A Simple Page Layout with the WordPress Block Editor

Around 18 months ago, I wrote a blog post, Alternatives to WordPress Page Builders, to see how easy it was to build a page with a specific layout. At the start of that post I said:

Page Builders have become so popular that sometimes new WordPress users get the impression that they are expected to use one. My own view is that it’s best to keep things simple and use a page builder only if you have a need for it. However, there’s no doubt that, compared to “drag and drop” website builders, WordPress can be frustrating when it comes to laying out a page.

I found that it was possible, but quite tricky, to get the exact page layout that I was aiming for. I followed this with another post, A Look at WordPress Page Builders, at the end of which I concluded:

If you are new to WordPress, don’t think that you have to use a page builder. Learn what can be done just using the WordPress editor first, and add a page builder plugin only if you have a need for one. Don’t use it on every page and post just for the sake of it… Having said all that, during my research for this post, I began to see the value of page builders, both for speeding up development and for making a site look more polished.

Now that the new WordPress block editor (a.k.a. Gutenberg) has been released, I want to repeat this exercise to see whether it’s now easier to set out a page, using just the block editor without a separate page builder plugin.

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A Look at Some WordPress Photo Gallery Plugins

For this article, I experimented with a few different gallery and slideshow plugins:

I didn’t come up with a definitive “best” plugin, but I can tell you that personally, if I want a simple gallery I tend to choose Meow Gallery. If I need something with a few more bells and whistles, I’ll go with FooGallery.

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Adding a Row of Image Links with the WordPress Block Editor

Some time ago, I wrote a blog post giving instructions for adding a row of image links to a WordPress website. The methods I described should still work, but now that the new WordPress block editor (a.k.a. “Gutenberg”) has been released, I would expect it to be easier to carry out this task without using the plugins I had looked at before.

I thought I’d write a new post to give an update in the light of the changes, and this accidentally turned into a mini review of some third party blocks plugins.

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Creating a Mood Board with Milanote

Recently, I came across milanote.com which seemed to be a good tool for creating a mood board or style guide.

When planning a website, or other creative project, it can be really helpful to build a mood board so that you can visualise how certain colours, fonts, images etc might work together. A style guide can act as a useful reference to ensure that you, and others involved in the project, are consistent in your use of various design elements.

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Flexible, Customisable WordPress Themes

There are a couple of different approaches to choosing a WordPress theme:

  1. Try to find a theme that looks just how you want it straight out of the box (or with a few small tweaks). Then just add your own text and images
  2. Choose a plain looking, but flexible, theme as a starting point and customise it to look just as you want it to.

I favour the 2nd approach, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

NOTE: This article was originally written in May 2018. Since then, all the themes I looked at have continued to develop, and the new WordPress block editor has been introduced. I’ve added updates throughout the article when I’m aware of them, but these tend to relate to the GeneratePress theme as it’s the one I use myself. That makes this discussion quite biased towards GeneratePress. I continued to update this article until the end of 2020 but now I am working on a new article about building a website with GeneratePress and I would suggest you refer to that instead: ‘Building My “Standard” Demo Site’.

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Self-hosted WordPress Versus WordPress.com

One of my favourite ways to think about the difference between WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress is to compare building a website to building with lego bricks.

If you choose WordPress.com it’s like being given a big bucket of lego bricks and a solid table, in a secure room, to build on.

You can build for free but your table will have advertising posters displayed on its side and you have no control over which adverts are pasted there. You’ll be able to invite friends to come round and admire your model, but the address on the invitation (your domain name) will include the word “WordPress”. There will be a range of different WordPress themes you can use (I’m not sure how that fits the lego analogy) but you can’t install your own.

Buying the relatively cheap Personal plan allows you to get rid of the adverts on the “table” and the WordPress name in your address (although there will still be a discrete WordPress logo in the footer of your website).

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WordPress Website Checklist

This article lists the steps I take when setting up a WordPress website. I’ve included links to some of the plugins I use, and to helpful articles with more comprehensive instructions. I’m not claiming this is all necessarily best practice, but it’s what I do.

I have also written an article titled ‘Building My “Standard” Demo Site‘ to explain how I’ve built a website using the GeneratePress theme.

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Instructions for Adding a Row of Image Links

UPDATE – Please note that this article was written before the release of the new WordPress block editor (a.k.a. “Gutenberg”). For a more up-to-date approach, see my article: Adding a Row of Image Links with the WordPress Block Editor.

It’s quite common to want a page layout like the example below, with a row of three images, each of which links to a different page of the website (nails, make up and hair, in my example).

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A Look at WordPress Page Builders

My previous post, Alternatives to WordPress Page Builders, describes an exercise I carried out to build a simple web page without the use of a page builder plugin.

In this follow-up post, I attempt to build the same page with a few different page builders to see how much easier this makes the process. [UPDATE: These two blog posts were written before the introduction of the new WordPress block editor (a.k.a. Gutenberg). It’s now easier to layout a page without using a page builder – see my blog post “A Simple Page Layout with the WordPress Block Editor” for details.]

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Alternatives to WordPress Page Builders

UPDATE: This article was written before the release of the WordPress block editor (a.k.a. Gutenberg). I have written a new blog post using the block editor.

Page Builders have become so popular that sometimes new WordPress users get the impression that they are expected to use one. My own view is that it’s best to keep things simple and use a page builder only if you have a need for it.

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