As it has almost become a ritual at this point, I always look forward to participating in the next round of testing for the Full Site Edition (FSE). Led by lead contributor Anne McCarthy, the bi-monthly user tests of the FSE Outreach program are generally fun and offer everyone a chance to get involved, regardless of their level of experience.
This final cycle of testing is to determine if users can create a custom template per post directly from the publisher. The answer? Why, yes, they absolutely can.
Round # 6 asks volunteers to use the new template editing mode, which is expected to land in WordPress 5.8, to create a WordCamp landing page. The goal is to offer a discount code and entice attendees from another event to join.
Anyone interested in finding issues and providing feedback should give this test a try. There is a 36 step guide that will walk you through building a custom landing page. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, maybe longer if you give the design a unique touch – it’s half the fun for me.
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The closest thing to a local WordCamp I have is Birmingham, AL, known for its name “WP Y’all”. I hope the WC Birmingham team wouldn’t mind borrowing their logo for this experience. Here is the WordCamp homepage I created with the TT1 Blocks theme:
Other than the known navigation menu blocking issue in the article, I have not encountered any technical issues with any of the 36 steps. Everything worked as expected. However, that doesn’t mean everything was perfect.
Problems, mostly trivial
Before delving into the actual user experience issues with building models, I noticed an issue with the custom model system. After completing the test round, I wanted to see what my template looked like with other themes. However, I couldn’t do this. When activating another theme, my custom template seemed to disappear.
The problem is that the custom templates are tied to the theme. I see the logic in there. Some aspects may be specific to the active theme (colors, fonts, etc.), and this is always how custom templates have worked. However, the block model system is different. From a user perspective, I feel like my custom templates are mine rather than the theme.
I can see a user change the theme after a few years and create a dozen models having bad experience in this situation. If the functionality remains the same, there should be more clarity.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the template editor is the lack of space at the bottom of the frame. I’m used to the extra white space in the post editor, focusing the active workspace towards the top of the screen.
I just want to put the current part of the layout I’m working on higher on the page. I don’t know what that would look like when it comes to a template editor because it should clearly mark the end of the document.
The other issues were mostly with the TT1 block theme or missing features with the current Gutenberg plugin.
When adding a horizontal button block, there is no space between the individual buttons. Vertical alignment is better, but it could use a slight bump (on the front-end, not in the editor).
And, I feel like I can’t be the first to say this: I’m ready for button block padding commands so that I can adjust the abnormally large button output of TT1 blocks.
When inserting a full-width Columns block, the left text butted against the side of the page. Since neither the columns nor the internal column blocks currently have fill controls, the only way for users to “fix” this problem is to add a background color. Gutenberg automatically adds padding in this case.
The last trivial fix I had to do was add a Spacer block above the custom footer section. This was not included in the testing instructions. Without it, the footer had no spacing between it and the content above.
I questioned one aspect of the test instructions. Templates are usually some sort of wrapper or design layout. Content is a separate thing that usually lives on its own. In this test, the content is hosted in the model. There are scenarios where the test case makes sense. However, I would have preferred a stream where the content part of the template was part of the post and the output was through the Post Content block.
This kind of back-and-forth between article and template editors may have opened up other usability issues that might be worth exploring.