clients in the past who said, “I like how heading 4 looks, I’m just going to use heading 4 here,” but trying to guide my clients, “Like OK. Heading. There should be one heading 1 on the page, and it should be the title, and then you want to start with heading 2. Then if you have some headings 3’s you can use that,” and we did. I liked that we could see that they used the correct ones in the correct place.
Joe: That’s fantastic. That is one of a couple of features that will be, maybe not surprisingly useful, but more useful than what you have in the classic editor which is nothing like that. Because you can see, or it allows you to focus more on the content. That’s the gem that I’m pulling out from what you just said. You can easily reorder content based on feedback, and you don’t copy and paste, you can drag the blocks. That content structure outline is great, especially for writing long-form content.
Joe: Awesome. What didn’t go as expected? Especially because we’re recording this on the day, 5.0 beta 1 is coming out, which means that you used it before 5.0 beta 1 so there were some kinks.
Rene: Part of a learning curve of anything new is “Where does the functionality live? I know I want to do something, how can I do it? Where is it?” I didn’t end up using this, but I was looking for it, the “more” tag. I use the more tag every once in a while, so I was like “Where is it.” I was looking hard in the paragraph block because that made sense to me, but its own separate block now, and now I know that and now it’s fine. It’s not a big deal. Also to, not specifically a challenge per se, but every time you use it like you said in every new version that comes out there is something new. It’s something I didn’t know about. When I did this Yost didn’t have the structure data blocks, so there’s an FAW and a How To. Which is cool. Maybe because I didn’t know about it, because it didn’t exist at the time, I would have to go back and look through and say “OK. Maybe I need to go back and redo a page or make use of this where it didn’t exist.” But once it comes out most of the functionality will be there, in my mind, and then any additional things. If they came out, you can add them back in. Not challenges per se, but a few little things.
Joe: Absolutely. Yost, I want to drive that point home because I don’t think I knew this. Yost for their Gutenberg support has structured data blocks for things like FAQs?
Rene: There’s two blocks that I noticed recently. There’s an FAQ and a How To. When you look at that big list of blocks, they were at the bottom. “Yay” structured data. Definitely cool. I didn’t use them, because the site didn’t lend itself to that. So I’m not sure how they look, but any structured data that you want to add to your site would definitely be good.
Joe: Absolutely. That’s not something that Gutenberg does natively. We’re making giant content again, but it’s something that Gutenberg has the ability to do, is create structured data. John Ekman talks about that in one of his WordCamp talks. It’s cool to see Yost and other people implementing things like that.
Rene: It’ll be cool to see what people come up with in the future.
Joe: Absolutely. One more question before I ask you about your recommendations is that you mentioned that you used a StudioPress theme. How was that? Were there any hoops you had to jump through to make sure everything worked OK?
Rene: No, not at all. It was pretty seamless. I followed the themes set up for the home page, and the other pages were just the Gutenberg pages. It was great.
Joe: Cool. One thing I’m planning on doing is testing out Gutenberg with a StudioPress theme, and then the StudioPress Dambuster, which was specifically made for BeaverBuilder. It gets rid of the contents restraints so you can maybe take advantage of some of the things like the cover image a little bit better in a StudioPress theme. So, that’s something I’ve been noodling on that I just wanted to put out there for the audience. But as we wrap up, what recommendations do you have for people who might want to start implementing WordPress 5.0 or Gutenberg today?
Rene: We talked a little bit about this before, but using it on something simple. One page or one post, or even a simple site. Spending some time with it, looking through and investigating all the blocks. When you install Gutenberg there is a demo, so you can play with that demo. Sometimes seeing those in action versus just seeing the blocks that are available will spark something in you. “Look, I didn’t know you could do that way.” There’s so many more things too. I went to WordCamp Minneapolis and heard Eric talk from WP Block Party, and I did some amazing things. Alonzo talked at WordCamp Pittsburgh which I helped with, and I also saw some plugins from Atomic Blocks and the Stackable Ultimate Gutenberg Blocks. I didn’t look into those, because again that site didn’t lend itself to amazing things, but there are cool things happening. Atomic Block seems to have a theme too. I just sent it to someone the other day, “I know you’re starting a new thing, maybe start with this theme. It might be pretty cool.”
Joe: Definitely. I used the Atomic Blocks theme in my Introduction to Gutenberg course.
Joe: It’s nice, and it’s got good Gutenberg support.
Rene: That’s cool.
Joe: Awesome. Rene, thanks so much for joining me today. I appreciate your time.
Rene: Thanks, Joe. Thanks for having me. I had a great time.
Joe: Awesome. For one regional thing, as I live near Philadelphia now, is I’ve been drinking WaWa coffee.
Rene: Oh, no.
Joe: I know that there’s a pretty hard divide–
Rene: There is. Definitely.
Joe: Between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. You guys are Sheetz–
Rene: Sheetz. I know, you should have told me. I would have brought my Sheetz coffee, this way I could have stopped on the way.
Joe: Interestingly enough I went to college in Scranton, and we have a Sheetz but no WaWa there. The closest WaWa is about 40 minutes away.
Rene: Oh, my goodness. How did you survive?
Joe: I’m going, to be honest with you. Coming from New York we didn’t have a Sheetz, and we had a 7-Eleven. But that’s not Sheetz or WaWa. I liked Sheetz until I moved closer to Philly, and my wife and my in-laws were like, “What is the matter with you?”
Rene: “You’re a traitor.”
Joe: Exactly. Like, “You’re a barbarian.” And I’m like, “What?”
Rene: That’s super funny.
Joe: We’ve got real bagel joints in New York. Whatever.
Rene: This is true. You do have some good bagels. We don’t have any of that out here. Like, Panera. You can’t call that–.
Joe: Right. So that’s where I’m coming from, but this was not a slight to Pittsburgh. This is just on my morning walk.
Rene: A little friendly thing we did there.
Joe: Absolutely. Cool. Thanks again so much for joining me. I’m going to link a bunch of stuff that Rene talked about in the description for this video, and if anybody has any questions about Gutenberg feel free to leave them in the comments. If you liked this video, be sure to click the thumbs up and subscribe for more great content. Until next time, get out there and build something.
Outro: Hey everybody. I hope you liked that installment of this miniseries, Implementing Gutenberg. If you want to know how you can implement Gutenberg, you can check out my course Gutenberg for Freelancers. It gives you an overview of exactly how Gutenberg works, and then there’s an entire section on how to prepare your client for Gutenberg. Email scripts, checklists, how to approach things and case studies. If you want to learn more, you can click the link in the description below, or it’s showing somewhere on this screen. Until next time, get out there and build something.