WordPress Block Themes

WordPress Block Themes

WordPress Block ThemesIn this tutorial, you will learn about WordPress block themes – what block themes are and when to use them.

Refer to the following tutorials if you need help with this section:

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What Is Full Site Editing?

Since the introduction of the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor in version 5.0, WordPress has been moving toward a way of creating and designing websites made entirely out of blocks and block-based features like block themes, templates, and global styles.

This is called Full Site Editing (FSE).

Block themes are an integral part of Full Site Editing.

What Is A Block Theme? What is a block theme?

Block themes were introduced to WordPress as a new type of theme built entirely with blocks in WordPress 5.9.

A block theme is a WordPress theme that uses blocks for all parts of your website, including your navigation menus, site header, content, and site footer.

Block themes let you create entire pages or websites using blocks, and edit and customize all parts of your WordPress site without the need to change themes.

For example, WordPress 5.9 included its first block theme, called Twenty Twenty-Two:

WordPress Twenty Twenty-Two theme.
The WordPress Twenty Twenty-Two theme is a block theme.

This theme is composed entirely out of blocks.

WordPress Twenty Twenty-Two theme - a block theme.
The WordPress Twenty Twenty-Two theme is made entirely out of blocks.

Prior to the introduction of block themes, blocks were only used inside the WordPress Block Editor to edit your content and its layout. With a block theme, you can add and edit blocks outside of your content. This is done using web design-based block features like the Site Editor.

Learn more about using the WordPress Site Editor.

In addition to default blocks. You can use blocks in templates that are provided by a theme or plugin. For example, certain block themes may include an archive page or a 404 page (a “page not found” page). You can go in and edit the blocks in these pages to further customize them.

With block themes, you can also create custom templates.

Notes:

  • We recommend visiting the WP 5.9 announcement post and watching the videos on that post to better understand block theme features.
  • Editing and/or customizing block themes requires basic web design skills. Website editing is outside the scope of our tutorials. If your site uses a block theme and you need help editing or customizing it, ask your website developer, or refer to the external resources listed at the end of this tutorial for more information.

How Are Block Themes Different From Classic WordPress Themes? How are block themes different from classic themes?

Block themes are built for the newer Full Site Editing functionality in WordPress and allow you to use blocks to edit all parts of your site, including easier ways to quickly customize everything from your background colors to font sizes for all Heading blocks.

In contrast, classic themes are built with different elements and include features like Widgets, a dedicated Menus section, the Theme Customizer, and more.

Classic WordPress themes do not work with the WordPress Site Editor.

You can tell if your site uses a block theme by going to the Appearance section of your admin menu. A block theme does not display sections like the Customizer, Widgets, Menus, and other theme-specific elements (e.g. Header, Background, etc.). Instead, a block theme displays the Site Editor submenu.

WordPress Theme - Appearance Menu pre and post block-themes
How to tell if you are using a block theme or not.

How Do Block Themes Impact Widgets And Widget Areas?

Instead of widgets, a block theme relies on blocks. This means that you can place blocks anywhere on your site where you might have previously wanted to display widgets.

How Do Block Themes Impact The Theme Customizer?

The WordPress Customizer is not available in block themes unless you are using a plugin or theme that requires it to be activated. This is because you can make the same changes you might make with the Customizer with blocks.

For example, you can use blocks for the site title, tagline, and site logo. You can also select colors for your website in the Styles setting by going to Administration > Appearance > Editor.

How To Find Block Themes

There are many free block themes available in the WordPress Theme Directory.

WordPress Theme Directory
The WordPress Theme Directory includes many free block themes.

To filter out block themes in the WordPress Theme Directory, click on the Feature Filter and select Full Site Editing:

WordPress Theme Directory: Feature Filter - Full Site Editing
Select block themes in the WordPress Theme Directory using the Feature Filter and then selecting Full Site Editing.

With these options selected, click on the Apply Filters button.

This will return a gallery displaying all of the WordPress Theme Directory’s available block themes. Click on a theme thumbnail to learn more about a specific theme.

WordPress Theme Directory - List of all themes that support Full Site Editing.
Use the Full Site Editing feature filter to display all block themes in the WordPress Theme Directory.

As Full Site Editing evolves, you will find more and more WordPress block themes available.

Learn where to find WordPress Themes.

What Options Are Available With Block Themes? What options are available with block themes?

After activating a block theme, more tools and features will be available to you including the following:

  • Site Editor: This editor allows you to edit all parts of your site, navigate between templates, and more.
  • Styles: This feature allows you to fully customize your site, including individual blocks, with different colors, typography, layouts, and more.
  • Templates: This lets you edit, create, and manage templates used by a page or post.
  • Template parts: This is a way to organize and display groups of blocks as part of a block template. It’s mostly used for site structures like Headers and Footers.
  • Theme blocks: These include the Navigation BlockQuery Loop block, and more.

The above options allow you to fully customize and create the desired look and feel for your site without the need to switch themes as often.

When Should You Use A Block Theme? When should I use a block theme?

Block themes were introduced in WordPress 5.9. There are various reasons to use a block theme. These include exploring new design possibilities with the block editor, having full control over all parts of the website, etc.

As Full Site Editing continues to evolve, expect more and more WordPress themes to incorporate block theme design standards.

Additional Resources

As stated earlier, Editing and/or customizing block themes and theme templates requires basic web design skills. If your site uses a block theme and you need help editing or customizing it, ask your website developer, or refer to the external resources listed below for more information:

  • Template Editor – Allows block editor users to edit and create templates used in pages or posts.
  • Template Part Block – An advanced block that can be used with a block theme or a theme that supports template editing. These often come with your theme and are used to organize and display your site structure. You can only use them while creating and editing templates to manage blocks in areas repeated across the website. This block is best used to create areas like your site header and site footer. When you change blocks inside a template part, the editor updates the blocks on every block template that includes the template part.
  • WordPress Course – Simple Site Design With Full Site Editing – This course reviews the interconnected features of full site editing (FSE) in WordPress and how these are used to create site designs without using code.

Congratulations! Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of block themes – what they are and how they are used.

WordPress Block Themes
WordPress Block Themes

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